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Feature Article

The PlayStation Classic Is Charming, But It Won't Blow You Away

Flashback to the 90s.

Nostalgia for retro consoles has been growing over the last several years. Nintendo kicked off a wave of plug-and-play style systems with 2016's NES Classic Edition, and followed up with last year's equally popular SNES Classic. Now Sony is throwing its hat into the ring with the PlayStation Classic, a small console that includes a collection of 20 original PlayStation games, set for launch on December 3. We spent some time with the system and have early impressions of the hardware, the menu system, and of the included library of games.

If you own an NES or SNES Classic, the PlayStation Classic will be very familiar to you. It's a miniature version of the original 1994 system, featuring an HDMI port and Micro-USB for power in the back, and a slot for two controllers in the front. The back of the console even features a nod to the first system's back panel with a non-functioning parallel port cover. The system also features the standard three physical buttons, some of which have been given slightly different uses. The power button does what you'd expect; it turns the system on and off. Just like Nintendo's systems, the reset button brings you back to the main menu.

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However, the open disc button is where things get interesting. The original button on the PlayStation would open the optical disc tray, but it's now used for games that have multiple discs, allowing you to swap to the next one when prompted to by the game. It's certainly neat that Sony found a way to emulate the physical act of switching discs, rather then just having it happen automatically. It's also a nice reminder of how things were back in the day when some games were just too big for one disc.

As for the controllers, the classic Playstation pads now plug in via USB. These are the original gamepads that came before the DualShock, meaning they don't feature analog sticks or rumble support. We brought one of the original controllers with us for comparison and the classic's version feels very faithful. It's just a touch lighter in weight and the buttons feel more clicky, but that's probably because we are comparing them to a 20-year-old controller that's seen lots of use. Sony has stated, however, that other devices won't be usable, and you won't be able to use the included controllers elsewhere.

It's somewhat admirable of Sony for wanting to stick to the nostalgia of the original hardware, though you won't much argument against the clear improvements that Dualshock offered over the original design, and it's disappointing that we won't have the option to play with analog sticks or rumble. In fact, without rumble, it will be impossible to fully appreciate iconic moments like the Psycho Mantis fight in Metal Gear Solid. This will be especially apparent when the villain attempts to read your memory card to look for save files from other Konami games--MGS is only one in the collection.

The Lineup

Battle Arena ToshindenRayman
Cool Boarders 2Resident Evil: Director's Cut
Destruction DerbyRevelations: Persona
Final Fantasy VIIR4: Ridge Racer Type 4
Grand Theft AutoSuper Puzzle Fighter II: Turbo
Intelligent QubeSyphon Filter
Jumping FlashTekken 3
Metal Gear SolidTom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Mr DrillerTwisted Metal
Oddworld: Abe's OddyseeWild Arms

The game select screen features many callbacks to the original PlayStation's aesthetic, sporting a cool blue background and that memorable rainbow paint splatter behind the text. When it comes to settings, the Classic is very barebones. The system runs at 720p with no options for alternate resolutions or aspect ratio adjustments. There are no borders or filters either--so forget about simulating the scanline look that other retro consoles offer. While scanlines are often a novelty feature for classic game bundles, many of these games haven't aged gracefully, and an option to place a filter could help make them look less harsh. The PlayStation Classic is designed to just plug in and work with no fuss, which is respectable. Though if you were looking for a bit more control in your presentation, you're not gonna get it here.

Thankfully, the Playstation Classic has support for save states. When you quit out of a game with the reset button, a suspend save point is automatically created that you can use to pick up where you left off. Unlike the NES and SNES Classic there's only one suspend save slot and each time time you reset you're asked if you want to overwrite that save. There are, however, internal memory cards that function like the original system. They even use the same game icons from the classic PS1 memory card interface, which is a great little touch.

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The PlayStation Classic comes with 20 games, and when you consider that there were over 2,500 games released during the system's 10-year lifecycle, there's no way everyone's favorite games would make the cut. Of course, there are big names like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Twisted Metal, Resident Evil Director's Cut, and even Tekken 3--which all hold up quite well. There are also some neat cult classics like Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and Wild Arms.

Even with that in mind, we can't help but be a bit disappointed in the selection, which is missing iconic games like Crash Bandicoot, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Tomb Raider. Games such as Destruction Derby and Cool Boarders 2 are fine, but they don't really shine when compared to other classics in the lineup. Revelations: Persona is one of the more niche games in this batch, showing the bizarre beginnings of Atlus' JRPG series--which easily earns its spot in the collection. Unfortunately, many of these early 3D games haven't aged well, and your nostalgia is gonna be a big factor in your enjoyment for games like Rainbow Six or Jumping Flash.

