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Back in 2001, I purchased my very first Playstation 2. A magnificent beast it was, with its Atari like design and blacky-blue aura. From a decent DVD player to a spectacular gaming console, it served me well until the Summer of 2004 when a leaky roof in a dodgy rental combined with electricity to blow it to bits.

It was at that point I learned of the fragility of the device. I quickly went out and purchased one of the limited edition “Platinum” models, which still entertains me with replays of Final Fantasy X and Beyond Good and Evil to this very day. I love my PS2, but I know it is coming, sadly, to the end of its lifespan, suffering from age and drive issues.

Siliconera reports that Sony has patented technology for software emulation of PS2 titles. So now, I beg. Please Sony, save my PS2! (Library)

The Playstation 2 has a library of almost 2000 games, making it, after the PS1′s epic showcase, one of the largest available. Plus, thanks to developers like Atlus, quality titles are still being released. It’s a great time to pickup some classics, due to the bargain basement prices and the sheer number of games still being manufactured. If you are in the market for a console, the PS2 slim is also widely available, although generally considered inferior to its brethren.

So if all of this is still available, why am I bugging Sony to release software emulation? Because adding compatibility to all PS3s (and hopefully, future consoles) would cement the ability for gamers to always access, at the very least, the previous generation of software. Ask any budding retro connoisseur about his maniacal attempts to keep his Sega Genesis or Atari 2600 in working condition. He’ll mumble something about a lack of parts, then probably weep softly over his NES that refuses to read Excitebike.

Anyone who has been collecting hardware within the past 20 years knows the score. Without constant cleaning, spare parts on hand and intricate knowledge of solder, its very difficult and time consuming to keep old consoles humming. I should know. I have a total of 15 working consoles in my personal collection, including a Master System, Atari 2600 and NES. If it wasn’t for eBay, Chinese manufacturers and some fantastic community contacts, I’d be in trouble.

The PS2 will, like the PS1, eventually stop being sold, and, eventually, working consoles will become more expensive and harder to get a hold of. Ironically, consoles with optical drives tend to have shorter lifespans then their cartridge predecessors, due to more complex moving parts, and much rarer spares. PS2′s in particular are known to have a notorious fault which kills the drive, due to the constant spin most games use to save on loading.

At this point, it becomes more and more likely that emulation will be the general victor in the battle to beat electronic aging.

Backwards compatibility is always a contentious issue, and one involving a constant stand-off between gamer and developer. Microsoft worked hard to allow the most popular of its previous releases to work on the 360, even when faced with a backlash from gamers regardless of the number it converted. Sony, controversially, removed the PS2 Emotion Engine Chip from all but its launch model to save cash, putting gamers in a position where newer consoles were actually inferior.

Since then, many had been crying out for a software solution. Part of the Emotion Engine chip was already software emulated in the original PAL PS3 consoles, while the PS2 GPU, a much more difficult piece of hardware to emulate, was left in. In later consoles, both were removed. The question, really, that remains is – Has Sony managed to complete the chain? Can it replicate it’s younger son using the PS3′s grunt alone?

It’s certainly not impossible. PCSX2 is a completely software emulator that has successfully managed to reverse engineer the complex systems that made up the PS2. While a few bugs exist, its entirely possible to run a game like Final Fantasy X, with full sound, graphics and control at a decent frame rate. One can only imagine how it could be improved by Sony themselves, especially with a powerhouse like the PS3 engineered to be dedicated to the task.

As console become more complex, so does the task of keeping them alive for the halls of history. If the PS2 took almost 7 years to successfully copy, how long might the PS3, or the PS4 for that matter? Will we eventually reach a point where a digital footprint cannot replace its hardware brother? Or are we destined to forget the gaming past, and simply just keep looking forwards the future?

I, for one, hope it doesn’t come to that.

  1. avatar rob

    for now on, ive decided at the end of a consoles life, im going to buy 2 extra ones, and just leave them in the boxes and store them in the garage or something. that way ill have them for the rest of my life and if the one i was using broke down id have a spare to replace it. and chances are throughout the years i would use them less and less and so probably 2 spares will be enough to last me forever. that’s my plan at least.

