More Sony lies

Phil Harrison lied to us. For once, though, I’m happy about a disingenuous Sony company line.

Ever since joining the high-definition world and discovering that a 720p LCD television looks nice but is a terrible idea for anyone interested in ever playing a pre-HD system again, I’ve been mildly obsessed with the black science of getting retro content to look good in this grim world of the future. So the one question I’ve had about PlayStation 3 — one which, to the best of my game blog RSS-watching and obsessive googling, no one has seen fit to answer — is simply this: does PS3’s backwards compatibility allow PS1 and PS2 games to output in HD-friendly resolutions?

Phil Harrison told us no. But Phil Harrison was horribly mistaken, because PS3 does. Both PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games run in progressive scan if you’re using a high-quality connection.

And that, my friends, is awesome. I nearly returned my TV when I first tested out Symphony of the Night on PS2 and found that even running under component video it was a smeary, blurry mess; on PS3, though, it’s crisp and sharp and every bit as lovely as you remember. Vagrant Story looks colorful and detailed, although I never realized before that it’s so… dithered. Yeah, so you don’t get the PS2’s BC texture filtering, but it’s no big loss to have such clear, crisp images. I guess I could be wrong and this is just the miracle of HDMI, but I don’t think that’s the case — the difference in quality is comparable to the improvement my progressive scan DVD player offers. In any case, PS3 makes old games look HOT.

So I guess I need a PS3 after all. Frigging Sony. But don’t think you’ve won this round by any means! I’m going to hold out for a while, and here’s why: Your first batch of hardware always sucks. Let me explain.

  1. PlayStation: I bought my PS1 a year and a half after launch, but still ended up with the first hardware revision. This is good, because apparently the original PS with the separate audio-out jacks has a reputation for being pretty much the best CD audio player ever. But it’s bad, because the CD read apparatus was a piece of crap and within two years I had to flip the system on its side to keep it from stuttering its way through FMVs.
  2. PlayStation 2: This I bought at launch, and initially the only problems I had were with the disc manufacturing (like the copy of Ridge Racer V that took five minutes to load each track). But about two years later, the system choked on my copy of Xenosaga. Not that I can blame it, but not being able to eject one of the worst games I’ve ever played was a tiny nugget of hell that cost me $50 to have sorted out at a point where I couldn’t really afford to blow that much money on defective craftsmanship.
  3. PlayStation Portable: Bought a Japanese launch unit. Square button decided to stop working within half a year.

I’m not bitter, though, just smart. Sony’s not tricking me into spending 600 bucks twice.

Well, anyway. Enough carping. If you’re interested in a tiny dose of positivity, check out our Virtual Console Roundup, which praises with one hand and slap-fights with the other. On the whole I’m very impressed — the quality easily exceeds my expectations, even if the selection is crazy anemic.

29 thoughts on “More Sony lies

  1. Am I correct in assuming that the second Altered Beast screenshot represents the metaphoric “kick in the nuts” of paying $8 for an awkward control, sub-standard arcade conversion former pack-in?

  2. which praises with one hand and slap-fights with the other
    For some reason this brings to mind an image of you holding a bowl of rice up in the air with your left hand while flailing your right hand in every which direction, trying to keep off the carbohydrate-hungry fanboyz. It’s pretty funny, but I guess you had to be there.

  3. Is Mario 64 really worth rebuying if I’ve still got the original lying around? I know the whole progressive scan argument, but Nintendo is going to have to cooperate with me and make some cables before that even becomes an issue.

  4. 480p is not an “hd-friendly resolution” -it’s the same resolution as 480i, just not interlaced.

    Also, it progressive-scanizes non-progressive scan games? What if you play a game that has progressive scan support and turn it on?

  5. “it’s the same resolution as 480i, just not interlaced”
    Oh, so that’s what it means. Amazing!
    No, seriously, on LCD and plasma sets, interlaced video looks horrible. Progressive scan makes a world of difference. My definition of HD-friendly is pretty loose, i.e. “not looking like complete crap.” 480p is, 480i isn’t.
    I haven’t tested enough with PS2 games to get a feel for how it behaves. But PS1 games look better than they ever have — amazingly crisp.

  6. The only other time I bought a console on launch day was the Dreamcast; I was also working at an EB games when, six months to the day of it’s launch, the PS2’s where coming back in droves. I swore I would never buy a console so soon after launch ever again, and the few isolated reports of Wii’s becoming bricks has made me anxious of digital crib death. But I trust Nintendo; after the year Sony has had, I just can’t give them a pass. Besides, it’s future proof so I can buy it 5 years from now and it will still be good.
    I wish your VC article had come before I bought Mario Bros. Those NES arcade ports are all pretty tragic, although a small part of me secretly hopes for Popeye. I can’t remember the last time I played a TG-16 (my fondest memories of the TG-16 were Bonk, Splatterhouse, and the day I got Genesis), but what was wrong with the emulation? I thought it looked good, could it be an HD thing?

