The PlayStation 1 is a legendary console that marks Sony’s entry into the home console market. Before the PS1, nobody saw Sony as a contender in the gaming sphere. Sure, they made neat music players, TVs, stereos, and computers- but they were unfamiliar with consoles.
Since it isn’t made anymore, you might ask- how to play PS1 games on a PC? It’s fairly simple as long as you know what emulator you need, and where to find the game ROMs. In addition to this, you can use Sony’s PlayStation Now service to stream old PS1 games directly to a Windows PC.
Since the PS1 era, we’ve come a long way in terms of processing power, memory, and advancements in graphics. This means, emulating a console from nearly three decades ago is now a trivial task. If you want, you can even emulate PS1 on your phone (there are PS1 emulators for Android).
How To Play PS1 Games On PC
The best and only real way to do so is with an emulator. There are many excellent ones, like ePSXe and BizHawk. You could also use the well-tested PCSX Reloaded, which is packed with features.
Or you could just download a frontend such as LaunchBox. Within the front end, you’ll be able to browse through a wide collection of supported emulator cores for each console/ arcade that you want to emulate. Finding the ROMs is the next step.
ROMs are essentially the game files, that an emulator reads from to play your game. These aren’t included within the emulator itself, as they are copyrighted software. If you’re downloading a PS1 game for your emulator, I’m assuming you’re a legal owner of the game and are doing so because your old PS1 is now dead.
Otherwise, it would be a violation of copyright law. The emulator itself is fine since it’s created with publicly available knowledge of the original PS1 system architecture (and some reverse engineering). Once you have an emulator, just install it and load up some ROMs to start enjoying your PS1 games once again.
Installing The Emulator
Let’s say you’ve decided to go with ePSXe as your PS1 emulator of choice. You can simply google the name, and visit its official site. Or you can go directly to the download page here.
Assuming you’re running a Windows PC, you should download the Windows executable (.exe) file. To improve compatibility and performance, get the latest version you can see. Once you’ve downloaded the program, go ahead and extract the files using 7zip (or WinRAR).
Once ePSXe is extracted to a folder of your choice (ideally the desktop), go ahead and open the file location. You should see a bunch of stuff in there, with one executable labeled “application” (it has a PS controller icon). Double-click to open, and now you’re ready to configure your emulator.
Whenever you open an emulator, there are two basic things you must do- check the video settings and the controls. In the video settings, you can select resolution, turn on fullscreen mode, toggle anti-aliasing, filters, etc. Dial in the controls to make sure games run properly on whatever you’re using (keyboard + mouse, or controller).
A similar process is used for just about every emulator on a PC. If you want, you can also download the front end that is provided by ePSXe developers (along with the shader pack which is needed for certain games). If you want a slick UI with lots of cool features (like achievements and out-of-the-box controller support), get a frontend such as RetroArch/ LaunchBox.
Can PS1 Games Run At 60FPS?
You’ll be very surprised to hear this, but the very first PlayStation could run games at 60FPS locked. I know, right? Even the “next-gen” consoles that came after were locked to 30FPS on most of their game library (this was the case for a lot of PS2 and PS3 games).
Back in those days, the hardware was very weak. However, the hardware wasn’t processing nearly as many polygons, lighting effects, and high-res textures. Gameplay was the focus, which is why you saw so many different genres and new IPs all year round.
These days, our priorities have switched to realistic graphics and cinematics over gameplay. Hence, even with all this power, some games can’t hit 60FPS. Sure, many sports and shooter games come with a performance option.
But this should be standard because 60FPS is just so much better for any game. Irrespective of the genre.
Using PlayStation Now
PlayStation Now or PS Now is Sony’s cloud-based game streaming service that lets you stream old PlayStation classics to your PC and current-gen PlayStation. It contains a select library of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games. The games run on actual hardware in Sony’s servers, using PS3 motherboards.
Original PS3 boards contained PS2 hardware in the form of an integrated chip that had the PS2’s CPU and GPU. And the PS3 could emulate PS1 games via software. PS Now utilizes PS3 boards for this reason (multiple boards stacked into each server).
However, PS Now is far worse than actually emulating PS1 games on your local PC. You will get latency, worse video quality (due to compression), and the game library is very limited. Finally, you need a PlayStation Plus subscription so you don’t really own any of these games and can’t play them offline.
You Can Play The Remakes
The developers of some old PS1 games are now releasing remakes designed for modern hardware, and these are often multiplatform. Take, for example, the Final Fantasy VII remake which was a massive success. Resident Evil 2 and 3 also got remakes, with completely overhauled game engines and graphics (these remakes were well-optimized for PC).
So if you want to play a certain PS1 game, check to see if it has been re-released on PC. Suikoden and Suikoden II remasters were announced by Konami recently, so that’s something to look forward to in 2023. However, remakes are usually reserved for games with large fan followings (like FF VII), so they can be commercially viable.
Can You Burn PS1 Games On A CD And Play Them?
You absolutely can. It is no different from ripping a music or movie CD. All you need is a PC with a DVD R/W drive and the original game disk. Software like ImgBurn is also needed, to rip the files from the disk and convert them into an iso image.
After installing ImgBurn (or whatever ripping software you use), select the option that lets you create an image from the disk. Make sure the PS1 original game CD is in your computer’s disk drive.
Here’s the important part- you want to rip your PS1 files as BIN+CUE, instead of a single .iso file. And finally, don’t use anything above 4x for the read speed (2x to 4x, use the lowest settings in your ripping software).
Emulating a PS1 is much simpler than emulating an arcade because it doesn’t have a dozen proprietary chips. Plus, the memory architecture is simpler compared to arcade boards from the era. As a result, the process of finding a PS1 ROM is as easy as looking up the game you want and downloading the corresponding ROM.
However, you should only do this with games for which you already own legal copies. As many PS1 games are still protected under copyright laws. Ideally, you want to back up your actual PS1 game disks to your PC.
For that, you can use a program like RetroArch. It has a “Dump Disc” feature that lets you create image files from old game disk data dumps.