Why Buy a PlayStation Classic?

Posted by triznoy (8 posts) -

It has been a few months since Sony announced they were following in Nintendo’s path of releasing a small, cutesy, plastic, emulator box to the world hoping to revel in some fraction of the prosperity Nintendo set up with its NES Classic and later with the SNES Classic. It’s been a few weeks since Playstation finally revealed the full list of 20 games that will appear on the system after initially just releasing a handful of games when the Classic was announced. There are clear omissions from the list (seriously we’re not including Castlevania SoTN here Sony?), there are odd inclusions that I find it hard to believe conjure up much impact on the nostalgia front with the likes of the original Persona game and Battle Arena Toshinden (though I’m glad they are included), and there are some true elite tier classics like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, and Resident Evil. But my confusion with this things’ existence has nothing to do with the games they decided to include or leave off. It’s certainly not confusing to understand why they’d want to take a stab at this market after Nintendo has had nothing but success and Microsoft is still relatively too new and absent the library to consider any type of “classic” console (not to mention you can play many of their old titles with backwards compatibility). My confusion comes with what they are trying to sell at the price they are trying to sell it at.

In many ways, modern gaming has its roots soaked in the essence of the PS1. They standardized 3D gaming, moving to cheaper and easier CD formats, constructing the basic form of what controllers have been for the past 20+ years among many other things. Sony’s first PlayStation was a landmark moment in this business I have endless interest in. Sony was trying to break into a new industry that was dominated by Nintendo and to a lesser extent Sega and knocked it out of the park with the original PlayStation. The initial showing of the system made quite evident that Sony had figured some shit out and provided a platform that moved the home gaming output forward in ways Nintendo failed with the Nintendo 64 and Sega utterly failed with the Sega Saturn. The PS1 is steeped in important history and truly classic experiences never experienced with a home console before. The main problem is, this era of games is the era that has aged out the worst. SNES and NES games still work today because the limited art assets available never tried to invoke realism which allows games like Super Mario World to visually stand out, unlike a game like Jumping Flash, which was sort of an astounding tech demo thing early for the PS1 but looks like a 5-year-old dropped a bunch of polygonal shapes onto a blank Microsoft Paint screen. Syphon Filter looks like someone digitized a generic action figure from the Dollar Store and had him run around a diorama with printed out JPEGs attached to the cardboard walls. At the time it was amazing controlling an action game in 3D and nobody was complaining about the visuals because this is what top of the class realistic graphics looked like. The games are a hard sell to younger gamers that may have missed the PS1 in the ’90s and simply don’t hold up like the 8 and 16 bit systems that preceded it.

Another appealing factor about the NES and SNES Classics was the controller was limited while providing everything needed for the games on those systems. The original PlayStation controller isn’t all that far off from the SNES controller, but it didn’t take long for Sony to realize that for the games they wanted on that system, finer control of the camera in 3D was needed which birthed the Dualshock controller providing dual analog sticks. This then created a controller with more than a dozen buttons and two sticks when not 5 years previous people were using a controller with essentially 2 buttons and directional control. It’s a big change from a fun thing that is easy to wrap your head around, to complex buttons everywhere having to control 2 joysticks. I know when trying to get my sister to play something she just leers at the controller with utter confusion, but if we break out the old NES she’s able to hop into a game of Super Mario Bros. because of the controller. So when Sony decided to include 2 controllers with this Classic it actually made sense to me why. They were trying to make it as easy looking as possible to appeal to the mainstream and/or kids perhaps playing their first games. Though the logic is easy to understand, it’s still a terrible decision. If you’re appealing to nostalgia, most kids that grew up with the PS1 used the Dualshock controller. Not using it for the Classic also limits the type of games you can include, so it’s not necessarily displaying the classic games from the console's lifespan, it’s limited to the games that work with the lesser controller. Also, while making the controller easy for the mainstream, not having the Dualshock is a non-starter for folks like myself from wanting this system at all.

There is no doubt that Sony considered both controller options and decided to go with the original controller because it was less intrusive looking, but I also have to assume that cost played a role in the decision too. I have absolutely no idea how much more it would have cost to manufacture controllers with sticks, but it probably would have ruined the selling price point. If they wanted to keep it under $100 (selling for $99.99) perhaps they needed to cut the Dualshock design to save money. I feel like a better solution would have been to not included controllers at all and allow the thing to accept a Dualshock 3 or 4 via USB connection and try to come in at the $60 - $75 range. That price to me, for what they are offering, makes it a more pliable impulse purchase or stocking stuffer material. Also, I have done rudimentary searches of Craigslist, LetGo, and Facebook Marketplace out of pure curiosity, and, you can find a PS3 Slim for like $60 or at least well under $100 used. And to those that may have forgotten, that thing plays PS1 discs on top of being able to play apps like Netflix and the like and Blu Rays. Not to mention the PS3 provides visual settings for PS1 games like smoothing (if you’re into that) that the Classic won’t have. My astringent advice for anyone interested in the PlayStation Classic would be to buy a PS3 for less money and have wireless Dualshock controllers that can play any PS1 game you’d like. If you paid $60 or $70 for a PS3 and walked into a used game store with $30-40 asking where their PS1 game section was, they would treat you like royalty, eagerly willing to unload whatever thousand of PS1 game stock are lining their shelves.

