Looking Back On Backward Compatibility: Remembering Games Played On Systems They Weren’t Made For

Backward compatibility tends to go underappreciated by most gamers. Both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One won’t have the feature, and few seem concerned. Why should you care if your new console plays old games? You’re buying the machine for its new games, and the more new games the system gets the less backward compatibility means! Really, when was the last time you popped a PS2 game into your PS3?

But while backward compatibility is easy to dismiss towards the end of a system’s lifespan, it can be an essential piece of the puzzle when a system is young. Massive successes like the DS and Playstation 2 might not have taken off as quickly, and ultimately have sold as well, without backward compatibility.

Looking back, I owe some of my fondest gaming experiences to backward compatibility. These are games I never (and probably never would have) played on the system they were designed for…

Pokemon Blue

System The Game Was Designed For: Game Boy

System I Played It On: Game Boy Advance

Who didn’t play this game via backward compatibility? By the time Pokemon came out in North America it was late 1998. The Game Boy Color came out a month later. I didn’t get into handheld gaming until the Game Boy Advance came along though, so I did the rare two-system backward jump to play Pokemon Blue. If Nintendo hadn’t embraced backward compatibility with the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance there’s a good chance Pokemon wouldn’t have become the most profitable video game series of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

System The Game Was Designed For: Game Boy Color

System I Played It On: Game Boy Advance

Like I said, I didn’t get into handheld gaming until the Game Boy Advance came along (well, okay, I owned a Game Gear, but that almost doesn’t count) so if it wasn’t for backward compatibility I never would have played The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the best 2D Zelda game ever. Yeah, I said it — better than A Link to the Past.

Dragon Warrior VII

System The Game Was Designed For: Playstation

System I Played It On: Playstation 2

Sometimes I feel like I must be the biggest non-Japanese Dragon Quest fan there is, and my affection for the series started with Dragon Warrior VII (older Dragon Quest games were re-titled Dragon Warrior in North America). Dragon Warrior VII looked like an SNES game somehow got lost on the Playstation and here I was playing it on the even more powerful PS2 and yet still loving it. I’ve bought almost every Dragon Quest game that’s made its way to North America since.

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