When it was unveiled to the world on September 18th, the PlayStation Classic, Sony’s attempt at making a mini-retro console in the vein of what Nintendo has done twice now, was announced to have 20 games with only five being announced at the start. Now, over a month later on October 29th, the final roster has been released (See below.) Let’s talk about them.
While it’s easy to look at the line-up and question why certain games are missing: there’s nothing from either the Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon series for example, it’s a collection that reasonably caters to a lot of different tastes; just like Nintendo’s own retro consoles. Like racing? There’s Ridge Racer Type 4. Mature content? Why not try Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil. Fighting more your style? Play Tekken 3 and Battle Arena Toshinden. Games like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Intelligent Qube are even there for those who want something that tests their brain.
From the second it was announced, everyone had an idea in their head of what a list of games that should appear on a retro PlayStation console, but desire and practicality rarely go hand in hand. Sony had their share of first party hits on their first console, but they were far from the first-party powerhouse they are today. When people think of the first PlayStation, it’s rarely of games from Sony first-party, but third-party blockbusters like Square’s Final Fantasy games, Konami’s Metal Gear Solid and Capcom’s Resident Evil among many others. Sony had ads that featured a man in a Crash Bandicoot costume yelling outside Nintendo with a bullhorn, and Crash, along with Spyro, became unofficial mascots of the PlayStation but Sony didn’t own either. Universal Interactive owned the rights to both, and the studios that made those games: Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games respectively, moved on to create new franchises when the PlayStation 2 came around instead of trying to remake their characters for a new generation like Nintendo does with Mario.
In order to assemble a PlayStation classic inexpensively, licensing had to come into play, and even that has its limits. Two games noticeably absent from the PlayStation classics list of games that go hand and hand with the original PlayStation: Gran Turismo and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater were never going to make it, sadly. In the case of one, cars have to be re-licensed and the other features music from recording artists that is well past its point of needing for contracts to be resigned as well. If anything, this retro console is a sad reminder about how far behind video games are when compared to movies in how they handle things like external licenses.
What’s surprising about the final list is that it’s easy to look past the disappointments in favor of some of the pleasant surprises. It’s great to see a game like Super Puzzle Fighter II, a game that no one probably thought would ever stood a chance make the cut, and games like Resident Evil as well as Metal Gear Solid show that Sony is willing to forgo a family-friendly only line-up to celebrate the style of game that helped differentiate them from companies like Nintendo when they were the scrappy new-comers. Should Nintendo make a Nintendo 64 classic, which, they more than likely are, it would be great for them to allow M-rated games on their console also and have games like the unique version of Resident Evil 2 that came to that console.
There’s even some value in the more curious inclusions when you stop and think about where the PlayStation brand was then and what it is now. It’s easy to say “huh?” aloud when you see games like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, the original Grand Theft Auto, even Revelations: Persona, instead of something more obvious, but these are a great way to attract new players to the idea of classic games. Younger players may not have nostalgia for franchises that defined the PlayStation when it was new, but they know of things like GTA, Rainbow Six and Persona because they’re defining PlayStation for them now. Not only is the PlayStation Classic line-up diverse in terms of the genres it represents, but also in how it’s spotlighting games that may have been minor hits once but are now invaluable franchises.
There’s sure to be more negative backlash about the PlayStation Classics’ line-up than what there’s celebration of it, which is understandable, but upon further inspection, a very diverse list of games has been assembled within the confines of what Sony can reasonably manage. Like it was with Nintendo’s NES and SNES retro consoles, there are people who will be disappointed and frustrated about why their favorite game wasn’t picked, but there’s enough genre diversity, favorites, surprises, and over-looked first-entries of now world wide favorite franchises worthy enough to be in the first-ever PlayStation Classic retro console.
PlayStation Classic Preloaded Games:
• Battle Arena Toshinden
• Cool Boarders 2
• Destruction Derby
• Final Fantasy VII
• Grand Theft Auto
• Intelligent Qube
• Jumping Flash
• Metal Gear Solid
• Mr Driller
• Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
• Resident Evil Director’s Cut
• Revelations: Persona
• Ridge Racer Type 4
• Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
• Syphon Filter
• Tekken 3
• Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
• Twisted Metal
• Wild Arms