Three Years On, And PS1 ODE PSIO Gets An Update - Along With Some Terrifying DRM 1
Image: Cybdyn Systems

Optical Drive Emulators (ODEs) are becoming an essential part of enjoying disc-based retro consoles these days. Not only do they overcome the issue of failing drives on vintage systems, but they allow you to load up a wide selection of games which would normally, on the secondary market, require you to take out a second mortgage or sell valuable organs.

The PS1 was one of the first systems to get a viable ODE option, and it's also one of the cleanest when it comes to installation; PSIO simply plugs into the Parallel I/O port on the back of the Mk1 PS1 console – you don't need to remove the optical drive to use it, which is a massive bonus if you already have a pre-existing collection of games (although you'll still need to install an internal switch board, so it's not totally plug-and-play).

The catch is that the $150 PSIO comes with its own set of issues, and for three years, there had been no movement on firmware whatsoever – but Cybdyn Systems has now given us an update which introduces some welcome features (and one rather unwelcome one).

As reported by Retro RGB, the new update brings SD card writing for a new memory card system, a retooled USB subsystem, improved booting of games to enhance compatibility and GameID support, so you can see which game you're running on your fancy MemCard Pro memory card.

The big catch here is that Cybdyn has implemented a DRM system to combat the large number of bootlegged PSIO clones which originate from the Far East. This process is painfully laborious, and involves communicating with Cybdyn's servers to verify your PSIO is legitimate.

To make matters worse, if you own a PSIO which has been purchased on the second-hand market, you have to pay an additional $15AUD/$10USD fee to 'transfer' ownership from the original owner to yourself.

If you purchase a PSIO directly from Cybdyn, then it's a smoother ride, and there's no denying that the device is one of the cleanest ODEs on the market – so it's easy to see why plenty of people will suck up the DRM and continue to use it.

Do you own a PSIO? Have you already gone through this process? Perhaps you're one of the many people who has picked one up on the secondary market, only to be stung by the unexpected transfer cost? Let us know with a comment below.