Playing old PS3 games

About once a year I think, "Hey, maybe I'll play that old video game that I used to enjoy." It never ends well.

If you wade through my previous thread about this, the punchline was: after having bought another PS3 CECHA01* for parts and replacing the Bluetooth subsystem, I was able to restore my backup onto a new internal SSD. It was working! I was able to play my previously-downloaded games via the internal drive.

But, it then lost the ability to recognize inserted discs. It can eject them, which means the ribbon cable is connected properly (as it can't when that cable is unplugged) but it acts as if there's no disc. And the DVD drive from the "parts" machine seems to have some kind of mechanical problem, so it's fucked in an entirely different way.

    * The model I have, CECHA01, is able to play PS2 games. Later PS3s such as the identical-looking CHECHL01 can't do that, and neither can the "Slim" models.

Dear Lazyweb, my question is this. Given:

  1. A functional PS3 internal hard drive with a handful of not-very-obscure downloaded games on it;
  2. A functional PS3-formatted backup of that drive;
  3. A handful of not-very-obscure PS2 and PS3 discs;
  4. No PS3 with a working optical drive;

What is the easiest way for me to actually play these things?

"Play them using a Mac as an emulator" would be ideal, but I will also tolerate solutions of the form, "eBay thing X", "torrent thing Y" and/or "Jailbreak using thing Z".

Like, in a non-crazy world, one solution to "this PS3 works except for the DVD drive" might be, "torrent new copies of the discs you own, load those onto a USB drive, and play them off of that." But I don't know if that's even possible.

I guess "buy 3 separate obsolete consoles, one for the downloaded games, one for the PS2 discs and one for the PS3 discs" would technically work, but that's some bullshit. I would much rather pretend that this software is software.


Because I know all of you are hanging on every word of this drama, here's where I am on this stupid, interminable project:

  • No working PS2 or PS3 emulator exists that will run on either macOS 12 x86 or Raspberry Pi. (If you intend to dispute this, you'd better have actually seen it running first.)

  • At some point, the CECHA01 stopped being able to complete a firmware update, giving error 8002F14E, which seems to mean "your optical drive is fucked, and it is preferable to brick the machine than allow you to fall so far from grace."

    I got it to install through some combination of wiggling the cable and swapping in a mechanically-broken optical drive. And while doing that, the little clip thingy holding the ribbon cable to the motherboard broke. I'm afraid to breathe on it now, let alone move it.

  • I also have a CECH4001B "Super Slim" which is less flaky, but that model does not have hardware support for PS2 games.

  • I managed to get both of them jailbroken, by following this video for the A01 (to install EvilNat) and by following this other video for the 4001B (HFW/HEN) since EvilNat doesn't work on it.

  • Using the 4001B and MultiMan, I was able to rip some of my game discs with the 4001B -- and then I realized that was slow and foolish and just downloaded those games from NoPayStation and/or Vimm's Lair instead. NoPayStation's downloader is pretty easy, but it gives the files absolutely asinine obscured names for no reason.

    And then... half of them don't work. I guess the RAP files are passwords or something? I have no idea how to install those. Update: To get NPS-downloaded PKG files to work, the corresponding RAP files have to go in the /exdata/ directory. You can rename the PKG files to something clearer, but not the RAP files. It may also be necessary to log in to Playstation Network and "activate" the console, I'm not sure.

    Pro tip: try to find PKG versions of the games instead of ISOs. The former install as if they are Playstation Store downloads and will (in theory) run without any jailbreak malarky, whereas the ISOs require goofy bank switching games to fake out the player into thinking it has a physical disc in the drive.

  • At some point the A01 started behaving weirdly again and so lacking a better idea, I wiped its drive and tried to restore from backup... and I can't. It's now behaving as if it can't reliably read my USB thumb drive. Sometimes it sees it and sometimes it doesn't. I tried a different, freshly formatted thumb drive too.

