Sony’s PlayStation Classic has a lot of issues that extend well beyond its debatably lackluster bundled game list. For one, the device, which has been out for about one week, is not really all that secure, which is generally a good thing when it comes to plug-and-play devices not designed to connect to the internet. That’s because those crafty and dedicated enough to hack the little gray box can then open up all sorts of possibilities, and in fact, some have already figured out how to load other games not originally included with the device from a USB drive.
As reported by Ars Technica, Sony didn’t do a whole lot to hide the tools necessary to basically crack the PS Classic wide open. So some notable console hackers, including Yifan Lu and madmonkey1907, have been documenting the process online of first dumping the system’s code onto an external machine. They then discovered that Sony hid the key to decrypt its most sensitive software elements on the device itself.
From there, the console-hacking community has made some serious progress in transforming the PS Classic into a platform agnostic emulator. To start, Lu was able to get the device running Crash Bandicoot via USB thumb stick, mostly because the box doesn’t seem to check whatever software it’s actually running. Another GitHub console hacker by the name of Pat Hartl has already created an open-source tool, BleemSync, that will let you do this more easily at home. It will involve some tinkering on your end, but it looks like it’s just a matter of setting up the appropriate folders and files, and then doing a bit of database editing. (Ars notes that there is some possibility of bricking your machine, so proceed with caution.)
All that said, most people buying the PlayStation Classic are doing it for nostalgia or collection purposes, and may not even intend to ever plug it in and turn it on more than a handful of times. If you’re really looking to play classic PlayStation games, some — like Final Fantasy VII — can now be found on iOS and Steam. Quite a few others can be bought using an old PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable handheld through Sony’s PS one Classic brand, which reissued the games on newer systems. There are some that are hard to come by unless you scour eBay, like Battle Arena Toshinden and the original Grand Theft Auto, but those games now exist more for collector and game historian archives than they do for the fun factor of actually playing them.
Of course, the hackers at work breaking open the device ultimately intend to turn it into something much more, by getting it to run newer games and even other system emulators. (Imagine a box that could play every SNES, PS1, and N64 game?) It will certainly be interesting to see what other techniques the community employs to repurpose the device, and this is one of those rare cases where we can be thankful for a lack of on-device security.