PS Classic review: The spirit of the 90s is alive in Sony

Yo, dawg! I heard you liked PlayStation. So Sony put a bunch of PlayStation games inside a tiny PlayStation!

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The year was 1994 and grunge bands roamed the Earth giving teens everywhere a reason to be all "whatever" about everything, Pog fever was at an all-time high, and Sony was about to enter the competitive world of home video game consoles with the launch of the first PlayStation. Who would’ve known that 24 years later there would be four generations of the PlayStation and the Walkman would be no more?

As gamers from the end of the 20th century enter their 30s or 40s, they’re craving a hankering hunk of old-school nostalgia. And gaming companies have been all too happy to offer up a tasty ‘memberberry pie in the form of “classic” or “mini” consoles. So far we’ve seen compacted versions of the NES, SNES, Commodore 64, and NeoGeo just to name a few. Now, on the cusp of its 24th anniversary, Sony is ready to throw its hat in the retro ring with the PlayStation Classic.

Circles and squares

Much like its contemporaries, the PS Classic is a miniature version of the original console that contains 20 titles from its prolific library. There are several titles on here that many would consider key experiences from the console’s history. That includes game-changers like Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Twisted Metal that helped define the console. A handful of my personal favorites somehow made the roster as well like Jumpin Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, and Puzzle Fighter.

Overall, I think most of the titles selected to be included are good, solid, games. While I would agree with some of the early fan criticisms that there are a few key titles missing, I’d also say that my problem isn’t so much that X game was chosen over Y, but that there could’ve been more games overall included in the package. I definitely feel like Crash Bandicoot would’ve made more sense than Intelligent Qube, but why not both? Especially when you consider that the PS Classic has an MSRP of $99.99 with 20 games versus the NES Classic for $59.99 with 30 games or the SNES Classic for $79.99 with 20 titles. Maybe the PS games are a bit more advanced, but I still feel like another 10 games would’ve blown people out of the water, particularly since the price tag is at least $20 more than its competition.

With that said though it would be hard for me to deny that the PS Classic didn’t succeed in its mission to satiate my retro appetite. There are so many titles I remember pouring all my free time into as a kid that I immediately got hooked on again when putting the Lilliputian PlayStation through the wringer. What’s really key for me though is there’s a small number of games that flew under my radar back in the day either for lack of interest or funds that I ended up getting really into. I am now obsessed with Mr. Driller which I’d never heard of before using the PS Classic, and while Final Fantasy 7 was a huge title that essentially skyrocketed the PS1 to fame, I have never played it because I was insanely poor when it came out.

X's and O's

The real issues I personally had with the PS Classic were the same problems that plague other mini-consoles and retro gaming in general. The controller cables aren’t long enough to reach the couch from the TV, which is a problem you’d think the game industry would’ve figured out in the last half a century. You also have to interact with the console itself to switch games, which is definitely how it used to be, but I think being able to switch from the controller or do a hard reset with the controller would’ve been good. I also encountered an issue where I lost sound after switching the TV to another input and had to reset the console to get it back which seemed a bit odd.

Some outlets have mentioned that certain games on the Classic are the 50Hz Pal versions, I honestly could not tell you if or how that affected my experience overall since I haven’t played many of these games since their launch if I ever had before. A lot of them could seem slow just because that’s how games were back then. What I can say is that if you’re the type of person that these sort of micro-consoles are made for you will probably have your retro itch scratched by the PS Classic.

While I feel it could’ve offered a bit more bang for its buck, had longer controller cables, and maybe used a few UI tweaks, the PS Classic still delivers on the functionality it promises. Retro collectors and Sony fans will be the real judges in the end, but I had a good time playing some of my favorite games from years gone by and discovering a few new ones. I imagine that anyone that the console’s 20-game roster strikes a chord with will have a similar experience.


This review is based on a product sample provided by the publisher. The PS Classic will be available for purchase on December 3 for a retail price of $99.99.    

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

Review for
PS Classic
8
Pros
  • Tasty 'memberberry pie
  • A decent selection of games
  • Great for collectors
  • Jumping Flash
Cons
  • Not enough games for the price point
  • Controller cables too short
  • Basic UI
  • Intelligent Qube
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 27, 2018 5:00 AM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, PS Classic review: The spirit of the 90s is alive in Sony

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 5:44 AM

      I still think the Director's Cut of RE is a fucking garbage fire travesty and does not belong anywhere near that device.

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        November 27, 2018 7:52 AM

        "Garbage [dumpster] fire" is an oft-used descriptor in games media, and in this case, as in most cases, it seems hyperbolic. I'd have preferred to see RE2 included in the PS Classic, but REDC still holds up, albeit not as well as RE2. (I'd argue it's better than RE3 in many ways, though.)

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          November 27, 2018 7:55 AM

          Dude.

          Dude.

          Have you even played the Director's Cut?

          The way your reply is written, it sounds like your thinking of the initial-release version of Resident Evil 1, which I would agree is a legitimately great game.

          The Director's Cut is fucking terrible. Like, ask-for-a-refund bad.

