Following in the footsteps of Nintendo and their recent NES and SNES Classic mini consoles, Sony will releasing a similar take on the PS1 next month: the PlayStation Classic, a plug-and-play replica of the 32-bit console, loaded with 20 of the platform’s most memorable games. Like Nintendo’s Classic systems, the PlayStation Classic will use an emulator to run its games, but in Sony’s case it’s relying on a piece of open source software.
Kotaku got some early hands-on time with the PlayStation Classic and discovered that it uses the PCSX ReARMed emulator, which is a modern version of the open source PCSX emulator that was originally developed between 2000 and 2003 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The site notes that the software does a decent enough job at keeping the games accurate to their mid- to late-90s originals, although some don’t make the transition to HD displays as well as others.
Some gaming fans have found Sony’s use of this emulator to be a bit surprising, not to mention ironic. While the company has licensed the software for the PlayStation Classic, many years ago it was also one of the biggest opponents of emulators due to their part in video game piracy. While it was always copies of games, distributed as ROMs, there were illegal, rather than the emulators themselves, the software wasn’t looked upon too fondly by game companies.
Sony is now being criticized as “lazy” by some gamers for its use of the open source emulator, whereas Nintendo developed its own for the NES and SNES Classic. Others, however, have noted that this is a sign that Sony and others see open source emulators as something that’s just as good as, if not better than, an “official” version developed in-house. As Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation, noted on Twitter, “Should we expect Sony to spend the time and money making something that is probably not going to end up being as good as PCSX? Why?”