Gaming

Faithful but unexciting re-creation

The bundled PlayStation controllers lack joysticks, affecting gameplay in certain titles.
The bundled PlayStation controllers lack joysticks, affecting gameplay in certain titles.

Sony's PlayStation Classic omits some classic games, which will disappoint fans

Sony is playing the nostalgia card with its latest console, the PlayStation Classic.

The Japanese gaming giant is taking cues from rival Nintendo, which has, in recent years, hawked mini replicas of its game consoles from the 1980s and 90s to great success.

The PlayStation Classic faithfully recreates the 1994 PlayStation console. But it is 45 per cent smaller - its plastic shell houses a tiny computer with a software emulator to run PlayStation games.

It comes with an HDMI interface for video output and uses the microUSB port for power. Sony, though, is penny-pinching here by bundling only the micro-USB cable and not the power adaptor.

At its front are two USB ports for the bundled PlayStation controllers. These are replicas of the original controllers, not the DualShock variant with analogue joysticks introduced later in the PlayStation's life cycle. The lack of joysticks hinders gameplay in certain titles, such as the Ridge Racer Type 4 racing game and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six shooter game.

There is no CD-ROM drive for games, unlike the original. The disc lid at the top is merely for show. Instead, 20 PlayStation games, including classics such as Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid, are included in the console.

Like other such retro-inspired consoles, the list of games is fixed. You cannot load your own games and there will not be any updates.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $139

    CONNECTORS: HDMI, micro-USB (power), 2 x USB (for game controllers)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 2/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

With only 20 games to represent the illustrious PlayStation game catalogue, Sony will inevitably disappoint some fans. Notable omissions include Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider and Gran Turismo.

The games are presented in a simple carousel-like interface. Each game gets its own virtual memory card to store your game progress.

Switching from one game to another is convenient - press the Reset button on the console to return to the main interface to pick another title. Doing so also creates a restore point (one for each game, compared with four such snapshots for each game on Nintendo's classic consoles) that lets you return instantly to the previous game state.

But Sony could have done more. There are just a handful of settings. For instance, the display is fixed at 720p resolution. Most games play in a letterbox format, without any scaling, anti-aliasing or screen-size options.

Blown up on a big television set, the games look pixellated and blurry and do not play as smoothly as you would expect, given the advancement in computing power.

Apparently, the lower frame rates on some games are because they are based on the European PAL version that runs slower than the NTSC version. Hence, even those with nostalgia-tinted glasses may struggle to enjoy revisiting some of these games.

•Verdict: A serviceable, perfunctory attempt at recreating the original PlayStation console.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'Faithful but unexciting re-creation'. Print Edition | Subscribe