In our recent review of the PlayStation Classic, we expressed dismay that the $99 plug-and-play device didn’t offer much in the way of visual or emulation options, despite using an off-the-shelf open source emulator at its core. Now, some users have found those kinds of emulation options are easily accessible, provided you have the right kind of USB keyboard.
The YouTubers at the Retro Gaming Arts channel seem to have been among the first to notice that plugging certain USB keyboards into the hardware and hitting the escape key brings up a “PCSX menu” with an array of emulation options. Among them: additional RAM-based save states for each game; simulated CRT-style scanlines; modifiable “frameskip” settings; a frames-per-second display; and even the ability to change the emulation “region” to force 50fps PAL games to run at the 60fps NTSC standard.
While the video initially suggested any USB keyboard would be able to activate this hidden menu, further testing from viewers seems to suggest only certain high-end Corsair and Logitech keyboards (including the Corsair K70 and K95) can activate the menu. This limitation is possibly due to holes in the USB blacklisting in the hardware itself. Testing here at Ars’ Orbital HQ found the Sleep button on an old Velocity Micro keyboard could turn the console off, but no other button on a couple of tested keyboards had any effect. Digital Foundry’s John Linneman says he tested more than a dozen keyboards at a local shop with no luck.
In any case, this relatively easy-to-find hole into the inner workings of the PlayStation Classic’s emulation makes it more likely that hackers will soon find a way to really dive in and take full control of the hardware, as has already happened with Nintendo’s own plug-and-play hardware. We’re just hoping someone figures out a way to hack a fake Symphony of the Night save onto the Metal Gear Solid virtual memory card, so Psycho Mantis can pretend to read our minds once again.