Review: Sony's PlayStation Classic is nostalgic fun, but not as great as it deserves to be

Sony has boarded the nostalgia console train with the PlayStation Classic, which is now just days away from release in New Zealand.

It comes after Nintendo enjoyed success with its NES Classic and SNES Classic releases, while Sega gave it a go with its Mega Drive Classic.

The PlayStation Classic is like catnip to lovers of the original 1994 console, but it's not quite the definitive package fans may have been hoping for.

For people of a certain age who grew up playing computer and video games, the original PlayStation was a seminal release. It's a curious experience jumping back into the console's old games and seeing how they compare to our memories of them - and appreciating just how far gaming has come since then.

The Classic device itself is modelled exactly on the original PlayStation One console, with carefully recreated details that will greatly please the geekier fan. It's also incredibly small and light - lighter than a smartphone, even.

Plugging in the Classic and hearing that original boot-up sound as the old-school logo flashes up on screen will give you goosebumps. It's mint. It's audio-visual ecstasy and watching it on YouTube or whatever is not as awesome as doing it with this thing is.

Once it's all go, the Classic's home menu is super basic. Sony hasn't bothered with many updated features or options, it's just a simple as menu to navigate the old games, which are presented just as they were back in the mid '90s.

It is a bit of a bare-bones experience and PlayStation fans may be expecting more than what the Classic offers. You can't rewind games or apply visual filters, like you can on the SNES Classic, for example.

Some people might take issue with the controllers. They're the bog-standard original PS One controllers - no wireless functionality, no thumbsticks, no bells or whistles. These are authentic recreations of what people used in the mid '90s.

The game selection is a sore point with a few PlayStation fans I've spoken to, but this is a fairly subjective gripe and Sony probably faced licensing issues around a bunch of titles, leaving them out of reach.

I would've loved the original Need for Speed over Ridge Racer 4, and the lack of Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo is a bit sad. But the New Zealand version of the console's selection - listed in full below - ticks a lot of the boxes I was hoping for.

The original Resident Evil is the jewel in this crown, for me; but it's great to check back in with other games that sucked up countless hours of mine in the '90s. There's some truly excellent titles in this little machine - Grand Theft Auto, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid and Twisted Metal are other personal favourites.

Comparatively, the Sega Mega Drive classic release has 80 games packed onto its New Zealand version - four times the amount of the PlayStation Classic.

But to be honest, I don't think I'll sit around and clock these old games again, anyway. There's so many modern, state-of-the-art games coming out, they'll be where the most gaming hours go over the next few months.

The PlayStation Classic is more a novelty to dip into for shorter stints every now and then, for a brief but gratifying trip down memory lane - which is even better with a sibling or old mate you used to play with. For that, it's great fun - it's just a shame there's not a bit more to it.

PlayStation Classic game selection (NZ):

  • 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
  • R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil: Director's Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

The console is set for release in New Zealand on December 3.