Six. That’s the number of platforms I have played Final Fantasy IX on. Originally released in 2000 for the PlayStation Final Fantasy IX has cemented itself as one of my favourite games of all time. And what has helped it is the ease with which I’ve generally been able to play it regardless of the fact I haven’t had a working PlayStation for nearly a decade.
Final Fantasy IX has been played by yours truly on PSone, PS2, PS3 (via disc not the PSN version), PSP, PC and Android. Sure not all to completion on every device, but not without trying. Despite the Playstations death in 09 the games made for it are still playable today, either officially via PSN or not-so-officially via the many playstation emulators available for a myriad of platforms. And many more consoles alongside it; pretty much all the Nintendo consoles and handhelds are emulated, Segas, pre-crash stuff etc.
When talking of old games; “oh you should play Oracle of Ages” “Second Generation is best” “You never played Legend of Legiea when it came out?”, it’s actually quite simple to boot up an emulator on the platform of choice and play it. Regardless of these games being on decades old dead platforms and quite often out of circulation.
But this virtual immortality for video games may soon be coming to an end with the current generation. I don’t forsee being able to play FFXIII on my phone in a decades time, nor on my PC for that matter either. Come the hardware failure of current consoles, and their eventual discontinuation that may be the last time we will get to play our 7th gen games. 7 years into 7th gen and not even a proof of concept emulator for 360 or PS3 has risen, their somewhat exotic architectures (especially for PS3) barring entry. The raw horsepower needed, nevermind the code, doesn’t even seem to be around yet. PCSX2 was up and running within a couple years of the PS2 release, even if 10 years later it’s still yet to be 99% capable. The humble Wii is the only current console with an emulator, and that’s largely because of the “two gamecubes duct taped together” status means it can use Dolphin, the Gamecube emulator.
And that’s just talking of the hardware side of things, a whole other topic when it comes to the digital side of modern gaming and how that will likely be lost forever, emulation or not.
It’s not a dead cert that these consoles, and maybe 8th gen with it, will never be emulated on PC and more, but it’s something that is seeming highly unlikely and even should emulators come we’re going to be seeing a gap of decades where unless you have one of the few still working consoles these modern games will be but a memory to only those that played them when they were still around. Especially for the more niche titles that are unlikely to see an “Assasin’s Creed 4K-3D Collection” port. I’m playing Valkyria Chornicles at the moment, and come the death of my PS3 I’ll likely never be able to play that game again. Yet that little JRPG that could will be there on my death bed emulated on my Brain Chip 3000.