: PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Backwards Compatibility

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PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Backwards Compatibility

One of the largest appeals of the PS3 is the full backwards compatibility, there's no doubt about it. The massive libraries for both the PS1 and PS2 make this feature an absolute must-have, and provided things worked correctly, it would easily eclipse the backwards compatibility program of the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. And why?

Only a certain selection of Xbox games can currently operate on the 360, and even those require a downloadable patch. Furthermore, just because, A. the game is luckily on the b/c list and B. you successfully got the patch, this doesn't guarantee a perfect playback. In recent tests with games like Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance II, the gameplay would chug down to intolerable slowness, especially during multiplayer. The Wii features b/c for GameCube titles, and also allows users to download a large number of NES, SNES, and N64 games...but for a price.

Therefore, if the tons of PS1 and PS2 games work properly on the PS3, that's a large advantage for Sony's next-gen console. But in the past few days, we've seen a variety of reports from around the Internet, claiming many old games have problems running on the PS3. A semi-official announcement from Sony confirmed that about 200 PS1 and PS2 titles are not currently compatible with the PS3 (although they said a future update would take care of the issues). Of course, this freaked out a lot of naysayers and haters, and before long, the cries of "the PS3's backwards compatibility doesn't even work!" rang loud and far.

It was one of our major concerns going into the hands-on coverage, to be sure. But after spending a great deal of time with a bunch of PS1 and PS2 games, our results are clear: as of right now, just in terms of the titles we tested, the PS3 is sitting at 100% backwards compatibility. The following are the games we tried; 18 PS1 and 29 PS2-

PS1

  • Alundra
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  • Chrono Cross
  • Dino Crisis 2
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy Anthology
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
  • Gran Turismo 2
  • Jet Moto
  • Koudelka
  • Legend of Legaia
  • Legend of Mana
  • Medal of Honor
  • Star Ocean: The 2nd Story
  • Suikoden
  • Twisted Metal 2
  • Vandal Hearts

PS2

  • Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
  • Champions of Norrath
  • Devil May Cry
  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
  • Final Fantasy X
  • God of War
  • Gran Turismo 3
  • Gran Turismo 4
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Hot Shots Golf: Fore!
  • Madden NFL 2004
  • Medal of Honor: Frontline
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
  • Onimusha 3: Dungeon Siege
  • Red Faction
  • Rygar
  • Sega Genesis Collection
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Shadow of Destiny
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant
  • Silent Hill 2
  • Smugglers Run
  • Suikoden V
  • Super Bust-a-Move 2
  • Valkyrie Profile 2
  • We Love Katamari
  • Xenosaga

All of these games performed flawlessly. We made a point of selecting a variety of titles that spanned the full life-spans of both the PS1 and the PS2. We chose some of the earliest games in the library (like Suikoden and Jet Moto), some of the most popular (duh), and some of the later games. We did the same with the PS2, as we spanned from the launch titles of Smugglers Run and Shadow of Destiny to the latest games on the list, like Gran Turismo 4, Valkyrie Profile 2, and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition.

We were convinced the original PS2 software games (the ones with the purple backs) wouldn't work, but Smugglers Run worked beautifully. We also weren't sure how some of the more obscure titles - like Legend of Mana and Koudelka on the PS1 and Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana and Gitaroo-Man on the PS2 - would function, but we needn't have worried. Granted, it's only a small sample, but we simply haven't yet found a game that doesn't work, and that's a very, very good thing.

In case you're wondering, though, we weren't able to transfer save data from memory cards to the hard drive, and that's simply because we couldn't find the memory card adapter accessory. But as soon as we do, rest assured we'll be testing that to its fullest capacity...we'd heard that some data won't transfer over, but if they're anything like the problematic backwards compatibility reports, we're not too concerned.

Lastly, saving your current game with either a PS1 or PS2 title is as simple as creating an internal memory card for both. Once you have the PS2 and PS1 cards created and assigned them to Slot 1 and Slot 2 respectively, you can go ahead and save any game you throw in. It will automatically prompt you to create one of those internal cards if you haven't already done it, and after that, it works just like the old cards- you can see data on them, delete and copy the data, and during gameplay, you see the same save/load messages as you would normally see.

Oh, and if you fill up that invisible memory card, just create another! All in all, our day testing out the backwards compatibility of the PS3 was overwhelmingly positive, so don't worry much about those 200 incompatible titles...chances are, they're games few people actually own, and remember, there are a good 3000 titles in the PS1 and PS2 libraries, so that ratio is actually damn good.

It was such a strange feeling playing the original Sonic via the Genesis Collection on the PS3, but still cool. In the end, we've got a bunch of PS1 and PS2 games, and all of them work great. Yay!

11/17/2006 Ben Dutka

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