December 1996. That’s when I was introduced to the Sony PlayStation. It was my first game console. Not that I haven’t played on systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) or even the Sega Genesis or N64. No I had played all of them at least a few times over at friends houses, Little did I know that would be the start of my now 22-year long history with the PlayStation brand.
I have purchased every console and both handheld devices.I am probably also one of the very few people who also own a PlayStation TV.They have all made me very happy to own, yes even the Vita, as the have brought me hours of fun and never regretted the purchases. I shine my Sony pride very well. Which is why the PlayStation Classic is a huge disappointment for me personally. I really wanted to like it, and while I did enjoy the time I have had with it so far it is only because there are a few games I have wanted to, but never played from the original consoles life.Once those three or four games are complete, the rest are just there.
Let’s start with the most controversial part about this Classic console, the games list. The PlayStation Classic comes with 20 pre-loaded games. The list is as follows, taken from PlayStation.Blog:
- Battle Arena Toshinden
- Cool Boarders 2
- Destruction Derby
- Final Fantasy VII
- Grand Theft Auto
- Intelligent Qube
- Jumping Flash
- Metal Gear Solid
- Mr Driller
- Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
- Resident Evil Director’s Cut
- Revelations: Persona
- Ridge Racer Type 4
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- Syphon Filter
- Tekken 3
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
- Twisted Metal
- Wild Arms
Looking at this list, we have some big contenders, most notably Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid. These are two games I never played, and I was very excited to get to do so. The same could be said for Resident Evil Director’s cut as I have recently begun a Let’s Play of Resident Evil Remastered on PS4. We have some other games that I have played and remember well like Tekken 3 and Twisted Metal. Although i would have preferred Twisted Metal 2, but more on that later. As for the rest of the list, there are games I didn’t play and personally don’t really care too much for. That’s the biggest problem of the list itself and to be honest, I don’t think there is a perfect set of 20 games to put to make everyone happy across the board.
Many gaming sites have gone over this so I won’t spend too much time on it, but yes, the list would have been infinitely better to have Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Tomb Raider. Crash Bandicoot was the first game I had with my original PlayStation, I know exactly how special it is. However, we just got a remastered version of this game a year ago. Spyro just released a remaster a month ago, and Tomb Raider released the third game in the rebooted series a few months ago as well. Not that I think having these titles on the Classic would cut sales of these newer versions, but honestly having them on there would just be a feeling of been there done that. How many times do I need a copy of Crash in my life? The answer is 5 by the way. Not only that, but I’m sure there were licensing issues as well that prevented some of favorites to not show up. I mentioned earlier I wish Twisted Metal 2 was on the list instead of the original. There is someone out there who may have preferred Twisted Metal 3 over the original (they are wrong by the way). Personally I also would have wanted Gran Turismo or Need for Speed instead of Destruction Derby. How about Jet Motto or Warhawk? Some Tony Hawk, or my boy Spider-Man? This is probably the biggest hurdle this Classic console had against itself going in.
Let’s talk about the actual design of the console itself. It’s tiny. It’s about the size of an iPhone Xs. The iPhone Xs Max may actually be bigger. The Classic otherwise looks identical to it’s older brother. The exceptions being the HDMI and a micro USB ports for video and power. I’m going to get this out of the way now, no it does not come with the AC adapter. Is that a big deal? No. Not at all. Reason being while it doesn’t come with an AC adapter it does come with the micro-USB cable, and most HD and 4K TV’s have a USB port. Plug the micro-USB into that port, and done. Power. While capturing photos and video of the console I had it plugged into a surge protector that has USB ports on the top. Plugged it to that and boom. So this is not an issue. I always liked the design of the original PlayStation, and in turn I really enjoy the Classic. It’s a fun little thing to look at. The only thing I would have liked is if the lid actually opened up, but then I don’t know what you could put inside, or just have it be a novelty feature. The hardware is great, and in perfect detail all the way down to the controller.
