This guide is copyright 2003-2005 by Jeffrey McDonald. All of the pictures, except for those that are noted, were taken by me. Nothing from this guide may be reproduced without my permission and without crediting me for the work. If you want to publish any information from this guide or host the guide on your website you must get my permission.
Here are some questions that I hear, see on message boards, am emailed about, etc., quite often about the HDD.
Q: What is the capacity of the HDD?
A: The capacity is 40 gigabytes.
Q: What does installing a game to the HDD do?
A: For most games it greatly decreases the load times. Here's an example from Xenosaga.
Here's some movie files that show the difference in load times
the HDD makes to Xenosaga:
Xenosaga without HDD to decrease load times:
Xenosaga with the HDD to decrease load times:
The links should initiate a download window. If the extension of the file that is supposed to be downloaded shows up as .php or anything other than .zip change it to .zip
You can also view the files here:
Xenosaga running without the HDD - clip
Xenosaga running with HDD support active and a HDD installed
and formatted - clip
Both clips were using the same memory card data and going through the same room exit. As you can see, the load time is changed from about 15 seconds to about 3-4 seconds.
Thanks go to Alkaizer for supplying those links and files.
Q: Can I use a HDD that I formatted with a Japanese PS2 in a US PS2?
A: Yes, but you have to reformat it with the NTSC U/C HDD Utility Disc if you want to actually use the HDD outside of games. PSBBN and programs that are bootable from the HDD are keyed to the system that installs them, so they won't boot on a foreign system. It is also good to note that only Japanese PS2s can install and run PSBBN. Asian PS2s, although still NTSC J for their region, will not boot the disc to let the program install, suggesting that there are subregions in the regional lockout.
Q: Can I use an IDE hard drive other than the official HDD with my PS2?
A: Yes, but only with Linux and homebrew software. PSBBN checks the firmware of the HDD and Sony customizes the firmware of their HDD units. Until someone manages to crack the firmware and make it so you can put the changes on your own hard drive, you need an official HDD unit from Sony to use with games.
Here's proof that the Sony HDD is just a relabled Maxtor hard drive. I've scanned my hard drive right here. The tear at the top is the result of me taking the hard drive out of my external HDD unit that I used with my old model SCPH 10000 PS2. I got a newer model SCPH 30000 PS2 and converted the external HDD to an internal HDD. Since I didn't have the support rails that come with the internal HDD to hold the HDD in place I tried to put a thin piece of cardboard under the HDD to hold it up. The cardboard was too thick and forced the HDD upwards so that a small screw at the center of the Expansion Bay opening caught on the label and tore it. The only information that was obscured by the tear is the capacity of the HDD.
If you look up the model number of the HDD on www.maxtor.com then you'll get a hard drive with the same specs. This can't be coincidence. Then the circuitry on the bottom of the HDD says Maxtor Corp. This supports the idea that the Sony HDD is just a relabled Maxtor DiamondMax hard drive. This is the address of the page that pops up:
If Sony overprices the HDD then you really can't do much about it until someone cracks the firmware.
Q: What games support the HDD in Japan (or elsewhere)? If they install to the HDD, how much space do they take up?
A: I don't have a complete list but I'll post what I have information on. Here's a list of Japanese games that have HDD support and what that support does, if I know it. This list isn't guaranteed to be complete.
Final Fantasy X - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. dsxgate supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Final Fantasy X International - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Takes up 1,664 megabytes.
Kingdom Hearts - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Takes up1,280 megabytes.
Xenosaga Episode 1 - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Allows you to save your game and load it to and from the HDD directly so that you don't need a memory card. Takes up 1,792 megabytes.
PlayOnline - Fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated. Used to boot Final Fantasy XI. Takes up 1,024 megabytes.
Tetra Master - Fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated. Comes with Final Fantasy XI. Takes up 128 megabytes.
JongHowLo - Fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated. Comes with Final Fantasy XI. Takes up 256 megabytes.
