PlayStation Classic, eh?
How about that PlayStation Classic, eh? It’s no kind of surprise that this thing exists. Following Nintendo’s success with their Classic Edition line, it was only a matter of time before Sony went ahead and created their own version. Honestly, that’s kind of been Sony’s MO for quite some time. Nintendo 64’s got an analog stick, now the PlayStation controller has 2 of them. StarFox 64 comes with a Rumble Pak, say hello to the Dual Shock. The Wii sells like hotcakes, PlayStation Move is born, and so forth. Thing is, when Sony “copies” Nintendo (it’s up for debate if Nintendo’s products actually influenced Sony’s business decisions, but there’s no getting around the fact that that’s the perception) they usually wind up with a solid, if not actually superior product. The Move was ridiculous, but there’s no arguing that it functioned better than the Wii Remote ever did, and I don’t think there’s anyone out there who’s going to tell you the N64 controller with a Rumble Pak sticking out of the back of it is better than the Dual Shock. So when they announced the PlayStation Classic, I expected pretty great things. I’m not a fan of this generation of games by any stretch, but there’s no denying that there are some quality titles to be revisited, and that there’s plenty of nostalgia surrounding the original PSX. But the final lineup of games for the PlayStation Classic was revealed earlier this week, and I was honestly a little shocked.
This list of games isn’t necessarily what I’d call bad, but it strikes me as a little, well, thoughtless. One of the things that helped make the NES Classic Edition such a runaway success was the game selection. The titles on the box were appealing to people who haven’t touched a video game system in years in addition to the Nintendo fans like myself who eat this kind of stuff up. For both of their Classic Edition consoles, the game lineup consisted of a selection of what most would consider the quintessential games for that particular platform (within reason). Most of the licensed stuff was missing for obvious reasons, but the big ones were there. Each one represented a solid slice of what made those systems special in the first place. The PlayStation Classic simply does not do that. There aren’t a ton of big-name PlayStation classics that are out of reach for a company like Sony, and without Nintendo dropping another Classic Edition console on the market this year, the timing for the PlayStation Classic couldn’t be better. But with these games, I just don’t see it moving the way they want it to, and I honestly think they’re doing a disservice to the legacy of one of the very best game consoles of all time. So here's what I’d remove, and what I’d replace them with.
Rayman for Crash Bandicoot
Let’s get an easy one out of the way first. No, the original PlayStation wasn’t exactly legendary for its mascot platformers, but some of the success stories on the PSX are remembered more than a little fondly. In particular, I’m talking about Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Those two franchises are inextricably linked to the PlayStation brand and still carry a huge weight today. However, with only 20 slots available on the Classic and lots of other great titles to fit in, it would make sense to only have one or two platformers represented. Spyro is great, but he’s got an HD trilogy on the horizon, and if we’re being honest, Crash was the more popular of the two, had the most memorable ads for Sony back in the day, and his HD remaster has already sold a bajillion units worldwide. An opportunity to sell fans on a straight un-remastered port of the first game would have been a very smart move. Heck, it would have been as obvious as putting Super Mario Bros. on the NES Classic Edition. But instead we’re getting… the original Rayman? That’s not exactly a game that people love going back to, to my knowledge. And it’s certainly not a game that the PlayStation was known for. With or without Crash, Rayman simply hasn’t aged extraordinarily well, especially in light of the character’s brilliant reimagining in recent years. Pretty absurd decision.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo for Parappa the Rapper
Now, I don’t want to imply that Puzzle Fighter isn’t a good game. It’s a fantastic game. One of the best puzzle games there is, hands down. I spent a metric ton of time on this game back when it came out… on Saturn. Well-style puzzle games isn’t really a thing the PlayStation was known for though, and while Puzzle Fighter is an excellent game, it has a couple points against it. One, it’s not one of those games your average person is going to look at and say “oh man, I remember that game!” Two, I’m pretty sure it’s readily available in HD form on all sorts of platforms, and clones of it have been on phones, PCs, and consoles alike for years. But more importantly, it’s not Parappa the Rapper, which is EXACTLY the kind of game you do want on the back of your box. Parappa isn’t exactly hurting for ways for people to play it these days, what with the recent remaster, but that shouldn't’ have much of a bearing here. It’s all about putting the right names on the box and making people remember why the PlayStation was special to begin with, and Parappa is simply quintessential PlayStation through and through. Everyone loved that game, and its omission here is perplexing. Again, Puzzle Fighter is great, but it doesn't really belong.
Mr. Driller for Tomb Raider
Speaking of puzzle games that don’t belong, who the heck is itching to play the original Mr. Driller? It’s not exactly a bad game, but it’s definitely this system’s Ice Climber. Seriously, this brand never even came close to taking off here in America, it’s not a game anyone is nostalgic for, and it doesn’t represent anything special about the PlayStation. I have no earthly idea why this game is on here. Even if it was a deal with giving Namco a certain number of titles on the system, of all their other games why choose this one? (Especially when there’s another glaring Namco omission here that we’ll get to in a bit). You know what does say PlayStation to millions of gamers? Freaking Tomb Raider. Lara croft’s first adventure wasn’t just a popular game, it was a damn cultural phenomenon. Sure it was on the Saturn as well, but you know why Tomb Raider II wasn’t? Because everybody and their mother played the game on PlayStation. The Tomb Raider brand has just gone through a stunning revitalization with its most recent entry still fresh in most people's minds. There couldn’t possibly be a better time to reacquaint people with Lara’s original adventure. Sure, the game has aged like yogurt, but I’d argue it wasn’t even all that good to begin with, but it is importnat. Heck, it’s no worse off than some of the other games on this thing. Tomb Raider should have been a no brainer, and Mr. Driller shouldn’t be anywhere near it.
