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PlayStation 2 FAQ


(IDG) -- Sony has now released its much-anticipated PlayStation 2 game platform in the United States. For some, it is the start of a new gaming era. For other gaming fans who neglected to pre-order the console, component shortages and heavy demand will make for huge headaches.

In any case, there are a lot of questions that surround PS2's long-awaited U.S. launch. GamePro's editors take a stab at answering them.

Q: Can I play PlayStation games on my PS2?

A: Yes, but don't expect anything fancy or new. Your old PS2 games will look and play exactly as they do on your regular PlayStation. A few old PlayStation games won't run on the PS2. Sony claims these weren't designed to meet official PlayStation specs, but rest assured the vast majority of old PlayStation software does run on the PS2.

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One interesting note: there have been rumors that Sony is working on a Bleem-like emulator for the PS2 that will boost the resolution and possibly the frame rate of old PlayStation games. However, Sony has not officially announced any plans or product along these lines.

Q: How is the U.S. PS2 different from the original Japanese PlayStation 2?

A: There are a number of differences. The main (and most obvious) difference is that the Japanese PS2 won't play U.S. games. Aside from this, the U.S. PS2 will feature a proprietary expansion bay that could accommodate a hard drive or high-speed modem. The U.S. PS2 also won't ship with a memory card in the box nor will there be a demo disc with sample games. Finally, the base in the Japanese unit is metal while the U.S. version is plastic, making it slightly lighter.

Q: How does the PS2 play old PlayStation games?

A: In effect, the PS2 has an original PlayStation inside. The controller chip for the PS2's I/O functions is the good old PlayStation CPU chip. The PS2 recognizes when a PlayStation game is put into the PS2 drive, and the system will automatically switch to PlayStation mode.

Q: Can I use the new Dual Shock 2 and 8MB Memory Card in my original PlayStation?

A: The new PS2 gamepad will work in the PlayStation. The connection is the same, but you won't get analog input from the buttons. The PS2 memory card however, will not work in the PlayStation, even though it will fit in the PlayStation memory card slot. Actually, you should not even plug them in to avoid risking any damage. Even though the connections are essentially the same, the PlayStation wasn't built with forward compatibility in mind!

Q: Can I use my beloved Dual Shock and regular PlayStation Memory Card in the PS2?

A: In short, yes. The PS2 will recognize the older Dual Shock gamepad, but you won't get analog button support. Sony only guarantees that officially licensed peripherals will work with the PS2, so if you have any third party controllers, it's hit or miss. As for memory cards, some PS2 games require a PS2 memory card, while others will let you save to older PlayStation memory cards.

Q: What about a modem and online game playing?

A: Sony currently plans to launch the PS2 online gaming service in the fall of 2001. In addition to network gaming, the service will feature Web browsing, email, and chat. RTIME is the company building the tools for developers to support the PS2 network. The RTIME Interactive Networking Engine software supports streaming of voice, audio, music, video, and other types of data. This will allow gamers to do such things as talk to each other via a microphone or even see each other with webcams. However, Sony has made no official announcements about these possible features.

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