December 3, 2018 will mark the return of the original PlayStation on the home console market and yet one cannot feel a sense of being conned into nostalgia when thinking of this plug n’ play release. Nintendo by far has proven that retro is currently in fashion, and their two recent high-quality systems, the NES and SNES Classic consoles, have given fans every drop of top-notch revisionism they could afford a long time customer. Sony seems determined to get into the histrionic video game system market with their interpretation of a tug on the heartstrings at home vintage system. But a closer look at this monstrosity reveals a deeper look into a company that has produced some of the greatest game of all time maligning themselves with big money incentives. At a 99.99 dollar price tag, the PlayStation Classic is missing some key benchmarks in Sony’s library that could have made this holiday release memorable.
What Ever Happened to the RPGs?
What made the PS1 such an iconic console is its library of Role Playing games that defined a generation of 90’s gamers and realigned the RPG fanboy from Nintendo to the Sony brand name. The PS1 is a powerhouse of JRPG’s which stretches far beyond the Final Fantasy franchise and the inclusion of only two JRPG titles, FF 7 and Wild Arms, seems to undermine the exceptionalism of the originality of the system. Legend of Dragoon, Suikoden, and Grandia are just a few of the critically acclaimed defining titles that are missing from the PS Classic’s library and surely deserve representation over the simplistic Puzzle Fighter that is included as a pack in title. Wild Arms is surely a fantastic RPG experience but compared to its predecessors in the genre, it barely shines a light. What the SNES Classic does that the PS Classic does not do, is give consumers a milieu of different benchmark games that touch upon a variety of styles that helped propel its system into classical status. There is nothing wrong with patching together a variety of genres together into one bundle, but when these respective titles are subpar cash grabbing caches it undermines the substance of its platform. With its library of pack-in titles, the PS Classic engages in that very same malignancy. A gap, so to speak, exists between all filler and no thriller that plagues this retro revisionism Sony release.
Why Are Crash and Spyro Missing?
Just as astonishing are the absences of franchise landmarks Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. Granted, both are due for high definition remakes on current gen consoles soon and an apparent redundancy would affect a cross-generational marketing campaign. But regardless, these were two franchises that helped propel the original Sony PlayStation into a stratosphere dominated by Nintendo and Sega’s duopoly. Furthermore, the Medieval Series is shockingly missing from the 20 pack in titles. All three were the epitome of Sony’s first foray into the home console market. A trilogy of franchises that gave the Sony brand name a leg up in the video game market. It truly is disgraceful to disengage the Sony fanbase from its progenitors. Software that formed the bridge between the Nintendo dominated market and a new parent company has been burnt to the ground. The PS Classic engages in a revisionism of its own history rather than a factual retelling of its past glories. Gut-wrenching truly when one considers the meager creative genius of its holiday pack in titles. As a retro gamer and Sony fanboy, it is devastating to think that the Commodore 64 Mini has more substance than the console that videotaped Crash Bandicoot calling out Super Mario at his front door back in the 90’s.
Has Lara Croft Gone Lost in Her Tomb?
On a side note, the Tomb Raider series is sickeningly absent from the 20 pack in titles on the PS Classic. Lara Croft, the female counterpoint to Indiana Jones, epitomized everything nuanced about the original PlayStation. She is the first female protagonist to receive an actual centerfold in magazine adds and also the only, thus far, to receive a film adaptation. It seems unfathomable that such a mainstay in the Sony lineup is missing in a rogues gallery of Sony Classics. Lara Croft is the epitome of Sony’s originality. A character that embodies the generation X’s break of tradition. With a medium dominated by male-centered protagonists, Lara Croft symbolized all that the new video game company hoped to achieved as a first party producer. Her absence feels more like a canyon rather than a gap in respect for those who helped launch the new company at the time. Sony made a huge judgment in error by not including a single title from the original trilogy of Lara Croft outings on the PS1. For a 100 dollars, the PS Classic should be a history lesson on what a console had done in the face of adversity rather than a quick cash grab on a retro phenomenon.
Where Do Fanboys Go From Here
Now that a niche hobby of collecting vintage video games has hit the mainstream it seems fair to ask, where do enthusiasts go from here? It seems unfair to ask someone who already has such budget titles as Syphon Filter to spend 100 dollars on engaging a company in highway robbery solely on the basis of nostalgia. If Sony is serious about revisiting its own history, then a proper patchwork of its true landmark titles should have been packed in rather then only a half step towards giving longtime fans their due respect. Just like the 1990’s, Sony has its competitors. The NES Classic, with all its flaws, still delivered its own bit of fanboy service. Sony does not even come close to what its plug n’ play competitors have given. After close inspection, one can easily see the half steps the Japanese company has taken in producing a retro gaming experience. If this holiday season is marked by anything, it is what not to accept as a consumer. It sickens anyone to think that a system that single-handedly put JRPG’s on the American market has delivered a subpar product containing only two true gems in the genre.
The Lack of Survival Horror is Truly Horrifying
What else can be said about the survival horror genre and its relationship with Sony? The PlayStation Classic makes it obvious that Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, and Parasite Eve have no place in its histrionic homage. It is mind-boggling to think that only the first Resident Evil graces the built-in titles of a console so known for making the survival horror genre a household name. Sony is synonymous with breaking the conventions established by its contemporaries and the steps it took in propelling horror in video games to the mass audience is astounding. Rather than including a Street Fighter game that has already graced every retro plug n’ play console, Sony should have focused on porting software that are landmark killer apps in their library instead of cheap brand name recognition.
Even with a skimpy lineup of first-rate titles, the PS Classic lacks any hardware that can expand upon its built-in library. What one sees is what one gets. No USB port, no online functionality nor any updates mean that its limitations are its abilities. Nothing more can be expected from a product that already appears to be all flash and no substance. As a gamer, I urge all consumers to avoid such flash in the pants releases that look to prey upon those who seek a return to video game purity. If you want a truly retro experience, purchase a C64 mini or one of the classics produced by Nintendo. The PS1 is by far one of the greatest consoles ever created and nothing this subpar rehashing could diminish that truth. But without a top quality built-in library, no room for expansions, and lack of genre variety, the PlayStation Classic is just one of many plug n’ play consoles that will grace the holiday market. A shame when one can easily see the grandeur that was the Sony PlayStation.