PS / PS2 / PS3 consoles & games and how to use with modern HDTV's.

First, this is GQ stuff but it applies to games, so I’m putting it here. I’ve Googled all these questions and am getting conflicting info, so I’m turning to Dopers.

I have an original PlayStation 2 (the “fat” console) and several PS1 games. We recently upgraded to a new HDTV and now the PS2 won’t play (or rather, won’t display) the PS1 games: either the screen is blank or it only shows the menu in black & white.

Poking around on the internet, the consensus seems to be “buy a PS3 that’s backwards compatible with PS2 games.” Apparently all PS3 consoles will play PS1 games and will display correctly on an HDTV.

I’d like to avoid buying a new-to-me console just so I can play the PS1 games again. However, if that’s what I have to do, that’s what I’ll do.

So my questions are:

Is there any way I can hook up the PS2 to the HDTV so that I can play the PS1 games? I also have an old Super Nintendo that I’d love to be able to play again but it apparently has the same problems.

And, does the PS3 really a) play PS1 games and b) display on a modern HDTV without any extra problems? Anyone with first-hand experience can verify?
Thanks for any input you can provide.

Discussing this with my 13yo son we realized the PS1 games we want to play the most are the original Tomb Raider games, a series that I’d like to play all the way through. Since several of the TR games were released for the PS3, and we have an Xbox One, if the PS3 is truly backward compatible with both PS1 and PS2 and it displays correctly on a modern HDTV, that may be the way to go. Between the two consoles that covers most of the TR titles.

Some versions of the Playstation 3 may not be backwards-compatible. If you have a good PS3, you ought to be all right. I have a fat PS3 sitting around and there is most definitely an HDMI output in back.

Another possibility is, the older the console, the better chance of finding an adequate software emulator for it. lists a bunch of PS1 and PS2 emulators, such as ePSXe. I have not tested any of them, but it looks like freeware if you want to give it a go with your games. [ETA: I see claims that Tomb Raider 1-3 and Tomb Raider Chronicles, The Last Revelation do work with ePSXe]

How is the PS2 connecting to the TV? IIRC, the PS2 comes with component output (yellow plug), there may also be composite connections available as well. If you are plugged in with one of those and it’s not working, check and see if there are any ways to change resolution modes on the TV (maybe set to 480i if possible?).

There probably are component to HDMI converters available as well.


The connection looks like an RCA cable: red, white, and yellow plugs (no clue if this is composite or component). The tv has one set of inputs for those and that’s what the PS2 is utilizing now.

Yep. Will that actually make the games playable or just allow me to use one of the HDMI inputs rather than the RCA (or whatever it is… I don’t know the difference between component and composite. A google search isn’t helping, the plugs look the same).

Apparently the 20gb and the 60gb first launch models are the only ones that are backwards compatible for both PS1 and PS2 games. Looking on ebay, those models command a hefty price.

That’s composite. The video is all in the yellow cable (analog). (Red and White are your audio cables.) Everything is going through one channel. This creates problems where the colors bleed into each other and the luminance channel (i.e. pixel brightness) bleeds into the color channels, creating a distorted image.

Component video will consist of three cables (channels) for video. Most commonly for home video it’ll be what’s called YPbPr, where Y is your luminance (i.e. grayscale luminance, which is also the channel that the original grayscale TVs used) and the other two channels are your color channels. This avoids the colors bleeding into each other, and the luminance bleeding into the color channels. (Contrast to S-Video, where your luminance channel was separate, but your color channels were still combined into one. So you got a more accurate picture, but you still had some color bleed.)

Other component video formats include RGB (used by most video cameras and PC monitors). Each channel has a 0-255 pixel rating. It’s fairly easy to convert RGB to YPbPr. The luminance (Y channel) value is determined by (4 * G) + (2 * B) + (1 * R) divided by 7. Movies were generally recorded in RGB and converted for DVD formats.

There is also HSV and HSL (Hue, Saturation, Value/Lightness). Basically alternate versions of RGB.

All were different versions of 24-bit video. Throw in the alpha channel (i.e. transparency) and you get 32-bit video.

DVI packs it all together into a convenient digital cable. It must support RGB, but can optionally support other formats.

HDMI video is identical to DVI video, however, HDMI also carries audio channels (and is a much smaller connector).

Modern HDTVs are plenty capable of displaying a video input from composite cables without issue, so I think you should look at your TV and cables. Maybe your composite cables are bad or the jacks on the TV are flaky?

There are. I have one of these for my PS2.

PS2 was playable via HDMI converter on my old Samsung HDTV but that finally died. Haven’t tried it on my new Insignia but it should still work.

The PS2 has the same proprietary connection available as the PS3 to use component cables. I’ve got my launch-day PS2 hooked up to a 4K TV using component with one of these, although I bought mine so long ago it’s the official Sony OEM cable and not the linked cable. You will need to switch the type in the menu, and note that the linked cable also has a composite plug. You should be looking at less than five minutes to be up and running, as long as your TV has component. (Some of the really cheap manufacturers have gone to only HDMI, and not many inputs at that.)

An HDMI converter is going to be expensive. Component gives you HD at up to 1080i, but the nature of the connection means they can’t stick something like HDCP on it.

SNES will also connect via RCA composite. In a pinch, you could still use a RF modulator to connect to the coax input, but the picture quality won’t be as good.

I once connected an Atari 2600 to a 1080p LCD using the original connection from Atari. Only trick was having to get out an old combiner from a VCR to combine the coax and the twin-lead into a single coax output.

Have you thought about getting a PS3 (ideally a 4) and just buying the old games from the Playstation Store and putting them straight onto the console? This would allow you to play all your games without worrying about connections.

I searched the store and found all PSOne Tomb Raider games are available.

They wouldn’t be terribly expensive (around 50 bucks for the set) and you’d never have to worry about backwards compatibility again because you own all the games digitally.

What is the difference between playing the games from the PlayStation Store versus playing them using the original disc? And why would you have to buy games twice?

IMHO if I did not already have a PS3 I would consider getting one compatible with both PS1 and PS2 games, as you can play all your old games with digital, upscaled HD output, but not if I had to pay a premium price, since the free emulator does all that as well.

Personally, I stopped using the PS Store after getting one of those pinball collections for free. Damn thing kept wanting me to log in every time I switched tables!

I now own the same pinball collection via Steam.

It should be noted that the PS4 is not backwards compatible. Apparently previous generations of PlayStation were, to some degree, though I’m new to PlayStation with the PS4, so I’m not familiar with the details. But the PS4 definitely cannot play anything that has not been specifically released for PS4.

Come to think of it, the PS3 can have its own problems. My SO has her own system, a backwards compatible one, which sometimes needs a hard reset in order for it to recognize it’s on HDMI and only outputs a blank screen until then.

I think you guys are all focusing on the wrong problem. OP shouldn’t need to buy a new game system.

OP needs to figure out why his existing television won’t properly display RCA signals from a PS2, a capability that it should support just fine.

The OP has found a likely solution without buying a new system. See posts 5 & 9. :slight_smile: