I know what you are probably thinking, or perhaps not thinking, but…PS2 in 2021, why? Well, why not? the PS2 is still an awesome machine, even in 2021. I’m sure loads of folk would agree.
I decided to dust off my PS2 slim after over a year lying dormant and started to test some of my backups, all of which were skipping FMV’s and crashing so i thought, the lasers probably on its way out. Sad and crying (not really) I looked into alternative options to see what I could do to get it back up and running with better performance. OpenPS2Loader is one solution which I’d highly recommend. I’d heard of this a while ago, so thought I’d finally take a dive into checking it out to see what it was all about, and its honestly the best thing you could ever do for your PS2.
There’s plenty of guides out there so I wont go into the details here, but check out the videos from Phoenix Media:
This is also heavily documented on https://github.com/toolboc/psx-pi-smbshare
There is also a huge community forum over at https://www.ps2-home.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=13&sid=c5a821159fe273c550ddf1044964bb54 – that shows you how to install themes / discuss game compatibility, issues, and so on.
What is it?
psx-pi-smbshare is a preconfigured Raspbian based image for Raspberry Pi 1, 2, 3 and 4. It runs a Samba share, a pi-compatible build of ps3netsrv, and reconfigures the ethernet port to act as a router. This gives low-latency, direct access to the Samba service through an ethernet cable connection between a PS2/PS3 and Raspberry Pi.
Essentially, you are setting up the Pi as a router (connected to the PS2. Pi ethernet port configured to talk to the PS2 ethernet port), then through the PS2 OpenPS2Loader app (when configured) the Pi will access the USB stick or HDD through this ethernet connection between the devices, allowing you to play your PS2 backups all through the neat UI on the PS2. This method is much better than running a HDD through the PS2’s USB 1.1 port for obvious reasons. Through the PS2 USB port you will inevitably encounter FMV and game lag plus sound stuttering due to how slow the 1.1 port is.
All you need for this is a USB drive (or externally powered hard disk drive – in my case), a raspberry PI (doesn’t matter if its a pi0,1,2,3,4 etc), and an ethernet cable, plus a soft modded PS2 (with free mcboot).
I used a really old raspberry PI B+ model (yes that old) and a 500GB SSD in an external enclosure (with external power) for mine and it works a treat following the guides / github above.
There is also a nifty tool (USBUtil 2.2v) that will prep / patch backup game files greater than 4.5Gb into smaller parts that you can copy to the USB stick or hard drive, ready to play. OPL manager is another program for PC which will gather game images / box art and so on so that all your games look sweet through the PS2 UI. Check out some of the screenshots of it completed and working below:
Testing with a USB 3.0 Stick (64Gb)
Completion: Using a 500Gb external SSD in a (powered) caddy connected to the PS2 via ethernet cable. Beautiful.
This mod, alongside the PS2 connected to my PVM with RBG is the ultimate PS2 mod in my opinion. To add new backups I just connect the HDD to my PC, run the games through the USBUtil 2.2 program, then OPL manager to gather the box art etc, then put them onto the drive, and then reconnect it back up to the PS2 via ethernet, turn it all on, and its good to go.
If you have a PS2 and want to ”save” its laser, or just fancy a little side project (like I did), give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.