For over twenty years, the PlayStation brand has been a staple for gamers. Sony’s fallout with Nintendo started something that has been chugging along ever since. Seeing the Japanese entertainment giant want a piece of the retro-inspired action that began with Nintendo last year, seems like it was only a matter of time. There’s a long history of the brand in my family and the urge to revisit those better days motivated me to become invested in Sony’s shot at nostalgia with the PlayStation Classic. Unfortunately, that wave rushed over me and left me wanting more out of what the miniature console offers.
Including with the PlayStation Classic are 20 games. Some of those titles are indeed classics like Final Fantasy 7, Intelligent Qube, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Twisted Metal. However, there are also odd choices like Mr. Driller, Battle Arena Toshinden, and Destruction Derby did not stand the test of time. This isn’t what I remember of PlayStation.
Here’s the full list of titles included on the PlayStation Classic:
Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Final Fantasy 7
Grand Theft Auto
Metal Gear Solid
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
Resident Evil: Director’s Cut
Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Granted, we all have fond memories of the PlayStation. Not all the preloaded games will resonate with everyone either. Instead of what the Nintendo line up focused on, the PlayStation Classic moves into the earliest period where 3D gaming began to take off but leaves out several games that represent the brand far better than what comes included with PS Classic. Without games like Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Klonoa, Suikoden, and Tomb Raider, the collection misses out on what made the first PlayStation so iconic.
The console itself is beautiful and is roughly 45% smaller than the original console. There are two USB ports in the front of the unit and there’s also an HDMI port in the back and a micro-USB port to power the device. Sadly, there is no adaptor included with the PlayStation Classic, but you can use a spare phone charger. The two included controllers are based on the original pre-analog versions that came with the system back in 1995.
Upon booting the PS Classic, the familiar and nostalgic boot up sound plays. It’s sweet to hear once again. From there, we’re dropped into a rather bare-bones menu that features all 20 games. It’s basic and compared to Nintendo’s offerings, feels like an afterthought to the origins of the brand. There are no options to customize the experience nor scaling options that you might find in the SNES Classic.
But like the SNES Classic, there are some irksome design inclusions like the need to play the games with a wired controller. The cord length isn’t the issue, but what is the lack of wireless. Then you have the fact that if you wish to change games, you simply cannot do it from the controller. Instead, you need to physically press the reset button. One would imagine a button combination on the controller could satiate this issue. Multi-disc games also require the use of the eject button, so swapping discs in Final Fantasy VII feels at least nostalgic.
As for saving, each game has its own individual memory card slot. You can even see the same icons that were around back in the day, but sadly, each game only offers one slot.
As for the games, while some games have aged well, others certainly haven’t. Sure, the 2D games included like Mr. Driller and Rayman hold up well. But with scaling issues, games like Syphon Filter have not stood the test of time. Cool Boarders 2 was a game I grew up with but remember not being much fun playing, nor was Battle Arena Toshinden. Half the library is a series of games that don’t say PlayStation, unlike PlayStation, unlike Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Parappa the Rapper. Some of the games included aren’t even the NTSC version we originally had, instead featuring PAL versions of the games instead.
The PlayStation Classic offers 20 classic games from the brand’s humble beginnings. There are few bonuses and the package doesn’t resonate with the brand we’ve come to know as they are. Instead, the outside shell is perhaps the biggest throwback, not the games included. Unfortunately, the included games found on the PlayStation Classic are a mixed bag, and while some titles are landmark entries for their respective series, the others aren’t. In a world where growing up with games like Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Spyro the Dragon was the norm, it’s sad to see each of them missing. For what the console offers, the experience isn’t a Greatest Hits for the series but is the best way to experience the early days of the brand.
Sell me a classic PlayStation 2 and then we can talk, as for now, this is a nostalgic piece of hardware but its slim offerings hold it back from true greatness.
The PlayStation Classic is available now for $129.99 CAD.