In the end, they are selling the worse PS1 hardware bundle that still comes in at $20 more than the SNES Classic which is loaded with all-time great games. And the games Nintendo forgot to include are, **ahem**, not difficult to include yourself. In fact, this lack of difficulty to all of sudden see Chrono Trigger magically appear on my SNES Classic was the reason I wanted a SNES Classic. While every game Nintendo decided to include stock on it were fantastic games in their own right, the software flexibility of the NES and SNES Classics was the real appeal to me. I have a hard time believing the PlayStation Classic won’t receive the same flexibility, but if the console only accepts the controllers bundled there’s kind of no point in that flexibility. Along with software flexibility, people are going to have to work on hardware flexibility with this thing to probably do what I mentioned before, accept USB inputs from Dualshock 3/4 controllers. The only thing I’m really interested in post-launch of Sony’s Classic offering is how easily and quickly will this thing get opened up allowing these necessary hacks to provide any value to this product.

#1 Posted by Shindig (4779 posts) -

The closer you get to modernity, the more like business is going to impact whatever lineup these things happen. The potential library is bigger and, providing they want to keep costs low, you won't have the space to play with. Like you've said, though, there's cheaper options to grab the games you want. I think I counted 11 of the line-up being available on PSN. I have three consoles that can play PSOne titles and the store has plenty of the titles that this thing is missing.

At the end of it all, I feel this is a novelty, rather than a collection of the system's best and brightest. The Nintendo efforts manage to feel like both.

#2 Posted by MrGreenMan (148 posts) -

The only reason I can think of is you have too much money and just don't know there are much better alternatives to play ps1 games at this point that have better games as well. This is a purchase a grandma makes for there grandson not understanding what this product is.

#3 Posted by BigBoss1911 (2919 posts) -

The only reason I can think of is you have too much money and just don't know there are much better alternatives to play ps1 games at this point that have better games as well. This is a purchase a grandma makes for there grandson not understanding what this product is.

You hit the nail on the head

#4 Posted by Humanity (18250 posts) -

If you like novelty items and have the money to spare I suppose. The games on this thing are so specific that it's not something you can really get for people that aren't typically into video games cause who the hell is just gonna jump into Resident Evil in 2018. These are old enough where you need a good amount of nostalgia to put up with the gameplay quirks, and those people will have already found better ways to own and play this specific collection of games.

#5 Edited by Vortextk (841 posts) -

Seeing the quicklook here, hearing about it on the podcasts, reading about it on kotaku, getting indepth articles(latest digital foundry too) of the playstation classic; there is no reason. Don't buy one. It's a terrible product with poor emulation, bare bones implementation of any features beyond playing the games, it has a meh list of games(the one understandable thing with all the remakes and licensing problems) and even WITH poor emulation and WITH a kind of troubled list it included bad versions of games for so far not one stated reason and the guess between people like jeff and DF is that the hardware is poor and 50hz is easier to pull off(and even then, it doesn't handle what it is). Add to that list no dualshock games/controller, the ability to put more games on it down the line surely opening up but why would you on a device that can't handle them and...honestly I could just keep going.

Way to make a terrible thing sony? Atleast it looks the part?

#6 Posted by Efesell (4064 posts) -

I guess it's an okay...shelf piece? I dunno. It's probably easier to get a real one for that.

#7 Posted by Willy105 (4924 posts) -

Sadly, it smells like another attempt by Sony to copy something Nintendo did well but without any of the motivation to actually make it good. (aka Playstation All Star Battle Royale).

#8 Posted by WickedCobra03 (2279 posts) -

I think it’s cool as a gift for a lot of the adults that grew up with the PlayStation as their main console. Especially those that traded their old PlayStations and games away.

For me, I still have all of mine PS games and consoles to play them on, so I really don’t need that.

I really wish that Sony would include software backwards compatibility on the ps5 for ps1, ps2 and ps3 games. It’s not like I play them constantly, but I definitely go back to older games, probably at least 25 or 30% of my game time.

#9 Posted by hippie_genocide (2388 posts) -

Like most of these things, it isn't for someone who cares enough to post about it on forums for gaming website. It's for someone that remembers playing these games 20+ years ago that gets it for a pretty negligible price for a hunk of nostalgia.

#10 Posted by someoneproud (370 posts) -

Just form factor/ornamental reasons I'd guess. I was looking into hacks for the thing, couldn't find anything but I did see that you can hack a SNES mini to play (presumably legally obtained) ps1 isos and use a ds4 controller. If I were after a mini retro console, I'd get that and make it play everything up to ps1. Attach a nice big external drive with a shit ton of nostalgia games.

#11 Edited by frytup (1183 posts) -

@someoneproud said:

Just form factor/ornamental reasons I'd guess. I was looking into hacks for the thing, couldn't find anything but I did see that you can hack a SNES mini to play (presumably legally obtained) ps1 isos and use a ds4 controller. If I were after a mini retro console, I'd get that and make it play everything up to ps1. Attach a nice big external drive with a shit ton of nostalgia games.

It can probably play them, but not very well. To get the full range of PS1 games working with accuracy at a decent frame rate, you need a good CPU and mednafen. Cheap ARM CPUs don't cut it and pcsx as an emulator has issues.

#12 Posted by someoneproud (370 posts) -

@frytup: The videos I've seen of them running seem to run well enough, I was pleasantly surprised. It's not as if the ps classic does a perfect job either by all accounts. Personally I play ps1 games on my PC and even my REALLY old mid-range laptop plays them just fine but if I wanted one of these boxes I'd elect for a SNES over the PS classic.

#13 Posted by stinger061 (453 posts) -

I wonder how many NES/SNES Classics are actually being used vs sitting on a shelf looking nice?

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