The PlayStation Classic clearly didn’t turn out to be the must-have hit for Sony that the NES and SNES Classic were for Nintendo. As we wrote at the time, both of those consoles hit the market and became collector’s items, practically impossible to find, almost at once. The situation was worse for the NES Classic, but neither platform was plentiful on or after launch day.
The PlayStation Classic, in contrast, has just received a $ 40 price cut online in all its territories. One could draw conclusions about how the NES and SNES have larger fan bases, but the more likely theory is that Sony shipped a half-baked offer and was rewarded with an entirely proportional level of sales.
First and foremost, there’s the game list. Short of shipping a much larger set of games, there was no way for Sony to please everyone with its PlayStation Classic title set, but the games the company launched are a poor representation of its own greatest hits. The NES shipped with a number of iconic titles, including Castlevania, Double Dragon II, Legend of Zelda, SMB 3, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, and Final Fantasy. The SNES Classic included a game that had never seen the light of day before, along with critically acclaimed games like Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI, A Link to the Past, Star Fox, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and Earthbound. I’d argue that’s seven solidly “classic” games for the NES and eight for the SNES.
By comparison, the PlayStation Classic packed in Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Tekken 3, and Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, at least as far as top-tier games. And the problems didn’t stop there. Because almost half the games on the list are PAL conversions, they run at lower frame rates. Because the console’s frame rate is locked at 60fps, this means the games in question use frame repetition to display 60fps with a 50fps PAL base signal. This makes them less smooth than they were when running on original hardware.
Adding insult to injury, it’s now been demonstrated that the SoC inside the SNES Classic can run the PlayStation Classic’s games more smoothly than the PSC does itself.
The video shows that the PlayStation Classic should be wiping the floor with the SNES Classic, yet this isn’t the case. Using the same emulator, a weaker SoC, and less RAM, the SNES is faster. This has little to do with the underlying hardware and everything to do with a cheap, cynical attempt to profit off the desire for nostalgic hardware without actually doing anything to justify consumer investment.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is that the PlayStation Classic is reportedly very easy to hack. Long-term, the platform may turn out to have legs as a homebrew microconsole. As a nostalgic investment, however, it doesn’t measure up.