Sony listing hints at native, upscaled PS2 emulation on the PS5

Identical cousins.
Enlarge / Identical cousins.

Years ago, Sony started making a select handful of “PlayStation 2 Classics” available as emulated downloads on the PlayStation 4. Now, there are signs that certain PS2 games will be similarly available for native download on the PS5, complete with new features like “up-rendering, rewind, quick save, and custom video filters.”

The hint at Sony’s coming PS2 download plans comes via a new PlayStation Network listing for the 2002 release Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which recently appeared on tracking site PSDeals (as noticed by Gematsu). That site draws from unpublished data from the PSN servers, such as this thumbnail image that recently appeared on the servers, and lists a planned June 11 release for the emulated Clone Wars port.

So far, this is nothing out of the ordinary. But near the bottom of the boilerplate, the listing notes that “this title has been converted from the PlayStation 2 version to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles and provides newly added features [emphasis added].” That’s a marked difference from earlier “PS2 on PS4” downloadable releases, which only say that they were “converted from the original PlayStation 2 version to the PS4 system.”

A new emulator for a new generation

Previous PS2 games released as PlayStation Classics could be played on the PS5 via the newer system’s PS4 backward compatibility, of course. And those titles already looked relatively decent on modern displays thanks to near-HD upscaling at solid frame rates. But new “up-rendering” designed for the 4K-capable PS5 could make these aging 3D titles look even better on high-end TVs, even if low-resolution textures originally designed for 2000s-era CRTs may still look dated. And other new features like “rewind, quick save, and custom video filters” promise nice improvements over the relatively bare-bones PS2 emulation previously available on the PS4.

A look at Implicit Creations’ existing PS1 emulation efforts on the PS5.

Those same features (and modern additions like trophies) are also currently offered on select PS1 titles that have been available in native PS5 ports in recent months. That’s thanks to the work of Implicit Conversions, a retro-focused porting company that has recently been working with Sony to add PS1 support to its multi-platform Syrup Emulation Engine.

Implicit Conversions recently included the PS2 on a list of consoles supported by the Syrup Engine and said on LinkedIn that it is “working with clients to bring NES, PS1, PSP, and PS2 games to the PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox [emphasis added].” In a March interview with Time Extension, the company said it “can’t deny or confirm anything about PS2 [emulation on PS5],” but the very familiar wording of this leaked Clone Wars listing certainly suggests the same company is behind this new PS2 porting effort as well.

Of course, the ability to download select PS2 games to the PS5 falls well short of many players’ dream of simply inserting and playing an existing PS2 disc on their newest Sony console. In 2018, though, hackers opened up the PlayStation Classics emulator and got it running generic PS2 games on the PS4 (compatibility is a bit hit or miss, however). That same emulator has also proven useful in helping hackers unlock some interesting exploits on the PS5. So who knows—the community may be able to hack-in wider PS5 support for PS2 game discs eventually.

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