  2. avatar ichigo

    tell me, why would i buy a ps2 when i could play ps2 games on my ps3 – if my ps3 eventually gets backwards compatibility

  3. avatar ichigo

    actually i was just thinking – if they can release a ps1 classics on psn store why cant they release ps2 classics on ps2 store – this is an alternative to backwards compatibility if we dont get it

  4. avatar Chris

    @ ichigo, ps2 releases on the psn store will still require backwards compatibility. There are no conversions or anything done to the downloadable games to make them run on ps3, they are basically just ISO’s of the original game… no different than the discs.

  5. So if we get a ps2 emulator for the PS3 we can run all ps2 discs as normal?

  6. @rob
    I did the exact same thing: I bought a slim and a discount original PS2 just to put in a box.

    You can also emulate PS2 on PC now (!), and play your legit hard copies through your disc drive.

  7. avatar King_Bobo

    I don’t like the idea of downloadable PS2 games – 40GB hard drives aren’t sufficient, considering DVD’s (when dual-layered) have a capacity of something like 9GB – that means that I could have 4 games, with maybe one installed PS3 game. Seriously – doesn’t appeal. Backwards compatibility with discs, well that’s a completely different story. That, my friends, would be awesome. Especially if they allowed you to play online with the classics like Time Splitters: Future Perfect and Star Wars Battlefront 2!

  8. avatar arctic yesterday

    I own an 80gb PS3 and would LOVE a backward compatibility firmware update. I’m tired of having my PS2 hooked up to my TV, but I still enjoy the games and even still buy some, because there were so many good ones, I haven’t had a chance to play them all. Sure, I love my PS3, but I really wish it had back compat so I could put the PS2 in the collection closet next to my original xbox and gamecube. I’ll never sell them, but at least I don’t have to have 30 consoles hooked up to my TV to enjoy them all.

  9. avatar Ragonda

    hahaha all you people talking about backwards compatibility for the ps3… Erm Hate To Rub it In But I Have Already Got It :P … 60GB PS3 Model (Launch Model) has the backwards compatibility… But Cause So Many Arseholes Complained about the price of the PS3 They had to get rid of some stuff (including memory card slots)… that what you all get for moaning… If Nobody Moaned Then You Might Of Still Had Backwards Compatibility and memory card readers

  10. avatar WaywardZ

    You’re right, you are an asshole.

  11. avatar harryslayer

    i own a ps1 ps2 ps3 and apsp
    my PS3 is an 80 gig thats fully backwards compatable
    so all u people stop CRYING & PONY UP THE DOUGH AND BUY A PS3

  12. avatar harryslayer


  13. avatar Larso

    Cool, you can play your PS2 games on your PS3 because you decided to spend more on your PS3 then I spent on my PS3 plus a PS2.

    Ragonda, your comment is so idiotic I can’t even break it down. GTFO.

  14. avatar Tyler

    my launch 20GB with backwards compatibility got the yellow light of death, im rockin a 80GB now, but no backwards compatibility =[

  15. avatar Lyalya

    The only PS3 that can’t play PS2 games is the 40GB PS3. All of the PS3 s avaliable can play PS1 games.The 20GB and 60GB PS3 s can play nealry all PS1 and PS2 games because of the Emotion Engine chip hardware.The 80GB PS3 can play around 75%-80% of PS1 and PS2 games because it uses Software Emulation.And as far as I know, you Cannot install backward compatibility with PS2 games on the 40GB PS3 by just installing software. Sony made the 40GB PS3 unable to play PS2 games.

  16. avatar Harald

    My Fav:8. What is the most important thing(s) about Geek Food?a) It can be eaisly be eaten by one hand.b) It’s sauce will magically disappear if dropped on keybaord.c) It tastes perfect after you take it out of feep-freezer.d) It never gets cold.e) It tastes like Pizza.Matt: It tastes like Pizza

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