    I'd rather be using the A01 than the 4001B because it has native PS2 support, and EvilNat is a permanent jailbreak; whereas the 4001B uses Hen, which requires you to launch an app every time you reboot in order to do anything jailbreaky.

    But it seems like this A01 is just fucking cursed.

  • I can't believe that in the Twenty First Goddamned Century, some lunatic Playstation hacker went and implemented an ftp server, when rsync was sitting right there. Are you ok, guy? Do you hate yourself that much?

    I guess we're lucky it wasn't Kermit.

Shit I haven't figured out yet:

  • RAP files and making NPS downloads work.

  • I understand that it is possible to get the 4001B to play PS2 games using software emulation, somehow. I thought that ManaGunZ was that thing, but it makes the games show up as an "Unsupported Data" disc ("This model of PS3 is not compatible with PS2 software".)

    Update: Apparently that is how it is supposed to work. I installed webMAN MOD and ManaGunZ per the instructions in this video, and I'm able to mount and play PS3 ISOs, but PS2 ISOs still show up on the mount point as "Unsupported Data".

    My current theory is that PS2 games only work if the EvilNat jailbreak is installed, and don't work at all with Hen. But this Super-Slim can only do Hen, not EvilNat.

  • A number of the PKG games that I downloaded silently fail to install on the 4001B. The package installer just exits and the game does not show up in the list. Most, but not all, are PS3 releases of PS2 or PS1 games (with "PSOne Classic" or "PS2 Classic" in their names) which I thought meant that they are legit PS3 executables that don't require PS2 hardware support? And yet, no worky.

  • Besides the ones that won't run, there are a small number of games that I care about that I was only able to find in ISO form rather than PKG form, and most of those I would just write off entirely. But one of them is Rez. How can I find a PKG version of Rez? Can you convert an ISO to a PKG?

  • If I end up downloading a PS1 or PS2 game as a pair of BIN/CUE files, I can convert that to an ISO with "bchunk", but what if there are twelve BINs and one CUE? (Alternately, got a link to ISOs of the various PS1 Wipeouts?) Update: Though it's not documented, dumping the BIN/CUE files into the /PSXISO/ directory works.

  • Being allowed to retain any of my old save points from the A01 is apparently far beyond the reach of modern technology. They are locked to the hardware.


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42 Responses:

  1. Kazriko says:

    Yeah, only the first two generations of fat PS3's could support PS2 games off disc, because they both had actual PS2 chips in them, this is part of why they were costing $800 to build and Sony was losing money for the first year. The later ones can only play PS2 games that are available to download and have been re-configured for running under PS3. I don't recommend anything but the original 20 and 60 gigs for the full sized PS3's because all the later models had major compromises in noise and build quality. Better to go slim/superslim if you're not going first gen.

    RPCSX2 and RPCS3 are both emulators that at this point are pretty decent. One for PS2 games, and one for PS3 games. They are both available on Mac. There may be a way to restore your hard drive backup as well, but I haven't done that myself. RPCS3 is mostly CPU-bound, and doesn't need nearly as much GPU power. It's been a decade since I looked, but at one point there was a way to transfer ps1/ps2 save games off PS3 on a USB drive, then turn them into emulator saves with that software... if you can find it.

    My own personal solution was to just get a few of the PS3 SuperSlim units for playing PS3 games, and a couple Slim PS2 70000 and 75000 units to play the PS2 games, because I enjoy playing on actual hardware. Superslims are around $130 or so now, and the PS2's are a little cheaper than that. Make sure you don't get the 90000 series PS2 because those can't be hacked later on. All of these are the latest models of the systems so they should have more life left in them than the launch models. My launch PS3 with PS2 BC had to be sent back once already for repair, and it was a 300 watt system anyway and probably had a lot of heat stress from use, the slim models use a lot less power. I play all of these on an old Trinitron TV.

    • jwz says:

      Neither RPCSX2 (0.9.7, 2012) nor RPCS3 appear to work on macOS 12.2 x86.

