PS3 Early Backwards Compatibility Problems (UPDATE)
UPDATE: Sony has responded to the problems listed below. An official statement at PlayStation.com says that they will fix the issues with an upcoming system update, and may even offer individual game patches. They didn't say when, but hopefully soon... The number of incompatible PS2 titles is at 196, according to Japan's Cnet.com, but that's an inaccurate number as it separately counts budget (Greatest Hit) and Limited edition versions of the same game.
Backwards compatibility in the PS3 is certainly a big deal, especially considering the sheer number of PS1 and PS2 titles in existence. However, as is the case with all new hardware when it comes to b/c, the PS3 is apparently experiencing some early difficulties with a few select games.
According to IGN, the PS3 does have some issues when it comes to older software. But thankfully, if you head on over to the Japanese PlayStation.com site, you can search for any game's "compatibility status," and there are a massive 7,841 titles in Sony's database. This means, obviously, that not every PS1 and PS2 game is playable on the PS3, and few others may experience certain glitches.
Most of the games in that database display the ecouraging message, "Currently, there have been no reports of major problems during play." Of course, this doesn't necessarly mean all games with this label are perfect; it might just mean nobody's located any sort of issue yet. But even so, you can see that the vast majority of PS1 and PS2 software should work fine on the PS3.
It appears that much of the compatibility issues centers on movie and cut-scene playback, as many of the messages say things like, "movie scenes do not play back properly" and "screen may freeze during title demo." Some of these problems may be fixed with the immediate System 1.10 update, even though Sony is still listing the problems in the database.
A few other things to consider- due to the PS3's Virtual Memory Card specifications, the system doesn't let PS2 games read PS1 data. In other words, if you're looking to upload your saved Suikoden II data when playing Suikoden III, it ain't gonna happen. Well, at least there are only a very small number of titles this issue applies to. Other small problems can arise from the PS3 not being able to use a multitap, not having rumble, and the very different hard disk and USB architecture.
One b/c aspect of the PS3 we're certainly going to test like crazy come Friday is the memory card adapter. Very simply, the $14.99 unit allows you to copy your PS2 save data over to the PS3 hard disk, but apparently, there are some games that display a "No Copy" icon next to the data, which means it can't be transferred. This is something that hopefully won't affect too many titles, especially the more popular ones, but we'll be sure to check it out.
And lastly, games that actually use the hard disk evidently won't funtion. The built-in drive on the PS3 really can't be used as a PS2 hard disk, so games like Final Fantasy XI aren't going to work. But Sony is working on making such games compatibile via future system updates, and of course, the games in question don't even number a half-dozen.
Clearly, everything isn't always so straightforward when it comes to new technology like the PS3, so some of these issues were to be expected. Still, it appears the system certainly has the best b/c program of the three next-gen consoles...we're just going to have to execute a full check on this stuff in due time.
11/13/2006 Ben Dutka