Nostalgia is an ugly beast, it plunges us into melancholy, transfigures memories and above all makes us fill the house with objects which, often, we did not really miss.
Here PlayStation Classic it is just one of them. The writer does not start biased on everything that is retrogaming, on the contrary, those who know me know that I have a good number of consoles from the 80s and 90s at home and that I love Nintendo Switch madly not so much for Mario and Zelda, as for the possibility to play the best "2D" proposals, whether they are classic or unpublished. Attention then, in this review I am not interested in discussing the "moral question" concerning the open source emulator that drives PlayStation Classic nor comparing it with what the emulation scene tout court offers. I am interested in judging the offer and how it is proposed. In this sense, the small Sony console immediately stands behind the mini Nintendo and even the half fiasco (if we look at the cold numbers) of NeoGeo mini.
But first the positive notes starting with something as well done as it is irrelevant, even if collectors will know how to appreciate it: the packaging. PlayStation Classic it is located inside a real cardboard matryoshka, an external casket, a perfect reproduction of the original one that conceals the small console, the two USB pads, the HDMI cable (two meters long) inside with a "flower" opening. ) and a USB Micro - A for power. Everything as per the manual, in short, there is no separate power supply. Here, however, there was the first hitch. Normally NES and SNES Mini work very well if powered from the USB ports of my TV, a Sony Full HD from 2014. With PlayStation Classic there was no way to power it in the same way given the 5V required. Never mind, I used a USB socket on my iPhone and I solved the problem. Once turned on, selected the language, a screen shows us how the console is “used”.
Reset allows us to return to the game selection screen (the only way to do it) and at the same time to save the game in real time. This option is really comfortable and intuitive, too bad that each game has only one quick save slot, it being understood that a virtual Memory Card is always available for those who want to save the old way. A limitation that makes little sense, also in light of the four slots on the SNES Mini. Unfortunately, however, the software flaws do not end there. PlayStation Classic does not offer any type of video filter to try to smooth out the primordial, indeed prehistoric 3D shot on video, perhaps on a generously sized 4K TV. In short, there is little to be happy in this sense. 4: 3 image with beautiful black bands on the sides, a resolution and aliasing that leave no way out and that often do not allow us to distinguish well the depth and the objects in the background, also thanks to a video quality, which in the absence of a better technical terminology we could define too "washed out". In short, time has not been a gentleman with the first three-dimensional games with a maximum resolution of 576i that arrive on our TVs with an upscaled 720p without any embellishments whatsoever. Worse still, nine games run at 50Hz, slower than their American counterparts. The 1994 operation also continues with the need to get up from the sofa to change discs by pushing the (non) opening button of the CD insertion door. And again to stay on the subject of "old times", but this is certainly not a defect, the absence of analog sticks on the pads can be disconcerting initially, since our fingers will automatically go looking for them. The result is that in the game you have to actually forget habits that have been settled for several years. And that a gem like Ape Escape obviously cannot be present.
However, where PlayStation Classic fails completely the nostalgia operation is in the games list (almost all in English) which, either for a matter of rights, or for remastered releases or upcoming releases, is really deficient. There are some classics, above all Metal Gear Solid, Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil Director's Cut, and certainly well-loved titles such as Siphon Filter and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee stand out, for the rest, however, there are serious shortcomings. It is impossible here to make an examination game by game, but for example there is no football title, there is Ridge Racer Type 4 and there is no Gran Turismo, there are the unrecognized Mr. Driller and Intelligent Qube, not there is Silent Hill and there are the very aged and forgettable Jumping Flash, Cool Boarders 2 and, incredible but true, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six! It goes without saying that a play list is by its nature the least objective thing possible in the judgment stage, especially when nostalgia is involved, but it's hard to talk about a playground that focuses on the best PlayStation was able to offer at the time. And that given the visual limitations does not encourage much to an occasional use, much less to a continuous one to rediscover in their entirety pearls of the past. Without forgetting that most of them are really indigestible due to a gameplay that, as for the technical side, is so "ancient" as to be sometimes almost irritating.
However, Sony was not wrong in the build quality. PlayStation Classic is a really nice object, tiny (just under half of the original one) but solid at the same time. The first ignition is truly a leap to the heart, with that logo and above all that jingle that take us back over twenty years. The pads are perfect in this sense, small and light like the vintage ones. We would have liked maybe a wire a little longer than the present one and a half meters. Venial sin anyway.
Ultimately this PlayStation Classic did not really satisfy me. Probably the consoles that for the first time brought three-dimensional graphics into our homes have aged a lot, and also for this reason the technological backwardness is felt a lot, both from a technical point of view and from a real game mechanics. What did not happen with the 8 and 16 bit consoles, thanks to a still valid two-dimensional setting, which despite its intrinsic limitations has managed to keep its charm and dynamics unaltered.
But all this discussion can do nothing against the power of nostalgia. From this point of view Sony has created a truly flawless product, a fetish of the past perfect in reproducing the sounds and colors of the 90s. Too bad for a playful offer below expectations at a very high cost, one hundred euros.