Sony finally unveiled the PlayStation Classic games list, and while it’s not horrendous by any means, it’s one of the most uninspired lists of titles one could have imagined. Expectations were sky high when they initially unveiled Final Fantasy 7, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms for the miniature console, but the 15 additional games aren’t quite as exciting. Sure, there are some true classics such as Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil Director’s Cut, and a pleasant surprise in Revelations: Persona, but also included are games that likely nobody were asking for like the puzzle game Intelligent Qube, the original Rayman, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six.
Honestly, who wants to play Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 20 years after release? Not only did it receive terrible reviews on PlayStation when it originally released in 1999 (the average review score was less than 50 percent), but it has only become worse with age due to first-person shooters becoming reliant on dual analog sticks (something the PlayStation Classic doesn’t have). I cannot even begin to fathom how this managed to become one of the 20 games to be included on the system, and it’s a complete waste of a slot.
It’s one thing to deal with an antiquated control scheme for a classic game like Resident Evil. Nobody truly loves tank controls, and they’re 100 percent a product of a bygone era, but it’s still a worthwhile look at how game design has changed over the years. The same argument can’t be made for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, a mediocre at best port of a far better PC game that offers zero value beyond name recognition. Even the Game Boy Color version of the game received better reviews than the PlayStation iteration. This is worse than Nintendo inexplicably releasing Urban Champion (quite possibly their worst first-party game ever made) every time it sees an excuse to.
PlayStation Classic Games List is Missing So Many Titles
While the PlayStation Classic games list is disappointing in and of itself, it’s more aggravating when you take into account how many fantastic games were left off that list. It makes sense that some of the games synonymous with the system such as Spyro the Dragon or Crash Bandicoot didn’t get on the list due to the current gen remakes, but there’s no logical explanation as to why Tomb Raider didn’t make the cut. Sure, the game might be terrible in 2018, but people are coming to these packages for nostalgia and that game sold millions of copies.
That leads to the one huge problem with the list of titles: it simply doesn’t appeal to any one section of the people who would be interested in buying the PlayStation Classic. It doesn’t feature the most recognizable games of the era, nor does it focus on rare titles that only die-hard collectors have legally played. Sony didn’t pick the titles that have held up the most over the past 20 years, and they certainly didn’t cater towards fans of certain genres as the list is all over the place. By essentially trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, Sony has managed to do the exact opposite.
Honestly, it’s a no-win scenario that Sony has placed themselves within as there’s no way to encapsulate a console as rich and varied as the original PlayStation in just 20 games.
How Do We Fix This Issue?
In their current incarnation, these retro consoles only serve as a slice of nostalgia that companies put out in order to make an easy profit during the holiday season. This seems like such a missed opportunity, as they should serve as so much more. They could be a way of preserving gaming history while also helping everyone involved make money, and help spread an entire generation of gaming to future eras.
The most logical fix (although it’s clearly too late for it to be applied to the PlayStation Classic) would be to make these systems into their own platform. Add in an online interface with its own PlayStation Store where players could then purchase additional classic titles that they would want to play. Do you love role-playing games? Pick up the original Suikoden games, Lunar, SaGa Frontier, Xenogears, and Final Fantasy Tactics at $5 per game. A little additional infrastructure and hardware cost could possibly make Sony a lot more money in the long run.
Of course, that entire business model is also dependent upon people caring about classic games. Maybe Sony and Nintendo are correct that the best course of action is to simply put out a device, get one seasonal push of sales, and then forget about it. I don’t think that’s the case, as too many people that grew up playing these games do not care about them now. But it is quite telling to see how little Nintendo has cared about the Virtual Console in the past five years. It went from being one of the Wii’s biggest selling points to being largely nonexistent on Nintendo Switch. Either way, I believe companies should feel obligated to ensure that gaming history lives on rather than fade away. Hopefully, that dream isn’t too far from reality.