      • Kazriko says:

        Yeah, I found that out after I posted when I went to the download links, it says it's supported everywhere... Except the download page.

        So it could be that just getting a working Superslim PS3 and a PS2 might be the way to go. PS2 can be modded fairly easily with just a special memory card. There's also SD card adapters now to play games directly off of the system faster. (Helder Game Tech sells them, though they're sold out right now. MC2SIO, and the FreeMcBoot.) The PS3 if it has a working bluray drive can play the PS3 disc and download games just fine, and you should be able to put the same SSD over to it. Modding PS3 is possible, but more involved than PS2.

      • Chris W says:

        PCSX2 v1.7.0-dev-1241-gc85a3c4 works for me on macOS 12.1.1 arm64... and I just realized you asked about x86. Oops. I'll check my x86 MacBook and let you know.

        Note that PCSX2 requires a valid PS2 BIOS in order to actually work. I'm using a Japan v1.00 BIOS (though I play U.S. games) with a filename of scph10000.bin and an MD5 sum of acf4730ceb38ac9d8c7d8e21f2614600

        • jwz says:

          "PCSX2 Mac 0.9.7 Alpha - 2 July 2012" launches and then immediately exits on macOS 12.2.1 x86. If there is a Mac executable that is less than a decade old, I have not found it.

          • Chris W says:

            The same version of PCSX2 (v1.7.0-dev-1241-gc85a3c4) also works on my x86 MBP 13" running 12.2.1.

            ciwara:~ chrisw$ uname -a
            Darwin ciwara.local 21.3.0 Darwin Kernel Version 21.3.0: Wed Jan 5 21:37:58 PST 2022; root:xnu-8019.80.24-20/RELEASE_X86_64 x86_64

            I'm 99% sure that I downloaded that version from the very first post in this thread. (Funnily enough, I found that page when looking for an M1 build!) You can also find a buildbot for nightly builds here but I've never used any of them.

            Oh by the way, do you have libsdl2 installed? You'll need it to use PCSX2, though I think you also need it to play MAME so you've probably got it already.

            I tested it with Gran Turismo 4 (NTSC-U) and it works fine. Well ok, it's pretty slow, but it works!

            • jwz says:

              I did not have SDL installed, but that didn't help.

              I got redream to launch, but apparently it doesn't use the keyboard and I can't figure out how to get my Mac to pair to a DualShock 3.

              Fuck All Of This Entirely.

              • Chris W says:

                Are you still trying 0.9.7 or did you try the 1.7.0-dev version I linked above? If the latter and it's still failing, are there logs anywhere? I'm guessing not.

                This sounds dumb but try using a USB cable for your DualShock 3 instead of Bluetooth. (Enjoy trying to find a USB Mini B cable in your junk drawer!) I find it much more reliable...

                If your heart's set on Bluetooth, I have an 8bitdo SN30+ controller that works great and they're inexpensive.

                • jwz says:

                  I found the 1.7.0 and that boots, yay. But like redream, it also seems useless without a controller, which I can't make go. Yes, I tried hardwiring it. Nothing shows up in Bluetooth Settings.

              • Netluser says:

                Re: DualShock 3 not working, from a bit of googling I found this with a solution:


                For some reason macOS driver is no longer sending the initialisation sequence for DS3, which is the reason why the gamepad does nothing. It was enough for me to run the following code to get DS3 working in all applications until replug:

                uint8_t dataBlob[] = { 0x42, 0x0C, 0x00, 0x00};
                IOHIDDeviceSetReport(device, kIOHIDReportTypeFeature, 0xF4, dataBlob, sizeof(dataBlob));

                Question is, should we integrate it into SDL? I attached a small program that can be run once after connecting the gamepad as a workaround…

                >Fuck All Of This Entirely.

                More fittingly:

                >Fucking Apple.

                • jwz says:

                  I think it's fair to say that this post is 99.99% "Fuck Sony" by volume.

                  Also, I now recall that I was similarly unable to get a DualShock 3 to work with RetroPie on a Pi 4. "Fuck Linux", you say? Yeah, probably. Or Sony, that probably works too.

                  • Netluser says:

                    From my googling people were saying that PS3 controllers used to work hassle free on macOS until Something Broke™, and breaking support because Old is a very Apple thing.

                    Though breaking old stuff is the in-thing to do now, so everybody's guilty.

                    Connecting console controllers to computers has always sucked. Even when it should just work, the MICROS~1 Windows X360 controller driver used to combine LT and RT into one axis, so pressing both was the same as pressing neither. But other than that, it Just Worked™.

                    Connecting my 360 controller on Linux worked great except the /dev/input entries were root only, so my software didn't see the controller at all and there was no hint as to why. Don't want anyone spying on js0, now! Had to write copy paste a udev rule, in 2021, to use a controller.

                  • Chris W says:

                    My DS3 doesn't work with Redream. I've never tried it before, so I don't know if this is new behavior or not.

                    Do you see yours in Apple's System Information? Mine shows up under Hardware -> USB -> USB 3.1 Bus -> PLAYSTATION(R)3 Controller

                    Ugh, I just tried PCSX2 and my controller no longer works there. I assume this is the libsdl2 problem that Netluser talked about.. sigh

                • jwz says:

                  So, now I have a "Finera USB Wired Gamepad for PS3 Controller" plugged into my Mac, which I have also used successfully on Linux with RetroPie. USB Overdrive recognizes all of its buttons as existing and having sensible-sounding names, but Redream still won't let me click "OK" on the opening screen of the Rez game. How to make go?

                  • Netluser says:

                    Disclaimer: I don't have a Mac and haven't used Redream

                    Did you remember to configure your key/controller bindings? Retropie "supports many popular controllers out of the box" but from past experience most emulator projects don't do it for you. Classic example is me with no controller pressing "L" on the keyboard when a game prompts you to press L, yet nothing happens.

                    Apparently Redream should do it for you thanks to SDL, but try manual config anyway (or plug in the controller only after starting, maybe):


                    On connect, SDL's controller database attempts to automatically configure it. If it's not configured automatically, you can manually configure it the Input menu.

                    Make sure you configured the right controller port too (not player 2). Dolphin 5.0 on Linux/X11 required me to check "background input" for anything to work, try fiddling with any weird settings like that. If you did manually configure, the test UI shows working functionality, and it still doesn't work, everything sucks as expected.

                    I'd also try binding buttons to the keyboard to test if anything works that way, if it's still fucked.

  2. Netluser says:

    For PS2 discs, I'd definitely recommend emulation. Supposedly the discs can be played straight from any DVD drive or ripped to ISO trivially, unlike many other game discs. Only hard part is dumping a PS2's firmware (or just find it online).

    PS3 emulation has the opposite problem, the firmware can be downloaded straight from Sony (to enable console updates even if the console has no internet) but the discs require a working, jailbroken PS3 to rip; or else a "compatible" Blu-Ray drive with a chipset that can understand PS3 discs. And I'm sure PS3 emulation is slow as molasses.

    PS2 PCSX2 emulation guide:

    PS3 RPCS3:

    And if you do rip your discs to ISO files, check your checksums:

    Personally I would try to get my hands on a working PS3 for playing PS3 discs. PS2 emulation is great, but PS3 isn't there yet. Which is frustrating because game console drives really like to die after the 15 year mark, I've learned.

  3. dorukayhan says:

    "Play them using a Mac as an emulator" would be ideal...

    There's RPCS3, which doesn't officially support macOS yet but has "this might work"-type compilation instructions. Try compiling it, and if it doesn't work, put it on some Linux machine to end up with a bootleg PS3, I guess?

