The interface of the discontinued Bleem! emulator
|Initial release||March 1999|
1.6b / August 16, 2001
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast|
|Website||www.bleem.com at the Wayback Machine (archived May 15, 2001))|
Bleem! (styled as bleem!) was a commercial PlayStation emulator released by the Bleem Company in 1999 for IBM-compatible PCs and Dreamcast. It is notable for being one of the few commercial software emulators to be aggressively marketed during the emulated console's lifetime, and was the center of multiple controversial lawsuits.
To combat redistribution of the small downloadable emulator, the user had to buy the Bleem!-CD, containing about 35 MB of data: a DirectX distributable and the actual version of Bleem! available at the time of the CD's printing. The rest of the CD was only for copy protection and was impossible to copy by conventional means; nevertheless, the copy protection was cracked within two weeks of the release.
Further updates to the emulator were free, until the company ceased operation several years later.
Two days after Bleem! started taking preorders for their emulator, Sony filed suit against them alleging that they were violating their rights and that providing access for PlayStation games to run on non-Sony hardware constituted unfair competition.
Ultimately Bleem! won in court and a protective order was issued to "protect David from Goliath". Sony lost on all counts, including Bleem!'s use of screenshots of PlayStation games on its packaging. The court noted that Bleem!'s use of copyrighted screenshots was considered fair use and should be allowed to continue.
Despite the legal victories, the legal fees allegedly forced the company out of business. eBay auctions of some of the company's possessions were held soon after - including a huge library of worldwide game releases used for compatibility testing.
Bleemcast! is an independently developed commercial emulator by Bleem! that allows one to load and play PlayStation discs on the Sega Dreamcast. It is compatible with most Dreamcast controllers and steering wheels, and leverages the Dreamcast's superior processing power for enhanced graphics. It was created by using the MIL-CD security hole found in the Dreamcast BIOS.
Originally, Bleem! was planning to have the disc able to run any PlayStation game on the Dreamcast, but due to technical difficulties, they developed the concept of the "Bleempak", in which the software would boot only 100 specific games each. New Bleempaks would have to be purchased if one game was not available to boot in a Bleempak. Due to the Dreamcast controller's fewer buttons compared to the PlayStation, there were plans to release a Bleem! controller somewhat similarly designed to the PlayStation controller, and a PlayStation-to-Dreamcast controller adapter, which would allow one to use a PlayStation controller on the Dreamcast. As technical difficulties grew further, all these ideas were scrapped, with no "Bleempak" and no hardware releases.
However, they managed to release individual Bleemcast! bootdiscs for three popular games: Gran Turismo 2, Tekken 3, and Metal Gear Solid. WWF SmackDown! was also being planned for a release, but was not completed, whilst a couple of screenshots of Final Fantasy IX were surfacing during this time, but was never announced as a planned release. As promised from the beginning, the games ran in a 640x480 resolution, as opposed to the PS1's 320x240 resolution, and featured anti-aliasing and bilinear filtering. This drastically improved the games' graphics, but also brought out some graphical imperfections that were originally hidden in the lower resolution.
Closure of Bleem!
Although Sony ultimately did not win any of its lawsuits against them, Bleem! had to shut down when the huge court costs became too much for the small company to handle. Bleem! shut down in November 2001, the same year Sega announced that they would discontinue the Dreamcast in North America. Bleem! closed their website with only an image on their front page of Sonic the Hedgehog tearfully holding a flower next to a Bleem! gravestone. The image was later altered and Sonic was removed, possibly to avoid a lawsuit from Sega.
A beta build of Bleemcast! was eventually leaked. Even though it was buggy and incomplete, it would run some PlayStation games, though not all the games it ran would be playable. Using this beta, hackers were able to create Bleemed games — discs of a PlayStation title with the Bleemcast! emulator built in. ISO images of many of these discs circulate on file-sharing networks.
After the leak, Rod Maher, one of the developers of Bleemcast!, made a public statement regarding the beta, providing some insight into the development process. He revealed that the leaked beta predated the beta that had been shown at E3, and that the leaked beta was 30% complete. The commercial Bleemcast! release was notable as the only release on the Dreamcast that had not been pirated, as it had a complex copy-protection scheme. All three Bleempaks were finally cracked and made available online in December 2009, eight years after their introduction.
- "Sony Computer v. Bleem, Inc". Docket Alarm, Inc. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- Rhodes, Tom. "Best Little Emulator Ever Made!". Best Little Emulator Ever Made!. Escapist Magazine. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
- digitaltaco. "Bleemcast Releases." PlanetDreamcast. Accessed May 29, 2017. http://planetdc.segaretro.org/features/previews/bleem/index.html.
- Bel. "Bleemcast Compatibility List." Whip Ass Gaming. Accessed May 29, 2017. http://www.whipassgaming.com/genesisreviews/Bleemcast/bleemcastcompatibility.htm.
- Maher, Rod. " A few words about the beta." DCEmulation. Accessed May 29, 2017. http://dcemulation.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=29658.