PlayStation reboot delivers nostalgia in compact form

Sony joins retro console market with PlayStation Classic half the size of the original

Sony’s PlayStation Classic copies details including the power, open and reset buttons on the top of the console.

Product name: Playstation Classic

Price: €99.99

Where to buy: smythstoys.com

Website: www.playstation.com

Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 06:15

   

With the current trend for retro consoles, it was only a matter of time before Sony got in on the act. The result is the PlaySstation Classic (€100), a miniature version of Sony’s popular games console first released in 1994.

If you’re of a certain age, the PlayStation likely has a special place in your memory. For me, it meant entire weekends lost to Resident Evil and Tekken 3, or sessions of Crash Bandicoot and Oddworld.

It certainly looks the part. It’s about half the size of the original device and copies details including the power, open and reset buttons on the top of the console. There’s no functioning CD player though, so the “open” button in this case will bring you back to the games screen so you can choose another game.

There are some functional updates to the design of course: the HDMI connection, for example, and the micro USB power connection that certainly never featured on the original device. There’s no plug in the box, so be prepared to root out an old USB power adapter.

The controllers are wired, and replicate the original PlayStation controllers, although the analogue stick doesn’t work, there is no dual-shock function, and they have USB connections. The dual shock is not too much of a loss really, but the lack of analogue control feels odd when you are playing games that were designed with Sony’s controller in mind.

The system runs on an emulator – in this case, the open-source PCSX ReArmed emulator – and mixes 2D and 3D titles.

There are built-in “memory cards”, virtual cards that allow you to save your game. There is also the ability to create a suspend point in a game by hitting the reset button, but be warned: you can create only one at a time. It’s irritating when you realise this after you’ve created another suspend point in a game, neatly obliterating all your hard work in the other title.

In some ways, the PlayStation Classic feels a bit “me too”. That’s inevitable, given that Nintendo has already trodden this path twice before with the NES and SNES Classic. But as a fan of the original console, I’m glad to see the reboot. My original was lost almost 20 years ago, so being able to get back to some of my favourite games in (close to) the original packaging is great.

But there’s no ignoring that it is limited in ways. Aside from the suspend points, there are a few other niggles that make the PlayStation Classic less than perfect. The roster of 20 games omits some of the PlayStation’s biggest hits. There’s no Tomb Raider or Crash Bandicoot, and while this is likely down to licensing agreements, it still feels a little disappointing.

Performance varies between the titles too, with 2D games performing better than the 3D version, which is a little disappointing given that the PlayStation was the move away from 2D titles.

The little extras included with the Nintendo consoles, such as the ability to make your nice expensive high-definition TV mimic an old CRT monitor, are absent too, although that feels less of a loss unless you are a sticker for authenticity.

The good

This is a perfect replica of the original PlayStation, even down to the buttons, so fans of the original will find instant gratification on that front. Some PlayStation favourites are included on the list of 20 games, so you will find at least one game that you want to play.

The not so good

The games roster has some obvious hits – Tekken 3 is a personal favourite – but there are some notable omissions. That’s probably down to rights rather than choice, but if you are looking for an all-star line-up, this isn’t it. There have been reports of people hacking the device to add more games, but unless you have the requisite skills, what you see is what you get.

The rest

Sony has decided not to include an AC adapter in the box. That’s all well and good – costs are tight on this one and every extra counts – but it notes on the back of the box that you’ll need one. It’s in small enough writing that it could very easily be missed,so if you are buying this one as a Christmas gift, you’ll need to hunt down one of the many USB plugs you probably have lying around the house.

The verdict

It’s not quite at the same level as Nintendo’s nostalgia trip, but the PlayStation Classic is still worth the risk.