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Opinion: PlayStation Classic Will Sell Bucketloads But It Should Have Been Better

PlayStation Classic Editorial

With its cute form factor and neat selection of games, there’s little doubt that when the NES Classic Mini went on sale in late 2016 neither Nintendo, nor anyone else for that matter, could have gauged just how much of success it would be. As such, the nearly four million units sold to date must have come as quite the pleasant surprise for the Kyoto-based platform holder.

Buoyed by that success, Nintendo would attempt to capture lightning in the bottle once more and repeat the trick a second time in 2017 with the release of the Super NES Classic. A lovely homage to the original machine, the Super NES Classic not only did the business again for Nintendo, but it actually smashed the sales of the NES Classic Mini with over 5 million units sold so far.

Naturally, it didn’t take long until eyebrows were raised at Nintendo’s newfound success in re-releasing its classic heritage to a contemporary audience. As one of these eyebrow raisers, Sony began in earnest developing their own mini console to stir the nostalgia and hopefully replicate the good fortune that Nintendo experienced.

PlayStation Classic specifications
There’s no denying that flaws aside, the PlayStation Classic is an attractive bit of kit.

Fast-forward to September 19, 2018 and an envious dream has become a reality; Sony have confirmed that the PlayStation Classic is now very much a thing that folks will be able to buy before the year is out. Huzzah…right?

Packed with 20 pre-loaded games and with seemingly no ability to add to that library, the PlayStation Classic follows in the footsteps of Nintendo’s classic machines by forcing a static and rigidly unchangeable selection of games upon the player (it’s looking increasingly likely that if you wanted Tenchu instead of Jumping Jack Flash you’re going to be shit out of luck, for example).

Speaking of which, the types of games that you’ll get with the PlayStation Classic will be hamstrung by another flaw – the lack of Dualshock analogue stick. Yep, that’s right, when they said ‘PlayStation Classic’ what they meant to say was ‘PlayStation 1994 Classic’, and so now the upshot is that any game that uses those twiddly sticks will have that functionality stripped out, or in the case of Ape Escape, simply won’t be available at all.

Hardly the ‘classic’ PlayStation experience that many of us fondly remember.

Another problem, and one that Nintendo itself will also have to confront when it eventually regurgitates an N64 Classic Mini console into our faces are 3D visuals, and most pressingly, how to address just how badly they’ve aged in the two decades plus since we saw them last.

Yeah, so imagine this on a 55inch, 4K TV. Just imagine it.

Without any kind of stated hardware up-scaling going on and with visuals that will be unfortunately cleaned up by the PlayStation Classic’s distinctly modern HDMI output, the native and rarely achieved maximum resolution of 640 x 480 will look *awful* on today’s 4K televisions.

Worse still, is the fact the situation will be exacerbated by a fault with how the first PlayStation home console rendered up-close textures that caused them to warp as they moved past the camera. To say that would be off-putting on a 55′, 4K TV would be an understatement to say the least.

Also games with pre-rendered backgrounds that clearly end up suffering the most, such as Resident Evil (assuming it makes the cut) and Final Fantasy VII. Because there will be no way to scale pre-rendered assets, you’ll end up with staircases for jaggies that will effectively take off those rose-tinted glasses you have before jumping up and down on them.

Beyond such concerns, Sony have just seemed merely content to just follow Nintendo’s blueprint and as a result the lack of ambition with the project is pretty staggering. The lack of PSN ID sign-in to allow Trophy unlocks seems like an egregious omission (as just about every retro collection under the sun on PS4 allows), and likewise neither does there appear to be any other attempt to subtly modernize the console or its gaming offerings beyond its crumbly origins.

Sony shouldn’t have been content to just copy Nintendo; they should have done *better* because right now the PlayStation Classic looks like a deeply cynical attempt at capturing the magic of bygone generation of gaming and little else.

Of course, if history has taught us anything it’s that the power of nostalgia is a powerful motivator and based on that alone I imagine that despite its flaws, the PlayStation Classic will still enjoy grand commercial success. As it is though, the PlayStation Classic’s lack of forward thinking aspirations and collection of shortcomings are making it look like a missed opportunity that hardly seems fit For The Players.

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  • Fonz

    If this system only plays a select few, it’s pointless and really just a cash grab. What fans really want is the ability to buy and play these games on current systems. They allowed only a select few for PS3. If we can redownload them across Sony platforms that would even be better, but Sony would rather fans double or even triple dip.

    Now we have to buy another system instead of using the one we already own. I’m thankful that most of the games I wanted were available on PS3 so I’m good in regards to what this system is for. PS3 has edge though because it still can read PS1 discs and play PS2 classics. Depending on what PS3 you have, it can still read PS2 discs too.

    • bigevilworldwide

      Its NOT for YOU then….Its for people who have lives, and don’t spend all day thinking or playing games….They could care less what you “gamers” think these things are specifically made for people who used to or kind of occasionally play games, who might see it at a store and think hey im gonna grab this I remember having a PS1 as a kid….Jesus its so stupid that tardcore gamers have this notion that everything needs to be for them, or cater to them…..

      • Albert Belle

        It’s the Sony bias. Nintendo does this stuff all the time and no one ever calls them out for it. It’s never a cash grab or a scam or anything. Nintendo goes after ROMS and sells worthless games for high prices and people buy all their mini consoles without question. But the moment Sony says ‘I want in on that’ it has to over analyzed and people have to drone on about why you would want it, and how it’s a cash grab and how come they can’t have compatibility with old games. Nintendo, everyone has their wallets open so fast it makes your head spin. Sony, it’s long stories,hundreds of questions, over analyzing and long speeches about how they aren’t going to buy something. Happens every time.

        • Fonz

          I criticized Nintendo too and got criticized by people like you when I mentioned the practice. I told people instead of buying the system at high cost due to rarity. If you really want to play again, just download an emulator that had a host of old games to download for free.

          • Albert Belle

            Nintendo is suing people who use emulators and ROMS for their games and I am sure everyone else will follow suit. So this may end up being the only way to play old games. Also you are probably one in the million people who actually criticize Nintendo for anything . EVERYONE else is attacking Sony for doing this and praising Nintendo for doing it. That is what happens in general. Sony bad, Nintendo good no matter what shit they do.People even forgot that they were suing people for using ROMS so they can overcharge for games that are worthless.

      • Fonz

        Why would people with lives want to own more systems especially one that plays old games? An all in one would be ideal, right? Most people sell or got rid of their older systems when newer ones release thinking it would be compatible with old gen.

        Backwards compatibility is a nice bonus, but not that many people use it. I have the games I want on my PS3, but I’ve yet to come around to replay them. I bought for nostalgia reasons which is fine since games were on sale.

        This product is Sony trying to get us to buy another system for those nostalgia reasons when we could be doing it on the new console we have now. For a model we likely got rid of.

      • Fonz

        It’s capitalizing on the nostalgic gamers except now you have to pay for hardware instead of it being conveniently available on current systems. Lots of people have old games they would like to own again. It would be convenient if they were available on one system if capable.

        If it was for people with lives, why go back and play old games? Might as well get what’s available now and play new stuff people are talking about now.