    • jwz says:

      The only Linux machines I have are Pis, and there's no executable for that either. The macOS compilations instructions seem to be "pipe curl through sudo" so I'm gonna nope out on that.

      • Matt says:

        Fwiw the curl to sudo bit is just for the installation of homebrew, which is a pretty standard way to get open source stuff on Macs these days. Also you can install it as you if you tell it to install under your home directory. Most people run it as root so it can install in /usr/local.

        • jwz says:

          I use macports, not homebrew. Polluting my development machine with a whole different package manager just to install some dodgy emulator that probably won't work anyway sounds like a mess that could take forever to undo.

          • pakraticus says:

            I've not tried using packer to create a canned MacOS VM image.
            However, it worked for Windows and Linux when the previous job needed it.
            And I added this to my pile for if we ever get serious about validating onboarding documentation at the current job.

            Anyways disposable VMs and containers is the new hotness to pollute your development machine in a different way :-).

  4. Matt Lee says:

    Buy a Cobra ODE (optical drive emulator) and load up an SD card with the games you want to play.

    I think PS2 isn’t fully supported yet but will be eventually supported.

    • jwz says:

      From reading the manual, it sounds like A) it involves surface-mount soldering to install it and B) you can't load games off of the SD card unless there is also a PS2/PS3 disc in the drive, and since I don't have a functional drive, that doesn't help.

      • Matt Lee says:

        I’ll dig up the video on it. I thought it was solderless and a viable replacement for the drive itself. I had planned to get one for my office PS3 for exactly those reasons. Our drive is also kaput.

  5. Lloyd says:

    it's a resource-eating rathole.

    the only way to win is not to play.

  6. Chris W says:

    I went through something similar a few months ago: I wanted to be able to play a mix of PS2 & PS3 games with the least amount of hardware. I was lucky enough to find a CECHA01 console that works really well. (More on this below)

    I'd suggest jailbreaking your PS3 with either evilnat or rebug firmware; they should both have a version that does not require a working BD-ROM drive. For evilnat (which I use), you'll want the nobd[1] version given your Blu-Ray drive is broken. To avoid the hassle of ripping BD discs, you can torrent your way to happiness. I replaced the OEM 60GB HDD with a 1TB SSD and load games via FTP or USB stick.

    Finally: the CECHA01 consoles are thought to be the least reliable versions of the PS3 hardware. If you want to get something more reliable, look at a slim. When jailbroken, all PS3s (including slims) can play most PS2 games easily[1] via software emulation: you may not need the CECHA01's hardware emulation at all depending on which PS2 games you're interested in.


  7. KC says:

    Have you considered trying to replace the ribbon cable? That could be all it needs and they're under $10 on Ebay. Have you tried cleaning the lens(es) on the drive?

    • jwz says:

      After my latest round of fiddling, the little clip-down thingy on the mobo's ribbon cable socket broke, so at this point I'm ready to just table-flip the whole project. The drive can still eject disks with the taped-down cable, though, so maybe that's not the problem.

      • Adolf Osborne says:

        Replacement parts for connectors like that can be found. The trick is to find the person who can identify it correctly, and then you just order the bits from the Samtec catalog (and get over paying way too much to ship a twelve-cent part).

        It won't fix your problem, but it might get you back where you were before you broke the connector.

        As to the original problem: Man, I don't know. I know that these drives could get funky about reading BD media when the blue-laser-bits would get weird after a time, but if it is also failing with DVD (eg, PS2) media then that's a path that I haven't had to go down yet for my own purposes. They're separate lasers. And that's most of what I know about PS3 optical drive troubleshooting, because that's all I've had to learn about my own PS3.

        (And maybe I'm just strangely passionate about it, but I do think that this particular PS3 is definitely worth saving. Please don't just trash it even if you yourself give up on it.)

        • jwz says:

          Even if I could find the connector, that would also involve doing microscopic surface-mount soldering directly on the mobo, and there is basically no chance I would succeed at that.