Battle Arena Toshinden for Soul Blade
You know what game absolutely nobody talks about reviving? Battle Arena Toshinden. You know why? Because the only reason anyone ever played it in the first place was because it was a polygonal fighting game for the original PlayStation. Sony’s answer to Virtua Fighter, as it were. But then actually good fighting games came out and nobody cared about Toshinden anymore. Good fighting games like Street Fighter Alpha 2, Rival Schools, Bushido Blade, and Tekken. Well, Tekken 3 made the cut, so that’s a good thing, but if you’re looking for an iconic weapons-based fighter to put on your classic console, look no further than the still fun to this day Soul Blade. Soul Calibur VI just launched and put the long-running fighting franchise back on track, so naturally, showcasing the series’ roots would be a very cool thing to do. Plus, it’s freaking Soul Blade. When you ask people things they remember about the PlayStation, chances ar at least a few of them are going to say “the CG opening to Soul Blade.” And like I said, it’s still really good today. It may look chunky like all these other classics, but it plays awesome, and it’s got Li-Long, the original nunchuck user in the Soul franchise. If Namco needed another game on this system, Mr. Driller wasn’t it. Soul Blade was.
R4 for Gran Turismo
This one might make sense once you peel back the layers of licensing and maybe the analog controls (I honestly can’t remember if Gran Turismo required the analog sticks or was just compatible with them) but on paper, if there’s going to be a racing game on here it should have been Gran Turismo, not the admittedly excellent R4. R4 is one of those games that did very well for itself back in the day, but its brand recognition positively pales in comparison to the juggernaut that was Gran Turismo. GT set the bar in realistic racing simulators when it came out, and it was one of the best selling games on the platform. Even if the game works better with a Dual Shock than with a standard controller, it’s still insane that they didn’t just make this one work however they could. And sure, they could be holding onto this one for the inevitable PlayStation Classic Dual Shock Edition, but then why not just put Gran Turismo 2 on that one? Like I said, there has to be some sort of licensing situation preventing this game from being on the PSX Classic, and really, R4 is absolutely the next best thing, but in this situation, celebrating the console that made you king shouldn’t involve you settling for the next best thing.
Rainbow Six for Castlevania Symphony of the Night
I’m sure that given enough alcohol, someone out there is going to be able to find the fun in the garbled mess that is the original Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six for PlayStation 1, but that one person’s joy can’t possible make up for how much of an absolute waste of a slot this game is. This was a VASTLY inferior port of a very popular PC game when it launched, and to say it hasn’t aged well is a massive understatement. There’s simply nothing special about this game anymore, and its inclusion is such a head-scratcher I may soon run out of scalp. All jokes aside, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play this version of this game in 2018. However, there is a glaring omission to the PlayStation Classic lineup that was just re-released on the PS4 with no shortage of controversy surrounding it, that most people figured was a given to be here, and yet, here we are. No Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Now, I know what you’re thinking. They probably don’t want to put it on this thing and undercut sales of Castlevania Requiem on PS4, but if done properly, that wouldn’t be an issue. First, one of the biggest reasons people are ticked off at Requiem is the fact that it doesn’t use the original release’s voice work and script, which are permanently etched in the annals of PlayStation history. Well, here’s your opportunity to satisfy those folks with a genuinely PSX-perfect port. Second, I sincerely doubt very many people would be willing to skip out on spending $15 on the PS4 game so they could spend $100 on this thing. Look, SotN is up there with Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII as being one of THE games the original PlayStation is remembered for. It has stood the test of time brilliantly, and there is no excuse good enough for not including it in this package.
Destruction Derby for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
I don’t mean any disrespect to Destruction Derby, but while it is a pretty cool and fun game, Twisted Metal is already on the collection, and Destruction Derby just wasn’t that memorable a game. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, however, is, and its exclusion here is nuts. Yes, I am aware that this game is probably even more of a licensing nightmare than Gran Turismo, but come on. There wasn’t a kid in the United States who didn’t play Tony Hawk at least once. And it’s not like Sony owns a music label or anything. Oh wait, IT DOES. I don't even know what else to say, this is one of those things you simply make work, no matter what you have to do. And yes, I’ll say the same thing about the Nintendo 64 Classic Edition if they don’t find a way to get Golden Eye on it. I know it’s a nightmare, but it’s history. It’s the game that boils down what your system was all about. If you want to pay respect to the original PlayStation, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater absolutely has to be a part of the conversation.
Well, what do you think? Did Sony leave any other heavy hitters off? Am I way off base about what they should remove? Let me know in the comments