With the PlayStation Classic soon to hit store shelves, OnlySP has provided a run-down on the 20 games included in the miniature package. However, software can not do much without the hardware to run it, so paying equal attention to the bits that make the PlayStation Classic tick is also important.
Sony has clearly gone out of its way to nail the aesthetics of the original PlayStation with its new, diminutive incarnation. The PlayStation Classic looks just like its older version, only smaller.
The unit itself comes with a USB power cable, but no power brick, so users will need to dig out a spare smartphone or tablet power brick to power on the device. The power button does exactly what the name suggests, while the Reset button returns the user to the home screen. Pleasingly, even the Open button has a function, as it is used to ‘swap discs’ on titles that originally shipped on more than one CD, such as Final Fantasy VII.
The controllers are functionally identical to the original PlayStation controllers, though this version is USB rather than Sony’s proprietary connectors of old. The decision not to include DualShock controllers feels like a glaring omission, and this choice may have in turn led to the decision to exclude many games from the line-up for which DualShock is recommended, such as Gran Turismo and Ape Escape.
Opening up the unit by unfastening the five cross-head screws reveals the board inside. The board inside is a custom job created by Sony. A further four screws hold the PCB in place. The inside also contains a metal shroud that acts as a heatsink for the System on a Chip (SoC); removing this shows a MediaTek MT8167A SoC.
The MediaTek MT8167A uses a quad-core ARM Cortex A35, running at 1.5GHz, along with an integrated PowerVR GE8300 GPU. The board also contains 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 16GB of flash storage, along with a MediaTek MT6392A audio codec.
This hardware is mostly considered to be entry-level by modern standards, but theoretically should provide more than enough power for driving 90s console titles. The unit certainly packs more RAM than the SNES Classic, a device which enthusiasts have been able to successfully hack to play PlayStation games.
With this hardware in mind, the reported poor performance from many of the games built into the miniature console becomes even more baffling.
The device’s originally announcement sparked speculation that Sony might use its own PlayStation Vita SoC device, which has a proven track record in regards to to running high-quality emulation. The choice to instead go for an ARM SoC set-up has confused many fans and enthusiasts.
Another source of controversy has been the revelation that Sony is using the open-source PCSX ReARMed emulator to run the games, instead of creating its own in-house software to run the console. The emulator was one created by retro gaming enthusiasts, and is based on the PCSX Reloaded emulator – which is one of the most popular PlayStation 1 (PSX) emulators.
The decision to use open source software does mean that the PlayStation Classic will likely be relatively easy to hack, opening up the potential to sideload a few more titles from the vast library of PlayStation titles on to the mini console.
With all of that said, the use of off-the-shelf hardware, reported performance issues, and open-source emulation all combine to make the price point of the PlayStation Classic somewhat hard to justify.