  7. Question for ya after reading the VC article. How exactly does the 5 player Bomberman ’93 work? As a side note, 5-player Bomberman ’93 was my introduction to the Bomberman games. More and more, this is seeming like a must-purchase.

  8. Well alrighty then. I do differentiate between “HD native” and “HD friendly” (i.e. EDTV), actually. So no harm, no foul.
    I haven’t had time to test Bomberman ’93’s 5-player game yet but apparently half of San Francisco will be having lunch at my apartment tomorrow so I should be able to report in. (I do know that the fifth player has to use a GameCube controller.)

  9. Sam: If you read the title’s description on the Wii Shop Channel, it says you’ll need at least one Gamecube controller to play with five people.

    And my apologies for bringing up the last topic in this one, but exactly how does adding Wii friends work? I put in the code, then it asked for a nickname… I know this is probably a stupendously stupid question, but am I supposed to be putting in what my nickname? I assume that’s what it is, but I also thought it might be asking me what name I want to person whose code I’m inputing to display as in my friends list…

  10. Does this mean Wii can technically support up to 8 players? Oh man… they should have enabled that for Double Dash.

  11. This is off-topic, but wouldn’t it be a better idea to have a username for the Wii network? Is there a reason this wasn’t implemented?

  12. I’m gonna by a Wii Points card as soon as I can find one, but I’m probably not spending any money on the Virtual Console until Super Metroid and Mario RPG come out. Has anyone at Nintendo ever said when we’re getting those?

  13. Sir, that’s no mistake. You see, back on those mesolithic standard definition televisions, it was merely impossible to see Tails in Sonic 1, as he very cunningly hid between the scanlines. In actuality, Tails was always there, much like the mind control agents in your drinking water or the NSA on your phone calls. His shocking ruse has been undone by the miracle of progressive scan, that’s all.

  14. This isn’t related to the post, but do you have any idea why 1UP doesn’t work without using a web proxy? Is the site intentionally blocking us foreign devils, or something?

  15. Half of me hopes that my wife sells the unopened PS3 in the closet so I can finally pick up a Wii and then the other half of me hopes she isn’t able to so that I can try out Final Fantasy XII on it :/

  16. Man, too bad I got rid of that copy of Beyond the Beyond a long time ago, or I could play it as it was MEANT to be played.
    My god we did some truly terrible things waiting for Final Fantasy VII

  17. There are horror stories about waiting for console launches and hot game releases. They will not be repeated here, solely for the sake of my fragile sanity. I will note that I will NEVER do another wait in line 10+ hour jobbie to get a stupid piece of plastic and silicon. I love me games, but I love me fingers and toes more. Especially not frostbitten. Nope.
    On the topic of classic PS1 games, I just started playing through Tales of Destiny again, and I was struck by how damn nice the game looks even 7-8 years old. Sure it’s sprite based, and most of the graphics were borrowed or modified from the SFC Tales of Phantasia, but it runs smooth as butter and the game itself hits that boundary line between over-grinding to get through (DQ) or a cakewalk (FFX).

  18. I managed to bypass all horrors: My wait consisted of a mere five hours at the local Best Buy, forty-sixth in line for sixty units. And more importantly, the employees and managers were on it: No one got more then one unit or one copy of each game, everything was nice and orderly.

  19. Is it just me or does Sony’s hardware have, like, a really high rate of sucking in general? Besides the obvious first-run PS2 woes, I’ve dealt with a late-model PS1 whose center spindle fell apart, two consecutive discmen that failed due to mechanical problems within the first eight months, and a car radio that decided to stop ejecting CDs properly after about six months. That last one was particularly fun as it still played CDs just fine but every time I’d eject I’d have to pound on the dash next to the deck to get the disc out. Since that car was my college beater I still used that deck for a few years afterwards, but it remained a pain in the ass till the end.

  20. You people are insane. Talking about images and crap. I want to play some games. What happened to gameplay? Do this new consoles offer anything different from a PS2 or an XBOX 360 in therms of GAMEPLAY? I mean, I know the Wii has a new controler but no one is saying if it works nice or not. So far it looks like a Power Glove to me.

  21. I dunno, from what I could tell the wiimote works just fine, though I only tried out Sports at my local Gamestop. And if you’re looking for different or added gameplay, the PS3 controller has a gyro in it like the wiimote does. At any rate, “Gameplay” can be many things, and depends mostly on the developer. The hardware may restrict or allow different things due to design limitations, but the onus of “Gameplay” resides on the creativity of those who make the games. So your question shouldn’t really be whether the consoles allow new forms of gameplay to be created, but whether the developers are being creative in their usage of the hardware?

  22. My first-edition Playstation, and first-edition PS2 are still working perfectly. This in a house with 4 young lads giving them almost constant play. Not to mention, a house where orange juice could be spilled into the Amiga floppy disk storage container not once, but twice.

  23. Mr. X–people (specifically Parish and myself, but others too) have said multiple times the Wii Remote works WONDERFULLY as designed.

    The problem is you, and surly jaded gamers in general, choose not to hear it.

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