The controller is identical. No other way around it. It’s the same size and design. It feels exactly how I used to play the original. The buttons feel great, and it genuinely feels like I was holding an original controller. I’m probably one of the few people who did not buy the controller with analog sticks for the original console. All the games I played did not need analog sticks. My first analog stick controller was with my PlayStation 2 with the DualShock 2. When I heard rumblings (get it?) of disappointment for no analog sticks I wondered why, I never needed them for any of the games, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Not entirely true. While some games work fine without the sticks, there are some games that would have greatly benefited from it. The biggest game being Rainbow Six. My goodness. Me trying to figure out how to aim and strafe was possibly one of my most awkward situations in my gaming history. I also did feel like the controller was unresponsive at times, however that could be more due to the software than the hardware itself.
Speaking of the software, the main menu of the games list is very, how do I say this, bland. It has a list of rotating thumbnails of the cover art with a gradient background. That’s it. No music, or anything eye catching. The NES Classic and SNES Classic menus are very fun and energetic, making you feel excited to play the next game. The PlayStation Classic menu feels very dull. Considering the user interfaces Sony uses with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita which even by default has a much more lively presence than the classic does I was a bit taken back to say the least. There aren’t that many settings either, just a few settings for language, and resetting back to default settings and reformatting the virtual memory cards for save game data. When going around the list of games you can either start it up from scratch if you have never played it before, or if you have recently you can switch and resume from a save state.
As for the games themselves, they run pretty good. In my play test I did not see any dropped frames, or anything out of the ordinary, that I haven’t seen playing an older game. The one thing I will say is early 3D games do not age as well as 2D games. While I am used to these graphics of the early 3D era, some games are a little cringy to look at. Twisted Metal is one of those. Which is why I prefer Twisted Metal 2, it’s a little easier on the eyes. This is what I expect of this console however. What I didn’t expect is the versions of the games it uses. I mentioned earlier about the controller being unresponsive at times, and that is due to the versions of the games we are playing. Via Polygon.com, “Perhaps more baffling is that nine of the PlayStation Classic’s 20 games are the slower-playing versions from Europe (which followed the PAL television standard, with a refresh rate of 50 Hz),” Polygon news editor Michael “Mike” McWhertor wrote in our review of the system. “Fighting and driving games play much better in 60 Hz, and the inclusion of PAL versions here is simply bizarre.” So when playing games like Ridge Racer Type 4 or Tekken 3, some of my actions were much slower. It is an odd choice indeed onto why these decisions were made. The remaining 11 games do play well, even I need to get used to tank controls. Looking at you Resident Evil.
I mentioned the first hurdle Sony’s Classic console had were it’s games list. The second thing is the price. Nintendo’s NES Classic costs $59, which is the price of a new game today, and the SNES Classic is $79, which is comparable to a special edition version of a game. The PlayStation Classic is $99. It’s pegging itself to be a premium console with not so premium games. Doing some research, I found that if you purchased all the games separately, you’re only saving about $100-$150 if you were to go out and buy an original PlayStation and get the games. Twinfinite did a great job breaking down these numbers, and the value of Nintendo’s Classic series. I would also argue the value in not just money can be debated but the respective games list can be as well. There are more games I would be willing to play on the other classics than PlayStation’s. Honestly the PlayStation Classic was always going to be compared to Nintendo’s and while I am a fan of Nintendo and own both of their Classic Consoles, I am a bigger fan of the PlayStation brand overall. The PlayStation Classic feels like it’s not representing that brand I’m very well versed in, and it feels like a quick product thrown together with no care unlike Nintendo’s Classic series. While I will enjoy myself with it for the time being while I have my first playthrough of Final Fantasy and Metal Gear, more than likely this will just sit on top of my original PlayStation Console and look nice next to all of my older consoles.
PlayStation Classic gets 3 Fresh Geeks out of 5.