PlayStation Classic review – not a happy memory

PlayStation Classic

Here we are again retro gamers, it is time to review another retro console!
As the title suggests, Sony’s remake is on my agenda, today.

In this Playstation Classic review, I am going to explain why it was a mistake. Sony clearly rushed the release of this unit to try to take advantage of the micro-console trend.

Nintendo kicked this trend off with their NES and SNES Classic, and Sony did not even bother to come up with a different name. There was plenty of room for improving the tiny console, but Sony preferred not to.

This leaves consumers with a machine with an unusual (to put it mildly) collection of games and an awful controller that most notably, betrays the memories of their retro gaming fans (you have got one here).

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A disappointing remake – but someone might like it anyway

PlayStation Classic interface

PlayStation Classic interface

I do not mean to sound overly dramatic. Those younger gamers who did not grow up with the original might end up liking it. At least, this gives them an opportunity to get familiar with the first generation of 3D titles, although they turn out to be too ugly and clunky to play for that long. Its price point does make it an easy gift option. Even so, it is still hard to not feel let down.

While the PlayStation Classic looks exactly like the original, it is 45% smaller. There is a make-believe disk tray cover (it will not open, you are wasting your time) and power, reset and eject buttons.

By pressing the reset button, you can go back to the PS Classic home screen.
The eject button allows you to virtually swap disks for longer games like Metal Gear Solid or FFVII.

Its two wired controllers rely on USB connections. The back of this tiny console has an HDMI connection and a mini-USB port for power, although apparently Sony forgot to include a USB AC adapter in the box.

Maybe Sony thinks everyone has one at home these days. They recommend powering the unit using one. Technically, the unit can be powered by any USB connection delivering 1 amp of power. But that leaves out every generation prior to USB 3.1.

I tried several options, until I found my neighbour had an adapter he was not using. Despite this, I gave it back to him 3 days later.

Although personally I was not too disappointed by the omission of the AC adapter in the box, I can well imagine the cries of gamers unable to hook up their new console, on their much anticipated Saturday after-dinner party with their long-time friends (at least since the 90s).

Sony was obviously trying to cut as many corners as they could get away with, to initially keep the price tag near the century mark.

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Where have the old features gone? – oh, another short-cabled controller

PlayStation 1

The original PlayStation and its trusted Dual Shock

While sticking with the original design for the controllers brings its fair share of nostalgia, it seems like Sony wanted to save money by omitting features like Dual Shock and vibration.
This sounds pretty odd, especially considering the inclusion of titles like Ridge Racer Type 4 and Metal Gear Solid, which were developed with these features in mind.

To make matters worse, the cables are only 4.9’ long. Although better than the SNES Classic, it still fails to naturally reach my sofa. I had to re-position furniture to play it comfy.

Although you could theoretically use USB extension cables to add a bit more length, I did not have any of those just lying around the house.

Booting up the machine will take you to a home screen that reminds you of the CD player on the original. A carousel will then feature all the games and a virtual memory card that you can access.

While that works the way you would anticipate, you are also able to create a save point anywhere in a game by simply pressing the reset button. It does not allow you to create multiple save points, which is another big disappointment. Creating a new save point wipes out your last one.

A couple of gems are not enough – frame rate and graphics are an issue

A scene from Final Fantasy 7

You are unforgettable, Aeris…

The included games are kind of a mixed bag. Some have been remade well. For one thing, I launched Final Fantasy VII and I continued to play until I met Aeris (first love is never forgotten). Other games, like Destruction Derby (which, admittedly, I had overlooked in the past), was a great window into the early days of 3D.

Metal Gear Solid looks as amazing as ever, but other games, like Persona (which I loved back in the day), does show its age.

The emulation is not always consistent. There are remarkable frame-rate dips and jittering that makes playing Ridge Racer Type 4 a real pain. That is not nice one bit.
This title was a milestone for the 32-bit era and deserved better treatment.

It was hard to steer without analog controls, but other than that, I wonder where the car speed has gone. Did it stay in the past?

It is amazing that Namco’s developers have not complained that Sony has managed to completely turn one of their top titles into an impossible-to-play old game.

However, even when the games are properly emulated, the muddy textures and simplified 3D models of the past simply put you off. Let us be honest, they look horrible on 720p, HD and 4K televisions. The old school standard definition sets were actually perfectly suited to the 32-bit console era, since they concealed flaws well.

Unexpectedly though, the 2D games included in the bundle actually look a lot better than 3D ones on today’s TVs. This leads me to believe that Sony had an opportunity to spruce up the rendering for all of the included games and decided against it.

