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One of the great things about the PC platform is that it is backwards compatible with the vast majority of past releases. You can buy games released yesterday or ten years ago on the same storefront and reasonably expect them to work on your machine. Better yet, it seems that the vast majority of games coming to consoles these days are also making their way to PC, so gamers can enjoy them for years to come without worrying about obsolete hardware or defunct online services.

It wasn’t always this way of course. Turn back the clock two decades, and PC and console games were kept very much separate.  Go a little further in time and PC gaming was struggling to regain a foothold in the market. Console games of this era that were ported to PC were generally unoptimized and lacked support for the controllers that those games were designed for. There are hundreds of games released over several generations that have never gotten a proper PC release, so gamers and would-be archivists still require vintage hardware to play them and keep their memories alive. Thankfully, with digital distribution and the help of a few new publishers, this may not be an unsolvable problem.

Joining the ranks of Night Dive Studios and Retroism is Console Classics, a company that aims to bring older classics to new platforms. Their website currently lists 33 titles they plan to release, all licensed directly from whoever currently owns the rights to those games. The list includes releases from prolific past publishers like Fox Interactive, Interplay, Infogrames, and Acclaim. Their first port, 1998 PS1 tunnel shooter N2O: Nitrous Oxide, is available on Steam now for $5.

n20 nitrous oxide

I spoke with Shamus Bower, a producer from Console Classics, and he told me that the project has been underway since late last year. I asked about a future release schedule and he responded in kind.

“We’re not sharing our release schedule yet but I can tell you we’re adding new titles to it all the time – many of which aren’t currently listed on the website.  We’re a small team passionate about retro gaming and see this as doing a service to the classic gaming community we’re all proud members of.”

In addition, he shared that achievements and Steam trading cards aren’t guaranteed for every release, but can be added in the future if there is enough demand. Every game that is released on Steam will also be coming to iOS and Android, although those releases wont come until the end of the year. The mobile market has to be given credit for spurring on a lot of this modern preservation, as it has provided a market hungry for smaller and cheaper experiences that retro games fit into nicely.

I bought and played a bit of N2O to see what was on offer myself. The game is running in an emulation wrapper, much like the Xbox One’s new backwards compatibility solution. This means that no work was done to the actual games. There are still PS1 button prompts (although the launcher does have a nice diagram to let you know what to press no matter the hardware you’re using), and the game asks to save to a memory card once you get a high score. The game still looks like a PS1 game and runs at a resolution to match, so don’t expect the magic that some emulators can preform on your old games. Still, the mere fact that there is a legal avenue to get this game outside of PSN is great for preservation’s sake.

Are you looking forward to more PS1 classics coming to Steam, GOG or mobile in the future? Do you remember passing Lucky Luke and Mass Destruction on the Blockbuster shelf on the way to more recent games? What other classic games would you like to see re-released on digital services? Answer below in the comments!

Alex Santa Maria

Reviews Editor

TechRaptor's Reviews Editor. Resident fan of pinball, Needlers, roguelikes, and anything with neon lighting. Owns an office chair once used by Billy Mays.

  • Brad Silvia

    You forgot to mention that they have submitted games to GOG as well.

    Oh, and you have a typo- it should be compatibiliy, not comparability.

  • Hawk Hopper

    This seems like an excellent idea. When I was young, I had a N64, so I never got to play PS1 games. But the PS1 has a great library. From what I’ve seen, they are offering a lot of cult classics like D, Sol Divide, Koudelka, Motorhead, Loaded, etc.

    I would like to see ports of the original PS1 Medal of Honor games (I know EA won’t let them), Duke Nukem had some cool 3rd person games on the PS1, One, Apocalypse, there are too many to choose from.

  • Typical

    If I recall, that game had a soundtrack by the Crystal Method, is that still the case or has it been rescored? I know sometimes music rights are weird on this kind of stuff.

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    “Turn back the clock two decades… …Console games of this era that were ported to PC were generally unoptimized…”

    So, exactly like today, then.

  • Mario Luigi

    inb4 it’s removed

  • Brad Silvia

    The original soundtrack is still intact.

  • Covarr

    I’m a big fan of emulation as an alternative to actually porting games; it can be really useful to get old games onto new systems… but this is NOT cool.

  • ArsCortica

    Although the idea is interesting, most of the games advertised on their page look like shovelware to me. Games that weren’t worth your time back then aren’t worth it today, either.

  • Niwjere

    Screw re-buying old games. Emulate your old libraries if you must — so long as you own the game in question, emulation is completely legal, at least in the States. Emulating games you don’t own isn’t exactly something anyone can prove or anything you’re even going to get a slap on the wrist for doing — unenforceable laws may as well not even exist. Hell, just owning the BIOS for, say, a PS1 without actually owning a physical PS1 constitutes breaking the law (which is why nearly every emulator ever will tell you to rip your own BIOS), so if you’ve got PS1 games but your PS1 broke years back, emulating the games you own is still technically illegal but nobody’s going to do anything about that.

  • Thanks for the heads up 🙂

  • Seems like it was an oversight on their part that will be quickly corrected.

  • Brad Silvia

    Not necessarily. A lot of good games go unplayed just because of a stupid title or boxart or a crappy publisher. Monster Max for Game Boy being an example.

  • BrandeX

    I don’t like how they have crippled the emulator. You can’t render the games in HD resolutions, e.g. 1600×1200, and there are no additional graphically effects available usually found in the emulator. No key remapping. No saves states that I can tell, etc. They should not have pulled out 95% of the emulators features.

  • Thanks but I’ll stick to the emulators for these old games since they work fairly well and without major problems. It would be an entirely different matter if they ported the games with updated graphics, controls, etc you know a remake. I find this pointless.