[Editor's note: pedrovay2003 takes a look at the old school games that all three major consoles offer as part of the ongoing Monthly Musings theme. -- CTZ]
It's no secret that downloadable games are popular right now. Each one of the three major consoles has a downloadable game service (well, the Wii will once WiiWare gets launched), but in addition to that, all three consoles also have downloadable games from the past. It's a given that consoles can't be completely backwards compatible, so downloadable versions of those older games can be quite convenient if it means you don't have to keep all of your old consoles. However, if it's not done right, downloadable games can just be a waste of time and money.
Let's take a look at the options, shall we?
GOOD IDEA: THE VIRTUAL CONSOLE (WII)
The Wii's Virtual Console is, in my opinion, the best service for backwards compatibility through downloads. See, all the games on the Virtual Console are fairly old and you'd be hard-pressed to find the original copies of those games anywhere. Some of them have become pretty rare too, like Super Mario Bros. 3. And some haven't even been released in every region, like Sin and Punishment. Some of these games are going for quite a bit on eBay too. I've seen boxed copies of Super Mario Bros. 3 go for over $50 which makes the $5 price tag not bad at all.
There are good and bad things about downloading PS1 games through the PlayStation Network, so let's start with the bad. As with the Xbox Originals service, this service offers games that can still be played natively on the PS3 in their original, hard copy forms. Now, I realize that there are PS3s coming out now that don't have backwards compatibility, but most owners have 60GB, 80GB or 20GB models. Whoever is looking into buying a PS3 is looking for something that will play older games. And for those who have 40GB models, the PS2 is still selling enough to merit either picking one up or keeping the one you already had to begin with. Meaning you can just play your hard copies of all the downloadable games. Granted, some are rare, like Castlevania: SOTN, but most can still be found fairly easily. This creates the same problem as the Xbox Originals service. And remember that downloaded games will be taking up a lot of hard drive space too, even though this may not be an issue since you can replace the hard drive with a newer, much larger one for a fairly low price.
However, it's not all bad with the PS1 downloads. These games are much cheaper than the Xbox Originals games, averaging at about $6 or $7 a piece. Not only that, but as I said before, backwards compatibility is getting more and more rare in PS3 consoles and the cheap prices of the downloadable versions of the games can be very attractive. Also, there are a ton of rare PS1 games, many more rare games than on the original Xbox. That means we could eventually see stuff like Intelligent Qube show up for like $6, which is great since it goes for over a hundred bucks on eBay.
Also, even though the games haven't been enhanced in any way, it's awesome that you can transfer them to your PSP. Imagine being able to play any of the PS1 Final Fantasy games on your PSP wherever you are and whenever you want to. And with the high-quality screen on the PSP, you'll feel like you're playing the games on your TV. If you have a big enough memory stick, you can also put more than one game on the handheld at a time, and then just stick them back on the PS3 when you get home. I think the positives outweigh the negatives with the PS1 downloads.
So there you have it. If done right, implementing backwards compatibility through downloads can be a very nice thing. All three consoles have their positives and negatives, and it all just comes down to preference. What do you think about these services? Do you like/hate any in particular?