Thankfully, in our brief time with the PlayStation Classic, the available games seemed to run as we remember them. Polygonal models hold up when scaled on a modern TV, but the same can't be said for certain UI and other static images. The rendered backgrounds in Resident Evil suffer and text in Ridge Racer Type 4 is so blown out it can be difficult to read. This isn't really the fault of the PlayStation Classic but rather further evidence of how poor some of the early games of the 3D era have aged. Again, this is a case where a scanline filter might have helped out.

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Overall our early impressions were pretty mixed. The PlayStation Classic does exactly what it's supposed to do; let you play a limited selection of PlayStation games at 720p over HDMI. However, it does feel a bit barebones, especially with the lack of DualShock controllers. With that said, it certainly did a solid job of evoking that sense of nostalgia when first booting up the Playstation, with the iconic system startup theme bringing you right back to a very special era of gaming.

There's much more to come for our coverage on the Playstation Classic. Check back with us in the coming weeks for our deep dive with the mini console, where we'll put it through its paces and test out each game.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for ronthallsballs
RonThallsBalls

Reminds me of all the great PS1 games on my pc that I still have to finish... Silent Hill, Brave Fencer Musashi, Einhander, Suikoden, Tales of Destiny...

Avatar image for tsunami2311
tsunami2311

why would any one thing it would blow you away let alone the reviewer?

it bare minimum emulations of those games epsxe and other ps1 emulator would have better pq at this point and they would actual out put said games at 1080p, they dont do anything for textures but atlest there 1080p

Avatar image for al89lan
al89lan

Pathetic lineup of games. Canceling my pre-order.

Avatar image for al89lan
al89lan

@al89lan: I'm a collector too, and I love the mini game consoles, but $129.99 in Canada. Money matters. These games are awful.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@al89lan: same here and i also live in canada and find the price point to be out of control ($150 with taxes). you are better off investing in a few ps1 classic games from psn if anything and enjoying them on your vita or ps3. almost all my favourites are on there -- i could choose 20 from psn that put the classic console to shame. if i do end up keeping my classic console, it will only be for the collector inside of me, but i doubt i will use it much, even if it gets hacked since the storage capacity is expected to be tiny.

Avatar image for djwood84
djwood84

If... Sorry... WHEN someone figures out how to hack it, I'll want one. Till then, that's a great big bucket of nope.

Avatar image for al89lan
al89lan

@djwood84: Agreed, and there will be plenty available to purchase as well. This pile of crap isn't selling out anytime soon.

Avatar image for Guy_Brohski
Guy_Brohski

No WipeOut or Jet Moto?! Wtf

Avatar image for so_hai
so_hai

"Charming" is a euphemism for useless.

Avatar image for J_P-
J_P-

There's nothing charming about it, it's nothing more than useless nostalgia.

Avatar image for J2fold
J2fold

I had the PS1 as a young buck, and although I thought it was cool I never really got into it. So I am not all that excited for this one. In fact If I remember correctly I sold my PS1 and got a Dreamcast which I loved. I am excited for the 64 mini. SOTE, Mario64, Goldeneye and Banjokazzoee! Besides I feel the PS1 games are too close to what the games are today but with bad graphics, not really feeling the retro on this one.

Avatar image for J_P-
J_P-

Perfect Dark should be added too, but I highly doubt they are ever going to be Rare games on it since Microsoft practically own them now.

Avatar image for timthegem
timthegem

I'll wait for the PS3 throwback since that's what I'm still playing.

Avatar image for proxima1025
Proxima1025

No Gran Turismo?????????????????

Avatar image for CyleM
CyleM

I purchased the NES and SNES Classic, but decided to pass on this system. I know the graphics were great back in the day, but have not aged well at all. It looks cool and all but the only game I would really care about was MGS and not having analog support is a bad decision.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

I keep hearing talk of people wanting to hack this. How are you going to get around lack of analogue support?

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@JustPlainLucas: the hackers will make our ps3/ps4 controllers work with it perhaps?

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

@Xristophoros: Hmm... I forgot the controller ports are USB. That could work, but you'd just have to connect them with your charger cords, and those things aren't very long, so it wouldn't be much fun.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@JustPlainLucas: the stock ones are about as long as the snes classic controller chords... but you can also buy 5', 10', 15' etc., usb chords from sites such as monoprice or amazon very cheap. that is the least of my worries... i am more concerned about the storage capacity of the console. if it is only 8gb, it will be a dealbreaker for me. i think i am considering returning mine after it gets shipped and making due with my vita and ps3 (for ps1 classics) as i have been doing for ages now. this release just has too many caveats for me to overlook -- the library and price being the main ones...

