5 Things the PlayStation Classic Desperately Needs

5 Things the PlayStation Classic Desperately Needs
Image provided by Sony
Following in Nintendo’s footsteps, Sony is finally putting out their own legacy system. The PlayStation Classic will release in time for Christmas, costing $100 and having twenty games pre-loaded. Only five titles have been announced so far: Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, Jumping Flash, and, hey look at that, Wild Arms!

This is actually one of the first legacy systems I am interested in. As someone who is finally sitting down with Parasite Eve, it’s amazing how some of these titles have held up in quality twenty years later. Sony has an incredible library of both big hits like Twisted Metal 2 and smaller titles like Wild 9 to choose from so it shouldn’t lack for titles.

However, the legacy system model is deeply broken, especially considering that the people interested in such things probably already have access to illegal emulators if they want them. Not to mention the fact that unlike Nintendo, Sony is pretty good about keeping their online store up to date, so it’s not like these games haven’t been accessible before.

What does a PlayStation Classic truly need to break the mold? I’m glad you asked.

5. PS Store Reciprocity

I’m willing to bet solid money that anyone who buys a PlayStation Classic will find it’s loaded with at least one game they’ve already bought in the PS Store on either the PS3 or PS4. I just bought the remaster of Final Fantasy IX on the latter myself despite owning it on the former. It’s a great buy, truly the best version of that game, but paying $20 for something I already own from the people I bought it from before does grate on my nerves.

It’s a safe assumption that the PlayStation Classic will have an updatable library and maybe even be connected to the PS Store. It would be very nice if we could at least get credits or discounts when there is overlap. Since Final Fantasy VIII is rather inexplicably missing from the new dearth of announced Square Enix Switch titles it’ll probably remain a Sony exclusive, and the Classic is the perfect place for it. Assuming that it happens, I have a receipt for that game on the PS3. Would it kill Sony to somehow recognize that fact and maybe offer me a few bucks credit at their store? This is a wider problem than the Classic, but it would be a good place to start addressing it.

4. A Few Peripherals

The Classic charges off a USB cable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; I have a million plugs lying around. I understand that not including an AC adapter is helping to keep the price low, but it remains annoying nonetheless. As far as I can tell from the press release, said plugs (which you can buy at the bloody dollar store) aren’t even included, so you can’t play the thing right out of the box.

I don’t expect a legacy system to compete with the Switch or even the 3DS, but the Classic screams for a travel package that includes a screen. A light-weight accessory screen would be a nice optional buy. Barring that, there are already apps like iDisplay that let you use your mobiles and tablets as monitors. Developing a specialty one for the Classic seems like it would be fairly easy, though buying an HDMI-to-Lightning is a pain in the ass and damned costly if you go through anyone but Walmart.

Finally, the press releases show wired controllers. In this day and age? The fact that Sony hasn’t developed their own universal controller is nuts. There should be no credible reason I can’t use my PS4 controller on the Classic.

3. Themes, and Lots of Them

I like themes, but I rarely buy them. Part of it is because the default home music is one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever heard, but really because it’s just not worth the money.

That goes out the window with a legacy system, though. People are buying this because of the brand, and that should be played to the hilt. Each game that comes with the Classic should have its own optional desktop theme. It seems like a hell of a freebie for not a lot of effort, especially for games that have iconic art or soundtracks. The whole point of owning something like the Classic is to immerse yourself in a slice of gaming history. Speaking of…

2. Automatic Manuals and Commercials

The video game manual is kind of a lost art form. I can’t even remember the last time that saw one in a new release. The PlayStation era was near the last gasp of that.

In addition to desktop themes, scans of classic manuals to accompany the games would be wonderful. Most of the work has already been done by sites like GamesDatabase.Org anyway.

Barring that, classic trailers for PlayStation games are always a laugh and are easy additions to the extras. Anyone remember the baffling ENOS LIVES ad campaign? The more that legacy systems are thought of as Criterion Collections for epochs of gaming the better they’ll be.

1. PlayStation Aesthetic Indie Games

Depressing at it is, I’ve gotten old enough to see early polygons establish themselves as an art aesthetic. The neo-retro gaming movement is a strange but vital beast. Who knew that live-footage games of all things would make a comeback? If you haven’t played The Bunker, by the way, you should.

My point is that there are a lot of games being made today that are clearly modeled off the PlayStation One style. Sony should try and build on that, create an active community that adheres to standards of the Classic to make it a vital component. Think of it as a video game arthouse theater.

Some indie titles could easily have been part of the original system to look at them. Off the top of my head, I can name Revolution 60, Catmouth Island, and Drift Stage. Since the PlayStation was arguably the crib of survival horror on consoles, you’d definitely want to invite game makers like Puppet Combo (Babysitter Bloodbath) and Kitty Horrorshow (Anatomy) to the party.

Ideally the Classic should not just be a glorified emulator. It should encompass what the PlayStation meant as a medium for artistic expression. It should curate, not just sit passively like a bunch of jewel cases in a milk crate at a garage sale. Making the Classic an experience that fully celebrates the past in multiple ways while also offering glimpses of what that influence did to the next generation of artists through carefully-selected indie titles would help Sony fix the legacy model and hold its place as a brand worth identifying with across decades. Gaming needs that a lot more than it needs to buy Crash Bandicoot for the Nth time.

The PlayStation Classic releases on December 3.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner