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What's So Backwards About Backwards Compatibility?

by GrimmTrixX   //   11:37 PM on 11.16.2013

As many people are aware, the Xbox One and the PS4 are not compatible with their previous versions, Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. This is a touchy subject for many people and I think I have some insight as to why.

Some may say the industry is changing. "Why would I want to play Xbox 360 when a new system is out?" They may shout! Well, besides the fact that they're still going to make games for the 360 for 1-2 years, it's so we can play games we currently own.



Many know me as a video game collector. By the end of 2013 I'll own over 2,700 games in my 26 years of gaming (I'm 30, been playing since I was 4). As a result of this, I own MANY video game consoles. One of the best parts about backwards compatibility is that I don't need to keep every single one hooked up. Now granted... I DO have them all hooked up, but the convenience is there for many, like me, who keep their old consoles. Many people believe that backwards compatibility is a relatively new thing, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

With this new generation of gaming, I am harkened back to the days of Intellivision, Colecovision and Atari. I would EASILY think of them as Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U. Many don't realize that Atari made 3 versions of their self-titled console: The 2600, the 5200, and the 7800. The 7800 was almost fully compatible with 2600 games. Hell, the Intellivision II (remodeled version) had an adapter to play Atari 2600 games! Cross compatibility right there! So to say there's no room for backwards compatibility in the gaming world is ludicrous!



Let's jump to the NES era. In this era you have NES, Sega Master System, and the Atari 7800 battling. Atari dies out and the NES wins over the SMS. But think of some fine points about Sega for a minute. They made a handheld console called the Game Gear, maybe you heard of it. Well this has an adapter to play SMS games on it! 

Then comes the SNES, Sega Genesis era of gaming, which to me is still the best. Now granted the SNES couldn't play NES games but with the help of an adapter, the Sega Genesis could play SMS games which was great! When the Gameboy came out, Nintendo came up with Super Gameboy and I don't know about you but I lost my mind! The fact that I could play my handheld games on my big TV (20 inch TVs were big back then for a kid to have in his room) was a great incentive to stick with the SNES.

But the consoles were not the only form of gaming to get compatibility by this point! Gameboy games worked on the Gameboy Color which, even though the GBC is an upgraded Gameboy, it still counts as you could toss your old GB and strictly use the GBC. Then the beloved GBA comes out... that thing could play GB, GBC, AND GBA games.



So now we advance, the N64, Sega Saturn, PS1 era lurks. Once again we get struck down with no backwards compatibility. This marks the first time in in 5 generations of gaming that we can't use our older games. Now I'll admit, I don't think many of us were even thinking of backwards compatibility back then, despite having it, since it didn't really have a name yet. But you COULD use the same video cable for the SNES/N64/Gamecube so there's that! But thinking back on it now, yea it kind of sucked. Luckily for us there was tons of games for older consoles and back then trading games wasn't really going around in full swing like it is today. Hell the first used game I ever bought was Mario Golf for the N64, and the battery inside was dead and I had to swap it for another copy.

So now we hit arguably the most popular gen of gaming, the sixth gen with PS2, Dreamcast, Gamecube, and Xbox. PS2 could play 99.5% of PS1 games. I leave out 0.5% cuz there's about 10 games that don't work completely. I found this out playing Mortal Kombat Trilogy which plays fine in VS, but go play single player and try to see your characters ending, the game will freeze on Shao Kahn when he gets ready to explode.

PS2 was an amazing all in one system. Oddly, I was an Xbox fan and actually bought that, then GC and PS2 dead last. I still own the very last fat model they made and it works great. I had a DVD player so that wasn't a priority to me. But then we move to Gamecube. Gamecube couldn't play old CONSOLE games, but, with the GBA player, you could once again play GB/GBC/GBA games on your TV which was an amazing feature. The Xbox has nothing jumping into this gen and took a gamble, but I say they're doing pretty good.



Let's not forget more handhelds. The Nintendo DS could play GBA and DS games, and our beloved 3DS can play DS games, furthering the compatibility into this gen. But next we get to the current gen, Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3. These 3 consoles are simply amazing and I am glad to own them all. Once again this gen I went 360, wii then PS3. Even now I haven't played a PS3 game in over a year (don't worry Santa is bringing me The Last of Us). But let's look at this gen closely.

It all began with 360. Now the 360 can play a good amount of original Xbox games, and sadly Microsoft stopped despite claiming eventually all would work. This however proves that updates could be done for compatibility. Now I don't pretend to know how to create video games, but compatibility, on a superior system, should fairly easily be done using software and not hardware, right? Someone correct me on the specifics but it seems odd to not have it. But at least SOME games worked on the 360. The Wii could play almost every Gamecube game which drew me in so I could let my Gamecube rest for a while (only to be resurrected to play GBA games on my 40 inch HDTV). The PS3, at first, could play PS2 games because it had the actual PS2 hardware. But... Sony realized they could remove that and sell PS2 games as PS2 Classic games and make more money, but hey, the compatibility was there initially. We don't talk about PSP and Vita because well... they did a poor job when it comes to this topic. Hell, the PSP Go made it so you couldn't even play PSP games on it unless you downloaded them.

So now the next gen is upon us! in 6 days it's be in full swing with Wii U, PS4 and Xbox One all coming out. This Gen I already own a Wii U, but I am going Xbox One. I am not picking it due to my fanboyism, I simply chose it because I am a die hard Dead Rising fan and I NEED DR3. That and the PS4 has no exclusive games I care about except God of War and even then Ascension sucked. I am sorry but it's the worst in the entire series but that's for another day.



So what does everyone think? Is it weird that only 2 generations of gaming didn't have backwards compatibility? Did you notice it or not? I always knew it, but it never impacted me as much once I truly realized that we've had it almost all this time. To be nice, if you didn't want to read this blog, here's a compatibility rundown (if I am missing something please add it:

(C/W= compatible with)
(C/A = Compatible with adapter)

[u]Compatibility thru the ages:[/u]
- Atari 2600 C/W 7800
- Atari 2600 C/A Intellivision II
- Sega Master System C/A Sega Genesis and Game Gear
- Gameboy C/A SNES
- Gameboy C/W Gameboy Color
- GB,GBC C/W GBA
- GBA C/W Nintendo DS and DS Lite
- GB,GBC,GBA C/A Gamecube (via GBA player)
- PS1 C/W PS2 and PS3 (earlier models)
- Xbox C/W Xbox 360 (Limited)
- Gamecube C/W Wii
- Wii C/W Wii U

The 5th gen is the only one to have zero compatibility since the 8th (now current) gen has Wii to Wii U, and the 3rd gen had at least SMS to game gear and Genesis.

But sadly no 360 to One, or PS3 to PS4. Not even digital games ::shrug:: You'd think by now we'd know how to use software and allow it, especially if I paid for it digitally on 360.. Why they wouldn't think I'd wanna play it on the next console, when digital will be the 9th generation of gaming most likely, is beyond me. Don't worry, they'll be gracious to add older games to XBLA (or whatever Xbox One will call it) and make us pay for them again, such is gaming. 

Long story short, there's been WAY more Backwards compatibility than not, so why remove it now?

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