Thursday, February 18, 2010

XLink Kai, The PlayStation 2, And Gotchas

Recently I and a distant friend were trying to start a game of Project Snowblind on the PS2. We discovered that the Internet servers had been shut down long since. But the game supports LAN play, so we started looking for LAN-over-Internet solutions. At first we tried Hamachi, but discovered that nothing we could do with that tool would bridge our two LANs so that our PS2s could see each other. Next we tried XLink Kai. This we eventually got to work (and work well), but there are some gotchas which I'll list here for the benefit of others who may want to play PS2 LAN-enabled games over the Internet.
  1. As of this writing, XLink Kai version 7.4 does not work with PlayStation 2 consoles.

    Instead, install version The user interface is far more confusing, but it definitely works.

  2. Kai's instructions are misleading on a critical point. They say that to get Kai to recognize your console, you should search for a game to join. This is true enough, for games that get their network address when they search for a game.

    What actually happens is that when the console asks for an IP address from DHCP, XLink Kai assigns the address before the router can get to it. It's the point at which Kai assigns the console an address that it recognizes it.

    In the case of a game like Project Snowblind, the game connects to the network and asks for an IP address before the user makes a choice whether to host a game or search for one.

    So it's vital that Kai already be running when starting multiplayer on a PS2 game. It's easier to just reset the PS2 after starting Kai. This guarantees that Kai will be running whenever the console asks for an IP address.

It's also worth noting that I successfully ran Kai in Windows XP, which was running in a VirtualBox virtual machine set for bridged networking.

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