Yesterday, Sony announced that it was going to be launching a brand new console this Christmas. Well, sort of. The PlayStation Classic is a miniaturised version of the original PlayStation machine from the mid 90s, and will come pre-loaded with a wealth of old school games to give retro fans their fix.
I was actually surprised by how excited everybody was – and how indifferent I felt when I heard the news. Is the PlayStation Classic genuinely underwhelming? Or am I just a joyless grump? (Or both? Heaven help us…) If, like me, you’re also on the fence about this (admittedly fun) new innovation from Sony, here are some of the features that the miniaturised machine will offer…
- 20 pre-loaded titles, including Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, and Ridge Racer Type 4, with more games to be announced.
- HDMI output, so that you can now enjoy the classic 480i display in, uhh, high definition.
- Replicas of the original PS controllers.
- The classic buttons on the console, which now do different things. The Reset button, for example, suspends the current game, whilst the Power button “changes the virtual disc.”
- A virtual memory card.
Furthermore, the new machine will be 45 per cent smaller than the classic device from 1994, so it will take up less space in your living room.
It will also be 30 per cent of the price of the current PS4(!) which is where I start to baulk a little. £90 for an inferior version of the original PlayStation, in 2018? I mean, I’ve got to hand it to Sony; people will lap this up in spades, and it’s sure to be a hot seller in the run-up to Christmas, so I’ve no doubt that people will willingly hand over their hard-earned cash, but to me it’s so not worth it. To my inner grump, this is a novelty item at best, and in gaming terms it’s more of an ornament than a ‘serious’ console.
Having said that, I don’t think I am Sony’s target audience. I think this device is more intended for the general (perhaps non-gaming) public, who maybe played a few classic titles in the 90s and look back with whimsy and nostalgia. And so, presented with the opportunity to relive their childhood memories on a funky little box that’s all pre-loaded and ready to go – yes, I can see the appeal to those people, and in that respect the £90 price tag must seem reasonable. Indeed, Nintendo set a precedent for such novelty items when it released its similar Nintendo Classic Mini, which people went nuts over.
However, I think it’s worth seeing past the nostalgia and trying to be a bit more realistic about the PlayStation Classic. You won’t be able to put discs in and take discs out – you know, the ones you’ve already paid for and own. Presumably, unless there’s some nifty internet update in the future, you will be forever stuck with the same 20 games that come with the pre-loaded machine. Yes the design is sweet, but to be honest you could just dust off your old PlayStation and lash that up to the TV, or even buy a cheap second-hand one online. Failing that, there is the option of just selecting the old games that you love and finding an alternative way to play them, such as via Steam or PSN. In fact, if you have an older version of the PS3, your trusty device will play PS1 discs no problem – with a BluRay player to boot.
I don’t want to use the word “gimmick” when it comes to the PlayStation Classic because I think there is some value here, but personally I will pass and let everyone else enjoy. (My next console purchase will be a Switch!)
How do you feel about the PlayStation Classic? Are you psyched? Underwhelmed? If the former, which other games would you like to see announced? Let me know in the comments below.