The PlayStation is a classic.
Born from an abandoned attempt at making a peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sony ended up pushing the idea on their own instead of scrapping it altogether. What came of it was the console that defined a generation and pushed 32-bit video gaming into the stratosphere. Its competitors at a time, the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, couldn’t hold a candle to the PlayStation’s popularity and depth of games. The likes of Final Fantasy, Tekken, Crash Bandicoot and Ridge Racer were irreplaceable puzzle pieces that contributed to the console’s otherworldly success.
Fast-forward two decades later, and Nintendo revived their older consoles in a big way. Not that they needed to, as the company’s brand was still infallible and their latest console, the Switch, was selling like gangbusters. Nonetheless, Nintendo released the NES Classic in 2016. It was a more compact version of the original NES with games loaded into the unit. It proved to be a cost-efficient and hassle-free way to play games of yesteryear. This was then followed up by the SNES Classic, and thus Nintendo gained a solid one-two punch in the plug-and-play department of video games. Even the likes of Sega (with the SEGA Genesis Mini) and SNK (Neo Geo Mini) got in on the action and for a time, the era of the collectible mini-console was starting to take shape. It seemed like a no-brainer that Sony would come up with their own featuring the legendary PlayStation.
However, the PlayStation Classic was not a classic.
It was apparent that there was little to no love given for this product. When you boot the game up, the interface you’re greeted with is very plain. In sharp contrast to the vibrant home screens present in the likes of the PS4 and PS5, the PS Classic’s feels like it doesn’t belong in the same league as those. There are no particle effects, there is no calming soundtrack and nothing to set you in the mood for playing some games. Just – quite literally – a blue screen, and that’s it.
As for the games selection, it truly felt lacking when compared to the other classic consoles that came before it. Nintendo had no shortage of heavy-hitters in its NES and SNES Classics, never failing to have the likes of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid on board. For SEGA, they even included obscure and never-released titles as bonuses for players, perfect for those looking to play beyond the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog or Streets of Rage.
However, with the PS Classic, a lot of major names’ omissions were questionable. There is no Crash Bandicoot, the closest thing the original PlayStation had to a Mario-like counterpart at the time. Additionally, the genre-defining adventure Tomb Raider is also not present. Truly a head scratcher. While the inclusion of the likes of Ridge Racer and Tekken 3 do soften the blow somewhat, it’s too little to plague an already lackluster console.
Lastly, the console’s emulation was abysmal. Not only going by the PAL versions of the games instead of NTSC (which greatly affect games of a reflex-based nature), they also decided to go with an emulator that was 22 years old. That alone may very well speak to the amount of care they have for this console. While Sony did strike while the iron was hot (as most good business decisions should be born out of), it’s clear that the PlayStation classic was nothing more than a cash grab.
While this release tarnished the infallibility of mini-consoles a bit, Sony was able to get away with it for the most part as the PlayStation’s brand recognition is still intact. However, they should think twice before deciding to release something half-baked again. A PlayStation 2 Classic that falls short of the greatness of the actual highest-selling console of all-time? That’s a blunder they absolutely cannot manage to have.