PlayStation 2 games play quite well on the Xbox Series S

Cal Jeffrey

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Staff member
In context: There was quite a lot of talk about backward compatibility from both Microsoft and Sony in the lead-up to their next-gen consoles. While Microsoft can boast that the Xbox Series X and S are entirely backward compatible with its previous consoles, Sony has only committed to being able to run PS4 titles on the PlayStation 5.

This shortfall of the PS5 might not be that big of a deal, considering there are over 4,000 PS4 titles that Sony claims will run just fine on the new system. However, retro-gaming enthusiasts wishing to play PS2 games must settle for the few titles already ported to the PS4. That, or purchase a PlayStation Now subscription. However, there is another option.

According to Modern Vintage Gamer, most PlayStation 2 titles are playable on the Xbox Series S. Of course, you have to use an emulator for this to work, but MVG tested several PS2 games on the XBSS using the open-source emulator from RetroArch and reports many of them run just fine.

You first have to install RetroArch on the next-gen Xbox via the console's Developer Mode, which Microsoft has made readily available with registration. The emulator is already capable of running GameCube and other gaming system titles, but it recently added a PlayStation 2 core called "PCSX2."

It is still in early development, but most of the games MVG tested (video above) were at least playable. The biggest issue it ran into was texture quirks. There were also some frame rate problems in some of the games. Given time, these issues may get ironed out. That said, a few titles ran perfectly.

For example, Silent Hill 2 runs nearly flawlessly at 60fps with only a slight distortion in the player character's facial texture. Other games that played excellently include Maximo, Okami, God Hand, Burnout 3, Rule of Rose, and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness.

Of course, with every emulator, there comes the risk of the original IP holder shutting it down. Unlike Nintendo, Sony does not have a history of going after emulators. However, it could view PCSX2 as being in direct competition with its PlayStation Now subscription service, which may bring out the cease and desist letters. So you might want to give it a try while you still can, that is, if you can even find an Xbox Series S.

Image credit: ESOlex

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,452   +3,610
"It is still in early development, but most of the games MVG tested (video above) were at least playable"

PCSX2 has been around for 18 years now, with 97% of games playable.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,154   +543
The issue Sony will have is that its can run on its competitors system. Of course they will say its because of their online subscription service but thats not the real reason.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,454   +2,348
I could actually have gotten the S easily - had I wanted to. It was available several days after the X - which I wanted - was sold out. It was gone for a week, then available again and now sold out. But yes, not an F5 situation.
 

Kirby1

Posts: 101   +151
It would be unusual for them to try to stop this now since running this on a xbox isn't all that special when basically any PC can run PC2 emulators as well. Doing this on an xbox is probably more complicated than doing it on a PC so anyone who really wants to emulate PS2 games is probably not going to go this route anyway. It shouldn't be a surprise that any modern device from a decent phone to a console can run PS2 emulators so long as that device has some method for allowing open development like an android phone, PC, or xbox in dev mode.
 

enemys

Posts: 244   +255
TechSpot Elite
Why and how could Sony 'go after that'? Both creating and using emulators is legal, so is using devmode on Xbox. And PCSX2 has been around for years.

BTW suggesting that PS Now is a reliable source of PS2 games that could compete with an emulator is just a lie. I'm not sure how anyone could come to such conclusion. The only PS2 titles available there are the ones that were ported to PS3 or PS4, of which there aren't that many. And keep in mind that PS Now does not offer every PS3 game, so it's quite possible that not every port made it's way there.
 

Xallisto

Posts: 127   +133
"Sony does not have a history of going after emulators."

I doubt they will continue with that now it's running on rival consoles.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,980   +796
Staff member
BTW suggesting that PS Now is a reliable source of PS2 games that could compete with an emulator is just a lie. I'm not sure how anyone could come to such conclusion. The only PS2 titles available there are the ones that were ported to PS3 or PS4, of which there aren't that many. And keep in mind that PS Now does not offer every PS3 game, so it's quite possible that not every port made it's way there.
That is not true. I test PS Now about every 3 months or so just to see how the streaming is coming along (it's getting better by the way) and there are tons of PS2 games and not all of them have been ported to the PS3 or PS4. Just a few examples include Okage: Shadow King, Dark Cloud 1 & 2, Arc the Lad, Jedi Starfighter, and others.

That said, I do agree that PS Now lack some of the better PS2 titles. Where is Champions of Norrath 1 & 2, Front Mission 4, any of the Legacy of Kain games, or Star Ocean? So ultimately you are right. The majority of my PS2 disc collection cannot be found on PS Now or has already been ported. However, that's not going to stop Sony from seeing PS2 emulation on Xbox Series as a threat and saying that it is in direct conflict with its PS Now service.

They might not be bothered by it at all. As I said they don't really have a big history of sending out C&D orders like Nintendo does, but since it is on their competitor's box they might view it differently, especially since the consoles are brand new.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,048   +3,182
It's the same reason why people play on console rather than on PC.
No... I'd assume most people play consoles for the exclusives... and optimization of the games to the hardware...

Neither of which apply to emulator games...

If you have a console solely for cost purposes (yes, they're cheaper than a PC), I could understand... but I wonder how many people have a console and DON'T have a PC.... and the specs needed on a PC to play PS2 games are not very high...
 

enemys

Posts: 244   +255
TechSpot Elite
That is not true. I test PS Now about every 3 months or so just to see how the streaming is coming along (it's getting better by the way) and there are tons of PS2 games and not all of them have been ported to the PS3 or PS4. Just a few examples include Okage: Shadow King, Dark Cloud 1 & 2, Arc the Lad, Jedi Starfighter, and others.

That said, I do agree that PS Now lack some of the better PS2 titles. Where is Champions of Norrath 1 & 2, Front Mission 4, any of the Legacy of Kain games, or Star Ocean? So ultimately you are right. The majority of my PS2 disc collection cannot be found on PS Now or has already been ported. However, that's not going to stop Sony from seeing PS2 emulation on Xbox Series as a threat and saying that it is in direct conflict with its PS Now service.

They might not be bothered by it at all. As I said they don't really have a big history of sending out C&D orders like Nintendo does, but since it is on their competitor's box they might view it differently, especially since the consoles are brand new.
The titles you mentioned are PS4 ports of sort. They can be bought on PS Store as PS4 titles or downloaded from PS Now and run locally*. I suspect they run under some emulation layer. But it's good to hear that the library is expanding, thanks for pointing it out.

That being said, even if Sony felt threatened by PCSX2 on Xbox (and I doubt they do - getting into dev mode is cheap, but not free, setup takes a bit of time and most of users don't know or don't care about it), I still see no legal basis for action here - and who exactly would Sony sue?

*Example: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP9000-CUSA01944_00-SCES502950000001
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,980   +796
Staff member
The titles you mentioned are PS4 ports of sort. They can be bought on PS Store as PS4 titles or downloaded from PS Now and run locally*. I suspect they run under some emulation layer. But it's good to hear that the library is expanding, thanks for pointing it out.

That being said, even if Sony felt threatened by PCSX2 on Xbox (and I doubt they do - getting into dev mode is cheap, but not free, setup takes a bit of time and most of users don't know or don't care about it), I still see no legal basis for action here - and who exactly would Sony sue?

*Example: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP9000-CUSA01944_00-SCES502950000001
Don't get me wrong. I DO agree with you. I don't personally think Sony will take issue. After all, I believe PCSX2 (or a derivative) has been running on Xbox One for some time now (I won't swear to that), and Sony has not batted an eye about it.

I'm just saying that since they are currently in the midst of a next-gen (now current-gen?) console war, they might take exception in this case. It's one thing to emulate PS2 games on a competitor's system after both companies' console sales have peaked, but it's another ball game when both systems are brand new and Sony and M$ are fighting like dogs for market share. Does this automatically mean Sony will drop the ban hammer? No. But it might.

As far as who they would sue: I imagine that if they did decide to take legal action, they would follow Nintendo's playbook and go after the ROM producers. Honestly, I have not used PCXS2, so I do not know where or how PS2 ROMs are made available (RetroArch website? Built into the emulator? IDK), but that is who they would target I suspect.
 

gamerk2

Posts: 516   +411
Huh, wasn't aware the job to port PCSX2's core over to Retroarch was complete.

FYI, PCSX2 is definitely one of the emulators that needs a bit more "per game" configuration then most. I actual maintain a document listing all the "special game fixes" various titles need.
 

gamerk2

Posts: 516   +411
"Sony does not have a history of going after emulators."

I doubt they will continue with that now it's running on rival consoles.

There's not much they can legally do. The BLEEM case made making a backup of system BIOS legal (and most emulators can emulate those anyway), and clean room reverse engineering has been a thing for ages. Sony's hands are pretty much legally tied at this point. Hell, even Nintendo knows they won't win against Emulators, and Nintendo is *very* aggressive about protecting it's IP.

