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The PlayStation Classic Is a Charming Blast from the Past

PlayStation Classic
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The PlayStation Classic Is a Charming Blast from the Past

The trend of classic mini-consoles has become more and more relevant over the past couple of years. Nintendo started it with its NES Classic Mini, and then solidified it with the SNES equivalent. SNK followed suit with the Neo Geo Mini, and now it’s Sony’s turn with the PlayStation Classic.

The size of the box is actually quite misleading and might lead you to underestimate just how tiny the PS Classic is. It measures roughly 149 mm × 33 mm × 105 mm (5.9 inches × 1.3 inches × 4.1 inches), and it easily fits the palm of my hand. It’s also really light, weighing only six ounces.

The small size means that it’s extremely cute, and when you’re not playing, it can easily double as a collectible to proudly display on your desk. The grey plastic does make it look a little bit more like a toy than more recent PlayStation consoles, but the iconic design and nostalgia factor make up for that.

The disc lid doesn’t open, and that’s a bit of a bummer; of course, the console has no discs, but its ancient top-opening design is very iconic. I don’t know what they could have done with it exactly, but I do wish that it had some kind of functionality.

PlayStation Classic

That being said, it is understandable, since such a feature would have increased manufacturing costs. I can’t fault Sony for leaving out something that would have likely been exclusively cosmetic to keep the price down.

The bulk of the package is dedicated to the two controllers, which are full-sized original PlayStation controllers. They’re not DualShock controllers, so there is no rumble or analog sticks, but the decision to preserve the original size helps with comfort.

The only visible difference with the original controllers is the USB connection, even if it’s well masked when plugged into the console. The cables are 1.5 meters long, which can be a bit limiting depending on your living room’s configuration. Since they’re USB cables, it would have been convenient to make them detachable at the controller side as well, allowing users to swap them with longer ones.

While an HDMI cable is included, alongside a USB cable to draw power from a suitable source, there is no AC adapter in the box. Most households have a bunch of those to charge smartphones and the like, but it’s something to keep in mind.

When you finally turn on the console, you’re greeted with the classic jingle, but the visual sequence is a simplified version of the original, with a different “Sony Interactive Entertainment” logo. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise, since Sony Computer Entertainment doesn’t exist anymore.

The main menu is simple and functional. You shouldn’t expect much in terms of options, but there is everything you need to play without worrying about setting up. If you’re purchasing the console for a younger person, there certainly isn’t much to learn and fiddle with.

While each game has plenty of virtual memory card slots to save on, the implementation of save states doesn’t have too many frills, but it’s quite sleek. Pressing the reset button on the console will bring you back to the main menu and save your game exactly at the frame from which you left. This is, of course, separate for each game.

When you’re ready to resume, you can simply select your save state and you’ll get back right where you left. It takes roughly four seconds to load a save state, but there is only one slot per game.

When you quit a game and you already have a save state, you’ll be asked whether you want to overwrite the old one or keep it while discarding the new one. This allows you to use the feature to “cheat” by saving just before a particularly risky spot. After that, you can retry as many times as you want quickly and effortlessly. Not everyone likes this, but having the option is always nice.

PlayStation Classic

The PlayStation Classic comes with 20 games pre-loaded in its memory, and the lineup is rather diverse.

JRPG fans will be able to enjoy classics like Final Fantasy VII, Revelations: Persona, and Wild Arms. Metal Gear Solid fans get a treat with the original game that started the saga. Fighting game aficionados can play Tekken 3 and Battle Arena Toshinden. Those who prefer metal carnage can take on Grand Theft Auto, Twisted Metal, and Destruction Derby.

The full list of pre-loaded games is as follows:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden*
  • Cool Boarders 2*
  • Destruction Derby*
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto*
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash!*
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr. Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee*
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut*
  • Revelations: Persona
  • R4 Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3*
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six*
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

The emulation appears to be rather solid, with video and audio quality on par with my memories of the original. The one problem comes with the use of PAL ROMs for some of the games (marked by the asterisk in the list). This means that they have a refresh rate of 50 Hz, and this isn’t optimal for some genres like fighting games.

I will admit that it didn’t bother me in any measurable way, but I’m terrible at fighting games and less sensitive than many to this kind of issue. Your mileage may vary.

Of course, anyone will have their favorites and their list of junk that will never be touched, and this depends mostly on taste. In the few days that I had the console, I had a blast enjoying several games from my younger years, and watching Wild Arms’ opening cutscene after such a long time made me smile from ear to ear.

One regret I have to bring up is that the list of games for Japan appears to be slightly stronger thanks to masterpieces like Arc the Lad and its sequel, Armored Core, and Parasite Eve. I can understand that Sony tried to cover a wider range of genres for the west, but in an age where the original PlayStation Japanese game development truly shined, the lack of a couple of other iconic Japanese titles stung a little.

That being said, this is only a minor gripe, and I don’t think many will be unable to find several appealing titles in the western lineup. The PlayStation Classic is easily able to deliver tens if not hundreds of hours of enjoyment pretty much for any kind of gamer who doesn’t absolutely hate retro games.

There is certainly a lot of value in preserving the part of the legacy of one of the most relevant consoles of all time, not to mention providing a chance for younger players to experience the marvels of a bygone era.

The PlayStation Classic isn’t just a charming gaming device, but it’s super cute with its small size and familiar looks. It won’t be out of place in any household where a gamer dwells.

If you want to learn more about the console, you can check out my size comparison with basically everything I could find. You can also watch an unboxing video directly from Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The PlayStation Classic will release worldwide on Dec. 3.

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