With only a few weeks until it hits shelves, I popped into the PlayStation offices in Sydney today to give the upcoming PlayStation Classic a whirl. For better and worse, it handles just how I remember it from back in the day.
The console itself is tiny, probably half the size of its original form, but it comes with two controllers and pre-loaded with 20 games. Hitting the on button gifts you with the most powerful piece of nostalgia the PlayStation Classic can offer – the twinkling startup sound, which made me feel 9 years old again. Absolutely classic gear.
From there, the experience comes down to each of its 20 titles but for the most part, it’s a reminder of how far gaming has come, which is, uh, extremely far. For starters, the controllers are pre-Dual Shock, so they don’t have the twin control sticks we’re all used to these days, which makes it feel like a level of control has been taken away from you, though it doesn’t take too long to get used to just the D-pad.
The first game I chose to play was the original Grand Theft Auto, which is a top-down, pixelated version of the GTA you know and love today with an outdated control scheme. It took me quite a bit to get used to the handling, mainly because you have to hold X to run, which just felt totally foreign to me. Still, it plays as I remember it for the most part.
After that, I moved onto Intelligent Qube, a title which meant nothing to me when I saw it on the list of included games weeks ago but recognised as soon as I saw the thumbnail. In it, you control a little man on a sheet of cubes which roll towards you. You’re meant to wipe out all of the cubes without dying but I died continuously anyway, so I really have no fucking clue. If you get crushed, a man yells “AGAIN!” at you, which is encouraging, I guess.
I also played the snowboarding game, Cool Boarders, Abe’s Odyssey, which is still weird as hell, third-person shooter, Syphon Filter, and racing free-for-all, Destruction Derby. While each invoked its own sense of nostalgia as I played, they all had a common theme, which was difficulty. Not in a traditional sense, though, I just felt like most of the times I died it was because of janky controls or slow button response rather than my own error. I’m not trying to shit on the console, though, that’s honestly just how the games were in that era, which is easy to forget more than 20 years later.
What you get with the PlayStation Classic is a true experience, all the way down to the messiness of the 32-bit era of gaming. Hell, some of the games that had a couple of disks back in the day will still ask you to swap disks at the same point, meaning you need to physically get up and hit a button on the console to trigger it. I love this inclusion, but others may not.
Early 3D titles were groundbreaking at the time, but they tend to age a little worse than their 8-bit and 16-bit counterparts on the NES and SNES classics. The controls are tricky, the edges are jagged, and the pixels are huge, but that’s why I love it. Embrace the jank and remember the good times, babyyyy.
The PlayStation Classic hits shelves on the 3rd of December and will set you back $149.