Granted, all this change if Oracle wins its lawsuit against Google and APIs are ruled protected by copyright. That being said, a hell of a lot more would be affected by that ruling (WINE being one of the more notable examples; I *really* hope no one ever mainlined any parts of that into the Linux kernel...), and I suspect so many lawsuits will go flying that emulators would initially avoid detection.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,980   +796
Staff member
Huh, wasn't aware the job to port PCSX2's core over to Retroarch was complete.

FYI, PCSX2 is definitely one of the emulators that needs a bit more "per game" configuration then most. I actual maintain a document listing all the "special game fixes" various titles need.
It's not. It's is still considered a work in progress, but it is working with some limitations and bugs. I linked to the announcement in the article. Here it is for your convenience.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,980   +796
Staff member
There's not much they can legally do. The BLEEM case made making a backup of system BIOS legal (and most emulators can emulate those anyway), and clean room reverse engineering has been a thing for ages. Sony's hands are pretty much legally tied at this point. Hell, even Nintendo knows they won't win against Emulators, and Nintendo is *very* aggressive about protecting it's IP.

Granted, all this change if Oracle wins its lawsuit against Google and APIs are ruled protected by copyright. That being said, a hell of a lot more would be affected by that ruling (WINE being one of the more notable examples; I *really* hope no one ever mainlined any parts of that into the Linux kernel...), and I suspect so many lawsuits will go flying that emulators would initially avoid detection.
They don't have to be able to win. C&D means take it down or go to court. Not a lot of little guys putting out ROMs want a legal fight with the likes of Nintendo's or Sony's virtually unlimited resources.
 

gamerk2

Posts: 516   +411
It's not. It's is still considered a work in progress, but it is working with some limitations and bugs. I linked to the announcement in the article. Here it is for your convenience.

I knew about the "in development" part; I just wasn't aware the core released.

And PCSX2 does have more "per game" issues then other emulators I've used recently; generally minor graphical issues rather then anything outright game breaking, though still annoying to have to find out what settings address those problems. A game database like Dolphin has would actually be a nice feature to add at some point...
 

enemys

Posts: 244   +255
TechSpot Elite
Don't get me wrong. I DO agree with you. I don't personally think Sony will take issue. After all, I believe PCSX2 (or a derivative) has been running on Xbox One for some time now (I won't swear to that), and Sony has not batted an eye about it.

I'm just saying that since they are currently in the midst of a next-gen (now current-gen?) console war, they might take exception in this case. It's one thing to emulate PS2 games on a competitor's system after both companies' console sales have peaked, but it's another ball game when both systems are brand new and Sony and M$ are fighting like dogs for market share. Does this automatically mean Sony will drop the ban hammer? No. But it might.

As far as who they would sue: I imagine that if they did decide to take legal action, they would follow Nintendo's playbook and go after the ROM producers. Honestly, I have not used PCXS2, so I do not know where or how PS2 ROMs are made available (RetroArch website? Built into the emulator? IDK), but that is who they would target I suspect.
RetroArch only handles emulators, not ROMs. They don't even provide BIOS files for consoles - only information about what BIOS a given emulator core may need or what features it brings.

ROM sites can be legally tackled and taken down, sure, but that leaves the actual emulators safe and out of picture.
 

0dium

Posts: 208   +260
Agreed.... I wonder how many people own a console who don’t also own a pc though... I’m thinking not many....
Sure most have a PC. The question is, how powerful that PC is. Most have a laptop. Hell, even my friend who was a PC only gamer now owns every new console and a simple laptop for internet and stuff
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,048   +3,182
Sure most have a PC. The question is, how powerful that PC is. Most have a laptop. Hell, even my friend who was a PC only gamer now owns every new console and a simple laptop for internet and stuff
You don’t need a powerful pc to play PS2 games 😍
 

gamerk2

Posts: 516   +411
You don’t need a powerful pc to play PS2 games 😍

Unless you upscale the internal resolution a bunch. Or there's a graphical effect that doesn't work on GSDX so you have to use the software renderer (until recently, a good example would be the Thermal scope from RE4, but I *think* that one finally got fixed). And I know a few cases where you have to use the Interpreter to get past certain scenes, in which case even my 8700k gets about 2-3 FPS.

Granted, there aren't *that* many cases, but they do exist.