In an interview with Japanese site Impress Watch, Sony’s Kaz Hirai stated that the NGP would indeed be backwards compatible with original PSP games. However, there is a catch; as the company’s new handheld doesn’t have a UMD drive, only downloadable PSP titles will be compatible. There won’t be anyway to play non PSN-based PSP games on the new handheld.
How PSP games are handled on the system though, is somewhat more interesting; we all knew that UMD was effectively out a good few years ago, but software emulation of the original PSP… that’s something of a heavy undertaking to get 100% right, although not really unexpected given the device’s incredibly high-end specifications. According to the Sony executive, downloadable PSP games will be fully emulated on the NGP, much like in the way current PSP Mini’s are playable on the PS3.
As with other PSN releases, users will be able to transfer over their downloaded purchases to the system so long as their ‘download limit’ hasn’t been reached – it’s currently five downloads in total per-game across multiple systems. Thankfully, since the release of the PSPGo, Sony have been steadily upping the amount of PSP games available for digital sale across PSN, with the company suggesting that developers actively support this method of distribution ahead of the NGP’s eventual debut.
Other details, such as whether or not original PSP games would be rendered in a higher resolution to match the NGP’s display, weren’t forthcoming. But, seeing as PSP Mini’s aren’t when running on the PS3, then a similarly upscaled image is expected when these titles are played on the NGP.