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            November 27, 2018 8:05 AM

            I've played every RE for dozens of hours, including the DC. I don't remember anything "bad" about it. You still haven't defined how it's bad. (You put more thought into Shack tags than you did your answer.)

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              November 27, 2018 8:08 AM

              I know, but it should be self-evident. :/

              When I get home from work I'll throw up some YouTube links that will speak to my point.

              • reply
                November 27, 2018 8:25 AM

                I'm interested in this as well because besides the intro being slightly edited and the two additional game modes I don't recall any huge differences between RE:DC and original RE.

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                  November 27, 2018 8:28 AM

                  There weren't any that I recall. The intro was edited to remove a violent part (something to do with a Cerberus chewing on a severed arm, I think), and the biggest change was support for the DualShock controller.

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                    November 27, 2018 8:28 AM

                    Oh, and I think REDC included a demo for RE2, which was huge.

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                November 27, 2018 8:31 AM

                I'm looking forward to this! HYPE HYPE HYPE

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                  November 27, 2018 8:42 AM

                  (At lunch right now)
                  Wow, you guys really don't remember?

                  The music was changed. Dramatically. In most cases, for the worst!

                  Luckily, someone already did the comparison for me:
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nax6yFTBmo

                  At first the DC version seems fine... up until you get to the 3m 40sec mark and then shit starts to slide downhill for the DC.

                  And you know what else? The music written/composed in the DC version was by Mamoru Samuragochi. And it turns out, he's a plagiarizing hack!
                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamoru_Samuragochi

                  He said throughout his career that he was deaf which led to foreign media dubbing him a "digital-age Beethoven".[4] In February 2014, it was revealed that most of the work attributed to him over the previous 18 years had been written by Takashi Niigaki.[5]

                  Guy claimed to be deaf but in fact, isn't:

                  In June 2013, a reporter from the magazine Aera interviewed Samuragochi at his apartment in Yokohama, but noticed a number of inconsistencies in Samuragochi's deafness statements, including his ability to respond to questions before the sign-language interpreter had finished, and standing up to answer a doorbell when it rang.[11] The interview was ultimately not published by the magazine due to doubts about Samuragochi's statements.[11]

                  When Samuragochi's first symphony was performed on tour by a full orchestra, the composer Takeo Noguchi noticed that it was an adaption of little-known works from earlier composers like Gustav Mahler, and doubted Samuragochi's story, which was sourced entirely to his record label.[12] Noguchi's article was turned down by musical publications, as Samuragochi's record label was one of their advertising sponsors,[13] and instead was published in the November 2013 issue of the newsweekly Shincho 45, as "The deaf genius composer" - Is Mamoru Samuragochi genuine?


                  And yeah he didn't even write his own work, (including, likely, the Resident Evil DC music):
                  On 5 February 2014, it was publicly revealed that music attributed to Samuragochi since 1996 had actually been ghostwritten by Takashi Niigaki, a musician, composer, and part-time lecturer at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo.[14][15] Niigaki also said Samuragochi was not deaf and states that Samuragochi has normal hearing and was posing as a deaf man to generate a mystique around his image as a composer.[4] Niigaki also said that Samuragochi did not need to use his cane, and that most of his biography printed in album liner notes was fiction.[4][10] Niigaki went to the press because one of Samuragochi's "compositions" would be used by Japanese figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.[10] On 12 February 2014, Samuragochi released a handwritten statement in which he revealed that he had a Grade 2 physical disability certificate after losing his hearing and to have partially regained his hearing three years previously.[16] He also added that he was "deeply ashamed of living a lie."[16]

                  That is some Persona 5-villain level of bullshit deception.

                  I fuckin' rest my case. Garbage fire. That version of Resident Evil should be erased from the annals of history.

                  • reply
                    November 27, 2018 8:49 AM

                    You are of course entitled to your opinion but on this side of the fence the music putting a game in to dumpster fire category is kind bizarre?

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                      November 27, 2018 9:34 AM

                      I feel very strongly that the initial-release music of Resident Evil is memorable, high quality, and succeeds its intentions of immersing you in a very dangerous and horrifying situation.

                      The re-done music in DC fails at all three of those traits.

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                        November 27, 2018 11:10 AM

                        If that's your dumpster fire I am curious what you think of games like The Quiet Man or the N64 Superman game. Hell, how about that Batman game no one could play on PC for months?

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                          November 27, 2018 11:29 AM

                          Yeah those are bad but they don't come from greatness or any level of expectation set (well... Batman does)

                          There's other stuff they fucked up, fwiw. The copy written on the game's box promised uncut footage of the crappy FMV cutscenes. In fact, the same exact footage from the initial release was used. Which is embarrassing but tolerable.

                          Changing that quality music for music that wouldn't even be fit for a Rugrats Halloween Special is straight up wtf are they thinking material.

                        • reply
                          November 27, 2018 5:54 PM

                          It's not fair to say "no one". I could play it just fine from launch. I actually recorded footage to prove it because people doubted me:

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db7DPoIIcAM
                          (note the date)

                          Clearly the game had major issues, no doubt...just not on my hardware.

