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Sony’s Choice of Games for PlayStation Classic Makes it a Strange Proposition

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PlayStation Classic

With the release today of the PlayStation Classic, Sony seemingly does not want to be left without a ticket for the retro revival train. Following the hugely successful NES and SNES ‘Classics’ from Nintendo, Sony is jumping on board with a retro console of its own that is so similar to Nintendo’s, in both design and execution, that the trio might well have been cooked up over the same corporate lunch meeting. However, while the miniature NES and SNES were largely well-received by consumers, those looking to splash out on the PlayStation Classic might want to take a moment to consider just what exactly they are getting for their money.

Coming in at a cool £89.99 (US$99.99), the Classic certainly is not cheap, and the hefty price tag suggests that Sony considers it to be a premium product. Here, OnlySP will focus on the software, which has some good news, some bad news, and some that is downright ugly.

Some worthy classics are present and accounted for.

Starting with the good, the PlayStation Classic comes preloaded with twenty of what Sony calls, “the best titles from a game-changing era”. Considering that the era in question spawned a back catalogue of more than 2,500 games, curating a list of 20 games that would satisfy every consumer would be impossible. That being said, looking at the games (see list at the end of this article) one can see straight away several that will be sure to please fans of the original PlayStation. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, and Resident Evil are rightly considered by most to be iconic of the PS1 era. Others, such as Intelligent Qube, Revelations: Persona, or Cool Boarders 2, may be a little more niche and despite having some dedicated fans will probably not be of interest to everyone.

The big draw here of course is the ability to simply plug the Classic into a TV with HDMI and revisit Shadow Moses, RuptureFarms, or Spencer Mansion at the touch of a button. This simplicity will be very appealing to retro fans who want to re-experience these titles, even those more obscure games that some may never have heard of, but do not want to muck about with emulators themselves. Unfortunately, this simplicity is pretty much where the good news ends.

No PlayStation revival console would be complete without Metal Gear Solid.

Despite a level of appreciation that Sony has attempted to select a range of games that it feels are representative of the PlayStation’s full repertoire, one cannot help looking at the list of “the best titles” and find it lacking. How can Sony push out a console that is supposed to reflect the best of the PS1 generation and not include a Tomb Raider, which is perhaps the most iconic of all PlayStation franchises? If Sony wanted a racer, why did it pick Ridge Racer and Destruction Derby over Gran Turismo and WipEout? Where is Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon? Why include Syphon Filter when the far superior Metal Gear Solid is already on there? Does Sony honestly think that Mr Driller deserves to be on the list more than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or Super Puzzle Fighter more than PaRappa the Rapper? Some of these AWOL titles may have enjoyed recent remasters, or re-releases, but Oddworld and Resident Evil have also had the remaster treatment and yet they find themselves a place on Sony’s list. The more one thinks about the selection of games, the more questions start bubbling up.

As already stated, Sony was never going to please everyone, but if it is going to ask people to fork over almost a hundred pounds, it should have at least made sure that “the best titles” are the best, most iconic, game-changing titles. With over 2,500 to choose from, gamers are forced to play Rainbow Six’s buggy, twitchy mess instead of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2’s near perfect offering.

A PlayStation without a Tomb Raider? Say, what?

Finally, sadly the PlayStation Classic’s adorable exterior belies an inner ugliness in more ways than one. For starters, as reported by Kotaku, the UI experience can only be described as basic, being devoid of features or personality. The console has no amazing start-up video showcasing the many great games of PS1 and no customisable, retro background themes. Instead the Classic offers only a utilitarian blue background and a revolving selection of the pre-loaded games; Sony missed a perfect opportunity here to really play up to the retro-nostalgic crowd. Other issues, such as only be able to have one save file per game and a mishmash of game region versions, simply adds to the feeling that the PlayStation Classic is more of a cash-grab than a faithful ode to one of gaming’s most cherished consoles.

This leaves players with perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, which is the fact that all but three of the included games are already available on other Sony platforms, some with updated graphics. Personally, I already own six of them on PS Vita or PS4, and I envision that there are many gamers out there who own some or all as well. This begs the question: why would Sony not just add the emulator software to the PS4 and let users download what they want from the online store?

PlayStation Classic

PS4 owners are more likely splash a little cash on a retro game they can play on their existing machine than go out and buy a PlayStation Classic. Microsoft has proven that backwards compatibility is not only possible on fourth generation hardware, but is popular with gamers; suddenly, the £89.99 asking price for the Classic becomes a little tricky to justify.

The games included on the PlayStation Classic are:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII †‡
  • Grand Theft Auto — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash!
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr. Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee †‡
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3 — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal †‡
  • Wild Arms

† Available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and/or PlayStation Vita via PlayStation Classics line-up

‡ Available on PlayStation 4 as a Classic or remastered title

Come back later today for more on the hardware used for the PlayStation Classic. For news, updates and information on the PlayStation Classic, keep in touch with OnlySP on  FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Editorial

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

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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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