How can I play retro games on a PS5?

It is well documented already that the PS5 has no backwards compatibility before the PS4. Rumours run rampant on when this may be available though! Thankfully, this does not mean that you have to miss out on some of the best retro games from past generations.

The PSN has a fairly good collection of classic retro games (and some older classics) that you can download from the comfort of your own home. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s as simple as picking up your controller and selecting the PSN icon.

But what are some of the best retro classics available on the PSN? More importantly, do they stand the test of time?

How to play retro games on the PS5

Canis Canem Edit (Originally released on the PS2 in 2006)

The first on our list of must plays is the game that helped to define the edgier appeal of the PS2 – Canis Canem Edit aka Bully.

Playing as Jimmy, the main character of Canis Canem Edit, you live the day to day life of a boarding school student. You eat, sleep, study and prank your way through each term, occasionally working with the various school yard factions and having to defend yourself from bigger bullies and sometimes even teachers.

The game was well received during its release, but many adults were upset by the subject matter. However, this game lives on to this day and is available now on the PSN. 

Canis Canem Edit (Now available on the PS5) - Jimmy observes his new school and likely decides who to victimise next
Canis Canem Edit – Jimmy observes his new school and likely decides who to victimise next

SEGA Mega Drive Classics (2018)

Perhaps one of the finest collections of retro games available in one package is available on the PS5 (PS4 and PS3!). The SEGA Mega Drive Classics compilation contains over 50 classics from the Mega Drive era – including Dynamite Headdy (one of my favourite games of all time), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the brilliant ToeJam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron

All the games are accurate adaption’s right down to the finest pixel. Luckily, there are some bonus additions like online multiplayer and horizontal flip mode that gives extra challenge to games you may have completed before.

Don’t forget to collect your trophies and brag to your friends. You can buy the physical release of the SEGA Mega Drive Collection for PS4 here.

Sega Mega Drive Classics (Now available on the PS5, PS4 and PS3) - A faithful collection of brilliant Mega Drive era games
SEGA Mega Drive Classics – Or Genesis if you’re the average North American gamer

Capcom Arcade Stadium (2021)

A little more expensive but the Capcom Arcade Stadium contains some wonderful titles you may have never played before. Including Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Bionic Commando and Gigawing to name but a few.

Instead of buying a range of games like the SEGA Mega Drive classics compilation, conveniently you’re able to buy individual titles. Meaning if you have no interest in some of the newer titles, you’ll be able to purchase only the games that matter to you.

“Capcoms library is one of the most impressive in the world”

Whilst lacking some of the finesse of the SEGA compilation, Capcoms library is one of the most impressive in the world and that is worth the money alone.

Capcom Arcade Stadium (Now available on the PS5) - Download the hub and buy each game as DLC
Capcom Arcade Stadium – The game itself acts like a hub and you buy each retro title as DLC

DOOM (Originally released on MS-DOS in 1993)

Originally released for the MS-DOS back in 1993 by ID Software, Doom guy has been rampaging through Hell and Mars for almost 30 years. Unbelievably this hasn’t slowed him down yet. His most recent offerings have been just as incredible as his first outing.

If you want to go back to where it all started, with all its pixelated demons and Mancubuses, then this is the game for you. Even to this day it remains an incredibly competent FPS, but also includes up to 4 player co op to boot!

Once you could play this game on the original Playstation and now your PS5 can give it a go too.

Doom (Now available on the PS5) - Run and gun fun with the worlds most loved FPS
Doom – Run and gun fun with the worlds most loved FPS

Psychonauts (Originally released on the Xbox and PS2 in 2005)

A cult classic that received a number of awards on release, but was a commercial failure for its publisher. This resulted in at least one high profile resignation. 

It isn’t hard to see why this game failed to reach a wider audience. It was a story driven adventure platformer based around the twisted subconscious worlds of the games characters. Various psychic elements were used to progress and at times the game could border from challenging to down right hard (I’m looking at you Meat Circus).

“Every character is incredible and the worlds are well polished.”

All that in mind, Psychonauts was absolutely a passion project from the mind of Tim Schafer. And it shows. Every character is incredible and the worlds are well polished. In fact, it’s more like playing an animated film! If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time or space on your PS5, believe me – it is.

Psychonauts (Now available on the PS5) - The original release was a commercial flop, but this adventure platformer is one of the most loved of all time
Psychonauts – The original release was a commercial flop, but this cult classic deserves your attention

Super Star Wars (Originally released on the SNES in 1992)

Wait wait, hear me out non Star Wars fans. Super Star Wars on the SNES was barrels of fun. You don’t need to know your Boba Fett from your Jango Fett to enjoy it, it was a simple platforming affair. Unsurprisingly it contained oodles of blaster and lightsaber action.

Super Star Wars tells a simplified version of the films plot, and makes some subtle changes to better suit the action and gameplay. There was a real depth to the platforming that didn’t feel unforgiving. Not to mention the set pieces between levels were nice additions for the time. Believe it or not most games of this era barely attempted to string a narrative together.

All in all it culminates in an impressive (for the time) rendition of one of the best scenes in the original trilogy. It has to be played to be appreciated and its available right now on the PSN.

Super Star Wars (Now available on the PS5) - Go on, be Chewbacca
Super Star Wars – Given the option, why would you not be Chewbacca?

Are there more Retro titles available for the PSN?

There are a lot of titles available on the PSN that range from classic retro titles to modern remasters of classic titles. In fact there are too many for this article. But given the opportunity, I highly recommend you open the PSN and get exploring. Chances are you will find a title you never realised you missed. Truly, it’s as easy as turning on your PS5 and starting the PSN store.

Clicking any of the links below opens a 3rd party website where may earn commission on certain purchases. This helps support the website and keeps it running. Thanks for your support!

Or go ahead and buy PSN Credit to purchase retro games straight from the comfort of your own home.

Anthony Jansen
Anthony is a gaming advocate. He has been playing video games since the early nineties and has a real passion for the 16 bit era. He believes that every game deserves a chance (except Treasures of the Deep - which scared him as a child).


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