Final Fantasy XI (and the Rise of the Zilart and Chains of Promathia expansions) - Fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated. Takes up 8,192 megabytes as of March 7th, 2005.
Unlimited SaGa - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Takes up 3,072 megabytes.
Wild Arms 3 - dsxgate supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Ace Combat 4 - SScorpio supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Virtua Fighter 4 - SScorpio supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Armored Core 3
Taito's Energy Airforce - Allows you to playback music that is stored on the HDD while playing the game instead of listening to the music that is built into the game. gouki13 supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix - dsxgate supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards
Winning Eleven 6 Final Evolution - Nanami supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
3D Fighting School 2 - Allows you to directly save to and load from the HDD. - www.ncsx.com
Dark Chronicle (aka Dark Cloud 2) - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Takes up 1,536 megabytes. The Asia version also supports the HDD.
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times and allows direct saving and loading to and from the HDD. - gouki13 supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Zettai Zetsumai Toshi (aka Disaster Report) - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times and allows direct saving and loading to and from the HDD. - gouki13 supplied this information on the GameFAQs message boards.
Soul Caliber II - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. - I read about support on the back of the Japanese game case.
Star Ocean III: Till the End of Time - Installs to the HDD to decrease load times. Installation also reduces occurrences of a game crashing glitch that is known to happen on the first batch of discs when played on model 1x000 PS2s. - GameFAQs' Star Ocean III Message Board.
All-Star Pro Wrestling II - Markiss614 on the PS2Ownz.com forums.
Pop'n Taisen Puzzle-dama
Online - Installation to the HDD is required to play. The game boots
from PSBBN and does not require the disc or a registration code, making
it a very unusual case of HDD support, as it has no anti-piracy
protection to prevent the disc from being passed around in a group of
Net de Bomberman (aka Bomberman Online) - Installation to the HDD is required to play. Uses 1,024 MB on the HDD. The game boots from the disc, but loads most of the data from the HDD. A feega account is required to play, meaning you need PSBBN 0.30 or higher since you need it to access feega and make an account. The game has a monthly fee of a little over 500 yen.
SOCOM II (NTSC U/C version only) - Uses the HDD for three additional
maps, which can only be installed from the discs that came with
specific issues of OPM magazine.
The ESPN 2K5 sports series (all games) - Allows saving to the HDD
instead of a Memory Card, and stores footage from gameplay for a
halftime show with a movie instead of still images.
Nobunaga's Ambition Online (and its expansion) - Fully installs to
the HDD so that it can be
King of Collisseum (both the Red and Green discs)
Front Mission Online - Fully installs to the HDD so that it can be
patched/updated. Boots through PlayOnline Viewer once it is installed.
Q: When is the HDD for games going to be released in the US?
A: It was released March 23rd, 2004, with HDD Utility Disc 1.01 and
bundled with Final Fantasy XI and the Rise of the Zilart expansion
pack. It is not available in any other form.
Q: Is PSBBN available for NTSC U/C PS2s?
A: Not at this time, and probably never by the looks of things...
SCEA made a press release in September 2003 that mentioned the features
the HDD would release with, which were similar or identical to those of
PSBBN. When the HDD was released, it did not have those features, the
press release was pulled from SCEA's site and replaced with a nearly
identical press release that had the features omitted and a different
date on it (the North American HDD release date). SCEA has said that
the BB Navigator software wasn't ready for launch, and would be
released "at a later date." It has not been released yet, and with the
North Americna HDD discontinued, and all NTSC U/C models that support a
HDD having their production discontinued in favor of the slim model
70000 series that cannot support a HDD, it is doubtful that they will
ever release the PSBBN software for that region. SCEA has also locked
and archived the HDD section of their forums, signaling that they no
longer intend to release new software to support the HDD. HDD
production has stopped for North America, and SCEA has no spare HDD
Utility Discs if those already in circulation get
Q: Do the US versions of the games you mentioned, if any currently exist, support the HDD also?
