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Sony Makes Odd Hardware Choices for PlayStation Classic



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.

For news, updates and information on the PlayStation Classic, keep in touch with OnlySP on  FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.


Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019



Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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