Next-generation having problems with last-generation

Early reports from Japan say that PlayStation 3 is having problems playing older PS2 games, despite the fact that inside every PS3 are Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer chips included for the sake of backwards compatibility.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 console continues to be quite limited in its ability to play older Xbox games, although it must do so with software emulation as it does not include any of the original Xbox's hardware.

Sony announced this problem on its Japanese Web site on November 11, and said it expects similar compatibility problems to remain for the North American launch on November 17. According to Sony Computer Entertainment spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka, a select number of the 8,000 PS2 games are failing to work properly on the PS3, some that couldn't be played and others making the wrong sounds or images.

On the Japanese PlayStation page, there is a form where users can check the status of their software by inputting the title, publisher name, release date or product number. IGN and QJ has a list of problem titles they have encountered:

  • Tekken 5: A number of modes don't play background music properly.
  • Xenosaga Episode II: The opening movie sometimes stops and sometimes doesn't properly play background music.
  • Code Age Commanders: Problems (including data loss) with save game data.
  • Radiata Stories: Background music during movie scenes may not play back properly.
  • Star Ocean Till the End of Time (includes Directors Cut): Movie scenes may not have proper sound playback.
  • Driving Emotion Type-S: BGM may not properly play back during races
  • Gran Turismo 4: The screen may freeze following the title demo.
  • Hot Shots Golf 3/4: Some sort of problem with the controls becoming unresponsive
  • Operator's Side: The game freezes at the logo screen when started up with the Seamic controller
  • Onimusha Dawn of Dreams: Screen will occasionally appear 2cm to the right
  • Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition: The screen will not appear correctly in some instances. The S.F.II Movie cannot play properly.
  • Megaman X7: There are times when the background music won't play properly
  • Devil May Cry: The screen will sometimes freeze during the title demo
  • Onimusha: During movie playback, the sound will occasionally stop
  • Suikoden III: Cannot read PS1 data during the game.
  • Silent Hill 2: When going from the title screen to the demo screen, the screen may freeze
Sony says that compatibility issues arise due to hardware differences such as the lack of physical memory cards, no controller rumble feature, and other issues related to different hard disk and USB specifications. Games which make use of the PS2 HDD, such as Final Fantasy XI, will also not work on the PS3.

According to IGN, Sony commented on its backwards compatibility that it never had expectation for all of its titles to be playable on PS3, and that "some people can put up with playing games that lack sound."

Sony states on its Web site that future system updates, and perhaps even software-specific patches, will improve backwards compatibility with older software.

UPDATE November 20: Sony has made a PS2 compatibility status page to serve its U.S. customers. Find it here.

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