A community developer has dug into the incredible PS1 emulator Duckstation in order to add rollback netcode - which effectively means PS1 games now have better online multiplayer than most modern titles.
The developer, who goes by HeatXD, recently published this fork of Duckstation on GitHub (opens in new tab), and while you should "expect rough edges," it's already in a working state. I'm a pretty casual fighting game fan, so I'm going to let the responses from some of the more prolific members of the FGC speak for themselves.
This is looking great. And with DuckStation? Couldn't ask for more. Rollback on PS1 titles is real. https://t.co/4xzkrRXnczMarch 13, 2023
Got the Duckstation PS1 rollback netcode beta up and running. It definitely plays and feels great so far. Getting to play some rollback netcode Tekken 3 on the PC with other people is truly an amazing feeling I thought would never happen. pic.twitter.com/zuY29YBXk4March 13, 2023
Tekken 3, 130ms Venezuela vs USA, 2 frames of delay on Duckstation RollbackAnd @Hi_Im_Majin hit me with the Bosconovitch special, first time I live something like thisThis is 100% the real deal; absurdly hyped over how insanely good this works pic.twitter.com/ztc9Nz8QBAMarch 13, 2023
It's already quite easy to play PS1 games - or really any emulated retro games - with online multiplayer thanks to services like Parsec or Steam Remote Play Together. But while those streaming services are adequate for runthroughs of co-op games or casual bouts in player-versus-player titles, they're not really good enough if you want to actually compete in something.
That's where rollback netcode comes in. The technical details of how it works are well beyond the scope of this article - I'd point you to this extensive explainer published by Ars Technica (opens in new tab) a few years ago if you want to learn something today - but suffice to say that the smooth action that rollback provides has quickly made it an essential feature for fighting game fans.
Current fighting games are finally starting to support rollback netcode at launch - Street Fighter 6 is a notable example - but that was not a given for many years, and it's still a crapshoot as to whether any given fighting game will feature competition-worthy online play. With projects like this, at least, there's a way for the genre's most beloved classics to stand up against - and often surpass - their modern successors.
Get ready to battle in the best fighting games out there.