A bad surprise – the PAL glitch

PlayStation Classic game list

The biggest flaw of this console is also its most confusing. Nine of the 20 games are the European PAL versions, which were designed for 50Hz TVs, instead of the 60Hz standard that was/is used in the US and Japan. Getting these titled ported over to play on newer TVs results in the mess you would imagine.

There is some annoying judder when playing the PAL titles. This also ended up slowing game performance, making it feel like you are playing the game in slow motion. You can forget about timing any of those tricky combos for games like Tekken 3.

Although Sony have not said why they opted for the PAL versions, I personally believe it has to do with their wider language support. It avoids the letterboxing that occurred in Europe when porting the other way, but it is small consolation.

Sony have managed to preserve the worst versions of these games, not to mention poor emulation. This is a big let-down to any retro gamer and it will give Generation Z a wrong view of what the original PlayStation was like and capable of.

It does not surprise me that Sony are not offering a way to play more games on this machine.
At the end of the day, that gives them an opportunity to sell more retro systems down the road, forcing players to spend even more cash. That said, Personally, I am more than reluctant to buy another console remake by Sony, at the moment.

Maybe I was expecting too much from this remake. I bought it out of nostalgia, but my unit actually collects dust better than actually being able to play for hours at a time. This is similar to how I felt about the Nintendo Classic’s 8-bit lineup.

The SNES Classic – on the contrary – is in a different league. Its sprite-based graphics look much better on today’s televisions, and featured a much better array of titles.

Final impressions – a wasted chance

Tekken 3

No combos, no Tekken… 🙁

Honestly, it is safe to say that you have already got better ways to play most of the original PlayStation’s games. Just grab an early generation PlayStation 3 featuring all of the PS1 hardware. Job done.

You know how much I love the PSX. I was in awe when it was first released, and I wrote a two-part retro story on this very blog about it. Even so, I struggle to imagine the PlayStation Classic as anything other than a disappointment.

Although casual gamers and younger players may not see its flaws, those flaws will cut any avid retro gamer to their core. This should serve as a reminder to console makers: retro consoles are not just an easy way to increase their bottom line.

Till next retro review!

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About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

22 thoughts on “PlayStation Classic review – not a happy memory

  1. Dave Sweney

    As I was reading through the review, like you I could not help but be disappointed at the performance and also the lack of user experience concern that went into this PlayStation Classic retro console. From start to finish, one thing after another seems to be of concern.

    I do not expect I will invest in this one, there are just too many flaws. I agree with you that to get a better experience you can go on eBay and find an early version of the PlayStation 3. Less hassle, likely less price, and better gaming experience.

    There is no doubt that these games bring back the nostalgia for me. But I am not willing to pay any price for something that will likely sit in a drawer somewhere and not get used. The kids would also likely not enjoy these games too much if they operate the way you mention. 

    Thanks for the heads up, I am giving this one a pass. I may be old, but I am not senile! 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello David and thanks for dropping by again.

      I can relate to your disappointment. I had high expectations, but purchasing the PlayStation Classic only left a bad taste in my mouth.
      Sony could and should have done a lot better, and I struggle to understand why they released such a poor remake. I mean, did they realize the PlayStation Classic had so many flaws? Not really sure, what to think about it.
      Personally I have not used the system for a while now, and I doubt I will in the future. Given that I returned my neighbour the Usb AC adapter, I should buy one myself. Chances are very slim at the moment.

      Thanks again for taking time to read and comment on my post, until next retro article!

      Reply
  2. Emmanuel Buysse

    I heard about it that it was a bad idea from Sony. I didn’t know why, but reading this post of you now, I know why. I think they should have taken more time to develop it, because many people wanted this, but in a good way. Well, I’m going to order a wii plus, because I want to play that Pokémon game! Thanks for sharing it with us. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Emmanuel and thanks for dropping by again.
      Well yes, there is little I can say in Sony’s favour, honestly. Anything went wrong, and I cannot lie to my readers, pretending that they released a great remake, when they did not.
      As a fan, I am utterly disappointed, but I am glad if my review can help others get a better idea of what to expect.
      Happy to have you as a regular on my blog, till next post!

      Reply
  3. Mahin Al Banna

    Hey Andrew,

    This is an unique and informative article I must say. I appreciate your honest review on PlayStation Classic. I had heard about this product before but the concept was never so clear than it is now. I have come to know many things from your article. This time Sony disappointed all of us with this useless product. As there are so many flaws in this console the gamers will obviously avoid it because there are so many consoles better than that available in the market. I think Sony should be more positive with the quality of its products.

