Platform: Playstation Classic/Mini
Rating: M for Mature 17+
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The latest in the edition of what has become the console wars of miniature versions comes to us in the form of Sony’s original venture into video game consoles, the Playstation Classic. Plug and Play systems aren’t as new as a concept as one might think. For a long time Atari and Sega had systems on the market that usually popped up at Christmas time for a quick nostalgia grab, but as technology advanced, those old RCA styled connectors didn’t look good on modern HDMI TV’s. In 2016, Nintendo decided to take the plug and play console to the next level introducing the NES Classic, which featured an HDMI connection in addition offering an overall 60hz graphical uplift for the original games we grew up with so long ago; bundling 30 classic games built into the release. Continuing on Nintendo gave the same treatment to their SNES classic, and Sega decided to venture into that field as well courtesy of an At Games unit loaded with a bunch of Sega classics as well as an actual cartridge slot to play SOME of the old games, but was ultimately flawed in comparison to Nintendo’s attempts.
Before we jump in to deep, let’s talk about the cool aspects of the system. As with most of these plug and plays, you get 20 preloaded games that include system staples such as ‘Final Fantasy 7’, ‘Metal Gear Solid’, ‘Resident Evil: Directors Cut’, ‘Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee’, ‘Cool Boarders 2’, Twisted Metal and more. It should be noted to that out of the 20 games that 9 games are the PAL/European versions, which is interesting to include. It includes 2 analog controllers as well as a virtual memory card in addition to the system saving last game states. If you were wondering how multi game disk experiences will work, you simply click the “OPEN” button on your console; on the original this would’ve given you the option to physically switch a CD when playing a game like Final Fantasy 7.
With all that being said, let’s get into the gory details. I have a previous background building a RetroPie emulator system, and from my personal experience, the emulation game of choosing the proper emulator is tricky, especially when you get to these later generation systems like this. Because these systems switched to disks, it made it a bit more harder to simulate that experience. First thing I noticed was even though this is supposed to be somewhat of a recreation of the original experience, it would seem they didn’t do too much research on emulator choice. It feels like they might’ve flipped a coin and just blindly picked the PCSX emulator, slapped an HDMI port on the board and called it a day. This is problematic because the graphical experience of these 20 year old games actually looks worse than you’re original experience. It’s a shame because a game like ‘Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee’ was once heralded highly advanced for it’s graphics at the time, but you’d never know it here as it plays like something you might’ve downloaded on the Sega Channel. The original Grand Theft Auto is here as well, although I recall the PC version I had years ago looking a lot better than this here. Granted the original PSX had a very new box-y 3D feel to it, it’s simply lost and distorted on most games here, with only ‘Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo’ seeming unaffected. Even the much-heralded classic Final Fantasy 7 has some image distortion going on, which is a huge letdown considering it pretty much was THE game that would more than likely sway public purchase of this console. I’d almost question its inclusion considering the long threatened remake/remaster Square’s been dangling in front of it’s fan base fore more than a decade.
Let’s talk about the controls, one of the downsides of the advancements Sony has made with it’s newer Playstation models is going back to this non rumble controller is going to be a bit of a shock, or more importantly, not so much of a rumble shock. Seeing as Sony has pretty much re-designed this one controller throughout it’s 4 environments, the controls feel stiff and rather unwelcome. Several games like ‘Resident Evil…’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ also offer questionable control directional experiences that were obviously ironed out over time, but here you’re back to basics of the backwards way it was when you first got them on Playstation. While we’re discussing advancements, it’s also interesting to note some of these games were re-released and remastered on either Playstation Live or other virtual console, so there’s very little uniqueness to this specific console offering.
Aside from visual and control aspects, the biggest elephant in the room is the games that didn’t make it to this release. Some may argue that plug and play options should be limited to an exclusive amount of games, and while that may be true, a lot of system classics are missing here. Games that made the console like ‘Tomb Raider,’ ‘Crash Bandicoot,’ ‘Road Rash 3 D’ are a few that are lacking here, just to name a few. Something to be considered in explaining the absence would be either the companies making the games are long out of business and unreachable as far as securing license rights would go, or the fact that the system’s games were one of the first to bring in licensed artists to contribute music to the game’s soundtracks. Like a lot of classic products it’s hard to port that considering long term releases like this weren’t even a gleam in the game creators eyes at the time, which is a shame because some of these games had some killer sound tracks, some in fact helped launch careers and make some bands even bigger because of their inclusion. It would’ve been extra cool if they had partnered with someone like Capcom adding in some of the Street Fighter and Marvel vs series, but instead you’re left to find other versions of that elsewhere.
Bottom Line: While you do get some classic games, overall it’s a bit of a let down considering the look overall is pretty bad especially compared to Sega’s oops with At Games looking decidedly better here. Not to unfairly compare, Sony could’ve taken more cues from Nintendo and offered more graphical options and different display modes. You’d be better off finding remakes or building your own emulator than getting disappointed here.
Favorite Aspects: Final Fantasy 7, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, ease of use and compatibility with other mini console power adapters.