Given the popularity of other nostalgic throwbacks like the NES and SNES Classic consoles, it’s easy to see what Sony was trying to do when they released the PlayStation Classic in December. Devindra Hardawar even pointed out in his review that the system was “a quick attempt by Sony to cash in on the micro-console trend.” While the Classic did have a decent look and feel, the 20 game selection was unlikely to satisfy fans, the controllers lacked DualShock and the inclusion of the PAL versions of some titles was baffling. These disappointments — and an initial price point of $100 — were enough to push the console’s score down to 67.
The body of the system, an adorably sized replica of the 1994 original, has USB connections for the controllers, an HDMI output and micro-USB for power. Users were largely pleased with the smaller, look-alike shell: DonPolo said it’s “nicely designed and a great addition to my existing classic console collection,” while CrazyCanuck loved its design, noting that “it’s almost a perfect replica of the [PlayStation] I played, and spent far too much time with.”
Dev may have felt that Sony cheaped out on the controllers, but they were still popular with user reviewers; both Kevin and Timmmay called them great. Mickey said the “feel of the controllers matched what I remembered when I had the original back in the day.” While many were disappointed at the lack of DualShock, Timmmay pointed out that he “never cared for the DualShock since most games I play are platformers, RPGs, puzzle games and SHMUPs.”
Those controllers added some value to the system for Mickey, who felt that “the fact that you get two of them, and they are standard USB controllers, almost covered half the cost right there.” However, all reviewers — Dev and readers alike — regarded the systems initial $99 price point as a huge fail. Mickey waited for the system to go on sale for $40 before picking one up, while Timmmay said “It was never really on my radar when it was selling for $100.” DonPolo said the Classic “could have been an amazing device if, for starters, it would have been priced out correctly.” Only a marked down price to $37 made “the entire venture less painful” for him. And CrazyCanuck summed it up best by stating, “At its current retail price, which is drastically cheaper, it might be worth it to die-hard fans of the system.”
One of the most hotly-contested components of the PS Classic package is the selection of games included. The list of twenty titles features well known titles like Grand Theft Auto and Tekken 3, but excludes other popular throwbacks like Silent Hill and Tomb Raider II. Reviewers expressed disappointment at the lineup: Elranzer referred to the selection as “being pretty poor,” while Timmmay said it was his “only complaint.” sanban013 didn’t hold back, saying that “Out of twenty of the best games, only one or two are included in here, hence, this is AWFUL.” Predictably, users who found titles they liked were more complimentary. Dgarra was straightforward: “Bought this for Intelligent Qube, works great, still love it.” CrazyCanuck enjoyed “about a fourth of the library (Coolboarders, Resident Evil, FFVII, Twisted Metal and Metal Gear Solid.)”
Many users mentioned that modding the console or adding programs restored the features (or games) they felt were missing from the system. Gabriel said “if you have the technical chops to reconfigure the PCSX emulator or use a third-party program like BleemSync, the PlayStation Classic can be a great experience.” Timmmay said after they sideloaded games like Castlevania Symphony of the Night it became “well worth the $40 investment it now costs.” Andrew, who enjoys tinkering with hardware, says “with Bleemsync, a powered hub, and a 2TB PS4 external hard drive, this system is INCREDIBLE.” Whether or not it’s worth purchasing a PlayStation Classic only to add on that much, is clearly going to be up to the individual user.
Much like the feedback about the game library, responses to the game play were critical at best. Gabriel said when he first started using the PS Classic, his first thought was “the graphics are worse than I remember.” Mickey said the game play was “overall close to what I remember but it has been many years since I touched a PSX.” Elranzer said the “PlayStation games have aged much worse than the pixel-based retro systems before them,” and blamed “some weird decisions like using the inferior PAL versions (such an AWFUL video standard).” CrazyCanuk concurred, stating they are “not a fan of how the games are all based on their PAL versions from back in the day.”
Overall, users reviewed the nostalgia console more harshly than Dev, awarding the system a crushing score of 60. KillamanShank1 signed up just to call the system “trash.” And others weren’t exactly holding back: KaaPow called the PS Classic a “sorry attempt” and “half-assed,” freedonut said it was “not worth it,” and Gabriel advised interested consumers to not “waste your time or money.” DonPolo was more pragmatic, stating it “really didn’t hit the nostalgia mark with its game library and it should have included the DualShock controllers.” Elranzer said the console “is not worth it unless you’re a collector.”
That seems to be valid advice, as the users who found value in the system were either collectors or had extremely grounded expectations of what the console was capable of. Ryan, for example, loves his PS Classic. “It sits proudly next to my SNES and NES Classic. It’s modded with a selection of my favorite games.” Travis, who pre-ordered the system, “enjoyed it for what it is” (though he is also looking into modding it). Again, CrazyCanuck sums it up nicely with the following advice: “All told, if you’re a collector, get it. If you’re a fan of the games and you don’t have your PSX and discs anymore, get it. Otherwise, you’re fine passing on a system that, while visually is a great representation, is lackluster in both library and everything else.”