PlayStation Classic Review: Minimum Effort Gaming Nostalgia



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Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

Even though I know all these retro consoles are largely an effort turn nostalgia into big-time corporate profits, they're damn hard to resist. There's just something about gray plastic and the old school boot up sound that hits a deep part of my brain the few things do, so when I heard Sony was making a retro revival of the original PlayStation, I thought "Great, another mini console to add to the collection. "But after getting to check out Sony's take on a throwback gaming machine, I feel a bit shortchanged.

Lead

What is it?

The mini retro console with 20 bundled games

Like

Comes with two controllers, solid build, controllers are USB

Do not like

So many good PSX games are MIA, does not come with a power adapter, very few options or settings, controller cords are relatively short

Before we get to the PS Classic's scattershot list of bundled games, let's talk about its hardware. Like the NES and SNES Classic, the PlayStation Classic is a pint-sized version of the original from 1995 (or '94, if you lived in Japan) that's just under half the size, which makes it kinda cute. All the buttons on top are functional, although some have been repurposed due to changes made to the system itself, like the CD being permanently shut. On the PS Classic, the Reset button is actually more of a home button that brings you back to the system's main list of games, while the Open button is there to switch between disks in games like Final Fantasy 7 that originally shipped on multiple CDs.

Sadly, like the CD tray, the PS Classic's memory card slots do not open either, though Sony does provide a virtual memory card so you can save your games on blocks just like you used to. But in what seems like a weird affront, the PlayStation Classic does not come with a power adapter. In the box, you get two controllers, an HDMI cable, and a micro USB cord, but you'll still need a brick to plug into the wall. Luckily, the PS Classic's power requirements are relatively minimal (Sony says you need 5V, 1A adapter), so it'll work with pretty much any old smartphone power brick you might have lying around. But one of the most expensive mini retro consoles at $ 100, not including one seems like a weird omission.

Because of the wired cords, if you do not have perfectly placed outlets, you'll probably end up playing the PC Classic sitting cross-legged on the floor like you did when you were a kid,
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

The controllers, on the other hand, are probably the best part of the entire kit. While they feel a tiny bit lighter than their 20-year-old counterparts, they're arguably even more solid, and the buttons have a nice tactile punch to them. Some people probably wish that Sony had gone with Dual Shock controllers instead of the vanilla models, which is fair, but the PS Classic does make up for that somewhat by including two controllers in the box.

Also, as a nice bonus, since the controllers use cords with standard USB Type-A connectors, you can plug them into PC-where they show up the generic controllers-and then easily configure them for use in Steam via Big Picture mode. So at the very least, the PlayStation Classic controllers could see extra lives when used to play other retro games on PC.

Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

OK, now back to the system's bundled games. (For a full list, scroll to the bottom or click here.) For the kind of library PSX has, the PS Classic's choice of games is pretty disappointing. The only way it makes sense to me is that Sony is treating this thing as a PlayStation origin story instead of a greatest hits collection (Or, you know, it could not secure the rights to better titles). While you do get some gems like Tekken 3 and Metal Gear Solid (which totally hold up), there's no Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, tomb Raideror Crash Bandicoot to be found Instead, you get titles such as Intelligent Qube and Jumping Flash which speak to the awkward birth of 3D graphics but do not quite hold your attention in 2018.

Then we are choices like the original Grand Theft Auto, which I tend to associate more with the PC, or (nearly unplayable) Twisted Metal, and Syphon Filter. These were all fine in their own time but more engaging sequels that were also available on the original PSX. And when you look at PS Classic's 20 bundled games to the 21 titles available on the SNES classic, Sony's console is burdened with more throwaways or niche titles that will not hit with a lot of people, which is sad, because back in the day, the PSX had one of the biggest and deepest libraries ever.

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