Sony could’ve followed in Nintendo’s footsteps by releasing a populist’s retro console, one that had the undisputed best games of the era like Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy 8 and 9 or Tomb Raider.
But that’s not the PlayStation Classic.
It doesn’t include the majority of the console’s greatest hits and instead opts for some cult classics like Persona and Jumping Flash among a few well-received titles. Using Sony’s retro console is therefore a lot less like walking down memory lane, an experience we had with the SNES Classic and NES Classic Mini, and a lot more like a sample platter of what the PlayStation had to offer 20-some-odd years ago.
Ultimately while there’s fun to be had with the PlayStation Classic’s collection of games, the gaps in what could have been a dream line-up are obvious.
Where’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Where’s Silent Hill? Chrono Cross? Tomb Raider? Where’s The Legend of Dragoon or PaRappa the Rapper?
I’ll tell you where you won’t find them: Sony’s first retro console.
Sure, these games are available on other platforms, but being able to play them on a recreation of the hardware they helped define would have been a true celebration of the iconic system. What’s there is a collection of titles that you can enjoy in an afternoon but probably won’t be coming back to anytime after that.
There’s no telling why Sony went down this path, but the most likely reason is that this was the first age of the CD-quality soundtrack, and so many games featured licensed music – the rights to which have long since expired, making it difficult (or costly) for Sony to re-acquire them. That’s not Sony’s fault, but it does make for a less-than-stellar selection of games.
A more fundamental issue lies with the fact that the first PlayStation was an entry point into the world of 3D gaming at home – there were lessons to be learned, as developers got to grips with the new way of working and, as a result, the early PlayStation games (many represented here) were a bit rough around the edges. The SNES, on the other hand, has a library that works far better in a “Classic” resurrected format, as its games represent the absolute zenith of the 16-bit, 2D era.
Ultimately, while there’s an afternoon of fun to be had here by revisiting the dawn of the 3D era, those expecting stone cold classics and long-lasting shelf-life will be disappointed.