A small library of upgraded PlayStation 2-era games can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store in North America and Europe for PS4 owners.
The first group of eight PS2 games playable on PS4 launched on Saturday and come with new features, including visuals being up-rendered to 1080p resolution, Remote Play and adding Trophy support. The price for each game ranges from $9.99 to $14.99. These games aren’t remasters or remakes but are close versions to what they originally released as on PS2.
Currently the major games are from third-party studios like the Grand Theft Auto franchise and Japanese developer Level-5. Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto III (2001), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) are all available for download. Dark Cloud (2001) and Rogue Galaxy (2007) are two popular role-playing games from Level-5. Each game costs $14.99.
Other releases part of the new PS2 catalog include first-party titles like Twisted Metal: Black (2001) for $9.99, the vehicle combat game by Incognito Entertainment and David Jaffe. The Mark of Kri (2002) by SCE San Diego Studio is $14.99. War of the Monsters (2003) is $9.99, a brawler featuring massive creatures set across different cities that was also developed by Incognito Entertainment.
PS4 console-level features like game streaming, screenshots, Share Play, the social Activity Feed and Remote Play on PlayStation Vita also work with these new PS2 games. Game manuals can be read using second screen support on the Vita or the PlayStation mobile app. The frame-rate has also been improved in these PS4 versions over the originals.
The more expensive games on PS4 do have a full Trophy set that include a Platinum. The $9.99 titles are missing the highest level Trophy. Trophy requirements were designed based on feedback from the original developers, according to Sony.
Sony considers these versions on PS4 all-new releases that players need to rebuy. Players don’t get an upgrade discount if they already own the game as a PS2 Classic digitally on PlayStation 3. PS2 Classics aren’t backwards compatible on PS4. These games aren’t Cross-Buy with PS2 Classics either. PS2 Classics can be downloaded on PlayStation 3 from $4.99 to $9.99, with the current batch of games on the higher end. The PS3 versions don’t include Trophies or other graphical upgrades.
The company said it plans to release new PS2 games on a regular schedule. PaRappa the Rapper 2 (2002), FantaVision (2000), Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (2003) and The King of Fighters 2000 (2002) are all planned for release in the future.
Sony initially announced PlayStation 2-era games were coming to PS4 with three Star Wars games in August, which were the first to release on the console in November. These games are only currently available through a voucher by purchasing the special PS4 bundles based on Star Wars. None of the games include a Platinum Trophy.
These PS2 games can be considered more ports than true backwards compatibility being added to the console. The games are running on PS2 software emulation rather than more complex designs integrated with the PS4’s hardware or operating system that would allow for wider compatibility. Original PlayStation 2 releases won’t work, so inserting PS2 discs of these games into the PS4 doesn’t make them playable or unlock the latest digital versions.
The Grand Theft Auto games have some of the radio station music from the original releases removed due to licensing issues. Songs like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in Vice City, N.W.A.’s “Express Yourself” and “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine in San Andreas are gone.
All these games were part of the Greatest Hits line on PlayStation 2. The only two not part of the digital PS2 Classics lineup are Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy.
Sony joins its competition in offering backwards compatibility on its latest console. Microsoft added Xbox 360 backwards compatibility with its previous console’s catalog in November, allowing Xbox One owners to play their last generation’s retail and digital library free of charge. The company plans to add new compatible games every month.
The Wii U has a library of downloadable retro games and Wii titles on the Virtual Console and eShop. Unlike Sony, Nintendo allows for a small upgrade fee for the digital Wii U versions of its last generation titles that players already bought on the Wii. These versions are played through the Wii U with console features like Off-TV play, save states, customizable controls and Miiverse support rather than going through the system’s bare Wii emulation mode.
PlayStation 4 also isn’t backwards compatible with PS3 retail and digital games. The only way to play them is through the PlayStation Now streaming service by individually renting games or subscribing per month. The PS4 is the first Sony home console besides the original PlayStation to not have backwards compatibility, with the PS2, PS3 and even the Vita handheld all having some form of the feature for previous game owners.
The PS2 launched in October 2000 in North America and sold more than 155 million consoles worldwide during its lifetime.
Watch the trailer showing the different games running on PS4: