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.
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.
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.
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?
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 Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.