The PlayStation 2 (PS2) has one of the all-time greatest gaming libraries, and that library is bolstered by the fact that the console has access to more than its own catalog of titles.
Is the PS2 backward compatible? Yes. The PS2 is backward compatible with most of the PS1’s gaming library and accessories. That said, there are some exceptions depending on which PS2 model you are using.
As we said, the PS2 is backward compatible with most PS1 games and accessories – but compatibility really depends on the model of PS2. Across the board, the vast majority of titles are compatible with all models of the PS2, but there are more than a handful of exceptions.
Before we get into the different models and their respective compatibility with PS1 software, there are several games that are incompatible with the PS2, regardless of the model.
These PS1 games have compatibility issues with all PS2 models:
- Arcade Party Pak
- Arcade’s Greatest Hits/Atari 2
- Fighter Maker
- Monkey Hero
Original PS2 (Fat) Backward Compatability
When it comes to backward compatibility, the original PS2 models (also referred to as the “PS2 fat”) have issues with far fewer games than the redesigned slim units.
All of the following PS1 games have some major issues running on (or are completely incompatible with) original PS2 hardware:
- Destruction Derby
- Destruction Derby 2
- Destruction Derby Raw
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Krazy Ivan
- Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions
This list of incompatible games is all in addition to the titles that have issues on all PS2 hardware. Still, this list of incompatible games is just a fraction of those that have issues on the PS2 Slim.
PS2 Slim Backward Compatibility
Unfortunately, when it comes to the backward compatibility on the PS2 Slim, there are a ton of PS1 games that have noticeable problems.
All of the following PS1 games have some major issues running on (or are completely incompatible with) PS2 Slim hardware:
- 102 Dalmatians: Puppies To The Rescue
- Akuji The Heartless
- Barbie Race And Ride
- Broken Helix
- Gundam Battle Assault
- The Hive
- Hooters Road Trip
- In Cold Blood
- Jampack Vol. 2
- Land Before Time: Great Valley Racing Adventure
- Looney Tunes: Sheep Raider
- NFL Xtreme
- NHL 2000
- NHL 2001
- NHL Blades Of Steel 2000
- NHL Rock The Rink
- Nuclear Strike
- Powerboat Racing (VR Sports)
- Poy Poy 2
- Speed Punks
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (video game)
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- Soviet Strike
- Tomorrow Never Dies
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
This list of incompatible games is all in addition to the titles that have issues on all PS2 hardware. But these are only the titles that have major issues on the PS2. For a complete list of PS1 games that have even minor problems running on PS2 hardware, check out this helpful Wikipedia guide.
But while the PS2 is backward compatible with the majority of PS1 games and accessories, is it necessarily the best console to experience them on? Well, like anything else, there are pros and cons.
PS2 Backward Compatibility: Pros And Cons
- Easier to display on an HDTV
- Slightly faster loading times
- Not compatible with all PS1 games
- PS2 Slim not compatible with all PS1 accessories
When it comes to PS2 backward compatibility with the PS1, there are honestly very few pros or cons. That said, the few advantages and disadvantages of the console are pretty notable.
First of all, with component output, it is easier to display to an HDTV on a PS2 than it is on the PS1. This is super helpful considering most of us don’t have an old CRT television sitting around.
Additionally, PS1 games tend to run a tad more quickly on the PS2. It should be noted that load times aren’t dramatically different; in fact, most gamers would likely never even notice the difference unless they were doing a side-by-side comparison.
Again, the main drawback of using a PS2 to play PS1 games is that not all titles or accessories are necessarily compatible. The PS2 does an admirable job at playing the PS1 software, but it’s not as consistent across the board as the original hardware.
Specifically, when talking about the PS2 Slim, it should also be noted that the console is not compatible with third-party PS1 memory cards (meaning, memory cards that do not have the PlayStation logo on them). In order to save PS1 games, a PS1 memory card is required – even if playing on a PS2. Due to a change in the hardware, however, the PS2 Slim is not compatible with third-party PS1 memory cards. This isn’t a deal-breaker by any stretch, but it is a bit more difficult to come by a PlayStation-branded PS1 memory card today than it is a third-party one.
Bottom Line: Nothing beats the PS1 when it comes to playing PS1 games, but the PS2 comes pretty close. Yes, there are a decent amount of games that don’t play well on the hardware, but unless those are must-plays for you, it shouldn’t be a problem. The PS2 is great because it offers the incredible library of PlayStation games as well as all of the awesome, nostalgic PS1 titles. In addition to having component output, it’s just easier to use a PS2 today. But if playing PS1 games is all you really want to do, then it’s probably best to just pick up a PS1 console.
Do PS1 controllers work on the PS2?
Yes, the original controllers do work on the PS2 for PS1 games (as well as the majority of PlayStation 2 games).
Do PS1 games play on the PS3 too?
Yes, PS1 games to play on the PS3, too. There are even PS3 consoles that have the capability to play PS2 games as well, making them compatible with the first three generations of PlayStation titles.