Well, well, well. After all the palaver about PSOne games only appearing on the PS Store in limited numbers (opens in new tab), then not appearing in download queues, we've finally got some PSOne games running on Vita. And we're glad we made the effort because the outcome is superb. Is it going to save the system? Not on its own, no - we still need more Vita games. But just for a moment, let's applaud a triumph. If you still love your PSOne classics, this is the absolute best way to play them. Look:
Above: Come on, admit it - you want to have a go on that
Why's it so good?
The problem with PSOne games in 2012 is that they look like ass. Actual ass. Load up the likes of Silent Hill on a PS3 running through an HDMI cable and you might as well be rubbing your eyes with sandpaper - modern TVs are too sharp for the bitty graphics. But despite PS Vita's screen being similarly crisp and lovely, playing PSOne games on it is an absolute joy.
Firstly, there's that OLED screen. Like PSP, it can run PSOne games in a variety of different aspect ratios to give you the optimum experience. However, unlike PSP, it doesn't have problems with black levels and the larger screen makes it worth trying out all the different options because you're never left looking at a PSOne-themed postage stamp.
You can have 1:1 pixel for the sharpest picture (but that's bordered with black - it doesn't use all the pixels in the Vita's screen to do this)…
Above: One pixel of the screen for one pixel of the game
Or you can fill vertically or horizontally (the latter losing some of the top and bottom of the screen but maintaining correct aspect ratio).
Above: If you don't mind borders or losing some of the screen, these look great
But if you don't mind seeing things looking a little squashed, you can fill the entire screen.
Above: This 'stretch to fit' option is our favourite. It's MASSIVE
It's on this setting that the games look their best. Why? Because the Vita's ability to scale the image smoothly and instantaneously means all those nasty jagged edges and chequerboard colour blends are smoothed over. It does this naturally enough through its regular screen-fill setting, but there's also an option for 'bilinear filtering' – in other words, pixels are blended in horizontal and vertical directions to make sure everything looks as smooth as a game from 1998 possibly can.
Above: It's Ridge Racer! Riiiiiidge Racer! (Type 4). But we do wonder why we still haven't got RR1 in Europe. Is it because we made fun of you, Kaz? We're sorry, really we are
I'm in control
But graphics aren't everything – and that's where Vita's controls come into play. The rear touch panel can be used as the final two shoulder buttons, meaning every button on a PSOne DualShock can be replicated on a Vita. And the analogue control is superb – steering your car around Shooting Hoops in Ridge Racer Type 4 is a joy. So good in fact, we only know this because we turned on the Vita for one race and ended up finishing a whole season. It's that much fun.
Above: Hold the touch screen for a couple of seconds and these advanced options appear
At the time of writing, for whatever reason, the PSOne games aren't on the Vita's store. And they still don't work from the download list. Perhaps it'll update tomorrow when the store traditionally gets refreshed. It's been a predictably clunky rollout, but at least the experience is brilliant. If you have a PS3 and a Vita and any love at all for PSOne games, then do yourself a favour and transfer some classics to your Vita now. You'll love the results.