          • Adolf Osborne says:

            I guess I misunderstood. I thought you just broke off a movable handle.

            If the whole connector is hosed, then yeah: I agree. Replacing a plastic surface-mount connector is sketchy. I've forced myself to learn more and more SMD stuff in the past few years, and I'm waaay more better and confident with that tiny stuff than I was before (before, it seemed like a black art), but I'm reasonably certain that I would fail at this task.

            I wish you good luck.

  8. Tippy Turtle says:

    PSA: Don't go to gray or "dark web" (malware) sites if you need a an image of a disc you have already bought (or can't buy because it is decades out of print)...but if you need an image that "just works" consider a search like:


    ..or PS1 or NES or A2600 or etc.

    Additionally, if you are a junkie for systems you grew up with...and the systems that were the foundations of the systems you loved...I really recommend Batocera:

    "It just works" (on damn near any architecture)...write your USB image, let it boot a couple times (to maximize the USB "disk", Rasperry Pi style) and start playing games...and Ubuntu-style, install it on the host system...or not and just keep booting from USB to be in emulation heaven either way.

    With Batocera (or anything else) you're going to need a beefy x86-64bit machine to emulate PS3...PS2 pretty easy on most x86...PS1 will be 50/50 on a Rasperry PI...but easy on an x86 in the last 10 years.

    Great reference for "generations" of consoles and what will emulated it...

    Footnote: Bluetooth generally has poor latency...consider wired USB controllers. (yes, very new Bluetooth specs are low latency, so I might need to reconsider.)

  9. Cw says:

    I knew that I was old, but not that I was clueless: why the FTP hate?

    • jwz says:

      It's a staggeringly shitty protocol and there's a reason nobody sane has used it in 25+ years? Seriously, the Kermit gag is not far off from reality.

    • Philip Guenther says:

      If you think FTP is a good protocol then I suggest you first consider the history of security holes that have been found in common, widely used implementations. Then, read the RFC and the source to any of the implementations. Then, after you have set your computer on fire to remove the stench of the description and flushed your eyes with bleach to clear the implementation details from your brain you will understand why it is reviled.

  10. Ike says:

    I wish you luck specifically in your Playstation quest! With regard to Rez, if you're unable to get it working on a PS2 or PS3 with PS2 emulation, there are two other good options at opposite ends of commercial spectrum: Emulate the Dreamcast version of Rez (redream works even on M1 Macs) or get 'Rez Infinite' on a friend's Windows PC via Steam. Rez Infinite has the benefit of running at high resolutions and coming with a pretty decent extra area. And VR support for those who that entices.

    • Chris W says:

      I bought a Dreamcast off Facebook Marketplace for $100 with two controllers and one VMU. You're right, though, redream works well too.

      Rez is great!

  11. Tippy Turtle says:

    So Rez specific...wikipedia says [ ]...

    PlayStation 2
    Xbox 360
    PlayStation 4
    Microsoft Windows
    Oculus Quest

    Is this the game?
    ..VR/3D sounds fun. Sorry still drunk off Google earth in VR...street view is "it".

    PS I have this addiction to Bomberman...I keep following it to every new platform. (Oddly) Hudson, more often that not, makes it better. (Old gray beard...WTF?!?! taking software development seriously...and gameplay too?!) As a PM...Requirements: Play the game like a pro with a beer in one had...and folks who have never played the game can walk up and possibly put a hurt on the pro's. Check and Check. :-O

    PSS I thought at first you had this thing for Braid (ya, nothing like the word Rez). Recommended. Life Changing.

    PSSS Fez is cool also (my other thought, "rez" confused with "fez")...2d in 3d...good simple stuff.

    PSSSS And Beautiful Katamari... (Kitchen Sink) point I guess is...consider games that continue through EVERY dang platform. There is something there like the bible. (Except that we are all dirt in the end...then [space] dust. Nothing lasts forever; bible was wrong.)

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