A: Supposedly Sony made the companies that released those games
in the US remove HDD support. Only Resident Evil Outbreak (Files 1 and
2) and Final Fantasy XI (and accompanying software) have made it
over with HDD support intact. HDD support was removed from all other
games to be localized for NTSC U/C release that don't require the HDD.
However, some US-made games, such as the ESPN 2K5 series of sports
games and SOCOM II support the HDD in the NTSC U/C versions.
Q: Is there a shortage of HDD units in Japan?
A: There may be but there shouldn't be, except for maybe external
units since a special case needs to be made for them. As answered
in a previous question, the HDD seems to actually be made by Maxtor.
Maxtor is a hard drive company so there shouldn't be a shortage
of hard drives to make into HDDs and the PSBBN discs shouldn't
be hard to manufacture either. Sony has no real reason to say
there's a shortage and they can eliminate any shortage completely
by just releasing the PSBBN discs on the market and saying which
hard drives will work with it, or even just say to use that specific
Q: Are any PS2 models that support the HDD still being manufactured?
A: Yes, but only in Japan. The Midnight Blue model 50000 is still
being made and sold in Japan, bundled with a BB Unit, due to how much
HDD support is available there. The slim model 70000 is also being made
there, and Japanese gamers have been informed to buy the Midnight Blue
model if they want or need HDD support, as SCEI has no plans to make
the slim model support the HDD. SCEA and SCEE have switched to only
manufacturing the slim model, and SCEE never released the gaming HDD,
so the HDD is pretty much dead, or doomed to die, in those regions.
Q: Does the slim model 70000 PS2 support the HDD? I've seen or been
told about an external HDD for it in Japan.
A: No, not even in Japan. Every time someone mentions the external
HDD and provides a link to back them up, they link to the external HDD
for the Japanese model 1x000 PS2s, which has a PCMCIA connector at the
end of the cable. Slim PS2s have no Expansion Bay, and no iLink,
PCMCIA, or IDE connectors, so the only possible option to attach a HDD
is via USB, which is USB 1.1 on all PS2 models. Sony's HDD driver
doesn't use USB, and USB 1.1 has a slower data transfer rate than the
PS2 CD/DVD drive, so the common functions of HDD support would be
rendered useless. SCEI is the branch that designs hardware such as the
HDD, so if they have no plans to make a HDD for the slim model (which
is the situation now), there will be no HDD for the slim model.
Q: How do I make (insert game here) install to the HDD? How do I make (insert game here) save to the HDD instead of my Memory Card?
A: You can only do that with games that were actually programmed to do so. You can't install a game to the HDD unless it is programmed with an Install function, which will show up on the title screen if the game has it and it detects your HDD. Likewise, games will only let you save directly to the HDD if they were programmed to do so and they will only recognize the "Your Saves" folder on the HDD to load from and save to. If your game doesn't support saving to the HDD, you can still copy the file there for storage, but you have to put it back on a Memory Card to use it again, and you can't move or copy "Copy Protected" files between the HDD and Memory Card. I will ignore any emails asking these two questions from now on because I'm getting too many and it should be pretty obvious that you can't make something support the HDD unless it was already programmed to do so.
Q: What about HDLoader/HDAdvance?
A: My guide is not intended to cover those, or any unofficial
software for the HDD. I will not cover that here and am likely to
ignore you if you contact me about it in reference to my guide. I am
mainly making a manual for people to be able to use PSBBN if they have
the equipment to run it, and such programs have no impact on PSBBN.
If you have any questions about the HDD, I'll try to answer them here if they are asked enough or seem important. Please don't ask questions that have already been answered here. You can email the questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org catch me on the GameFAQs message boards as bungiefan, or IM me on MSN, ICQ, or AIM. My MSN account is email@example.com. My ICQ # is 42771757. My AIM screen name is bungiefan.