As the new PlayStation Plus service launches around the world, folks have reportedly discovered a major downside to the subscription’s classic games: Many of them use versions released in PAL regions rather than the NTSC versions many of us are familiar with.
The news first surfaced this afternoon thanks to Twitter user The_Marmolade, who booted up Ape Escape for some monkey-napping only to find the game ran at the lower framerate inherent to PAL releases.
Some responses pointed out this may have been because The_Marmolade bought Ape Escape through the PlayStation Store in Indonesia (a PAL region); however, examining URL product codes on the Taiwanese PlayStation store indicated Taiwan (an NTSC region) got the exact same PAL version as Indonesia. His findings suggested that the entire world would receive PAL versions, a troubling thought for anyone wanting to play these classics as intended.
Looks like PS1 classics are using 50hz PAL versions instead of NTSC. NTSC PS1 feels much smoother than emulated version. 😑😑😑 pic.twitter.com/5q3kRn353h— The_Marmolade (@the_marmolade) May 23, 2022
PlayStation did not immediately respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
Without getting too technical, PAL refers to an encoding method used throughout Europe and other parts of the world that outputs video at 25 frames per second. NTSC, which is more prevalent in countries like the United States and Japan, runs at around 30 frames per second. Both have their benefits, but when it comes to gaming, players unsurprisingly prefer NTSC’s more fluid framerate.
VGC recently confirmed that every first-party game in the PlayStation Plus’ old-school lineup (Ape Escape, Hot Shots Golf, Jumping Flash!, etc.) uses the largely inferior PAL versions, but third-party games are more of a toss-up. Bandai Namco’s Tekken 2, for example, is NTSC, which should delight all those fighting game players who need better framerates to perform, whereas Team17 Digital’s Worms Armageddon is stuck with PAL.
And this isn’t the first time Sony’s done this. The old-school offerings of the PlayStation Classic followed a similarly inexplicable pattern. Although almost half of the nostalgia-baiting novelty console’s games ran in the PAL format, there was no rhyme or reason. In fact, the PlayStation Classic’s versions of Wild Arms and Intelligent Qube were NTSC, as opposed to the PAL releases on PlayStation Plus.
I’m generally pretty lax about framerates, but when it comes to preserving classic games through re-releases, I’m much less forgiving. It’s baffling that Sony would do this all over again. Heck, even Nintendo gives players the option of switching between NTSC and PAL in its classic Nintendo Switch Online games. If you’re a company that’s truly serious about fighting emulation and giving folks legal options to play old video games, this is not the way to do it.