First, here are the games that will be included.
Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Final Fantasy VII
Grand Theft Auto
Metal Gear Solid
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
Resident Evil Director's Cut
Ridge Racer Type 4
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Not a bad assortment, but not a great one either. Unfortunately, they are all you’ll get. Sony has confirmed that the system will not enable you to download new games, and that also kills my longshot hope of a legacy system maybe embracing newer games that adhere to a PSX aesthetic. It appears in reviews to be a barebones release without skins, manuals or a trophy system.
More disappointing is the fact that some titles are the inferior PAL versions. That matters because PAL runs at 50hz where NTSC runs at 60hz. Two of the games, Toshinden and Tekken are on that list, and speed is very important in fighters. It’s ludicrous in 2018 that something that has long ago been fixed in digital releases is being trotted out in this showcase product. It’s going to be a nasty shock to American gamers used to the superior versions.
If you still have a PlayStation 3, virtually the entire lineup is available from their digital store (The PS4 still lags behind porting the classics). Of the 20 games on the legacy system, only five cannot be downloaded: Battle Arena Toshinden, Grand Theft Auto, Intelligent Qube, Revelations: Persona and Tekken 3.
Of those, there are some reasonable substitutes for sale. Tekken and Tekken 2 are adequate swaps, with the second being a favorite of mine. Persona 2 is just as good as Revelations. The fighting game selection from that era is mostly missing in the PS Store. There’s no Rival Schools, Ehrgeiz or Soul Edge, though you can get an acceptable alternative for Toshinden in Bloody Roar or its sequel. Plus, there’s always Darkstalkers 3.That just leaves Intelligent Qube and GTA, and I’m willing to bet only the latter will be missed.
Most of these games are priced at $5.99 with a few marquee titles like Final Fantasy VII going for $9.99. That means you can pick up three-quarters of the lineup in better formats for $106. For $30-$50 more you could add glaring omissions like Spyro the Dragon, Dino Crisis, MediEvil, Myst, Soul Reaver, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and/or Tomb Raider.
Of course, without a PS3 none of this will work, but if you truly have a nostalgia gamer in your life then getting one is one of the best things you can do. They retail used around $125 these days. For that you get access to most of the PSX library for dirt cheap, online connectivity, a better menu and a ton of used PS3 discs for usually a few bucks wherever secondhand media is sold.
Having a better online store with great access to their library has always been where Sony outshines Nintendo, and it was one of the things that gave me hope for the PlayStation Classic. Instead, it’s a rather soulless, empty mockery of that era’s legacy. Get an old PS3 out and make a mix-tape of games as a gift instead. Print out a binder worth of FAQs. Make a project of it. Put more effort into the idea than Sony did.