Early adopters of the PlayStation 3 have reportedly managed to get a variety of emulators up and running on the system - including hugely popular arcade machine emulator MAME, and a NES emulator, with videos of games such as Super Mario Bros and Pac-Man being posted to YouTube over the weekend.
The emulators are allegedly up and running on Fedora Linux, the Linux operating system which was released for the PlayStation 3 this month, and which is generating plenty of interest from those interested in expanding the multimedia functions of the console.
Admittedly, the videos are dodgy quality, and the Mario video is particularly suspect, since it cuts away at the point when the system reboots. However, we'll give it the benefit of the doubt for now - this seems to be down to bad camerawork more than any kind of subterfuge, since the video is correct in all other respects, right down to the Fedora desktop and the "boot-game-os" command line switch used to boot back into the standard PS3 operating system.
All of which is... Well, a bit obvious really. PS3 runs Linux, emulators are freely available on Linux, therefore it stands to reason that PS3 can run emulators - but there had been some doubt over whether Sony was really about to allow such nefarious activities on its device. Noses are likely to be particularly out of joint at Nintendo and Microsoft over this move, since it effectively means that PS3 owners with a modicum of technical know-how will be able to play (illegal, lest we forget) ROM versions of games which they'd rather sell you, for money, on the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade services.
Sony, for its part, has indicated that its own PlayStation Store download service is going to focus on new, original content and on distributing PSone and PS2 games digitally - so it doesn't really have much to fear from the ROM piracy scene at present, especialy since early mutterings from the beard 'n sandals brigade suggest that one of the technical restrictions on PS3 Linux is that it's not capable of tapping the system's 3D graphics power, without which emulating 3D games would be extremely difficult.
As to why people might choose to play 20 year old games on their PS3 rather than settling down with one of the console's launch titles... Well, the comments thread is right there. Off you go. Play nicely!