    Thank you for writing this helpful article.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Mahin and thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.
      Well, like I said, as a big, big fan I was anticipating a lot more. This was a rush-job that left a lot to be desired, and I struggle to find any positive aspects.
      That said, I strongly hope Sony took note of the criticism, and if they ever release a remake again, they will surprise us all.
      The PlayStation One is simply glorious and did deserve a better tribute.
      Thanks again for dropping by, I hope you stay tuned for more retro posts!

      Reply
  4. Nate MC

    Wow I haven’t heard of the original PlayStation for such a longtime lol. I remember playing that as a kid. It sucked when the disc was scratched and the games would cutoff or not work at all! I remember pulling many late nights on Final Fantasy and Breath Of Fire. No disc would be scratched on the PlayStation Classic, but I’m afraid this would one of the few good things of this machine. What a shame…

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Nate and thanks for your comment.
      Yeah, I have to agree, too many drawbacks and it is a real shame.
      I wanted to relive that feeling of nostalgia, but I ended up walking away with a feeling of frustration.
      Late nights will have to wait…

      Thanks again for stopping by, stay tuned for more retro reviews!

      Reply
  5. Todd Matthews

    Yeah, Sony really messed this one up. For me, I’d envision a classic look with modern features. For instance, at least make the controllers wireless and the short cable thing would be annoying. Plus, no analog sticks? I think when the PS2 came around they had them and if I’m not mistaken, could’ve worked in the Classic.

    Hopefully, Sony releases a PS2 version of this as well with modern features such as the wireless controller, a hard drive, and please, analog sticks on the controllers! PS2 was my favorite console by far along with the Nintendo 64, so I’d be a buyer if they went this direction. The only way I wouldn’t would be if Nintendo released the 64 much like they did the NES. 

    Actually, if the 64 was re-released with all the modern features, it would be lights out. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Todd, thanks for stopping by again.
      Sony could have done a lot more. The more we talk about it, the more we come up with flaws and it is so annoying.
      The main problem with the PlayStation Classic is that the good old features are missing, while the modern… Are missing as well.

      The PS1 too had analog sticks. The only remarkable difference with the PS2’s sticks is the colour… The former was grey the latter was black (Sony later produced several variations in colour).
      Finger crossed for a Nintendo 64 classic version, if they released it like they did the SNES, it would be really lights out!
      Thanks again for your comment, happy to have you as a regular!

      Reply
  6. RoDarrick

    What a turn off this is. I was thinking of hooking up with my 90s classics when I heard about the release of the PlayStation classic and all I could get from Sony is this much tattered and battered product. Seriously I’m disappointed! How on earth would you make this kind of classic console in a haste and spoil the experience for us. Thanks for saving my bucks for me.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello RoDarrick and thanks for commenting on my blog
      Honestly, I would have liked to tell a whole different story, but I cannot fool my readers.
      And make no mistake, I am an avid PlayStation fan, so it was painful for me to say that.
      Thanks again for stopping by, till next retro post!

      Reply
  7. Stella

    Very interesting niche – Playstations…

    Although this is something that I do not indulge in, my 10 year old son might be very interested in this…Very well thought out. 

    Sadly this remake looks like a bad imitation of the original. Was this rush-job really needed?

    Well, at least now I know it is not something worth-buying, in case my son asks asks me to buy him one.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Stella, thanks for taking time to leave a comment.
      Well, the idea is great, and I support any initiatives aimed to keep retro gaming alive. Unfortunately, the outcome has not lived up to my expectations.
      As for your question, no, in my opinion it was not needed. While I understand market trends quickly change, Sony could have invested more time into the project.
      The thing is, Sony have millions of fans around the world who would buy their products no matter what. So, in my humble opinion, such fans (including me) deserved a better product.

      Thanks again for dropping by, till next retro article!

      Reply
  8. Riaz Shah

    Great review Andrew!

    I get super psyched whenever I see old games I forgot to look at their other criteria like those bugs and frames. FF7 is my all time favourite and seeing that along with the other olden games is super exciting. I agree that the PlayStation Classic isn’t all that perfect. 

    It indeed has many flaws but if you’re this hyped into jumping back at those games, I think there are people like me who would still jump on board despite all those fiery arrows being thrown at us. Out of curiosity and maybe a wee bit off topic, do you think PlayStation 5 would be able to support the PlayStation Classic games as well?

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Riaz and thanks for your comment, it is good to hear from you again.
      Same here! As an avid retro gamer, I am always in expectation of console remakes, especially when it deals with a system I loved back in the day.
      Like I said in my review, the PlaysStation Classic’s game lineup features a couple of gems (one of them being Final Fantasy VII), but that is not enough to make me happy. All that without mentioning the frame rate issue and the pal glitch. For all these reasons I cannot help but be disappointed.

      Regarding your question, according to the BBC website, it looks like the PlayStation 5 will only be backward compatible with its predecessor. Not the news you, I and others were waiting for, but this could mean they are planning to release the PS2 and PS3 remakes sometime in the near future. 🙂

      Until next retro post!

      Reply
  9. Letha

    I’m not into gaming, but I know it’s the thing for those that are. It seems to be very interesting even with flaws. When my son was a little boy, he had a console. I believe it was a Nintendo. He loved it and enjoyed it after doing his homework.
    It’s amazing how many different games are out there and gamers are enjoying them. Hopefully, Sony will do better as far as youngers are concern.

    Thank for sharing the information!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Letha and thanks for commenting on my blog.
      Well, it is an interesting idea, no doubt, but all these flaws, really make the experience frustrating.
      If you want to try the first PlayStation’s games, getting a pre-owned PS3 is the best solution. Not only will its backward compatibility function allow you to play
      the PS1’s games, but also you can explore the PS3 world itself. Incidentally, the PS3 is my least favourite Sony console, but some titles are absolutely next level.
      Thanks again for taking time to comment on my post, please stay tuned for more retro reviews!

      Reply
  10. matthew

    Hi. I agree with you this console was a big disappointment and the worst thing for me was the controller. I just found it awkward to handel. What’s with the cable being to short as well? It made for difficult use at times. 

    It is great for you to look at old retro consoles and games because it brings back happy memories and good times. 

    We wouldn’t have the quality machines and games with amazing graphics, like we do today if it wasn’t for the origin and older stuff. 

    Sony definitely rushed this one. Just trying to make more money probably. 

    You must be a massive game enthusiast is that why you write such great articles about this stuff?

    I am looking forward to what you write about next?

    Good luck to you

    Best wishes 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Matthew and thanks for stopping by.

      You know, I have never liked d-pad controllers, so I got irked when I found 2 in the PlayStation Classic box.
      Despite this, I gave them a try, and I immediately remembered why I struggled to click with my PS1, in the beginning.
      I even fancied selling it at one point,. Fortunately a then mate suggested that I get a Dual Shock and things radically changed.
      On top of that, the replica PS1 controllers the PlayStation Classic ships with have a short cable… All that definitely does not encourage me to play it. There are other known problems, like the frame rate and the pal glitch, but for one thing, if Sony released a replica dual shock (just like 20+ years ago), things would improve. Just a thought. Right as you said, we would not have quality machines today,
      if it was not for the older stuff. Such machines and their then developers deserve a lot of respect, starting from releasing quality remakes.

      With that being said, thank you also for the compliments. Yeah, I am retro gamer with a mission: keeping our gaming memories alive! 🙂
      My next article? Most probably the second and last part of the pinball tournament retro story. It has been in the works for months, I have struggled to find the time to complete it, my bad.

      Thanks again for your nice words, I hope you become a regular here!

      Reply
  11. coolbudgetfamilyholidays

    Thank you for your insightful review of the Playstation Classic Console.

    Having previously bought and been relatively impressed with the Sega Mega Drive classic console I had considered adding the Playstation Classic console to my collection however after reading your review I am now not so sure.

    I have to admit that the biggest disappointment for me is learning that there isn’t an option to insert your old discs into the console so that you can reminisce about your own personnel favourites like you can do on on the Sega Mega Drive Console. I feel that a simple addition like this would certainly have given the original Playstation a whole new lease of life amongst us Retro Gamers.

    Overall I think I will wait to see if there is any further developments from Sony with regards to the classic Playstation console before considering whether to make a purchase.Do you think Sony will be putting some consideration into developing this classic console further?

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello CoolBudget, and thanks for stopping by again.

      Sony could have definitely implemented an option to insert original discs into the PlayStation Classic, but other than that, they could have included more pre-loaded games.

      20 games are too few, especially considering that only 4 undisputed classics feature (FFVII, Metal Gear Solid, Ridge Racer4 and Tekken 3).
      It is hard to call the PlayStation Classic “PlayStation Classic” without the likes of Winning Eleven, Crash Bandicoot, Gran Turismo and Tomb Raider (just to name a few).

      In answer to your question, I hope they will, but I cannot really say that for certain. The overall reception has been lukewarm (to say the least) so I am inclined to believe that Sony are not going to invest any more into this project, but you never know… Let us wait and see.
      Till next retro review!

      Reply

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