PlayStation Classic – My Thoughts

“Just get a Raspberry Pi, Braaaaaaah.” No. This is not that kind of smug commentary, where I try to prove I know something you don’t, and that you’re stupid for that. But there are some alternatives to the PlayStation Classic, a mini version of the first PlayStation that comes with two replica controllers and 20 built-in games. Here I discuss my thoughts on the machine.

First of all, I feel I should say this is the first of the recent rash of mini consoles that I have had zero excitement for. NES, SNES, C64 all caught me in their hype bubble, but all three ultimately disappointed me. NES Mini was the best of the bunch, but I’m just not that interested in its library. SNES Mini has slowdown in most games I tried, which left me preferring OpenEmu on my Mac, and the C64 Mini… well let’s just say the games have aged, mostly terribly, and the mini has tarnished my fine memories of the system! But this repeated disappointment in reliving games from my past is not the main reason I have no wish to buy the PS Classic – that would be due to the selection of “classic” games being presented.

Sure, these things are subjective, but that list is… disappointing. Resident Evil Directors Cut, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII are the only two that really stand out to me, and I have them already on my PS3 (having sold most of my PS discs some time ago). Others may have their eye on a few of the other games, but to me they’re nothing more than curios of a bygone age, where they should stay. Even an old favourite of mine, Syphon Filter, is a mess of a game by modern standards. I tried it recently and got tired of it quickly.

Licensing is clearly an issue for this, and similar units. Activision’s license to sell Tony Hawk games famously expired a couple of years ago (leading to the rushed, awful Tony Hawk’s 5, which can never be released again (with the game actually on the disc rather than downloaded, using the disc as proof of license), nor fixed, because they’re not allowed to sell it ever again. This rules out four fantastic games from the series that were released on PlayStation from appearing here. Undoubtedly other games and series are unavailable to Sony for similar reasons – particularly sports games that rely heavily on short-term licensing, or games with licensed music (remember when Grand Theft Auto San Andreas was updated, removing several songs from the soundtrack even for people who already owned the game. Gran Turismo is another obvious example, with cars and music licensed to appear in the original release.

Other games for which Sony hold a license (Crash Bandicoot and Spyro for example, for which games from both series are available on the PlayStation Store on PS3) are absent presumably for one reason – in an attempt to not interfere with sales of their “remastered” collections. Likewise Resident Evil 2, for which a remake is due in a couple of months. I don’t personally believe that this rings true. In fact, I find it likely that to have included at least the first of each series of Crash and Spyro would add tremendous value to PS Classic, whilst allowing people who haven’t played them to see what they’re all about – and possibly lead to more sales of the trilogy remasters.

The PlayStation was home to a great new breed of rhythm games – Parappa The Rapper, Vib Ribbon, Bust A Groove. Any of these would be welcome additions to the PS Classic, except perhaps Vib Ribbon, which relied heavily on its ability to build levels from your own CDs. There is, however, a bit of a problem. Due to latency issues introduced by modern LCD and similar televisions, the games are largely unplayable today! The few milliseconds of delay in a typical modern television’s processing are enough to through your timing off and lead to a failed song. Want proof? Try and play either Parappa or Patapon Remastered on your PS4 through HDMI. It doesn’t work.

So, there are (mostly flimsy, financially-led) reasons why the game selection is so weak, with many of the true classic of the system being absent. Why Sony decided not to, for example, include more of the Resident Evil or Final Fantasy games is beyond me. Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, Tenchu, Silent Hill, Parasite Eve (available on the Japanese release!), Doom, Quake 2, Driver, any number of Street Fighter and RPG games are all conspicuous in their absence.

Which leads to a solution, one that certainly works for me, and may perhaps for you too. It’s a simple solution, and one that ultimately grants you exactly the same experience as the PlayStation in terms of using an official controller and a modern HDMI connection to your modern TV set, albeit with a customised list of games.

I simply went onto the PlayStation store and bought myself the games I wanted, which I then downloaded to my PS3 and my PS Vita. I can play the games on my TV when I fancy it, or on the go with the Vita. With PS3 I can, of course, use an official DualShock 3 controller (not too dissimilar to the PlayStation controller) and output with several scaling options at 1080p. Those games that aren’t available on the PlayStation Store, or for those of you who prefer a physical representation of your games library, are widely available to buy on disc – PS3 is compatible with PS discs, and will emulate a memory card to save your progress.

All in all this renders the PS Classic obsolete before it even launches. Which is a shame. If only Sony had put a little more thought and effort into the product, maybe I would have been more excited by it. As it is, it can go sit in a special, dark, damp place previously occupied solely by @Games Mega Drive replicas.

These are my thoughts on the PlayStation Classic. Perhaps you agree with me, perhaps not. Either way, look me up on Twitter to continue to chat @BitlandGaming!

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