Avatar image for deactivated-5be5c296ab383

@JustPlainLucas: ? you dont need to.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

@keoloko: Some games need analogue, like Ape Escape.

Avatar image for rglgathrawn
RGLGAThrawn

Surprised that Masters of Teras Kasi wasn't on this, considering the lineup of poor games we've received.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

i have heard speculation that the ps1 classic has vita internals inside of it. if this is true, it might be possible to hack it to play psp and vita games as well? i won't hold my breath, though. at any rate, this could be a great console for ps1 games at the least -- after it is hacked that is.

Avatar image for brandsome
Brandsome

@Xristophoros: Sony has no way to patch out exploits, so it's a question of when, not if, it gets hacked.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@brandsome: yup, but i was referring to the psp/vita games. i wonder if it does have the vita hardware inside that would allow for that. no doubt ps1 games will be hackable.

Avatar image for bdrtfm
BDRTFM

I'll just let mine sit in the box when it arrives until people hack the crap out of it and add more games and maybe a better GUI and any other features. No big hurry. Nothing is unhackable. It's a collectable so I can't not buy it. I'm weak. I'm so ashamed.

Avatar image for TrueLink
TrueLink

I cancelled my preorder today. I was really excited for this, but have been too disappointed by each piece of news following the announcement. Seeing the cheap, basic UI was the last straw. I'll stick to PS3 and Vita for PS1 games.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@TrueLink: the ui is true to the original playstation, though... such as the memory card slot interface, etc. i think it looks fine for what it is intended to be. if anything, i would simplify it even more by removing the carousel layout for the game selection and using a simple grid layout instead (with basic pixel art for each title).

Avatar image for TrueLink
TrueLink

@Xristophoros: I think it's possible to be reminiscent without having to be basic and bad. For example, the SNES Classic UI.

Avatar image for kstaggs87
kstaggs87

I’m getting one. Just because I am a sucker for these mini consoles. Mostly for collecting purposes, but I still think it’s neat. Plus there’s a few games on here I didn’t get to experience back in the heyday of PS1, so that’s a plus.

And yes I have a Raspberry Pi before anyone says anything lol

Side Note: I’m kinda glad it doesn’t have Dual Shock because I’m that case, we would’ve gotten the Dual Shock port of RE: Director’s Cut. The soundtrack in that game is horrible. Kitchen Basement anyone?....

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Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

My OG Playstation still works, so I’ll pass. That way I can play more than just 20 specific games.

Avatar image for brandsome
Brandsome

@gamer112696: Well, if you have copies of these games already, sure.

Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

@brandsome: Even if I didn’t, I could buy a physical copy from someone from Amazon or EBay for $5. $1 for the game and $4 for shipping. Although some really popular games could be more expensive like FF7 (about $10).

Avatar image for brandsome
Brandsome

@gamer112696: I'd like to know where you're getting FFVII for 10 bucks

Avatar image for gamer112696
gamer112696

@brandsome: There’s two offers on Amazon for $13 plus shipping. The rest on Amazon seem to be closer to $17 or $20 though. But most games aren’t gonna be priced that high. The announcement of the FF7 remake is the only reason the original is so expensive right now.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c9cbf62c19be

Nostalgic yeah! and time to remake these greatest games.

Avatar image for Tidus1012
Tidus1012

Dunno what were this dickheads thinking, filling this with trash games that have nothing to do with the PS1 greatness, hope it fails miserably.

Avatar image for NorseLax09
NorseLax09

Just cancelled my preorder. I'll wait and see what the hacking scene on this is like after a few months. It by itself is just not as appealing as it was when first announced.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@NorseLax09: that's not a bad idea. i am just concerned they might be hard to find in a few months time (at msrp prices)... who knows, though... there could be a massive overstock and discounted based on how disappointing it has turned out for many. this will all depend on how many are manufactured and if sony limits supply like nintendo.

Avatar image for NorseLax09
NorseLax09

@Xristophoros: Yeah. Hard to say at this point what the future of this thing will be. I'm going to go with your later prediction and say that there will be tons sitting on shelves. The NES and SNES classic preorders sold out in minutes. I can still go on amazon and preorder the PS classic if I want. The "meh" game selection and the fact that PSX doesn't hold the same nostalgia factor that a lot of people have for the Nintendo consoles leads me to believe that I'll be able to get one at any time.

Avatar image for Coolyfett
Coolyfett

Coolyfett thinks the PlayStation TV looks really great about now. You can play whatever PS1 game is available via PSN. Official PlayStation mini with game officially from PSN.

Avatar image for UltimateBastard
UltimateBastard

Could have tried to secure a more interesting line-up, PS1 had a lot better games than is on display.

Avatar image for jamesbr27
JamesBR27

Leaving so many awesome games out was not a smart choice.

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