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

      [deleted]

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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 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.

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      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.

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        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.

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          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.

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        November 27, 2018 11:24 AM

        [deleted]

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      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.

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        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.

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      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.

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        November 27, 2018 9:50 AM

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

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          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.

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      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

        [deleted]

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        November 27, 2018 6:01 PM

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

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        November 27, 2018 6:35 PM

        [deleted]

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        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.

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