Another Christmas season has passed and The Insatiable Gamer is behind the 8 ball on this one. Though, it may be just in time for the sales period which is a bonus for you I guess. Let’s take a look at the new PlayStation Classic, Sony’s foray into the miniature retro console game.
For me at least, the era of the original PlayStation was a pivotal time. With its initial release at the end of 1994, I was barely walking. My jump in was in 1997, still with the original grey (now yellow, oops) big boy SCPH-9002. I say it was a pivotal time because it was my first ever console. I had never seen anything like it and I was enthralled. Not only did I play anything I could get my sticky little kid hands on but I read all about it too. Those demo disks that came with magazines were so good!
Though, as time went on, the gaming industry felt as if it grew with me. New consoles, new gaming capabilities, my aging PlayStation soon found its way boxed up in the garage… Until I got my first car and decided to go The Fast and the Furious on it and slap a PlayStation in there. Edgy bro. It made road trips fun at least, and only slightly distracted the driver.
I feel like that’s enough reminiscing now, there’s a new PlayStation Classic to explore.
Normally something we don’t really talk about, but as the device itself seems to have garnered its fair share of criticism I’ll give props where it counts. The packaging it comes in is fantastic. It pays homage to the SCPH-3000 models in its styling. My original box objectively looks disappointing in comparison.
They even included an oversized user manual, just like they used to. My fridge came with a smaller instruction booklet than my original PlayStation. I never really understood why they needed it though; it’s not exactly rocket science. Plug it in, press the big button that says power and you’re good to go. You’re lucky these days if any new electronics come with instructions at all. Anyway, it was a nice touch to add to that nostalgic feel.
What You Get
In the pretty box, you’ll find the console itself, two controllers, an HDMI cable, micro USB cable, and the large instruction leaflet that dwarfs the console itself.
One omission here that actually ticked me off more than it should have… There’s no wall power adapter. Now it does say it only needs the standard 5V 1A that any USB port should be able to provide, so I thought, “Screw it, my TV has a few USB ports, that’ll work”. Nope. They’re only powered when in use. Thanks Samsung.
Now if you’re anything like me, you know you have upwards of 20 of these wall power USB suckers somewhere but good luck finding one when you need it. But need it I did. Basically what I’m saying is this whole process could have been a lot easier if there was just one in the box…
The list of preloaded games on the PlayStation Classic is all over the internet already but I would be remiss if I didn’t throw it in here as well, even if it’s just to flesh out the word count on this review.
|· 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
Now as much as some of these are great games I was really excited to get hands on with once more, I also feel as though there’s a severe disconnect as to what titles people actually loved on the original PlayStation.
Yes, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee and Final Fantasy VII were two of my all-time favourites, and then there are a good number of multiplayer games that were great at sleep overs. I understand it’s a hard thing to please everyone and having a limit of 20 titles, whether that’s self-imposed or not, could have been a restricting factor. I just can’t help feeling a little disappointed with some of the game choices. Where is Tony Hawk? Where is Crash Team Racing?
Now evidently CTR is getting its own remake, which then brings up the idea that this could all be down to licensing limitations. Once again, that’s somewhat understandable, but with time surely that could have all been ironed out? It’s not exactly going to harm the IP if the original game is emulated on a device that will actually sell instead of people reliving it through otherwise pirated ROMs.
EDIT: The potential licensing troubles is further strengthened after a data dump for the PlayStation Classic’s source code on GitHub reveals a long list of more popular titles that were tested and never made it on to the device. It seems as if Sony knew exactly what people wanted but maybe just couldn’t provide it and meet the sales window. Potentially could also be down to individual licensing on soundtracks that feature prominent artists.
The PlayStation Classic is packing a MediaTek MT8167a SoC that features a 1.5GHz ARM A35 CPU and integrated PowerVR GPU, coupled with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Knowing that those numbers and models mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, just know that this bad boy could run absolute rings around the original PlayStation. Which makes this next part all the more puzzling…
Emulation on the PlayStation Classic does leave something to be desired. Though not overly game breaking for the casual user, however this is definitely not a product for those passionate about retro gaming. Each game does run well enough, they are however mostly using the PAL ROMs. As someone located in the majority of the world that PAL is the default, it wouldn’t normally be an issue. However seen as it outputs at 720p/480p and 60hz, the 50hz PAL ROMs do present with some stuttering and weirdness. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed unless I hadn’t dug out my old PlayStation and done some more research into why.
Other emulation tools have some handy features that help to curb a lot of the issues the PlayStation Classic is plagued by, which is disappointing to see the lack of implementation there. For the casual user like myself I don’t see this being much of an issue. However without a side by side comparison you’re going to be just fine. I think the hardest part of this whole thing to swallow is that Sony has already arguably nailed its emulation software with previous hardware iterations. Take the PlayStation 2, PSP, PS3 and Vita for example. All of which feature varying support for PlayStation titles and all said and done tackled the emulation really well.
If you really wanted an original feeling experience then nothing will beat the O.G PlayStation and an analogue to HDMI converter, just watch out for that input lag.
Okay, I know I’ve been a bit harsh on poor ol’ Sony in this review but it’s about to take a positive turn.
The controller cables are too short. Now I know as a kid lying face down in front of the TV was the preferred position to play, but damn it Sony I’m an adult that owns a couch I’d like to sit on! Crap. I said positive. Well that’s the only drawback with the controllers in mind.
The remake on the pre DualShock controller is actually really good. The PlayStation Classic controllers are weighted identically (according to my average kitchen scales). Buttons feel very close to the same. I had my wife conduct a blind test just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I have to hand it to Sony here though; the remade controllers are very well done. The only differences are the slightly thinner and shorter cables. Managing to even keep the original colour and texture to the plastic is commendable, though… It’s hard to tell with my yellowed system!
I wanted this to be good. I love Sony, and I was so eager to get my mits on the PlayStation Classic. In some ways I think this is still a worthwhile product that does provide a nostalgic kick even if it just for the novelty. The PlayStation Classic has however limited itself to somewhat of a niche audience. Either you’re someone who loved all 20 included titles and want something that will just plug and play. Or an avid collector that wants to throw something cool looking on a shelf that also functions, I for one have definitely spent more on particular collectibles.
If it was still priced at its initial launch price it would be a lot harder to recommend picking one up. Where it stands at the moment, I could pick one up on sale at JB HiFi for $99NZD, or $59.97USD on Amazon (Link below). And you know what, I could stomach that. Yes, the emulation isn’t great, the games library is severely kneecapped and the UI isn’t that pretty. But the console itself looks oh so pretty, the controllers are just the same and I got a real kick out of reliving some of my favourite titles I hadn’t played in years.