                  • reply
                    November 27, 2018 9:30 AM

                    Another comparison video:

                    https://youtu.be/KqCQRwow46M

                    Here's the original cut of the mansion basement kitchen:
                    https://youtu.be/pEpF2Vav4u4

                    That's creepy as fuck. Especially when considering the buildup to getting into the kitchen, and the boss fight at the end of the segment.

                    Here's the DC version of the mansion basement kitchen:
                    https://youtu.be/0kcF7E69C6Q

                    WAT.

                  • reply
                    November 27, 2018 9:32 AM

                    TL;DR music changed slightly

                  • reply
                    November 27, 2018 6:03 PM

                    Wikus you're history of RE post is actually giving me a semi. I love the work you put into this.

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                      November 27, 2018 6:31 PM

                      Thanks man! I feel like I'm in the twilight zone or something where even David Craddock could be like "Uhhhh I dunno what you're talking about I've played a bajillions of Residing Menace" but the music is PLAINLY, WORSE from a soundtrack that was ORIGINALLY GENIUS.

                      What is this world?!?

                      • reply
                        November 27, 2018 6:48 PM

                        Just saw your other post. Interesting! I maintain that we have different definitions of “garbage fire,” but I do appreciate you digging up that info.

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              November 27, 2018 8:28 AM

              Doing some digging maybe he means the greatest hits version? Seems like DC only added some new difficulties and modes but the GH has some issues

              https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/198462-resident-evil-directors-cut/62521627

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 6:14 AM

      Good review Blake. Seems more positive than most other reviews on this thing. I think the barebonesness of it and the lazy ass PAL 50hz is gonna keep me away from it though.

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 7:54 AM

      Solid review, Blake. I'm still not sold on the lineup and will probably wait to grab one once it's been hacked, but it's nice to know that the mini console holds up as a sort of time capsule that many should enjoy.

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 11:23 AM

        Thanks, David. I think people expected too much from this thing and maybe don't remember that the experience you have with the classic is 24 years in the past.

        • reply
          November 27, 2018 12:02 PM

          I would argue that people’s criticisms of this device are not related to overinflated expectations despite the age of the original console and games, but rather the evident slapdash approach to emulation and curation. I recognise that many notable omitted titles (THPS, GT, Wipeout etc.) are down to vehicle or music licensing, but that doesn’t diminish the disappointment.

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 11:24 AM

        It's still the cheapest way to legitimately play IQ.

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 7:56 AM

      I'd appreciate more technical information on the system and its emulation, response time, video output options, etc etc.

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 11:09 AM

        Likewise. I’m not demanding My Life In Gaming levels of OCD emulation analysis or anything, but IMO this was pretty light on objective details to help buyers make their own decision, like the available settings, or even how the pads compare to an original.

        I mentioned this constructive criticism in a comment on the preview and, to be honest, I really don’t think the full hands-on review went into much more detail.

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 8:17 AM

      Glossing over the fact that half the games are 50hz PAL versions is a pretty big oversight. Half of what you are paying for runs ~16% slower than normal.

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 9:50 AM

        For some of us, that shitty PAL version is the "normal" version.

        • reply
          November 27, 2018 11:09 AM

          Then you play the NTSC version and it’s a revelation.

          • reply
            November 30, 2018 10:50 PM

            Dude. I had the PAL SF2 and it was so disappointing (the frame rate). But I scored NTSC SF2 turbo and a converter for cheap and yeah, it was sex!

        • reply
          November 27, 2018 11:13 AM

          Homie, I never used the word shitty, and the vast majority of games were designed to run at 60hz and then slowed to 50hz, not the other way around.

        • reply
          November 27, 2018 1:10 PM

          Are you used to 50hz running on a 60hz display? I'm pretty sure that's going to feel worse than what you played on the original PlayStation.

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 11:07 AM

      Solid metal, Snake.

    • reply
      November 27, 2018 5:48 PM

      Just cancelled my preorder. I can't believe how much they fucked this up. Including garbage like Rainbow Six for some reason, including the PAL versions of NTSC games, frame pacing issues on the games they included, and having the gall to charge £90? Fuck. That. Shit.

      Try again, Sony. I'm totally the target demographic for this product, but I'm not going to reward them for this bullshit.

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 5:55 PM

        Why didn't they hire someone who cares?

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        November 27, 2018 6:01 PM

        Seriously, did they get @Games to do it or something?

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 6:35 PM

        It's not all bad and it's going to be impossible to please everybody. I do appreciate the inclusion of R4 for example. That is not only a good racing game on PS1, that's the best Ridge Racer game across ALL Ridge Racer games. IQ is also a good get.

        But yeah some of those games... yeesh. :/

      • reply
        November 27, 2018 10:58 PM

        Plus, no Castlevania: SotN or Silent Hill are a deal breaker. Sucks that Konami brought out their own SotN + Rondo bundle recently but they now suck in general.

        Man, I look at the SNES Classic Mini and it’s flawless (save no Chrono Trigger) but this is a travesty for £90.