The video game industry celebrates the 20th anniversary this December for the historic console that helped usher in CD based media to console gaming: the PlayStation. The Sony made console easily became a mainstay and brand in the late 90s, even more so with the introduction of the PS2. There is even a special edition PS4 being sold in limited numbers. Some are going for insane amounts of money.
When I had found out that the PlayStation 2 would be able to play its predecessors games, I was instantly sold on the product. Keeping my old controllers, memory cards and games and using them on the new system was a big deal. It was a genius concept and a great way to keep a consumer base. It makes things an easy sell and sounds like something that should iterated upon with every console generation.
Backwards compatibility is great, I have played and finished numerous games using current gen consoles, namely Persona 3 and Persona 4. Using the feature wasn’t without issues though. Persona 3 would often times fail to save my file properly to the hard drive and Persona 4 would sometimes crash or freeze. These errors were probably not present if played on the originating console. Not only that, the resolution was scaled to fit a certain ratio.
There are some things you have to give away when you use backwards compatibility. Sometimes it is relatively error free when the hardware is built into console. Other times it might use a form of emulation like late models of “fat” PlayStation 3s. This may rub some fans the wrong way. Problems with backwards compatibility have been raised with the Nintendo 3DS with critics citing that old DS games better off on being played on a DS Lite or the like.
Backwards compatibility is not a new concept to the industry. You could even go back to the Super Nintendo to find the Super 8 and the Power Base Converter for the Sega Genesis. I have a feeling we won’t see it at all for the next generation of consoles. Besides some obvious technical and financial reasons console makers have to take into account, I think this generation has proved that it may not matter as much to fans.
If the current generation of consoles have proved anything about backwards compatibility it would be the fact that older games are constantly being re-released for current fan bases to enjoy. Nintendo has the Virtual Console, releasing titles from their previous consoles and even other consoles like the Sega Genesis. Sony does similar things, putting out titles from the PS1 and PS2 to be played on the PS3 and their handheld systems. It’s things like these that beg the question: why even implement hardware/software for backwards compatibility if you can just sell it again for current gen platforms?
I think it simply comes down to profit. You may not make as much as you originally did from the initial release but, you can still make money from it. Some extra money might be needed for porting, emulation and QA testing but, you will certainly make some sort of sales. All of that stuff may or may not come into play. Either way you have released a title that is currently not available on current gen consoles, making it less of a hassle to track down the game and other requirements to play said game.
So in essence, backwards compatibility has just adapted to a changing market and taken advantage of better technological resources. This can best be seen with the plethora of HD collections. From Silent Hill to Sly Cooper, gamers can enjoy dozens of games in a better quality than intended without having to search for multiple titles, consoles and peripherals.
The next problem is deciding which series or gem deserves to be remade/ported to our HD televisions.
There are lots of tributes to classic gaming out there, like Super Mario Crossover. SMC allows you to play the original Mario levels with different characters from classic NES games like Metroid or Contra and add some graphical changes if you want. Or the tribute might be something more modern like 3D Dot Game Heroes, a PS3 retail game that heralds back to the NES Zelda.
Recently, I stumbled upon Abobo’s Big Adventure, “The Ultimate Tribute to the NES.” This is what happens when you take a really tough enemy from Double Dragon and give him his own game. You travel through many levels of 8-bitdom, see many homages to the era and familiar pixels along the way.
You take the roll of Abobo himself, when your son Aboboy is captured; you go on a steaming rampage to get him back. I have always been a fan of crossovers and if the industry has taught us one thing, some franchises are destined to be mixed up. Abobo’s Big Adventure just happens to encapsulate a lot of them. And very well I might add.
On a sunny summer afternoon, I got home from work ready to sit down in front of the couch to try to finish one of the many games I have failed to complete. When I come home, not even five minutes in the door, my roommate informs me that the PS3 won’t turn on.
I inquire further about the situation, fearing the worst has happened. Apparently, it shut off in the middle of playing a Netflix stream and refused to turn on after that. I go over to the machine to test this for myself and just like she said it doesn’t turn on.
My heart sank to my stomach and I sighed. It died on me. However, I figure all is not lost. It can still be repaired. I start to research around the Internet for solutions to my problem and yes, given the symptoms, it’s a semi-common problem with my model PS3. It’s fixable, that’s what matters.
I search for home remedies instead of having to send it off somewhere. The thought of bringing it back to Sony seemed like a good option. But, reading about the repair process just made me backtrack to the DIY repairs, which I don’t have the tools for. So, I then researched repair shops I could send it to, these sounded like a better idea after some of the things I read about sending it back to the manufacturer. Who can I really trust with my prized system?
Knowing that there is a disc stuck in the drive and my save data hasn’t been back up in a while, I just let my PS3 sit on the shelf. I was fed up with research and contemplating the options … My PS3 has gone weeks without being turned on. I had my Deus Ex: Human Revolution preordered for the system but, had to cancel it since I was still undecided about what to do with only home console.
Now, I was not completely without a source of video entertainment, I still have a pretty decent gaming PC. Even with a PS3, there are still some games I prefer to play with a mouse and keyboard. I opted for buying Deus Ex for my rig. Time went on and I became more and more attached to my PC. It has become a pretty reliable piece of machinery. I have since bought Battlefield 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Windows platform.
In between all this though, I missed sitting in front of my TV, just relaxing with a controller in my hands. There is a certain experience you get in front of a television that you don’t from a sitting a computer chair. The couch is more comfortable but, it doesn’t lean back. Nevertheless, it can feel like a more social experience and more relaxing.
I missed this. Modern technology had burned me. You’ve probably heard the numerous stories of this generation of consoles breaking due to some sort internal malfunction. Did that ever happen in 1986? Probably. Do you have to worry about your Xbox’s hard drive dying? The simple answer is yes.
Putting a different way … A Nintendo from 20 years ago can still play a game pretty much flawlessly but, a state of the art entertainment device can’t even last four years without completely breaking? That’s why I went back. Things were just easier.
Games didn’t used to load, the controls were simple and you probably didn’t have a melodramatic saga of four games with hour long cut scenes. To me, the industry seemed sane then. Now, you have logins, Gamertags and random strangers from the Internet that condemn for a well-placed headshot.
I just want to press start and have the game work.