Unfortunately, there are many bad and wrong opinions circulating about Sony’s Playstation Classic. Set to be released on December 3, it’s a nostalgic mini-console replica of the original PlayStation from 1994 that comes preloaded with 20 games like Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, and Jumping Flash!
“There’s nothing wrong with the PlayStation Classic if you want to drop the cash on another hunk of plastic that’ll gather dust below your television,” Motherboard writer Matthew Gault wrote in September when Sony announced the system. Respectfully, I do want to have this thing gather some dust on my TV stand. It is exactly as-advertised: A novelty system for playing a bunch of old games. To be honest, many of the games included with it are kind of messed up and broken. But so was the original PlayStation and many of these early 3D games.
I’m a big believer in realistic expectations when it comes to tech made to elicit hype, which is what all classic/mini/retro consoles are. It’s the holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are upon us, and we’ve all got mouths to feed—gaming monoliths like PlayStation included. After the retro mini console successes of the SNES and NES Classic systems, PlayStation went and put all of my favorite original PlayStation games on a glorified USB stick and housed it in some cute mini-console packaging. That’s chill with me.
I don’t want these games to look better than they did. We relearn this lesson every time a franchise tries to do a reboot. When PlayStation released its reboot of the Crash Bandicoot series for PS4 with the N. Sane Trilogy last year, it tried to replicate the 20-year-old original while remodeling it for current-day players, including rendering every hair on Crash’s already-freakish orange body. I really didn’t need to pick out each fiber in his jeans.
In these PlayStation remakes, like the new Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro, it’s jarring to see characters and worlds that once only rendered as a loose facsimile—blocks and cubes for feet, watercolor backdrops for scenery, paper dolls twitching and copy/pasted to make crowds—suddenly displayed with photorealism. It’s like reading a good book and being disgusted by the movie. It will never live up to what you made of it in your own mind. Original 3D games let me fill in the blanks with my imagination. When it comes to retro games, I don’t want to be shown the real world; give me the cave wall.
With this very low bar set, here is a speedrun preview of all the games included on the PS Classic:
An acid trip involving an astronaut rabbit attempting to save the world (not clear which world).
A snowboarding game where a guy whose rattail you can hear in his voice abuses you for ping-ponging off cliffs.
Grand Theft Auto
I was never allowed to play GTA as a kid because it was too violent; the first thing I did in the game today was walk straight to the train tracks and fry myself on the third rail.
The sound of the “Sweet Tooth” clown truck cackle has haunted me for almost 20 years.
They got some really fucked up raccoons in Raccoon City.
A bunch of kids fuck around and get haunted. Having never played a Persona game before, I’m into this Twilight Zone meet Twin Peaks in an anime RPG aesthetic.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Absolutely wild that they let Tom Clancy turn a book into a video game. Can’t get over it.
Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Some people call this game a "classic," and one of the best puzzle games ever made. However, a Street Fighter game with no fighting? I call that "dumb."
The beloved debut in the stealth-action series that had to go to the PSP to finally die forever.
What if Final Fantasy was a Wild West RPG? Alternatively, What if Red Dead Redemption 2 was anime?
Battle Arena Toshinden
It would be easy to write this game off as proto- Tekken, but according to this 1996 IGN article, it invented the side-step maneuver, taking the fighting genre into “true 3D.” That’s cool I guess but I’d still rather play Tekken thanks.
This is the greatest thing Ubisoft has ever done. It’s been downhill since 1995.
I’m an anime miner baby in a onesie who demands to be called “mister.”
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
This is a game about organizing one’s place of employment against the ruling class.
Was King a furry?
Metal Gear Solid
How could I say anything but nice things about the franchise that would eventually bring me this early YouTube artefact.
I only ever got to play the version of this game that came on a PlayStation demo disk, but the full version is just as much an existential horror as I remember. You’re a tiny man in a suit running from huge endless cubes!
R4 Ridge Racer
This is a good game but the intro is terribly, improbably horny. Hornier than it has any right to be.
Dunno why they put this, R4 Ridge Racer, and Twisted Metal on here, but okay. Could have saved one of these racing game slots for Gex but OKAY.
Final Fantasy VII
I have never felt anything more deeply than my eight-year-old self felt Aerith’s death. That said, Team Tifa forever.
Correction: This article originally included impressions of the PS Classic that are still under embargo. Motherboard regrets the error.