After 27 Years, the Playstation 1 Gets the Backup Loader Softmod We All Deserve

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Madison May
By Madison May on March 23rd, 2021


After nearly 30 years on the market, the Playstation 1 has gotten an inventive home brew update that makes modding and playing region-locked games easier than ever. Spanish developer socram8888 dropped a game changing softmod on Github earlier this month called Tonyhax which allows users to scrape together nothing more complex than a PS1 memory card and a copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 to unlock your Playstation’s disc drive and open it up to playing backup games or region locked titles.

Previously, the only way to mod a PS1 was to crack into your console and install a modchip, a process that’s labor intensive and not for the faint of heart (or those with mint consoles they don’t want to sully). Tonyhax instead utilizes an oversight from the programmers to launch the exploit and unlock the Playstation’s CD drive. “The game does not check that text in the save file hasn’t been tampered and fits in the space the program allocated for it,” socram8888 says. “If we externally change that text to something longer, we can overwrite other vital parts of the system’s memory and run our own code.”

What this means is Tonyhax will allow users to play region locked games with ease, or get CD-DA and multi-disc games to work with an otherwise “mint” PS1. Practical, surely, but also mind blowing that it took almost 30 years for an exploit like this to crop up.

To install it, you’ll need a PS1 memory card and another modded console to transfer the Tonyhax save files over, or you can use a PC-based memory card editor. Despite the name, you can utilize a whole slew of Playstation 1 titles to execute the exploit, not just THPS, which socram8888 has outlined with detailed instructions on his project page.

If you are using a THPS title to boot up this bad boy, though, all it takes is popping in your modded memory card and turning on the game. Once on the main menu, a special save file is loaded into TWPS and accessing the “Create Skater” menu triggers an exploit and allows Tonyhax to work its magic. A backup loader resets the Playstation’s hardware by unlocking the CD drive, which will then allow modified save files to be loaded and thus backups.

Tonyhax is compatible with all PAL & NTSC-U PS1 consoles, the only exception being the early SCPH-1000 classic Playstation. In addition, there are multiple reports that it also launches on PAL & NTSC-U Playstation 2 consoles as well as the Net Yaroze for those who’ve got one in their collection. You can get the project files on Github and check out the full installation instructions and project notes right here. Happy modding!

Madison reads everything, remembers nothing, and likes to argue everywhere except the internet.


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