The PlayStation 3 is a wonderful console for many reasons. There is a tonne of great games on there, especially a bunch of great RPGs and horror games. However, there is so much hidden potentially locked within those beautiful boxes.

If you have a “fat” PS3, or a certain release version of the Slim PS3, you can actually get it to play retro games as well! Unfortunately, if you have a Super Slim PS3 then you won’t be able to, so that’s important to say straight off the bat.

So, how do we go about making your PlayStation 3 play retro games? Let’s take a look!

Preparing The PlayStation 3

Now, it’s rather important to let you know that you will need to install Custom Firmware on the PlayStation 3. On the official firmware (basically, the operating system) you won’t be able to play anything except PS3 games and PS1 games from an original disc.

If you don’t want to put Custom Firmware on your PlayStation 3, then this little article probably isn’t really going to useful. So I wanted to make sure I cleared that up first.

With that in mind, the first step is to prepare your PS3 for the Custom Firmware installation. To begin with, you’re going to want to check the Minimum Version Number that your particular PS3 can take. To do this, you’ll need to get a USB flash drive and put it into your PC.

Once it is in the PC, format it so that it is set to FAT32. With that done, you’ll need to download MinVerChk, a file that will allow you to see the Minimum Version Number. You can find it here.

Download that file, extract it and move the folder onto your USB drive. Next, take the USB drive and put it into the PS3 and go to System Update. From there, select Update via Storage Media, select the USB drive and you’ll eventually see a screen pop up.

On that screen, if the number shown in the sentence is higher than 3.56, you cannot install Custom Firmware on your console. In that case, I’m afraid you won’t be able to play retro games on your PS3.

If the number is less than 3.56 then you’re good to go!

So, the next step is to actually get the Custom Firmware installed. However, since this is a process that needs to be done incredibly carefully, rather than try and write it all out and risk missing an important step for you, I’m going to share the YouTube video that I used to successfully get the Custom Firmware installed.

This video is very thorough and covers every single step that you’ll need to determine which type of firmware you need and how to install it. I would highly recommend that you follow the steps in that video, because if you do it wrong, you’ll brick your console.

So, with that warning and advice given, I’m going to continue this article by assuming that you’ve followed the video and installed your Custom Firmware.

Installing The Packages

With your Custom Firmware installed correctly (I really hope you followed that video), the next step is to get a set of packages installed. These packages allow you to add specific programs to your PlayStation 3 that are necessary for playing retro games on the PS3.

The first one you are going to need is Multiman, which you can download here. Personally, I use version 04.82.00 Base. Once it is downloaded, you need to put it onto your USB stick and plug that into your PS3. From there, find the “Install Packages” option in the Game menu. You’ll need to select the option to install from storage devices and you should see Multiman as an option. Select it and the PS3 will install it.

With Multiman, you’ll be able to play PS1 and PS2 games through software emulation, even if your PS3 isn’t backwards compatible. I’ve tested it on my own Fat PS3 which isn’t backwards compatible. Some of the PS2 games do suffer from slow down and frame rate drops, but most of the ones I have tested are definitely playable.

The next package that you will need to install is one that many retro games will know; RetroArch. From this page here, you will be able to download the package file for the PS3. With that on your PC, you need to follow the same steps as when you installed Multiman.

Once both of these have been installed, your PS3 will be ready to play retro games!

How To Get Retro Games Onto The PS3

With the packages installed and your PS3 now ready to play them, it is time to get those retro games onto the console. This is actually the most simple step of the process!

The first thing you want to do is open RetroArch on the PS3 and download the right Core emulator system for your game. This will install the drivers for that retro console into RetroArch so that the game will actually play. With that done, create a folder on your USB stick or external Hard Drive to store your ROM files or ISOs in. You can name it whatever you want, but make sure it is on the root of the USB stick or Hard Drive.

This folder is just for your own sanity, so you can easily find and sort the games when you have multiple games on there.

At that point, plug the USB drive into the PS3 and open Multiman for PS1 or PS2 games, or RetroArch for anything else. In Multiman, you should be able to find it easily through the File Manager. For RetroArch, I would recommend going to Load Content and then navigating to the USB drive and then selecting the game.

And That’s All Folks

Congratulations! At this point, your PS3 is now a multi-console emulation machine. If you’re a streamer, then you can buy a cheap USB splitter from Amazon to bypass the HDMI streamer block that is built into the PS3 and you’ll be able to use it to stream the retro games through the HDMI into your capture card, as well!

It’s actually really easy to get your PS3 console to play retro games, as long as you are happy to (and able to) install Custom Firmware.

Have you tried to install any CFW? Is your PS3 set up to play retro games? Let me know in the comments below!