Sony’s Backwards Compatibility on PS4…is Bad.

Sony needs to remember that the PS2 set the standard for native backwards compatibility when they say “No one really uses it”.

 

I cannot fathom what is happening over there now, beyond having enough sales to justify doing whatever they want: The backwards compatibility on PS4 for PS2 games (Which yes does exist), is absolute horrendous.

So I hope it goes without saying, but the PS2 set the standard with native PSone support, and the games ran fine. This was part of the hardware, all was well, this was then followed by the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 (Somewhat), DS, 3DS, you get the idea. The standard was set by PS2.

Jump forward to PS3, it had PS2 hardware to run PS2 games in it, but that was later removed to save money, a wise choice under the circumstances. However, the ability to pop your PSone CD in and play away remained, and again, it ran fine.

What the PS3 did eventually allow, was the ability to download PS1 and some PS2 games as “Classics” and play them, only emulated.

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PS2 Classics on PS3 as emulated titles is a mistake. Let’s take Sonic Heroes for instance, which is available as a PS3 download and emulated on PS3. Frame rate problems (More so than the original!) and some errors that I can’t really explain, like boss text not fading away properly. It’s not the best.

But to compound the issue let’s look at PSone Classics, namely the Spyro Trilogy, and we begin with THIS little gem, courtesy of the PlayStation Blog from 2011 (Yes, I remember).

The journey from PSone disc to PSone emulation can be a long one – here’s the short version.
We make sure we’ve got a good copy of the original disk (or discs if there are localised versions), then the game is cleared for publish by our legal department.
Why are some games available on the US Store but not available on the EU Stores?
The million dollar question…
This usually comes down to either publishing rights or bugs that occur within the emulated PAL version that did not occur within the NTSC emulated version. There are several PAL titles that don’t play well with the emulator because of a PAL-only copy protection system that was used in several key releases, and sometimes other bugs occur at random.

Source

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So what do I mean? Well with the Spyro Trilogy we got the American localizations (The system doesn’t hide this fact!). What sucks is this “It needs to be bug free and play well with the emulator” is absolute horse manure.

The three Spyro games on PS3, at least in the UK, have near constant slow down, frame drops, and musical errors. Yet if I pop my PS CD in there and play it from a disk…it’s fine. Flawless. What happened? Is the emulator that bad? Why not just make the games run natively?

Of course even native ports aren’t safe. The HD re-release of Ratchet and Clank 3 as part of the Ratchet and Clank HD Trilogy is a mess, with audio screw ups, either mis-timed or bad loops, and even scripted cutscenes playing out wrong (Just look up the Momma Tyhrannoid fight from 3 for that spectacle!). So when bringing over past games either as emulations of remasters, the track record isn’t great.

 

bullshit

 

Now we get to the big one: The PlayStation 4, the most powerful base system of the time. It outpaces the Nvidia Shield, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One quite comfortably. You’ll see why I mentioned those shortly.

For reference, the Xbox and Gamecube surpassed the PS2 in performance, PS2 games were nowhere near as demanding or advanced in fidelity or polygon counts.

So this begs the question, why does the PS4, again a powerful system, have issues emulating the PS2, when the weaker Xbox One and Nvidia Shield can emulate the more advanced-than-PS2 systems in Xbox and Gamecube, with no issues?

 

In these two videos you can see frame drops, skipping images, jumping images, it’s all over the place and a total mess.

Sure we get up-scaled to 1080p and trophy support…but if the trade off is a terrible performing PS2 game on a PS4, then what is the point?

I have yet to try Jak 3 and personally I don’t want to, but the original Jak and Daxter was no better, with some moments becoming brief slide shows and one boss fight running routinely below 30fps it felt like.

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Now the coup de grace: Both the PS3 releases as part of the HD Trilogy, and these PS2 Classics for Jak, have separate trophy lists, however, I can easily check both from my PS4, mobile app, website…the list goes on. It’s evident the two sets of games, despite being the same games, have separate lists.

This is something I can easily check, yet for some reason, despite trophies being a part of my account and Sony being very capable of checking if I already own the games, you don’t get a discount on these facades of PS2 “Classics”. Full price, which is upwards of £30.

To compound this further, the PS3 re-releases I actually bought digitally, and thus is part of my account’s purchase history! Still no discount. Unlike Microsoft, who let you pop a disk in and download it onto Xbox One when available (Something the PS4 could do with your original PS1 and 2 disks!) to see if you bought physical copies, or simply checking your account and giving you the games if you already downloaded them….you need to pay again.

Hell, let’s get really archaic with the Wii. That didn’t even have an account system, your purchases for the Virtual Console were locked to your hardware, but via system transfer, your Wii U can see what games you already had on Wii Virtual Console, and gives you a very sizeable discount on the Wii U versions when available!

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Yes. Even the damn Wii got this right. It was cumbersome, but they found a way to do it. But here, all the data is right there, multiple times over as it happens, in my account and…nothing. Full price please, have some butchered releases.

I don’t like that.

 

To end, I’ll quote my favourite man who should himself hire some PR guys: Jim Ryan! Remember what he said about backwards compatibility?

“That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”

You know what Jim? I have to somewhat agree. Except instead of criticising the graphics, I’ll modify your statement a little.

The PS1 and PS2 games, they ran worse than they did initially, even though it’s far more capable hardware, like why would anybody play this?

That’s the question I find myself asking. Why? There is absolutely no reason for it to be this way. Everything about Sony’s approach to backwards compatibility is wrong, which is a shame as they spurred it into an industry standard.

Plus, Jim Ryan, at the rate you all churn out these maligned releases, for the sheer gaps between releases, for all the effort that clearly goes into these, if this is the resultant quality….keep them.

 

Thanks for reading! What do you think about PS4 BC in this day and age? Is it acceptable? Let me know in comments or on social media, and until next time, Happy Gaming!

 

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