For the past two years, Nintendo’s all-in-one retro game consoles have been among the hottest items on holiday wish lists. The nostalgia factor and value proposition has been too much for gamers, both present and lapsed, to resist. So when Sony announced plans for the PlayStation Classic earlier this year, it made perfect sense.
Unfortunately, the compact version of this industry-defining game system falls far short of both its namesake and the systems Nintendo has introduced. While it’s a fun throwback for the most diehard of the PlayStation faithful, other consumers are likely to feel shortchanged.
The PlayStation Classic is hardly a failure. It offers 20 games that appeared on the original PlayStation console and they play fairly well (though Sony made the baffling choice to include slower-playing versions of 9 of the 20, dampening the fun).
It’s an easy setup and, mercifully, the system will let you save a game at any point, rather than just the designated save points found on the original.
But the minuses stack up quickly. There is, for example, no AC adapter to power the system. It relies on USB, which will work on many modern TVs, but not all. There also aren’t any digital game manuals, so if you’re unfamiliar with how to play (or forget controls after you’ve jumped over to another game for a few days), you’ll have to fumble around to figure it out.
About those games: Sony picked some obvious classics with this model, including Metal Gear Solid and Twisted Metal. But there are some glaring absences, such as Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, and Gran Turismo, all games that were as iconic as the hardware when the original PlayStation was released. It feels bare bones, as if the library was chosen by the accounting department, with an eye on a secondary product to be released at some later date.
Then there’s the matter of price. Whereas Nintendo stuck to a $60 price point for the NES Classic and SNES Classic, Sony opted to ask $99 for the PlayStation Classic. Simply put: It’s hard to justify that price, given the shortcomings.
Sony certainly has a storied place in the history of the video game industry and is arguably responsible for much of what players take for granted today. With the PlayStation Classic, though, it fails to showcase just what made it so great in the first place.