Wednesday, May 15, 2019

PlayStation Classic

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. This week we were supposed to have Gorgeous Ben Reynold's guest writing for us but a few things came up so that one is still in the oven so instead we'll be talking about the classic console party and more specifically the one that showed up with the non-alcoholic beer and trivial pursuit and ruined it for everyone. This week we will be talking about the PlayStation Classic. Lets get right to it.

Classic consoles seem like such an obvious idea and they are one that several third parties and shitty chinese knock off companies started doing way back in the mid 2000's so it still amazes me that it took so long for the heavy weights of the industry to become so interested. But once the apex predators perked their ears up and decided to do the idea dirty a market for these tiny plug and play consoles appeared seemingly overnight. Nintendo launched the NES classic in late 2016 then the SNES classic in late 2017 and consumers were absolutely bloodthirsty for a nostalgia trip that they were sure wouldn’t remind them of the fact that games from way back when weren't nearly as good as they remember. I should know I'm one of the idiots that bought both of those consoles.

But even after riding that short bus two years in a row I was still a believer in the concept and saw these things as fun little collectors items with ever increasing price tags that I just didn’t know how to say no to. In September of 2018 I woke up one morning to a stupid news story on reddit that Sony had a classic console of their own in development, like the dummy I am I immediately preordered this thing at the low low price of only $100 while only knowing five of the twenty games that would ship on the console none of those being a Spyro or Crash game. Then in October the full game list was revealed and it was what one could easily call…the gaming equivalent of a flaming bad of dog shit left on your neighbors porch; there were a few bangers making for a fun experience but ultimately you're still left with a burnt up bad of dog shit.

I cancelled my preorder and within weeks of it's release the PlayStation classic was $60 which was still to much for even someone as stupid as myself to pay for this console. But then a couple months ago when walking through Best Buy I saw the Classic console on sale for the fire sale price of $40 and still nobody in that store was stupid enough to buy it…nobody but me that is!

So here we are, these are my thoughts on the PlayStation classic.

From the moment I opened the box the console was practically screaming at me about what an idiot I was for having made such a stupid purchase. This product is without a doubt the single worst unboxing experience I have ever had. The packaging is a box inside a box inside a box with the console mounted front and center and once removed you then have to carefully unfold the box so as not to ruin it (I did buy this thing primarily as a collectors item after all) to be able to reach in and pull out the controllers and cables from their Anne Frank-esque hiding place under where the console was so proudly displayed. After what is no joke a multi-minute unboxing I finally had everything out and was ready to set it all up. Setup was easy but then again so is disappointment so there are a few things easy things the PlayStation classic really nailed.

The game selection on this thing is terrible! The exceptions being Final Fantasy 7, Resident Evil, Tekken 3, Twisted Metal and of course Metal Gear Solid. There are twenty preloaded games and none of them (aside from Jumping Flash) are particularly bad, they're just not representative of what a transformative console the original PlayStation was for the medium of video games. When I think back to my PlayStation 1 days I think of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Team Racing, Gex, Ape Escape, 102 Dalmatians, Toy Story 2, Star Wars Episode 1, Gran Turismo, Tony Hawk, Tomb Raider, Need For Speed, and Driver. It was a console full of iconic games that could have made for one of the best classic console offerings to date but instead we got to play Destruction Derby, Cool Boarders 2, and Intelligent Qube. Again I'm not saying those are bad games but it just leaves me with the feeling that Sony played the JV squad and benched the varsity team and expected nobody to notice.

I've said it before in casual conversation and I think I have even said it on our podcast, but games from the fifth generation of consoles have aged incredibly poorly and the PlayStation 1 games in particular have aged especially poorly due to the consoles relative lack of power when compared to the Nintendo 64. In my opinion console generations come in cycles of two, one generation to introduce something revolutionary and another generation to refine it. The NES was all about bringing games back into the mainstream with 2D games and while I don’t want to step on anyone's nostalgia feelings most NES games are pretty bad and very obviously a result of developers learning something new. But then the SNES was the NES but just better and devs really had a handle on what they were doing and were able to fully realize the vision that was started on the NES. Then the PlayStation and N64 came out and we were back at square one but with 3D games. Most games from that first generation of 3D consoles weren't good and they have aged horribly. Making a PlayStation classic and filling it with games that are anything but the absolute best the console had to offer is willfully putting all the worst parts of the fifth generation of consoles under a microscope for everyone to remember in 2018 and 2019.

But it's not all bad. These classic consoles are intended to be a conversation piece as much as a game console. They're for a short trip down memory lane not a primary method of consuming video games. And part of that is presentation. The NES classic and the SNES classic were remarkably representative of their larger counter parts making them feel much more authentic and the controllers were almost one to one recreations of the  originals. At the launch of the NES and SNES classics I was really only disappointed by one thing and that was the controller ports. It looked like Nintendo had a ton of the old connectors used in the bottom of the Wii mote just lying around and repurposed them for the classic consoles. It was a very minor flaw but a flaw none the less. Not only did Sony match the build quality of and accuracy to the originals that Nintendo offered but they actually outdid Nintendo in one aspect by using a standard USB A connector for the controllers and then building a custom plastic housing to make it look like the original proprietary plug when plugged into the console. It's a really cool attention to detail that I wish had gone into every aspect of the product.

Would I recommend the PlayStation classic? Well that depends. At $100 the answer is a firm HELL no. At $60 I would say you better have a lot of disposable income and very little desire for this thing to do anything meaningful for you. At $40 I would ask if you’ve ever played Metal Gear Solid before and if the answer is no I would then ask if you have a GameCube and can buy The Twin Snakes on that, if your answer is still no I would say go ahead and buy a PlayStation classic for Metal Gear Solid alone.  Other than playing Metal Gear Solid for the first time ever or making a stupid video essay for 50 some subscribers on YouTube there is no good reason to buy this stupid console. 

So the PlayStation classic that Sony released turned out to be a huge missed opportunity. Had it had better games and access to a dualshock controller it could have been a really great console but Sony was clearly just trying to push out a quick cash grab as opposed to making something that could stand as an honorable tribute to a great console. It's a shame it had to happen this way but now that the only really heavy hitter that can be fairly easily emulated left to get a classic iteration is the N64 at least we don’t have to worry about Sony leaving another flaming bag of dog shit in the form of the PS2 classic in our local retailers.

Were you as stupid as me and bought a PlayStation classic? Let me know how the fooled you in the comments down below. While youre down there let me know what you think of this classic console fad and if we have come to the end of it or not.

Don’t forget to check out our website for everything we do all in one spot. You should also subscribe to our gaming podcast HardReset and our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to, you can find both of those on most major podcast services. I will be back next week talking about why I don’t preorder games so until then just go play some games.

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