Well, it’s official: Sony is getting in on the mini retro console bandwagon with the PlayStation Classic. As revealed in a PlayStation Blog post, the mini console is being released on December 3rd, 2018 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the PlayStation’s first unveiling. If you already own one of Nintendo’s NES or SNES Classic Editions, you know what to expect here: a smaller form factor with pre-loaded games. However, Sony is keeping quiet on a number of details so far and we’ll have to wait until closer to release to find out more about the PlayStation Classic. For now though, here’s what you need to know based on what information has been made available.
This could end up being the most contentious part of Sony’s sales pitch for the PlayStation Classic. At an MSRP of $99.99 USD, Sony’s mini retro console is more expensive than either the NES or SNES Classic and the situation is even worse if you’re in Canada ($129.99 CAN) or Australia ($149.99). With only 20 pre-loaded games included, there are also less actual games included with the PlayStation Classic than either of Nintendo’s offerings.
That being said, it’s difficult to compare games of different generations against each other from a value standpoint, but a PS1 title in general is going to have a higher cost than a NES or SNES game, so this was surely a factor in Sony’s decision to price the PlayStation Classic a bit higher than the competition. Still, $100 for 20 PlayStation games comes out to $5 a title, which is less than what Sony typically sells PS1 titles for on PlayStation Network, so it’s not an outrageous price point by any means.
Sony really is sticking to the “classic” aesthetic here, as they’ve opted to include two controllers modeled after the original design rather than the DualShock. As anyone who owned a PS1 can attest, the DualShock was a far superior controller thanks to the addition of dual analog sticks, so it’s a bit disappointing that Sony didn’t go that route with the PlayStation Classic.
These “replica controllers” as Sony is calling them will be wired, but cord lengths have yet to be revealed. You have to think that Sony is well aware of the heat Nintendo went through over the NES and SNES Classic and those systems’ absurdly short controller cords, so anything less than six feet would be a mistake in my opinion. At the end of the day, it’s not like the original PlayStation controller was terrible or anything, but my thumb is already throbbing when I think about using that D-Pad again …
Sorry, Still Just Two Controller Ports
One of the biggest design flaws of the original PlayStation — and its successor the PlayStation 2 — was Sony’s decision to only include two controller ports. Yes, this was in keeping with most consoles that predated the PS1 but it was hard to look at the Nintendo 64’s four controller ports and not be envious. To the surprise of no one, the PlayStation Classic also only has two ports because if it had any more, it wouldn’t be an authentic replica, now would it?
Truth be told, this isn’t really a big deal, as the PlayStation Classic is unlikely to have many (if any) games on it that even support four players, but as someone who remembers how annoying it was to have to buy a multi-tap peripheral in order to play PS1 sports games with more than one friend at a time, I would have welcomed Sony setting aside tradition in order to improve upon the original PlayStation design.
The PlayStation Classic is significantly smaller than Sony’s original grey box. According to Sony, “the mini console is 45% smaller than the original PlayStation,” and will even feature similar packaging in order to mimic the PS1’s 1995 North American launch. Of course, the Classic doesn’t have a working disc drive but the reset button suspends games and eject will change the virtual disc when you press it, which are admittedly pretty cool features. Speaking of design, Sony has gone with the original PlayStation and not the smaller, white PS One redesign released in July 2000. To be honest, I much prefer the look of the latter, but I get why Sony went with the original instead.
Unlike Nintendo, which revealed the full lineup of both the NES and SNES Classic when those systems were announced, Sony has only teased a few of the games they’ll be including with the PlayStation Classic when it launched this December. As of this writing, the only games Sony has revealed are Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ride Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. With the exception of Ridge Racer (c’mon, who really wants to play an 20+ year old racing game?), those are all classics and the rest of the 20 titles is sure to be comprised of the best of the best PS1 games. I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll see games like Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on there too, but it gets a bit trickier from there.
For instance, will any of the Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon titles be included? With Activision’s recent HD remakes of those franchise’s PS1 titles, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to play them in their original forms instead … but then, both Crash and Spyro are important parts of the PlayStation legacy, so you have to include them, right? It will be interesting to see which games Sony has picked once the full lineup is revealed, though I’m sure there will be more than a few disappointed Legend of Dragoon fans out there when that game inevitably doesn’t make the cut.
Unless Sony reveals otherwise, it’s a safe bet that the PlayStation Classic won’t have internet connectivity of any sort, meaning that there will be no way to (legally) add new games to its library. Being stuck with just 20 games is kind of a bummer but judging by what we saw from the modding community with the NES and SNES Classic, there will be ways of getting more games on there if you so desire. The one caveat is that you may not to be able to add that many games.
NES and SNES ROMs are quite small, so it was easy to add dozens of them to the NES and SNES Classics. Unfortunately, PS1 ROMS are anywhere from 12 to 25 times larger, which is probably why Sony is only including 20 games with the PlayStation Classic. Depending on how much leftover storage space is available, it may not even be possible to get any additional ROMs on the console, though we’ll have to wait until we have the finished product to know for sure. That being said, if you do decide to go that route and add ROMs, just remember that doing so will void your warranty.
The original PlayStation forced you to buy memory cards if you wanted to save any game data but even though the PlayStation Classic has memory card ports on it, they’re just there for aesthetics. More likely, Sony will take a page out of Nintendo’s book and add suspend points to each game, since it’s 2018 and we shouldn’t have to worry about trying to find a memory card that fell between the couch seat cushions.
What’s In The Box?
Pretty much what you’d expect. In addition to the console itself, each PlayStation Classic box will come with an HDMI cable, a USB cable, and two controllers. One notable item that is missing is an AC adapter, which means you’ll have to plug the console into a USB power source. Frankly, it’s borderline unacceptable that Sony isn’t including an AC adapter, especially considering both the NES and SNES Classic did (at least here in North America) and the fact that the PlayStation Classic is priced higher than either of those systems. I guess the AC money got allocated to the (admittedly nice) retro packaging instead.
Nope, that pretty much covers everything Sony has revealed about the PlayStation Classic so far. The announcement post over on the PlayStation Blog promises that more details will be shared in the coming months as we get nearer to release, so I’ll be sure to update this as more information is released. For more on the PlayStation 1, check out our countdown of the console’s 25 greatest games and, if you’re feeling generous, consider giving me a follow on Twitter at Nick_Steinberg. I follow back!