PlayStation Classic is a faithful reproduction of the experience of playing original PlayStation games in the mid-1990s. So it works. What is missing is passion.
Since Nintendo flatly rejects the idea of a Nintendo 64 Classic in the foreseeable future, PlayStation Classic has sewn the nostalgia market with a low polygon, to whatever extent, for itself. The Classic is a tiny version of the world's first game console from Sony and a relapse into the era of 32-bit, CD-ROMs and full-motion videos. The December 3 release costs $ 100 and includes 20 games, a mix of proven classics and more questionable entries.
Similar to the classic Nintendo consoles, the hardware is a tiny perfect replica of the original packaging, the controller a complete replica of the precise feel of the original. Plug it in, start a game of Final Fantasy VII and you're back in 1997. The emulation looks and sounds good, the two included controllers feel just right. (They are based on the original, pre-analog embroidery versions.)
The experience is technically correct, but PlayStation Classic doesn't seem to have been developed by a company that has a real and constant passion for the games of this era, or even has the good sense to fake one. The user interface is functional and monotonous instead of fun and stylish. The feature set is simple, although a few additional options and features would have added so much to the experience. And the game selection is littered with gems here and there, but does not offer a solid overview of the best content on the platform.
My nostalgia for PlayStation 1 is different from that for NES and SNES. These two systems were gifts from my parents when I was 7 and 11 years old. They are largely bound up in childhood memories. But I bought the PlayStation when I was 17 with money from my first job. When I look at the PlayStation, I see early adulthood, the first impression of what it was like to spend money on new technologies.
Final Fantasy VII.
And that was the market Sony was chasing with PlayStation – the older teenagers, the college kids. The games had more violence, more sex, more drugs, more swear words. It was more common for the hot new game to get a "teen" rating or even "mature". PlayStation Classic falls back on it, its game library is full of adult games and a large M rating on the box. The device's ESRB description reads like a glowing review in a 1995 issue of Die Hard Game Fan magazine:
Some games show impalements as well as beheading / dismemberment, which leads to large blood stains on the floor and under the body. The compilation also contains sexual material: dialogue with the words "Bubby has a sticky love nest …" and "My brother knows that I'm kidding his wife …"; Demons with phallic-shaped heads and / or vulva-shaped torsos. The words "sh * t" and "as * hole" appear in the game; A song contains the word "f ** k".
How, gnarled, dude!
How much of this mature content you want to experience with the PlayStation Classic is entirely up to you. I don't think I'll play far enough into the original Grand Theft Auto to hear a dialogue about the b * ning of a love nest. I'm too busy working through Wild Arms again. I think Wild Arms, a role-playing game from Sony, was actually the first PlayStation game I ever bought, but only because Final Fantasy VII hasn't been released yet. It's a mix of 2D and 3D. The field graphics look like a super Nintendo game, while the battles are completely polygonal. It has a killer western soundtrack and its main theme is overlaid on an introductory anime film that blew me away when I first saw it. Feel the raw power of the CD-ROM!
Wild Arms is a solid choice. Other solid picks include Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil: Director & # 39; s Cut, Mr. Driller, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Oddworld: Abes Oddysee, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4 and Intelligent Qube. These hold up pretty well and give the PlayStation Classic a well-distributed selection of game genres: races, puzzles, battles, platform, RPG.
There are the other 10 games, the presence of which is worthy of being here. The original Rayman has stunning 2D animation, but the gameplay isn't that sophisticated. Grand Theft Auto may be one of today's largest series, but the original 2D top-down version shows little of its appeal. Ditto Revelations: Persona, which is certainly an interesting game, but has a lot of bad design decisions that made my few hours of play a chore. (It was only on their third iteration that both series developed into something that comes closer to what we know and love today.)
While some games don't age well, others like Cool Boarders 2 and Destruction Derby have received mediocre reviews, even though they were originally released. I didn't have a lot of fun playing marksmen like Siphon Filter and Rainbow Six without analog sticks (and I don't know how much fun they would have made with them yourself.)
And very early 3D games like Jumping Flash and Battle Arena Toshinden are as if Nintendo Pilotwings had included in the Super NES Classic what it didn't. (Pilotwings is an entertaining game, but feels more like a demo of the cool tech tricks that Super NES could do than a really mature expression of the platform.) If you only include 20 games, it's better to have space to do the good stuff.
So the real problem with PlayStation Classic is all the good things that don't exist here. No library will satisfy everyone, but the mistakes here are so big that it's difficult not to bring them up. Where's Parappa the Rapper or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Silent Hill? Where is one of the crash bandicoot, spyro or tomb raider games? Why Super Puzzle Fighter but not a real Street Fighter fighting game? Where's Parasite Eve? (Oh, that's in the Japanese version, which includes Gradius Gaiden and Arc the Lad, among others.)
Some of the games in the American version of the classic, including Tekken 3, Jumping Flash and Battle Arena Toshinden, are actually based on the European PAL versions of the games. PAL versions of the games are sometimes slower and run at a lower frame rate than NTSC versions. Compared to the original US games running on a PlayStation 2 on my CRT TV, the PlayStation Classic games seemed to run slower.
Even with a library that is half mediocre, PlayStation Classic could have improved its image a bit by adding features that improve the basic experience. The NES Classic isn't exactly what you'd call a feature-rich product, but even then it does have a cool menu screen with an original theme song, some basic display options like fake CRT scan lines, and four slots to save anywhere per game with that You can suspend and resume your gameplay anywhere. The SNES Classic has increased the use of a rewind function and pretty edges that fill the gap around the 4: 3 game picture.
PlayStation Classic does almost nothing. The menu is monotonous and cheerless. There are no display options, no frames. There is only one "save everywhere" slot per game, and implementation is not particularly good. When you press the reset button on the console to return to the menu screen, you will be asked if you want to overwrite your previous space with your new position in the game, and it is easy to accidentally hit "no" and lose your progress , especially if you played a game, for example, where O was selected and X was canceled before jumping back to the menu where X was selected. Select and O is Cancel.
At least for each game, you can access a virtual memory card, where you can see your saved game icons as they were displayed on the original PlayStation. This is the only little nod to the past that you can find on the PlayStation Classic outside of the games themselves.
When you play with the PlayStation Classic, you can hardly imagine a version of this machine that was created with more passion. Where the executives knocked down the doors of Activision and Konami to get permission to put Crash or Symphony of the Night on this box. If someone put forward an argument and won that putting on Parappa the Rapper would not negatively affect the sale of the PlayStation 4 remaster – or for whatever reason. Where the interface gave players more options on how they wanted to play the games that made it onto the system.
Just last year, a PlayStation manager went on the record and asked why anyone else wanted to play these "old" games. Sony in general clearly believes that people would do this. But instead of a PlayStation Classic that really celebrates shared love for this bygone era of games, it's a product that feels like it is in the spirit of "Oh, do you still like these old games?" Well, here it is, we guess. “The PlayStation games are still beautiful, but the wrapping is like putting a Picasso in a plastic frame for $ 8.99.
Masthead credit: Mike Meyers on Unsplash