So I got a PlayStation Classic...
April 21, 2019

I had some hope for the PlayStation revival mini machine pulled out of an ear proudly like 22 year old wax. Outwardly it's a tidy device, evoking the nostalgia of physical interactions with the unit. It's cute, and I'm quite fond of it. Even the controllers are forgivable for their curious lack of analog thumbsticks.

Unfortunately there are just two of the twenty games it ships with that I wanted to spend any time with at all. I bought it because it was official, but foremost cheap, and easily moddable. Hackable. Whatever. The latter is very much the feeling I get from the whole marketing experience and pitch of the maligned attempt to capitalize on Nintendo's very successful scheme.

I really wanted an SNES Classic - and mayhap I'll get one - but for now it's off the agenda. It may stay that way, especially if support for SNES Roms is ever added to BleemSync. It's not the most elegant hack, but it is easy to implement and manage, and that's all that matters. It's simple and it does the job. I added a few games that I will play to the PSX Classic and have enjoyed it for a while, except for one thing...

I'm spoiled by emulators. Using emulation you can adjust for graphical limitations and imperfections of period hardware, if you so choose - and the PSX benefits from "housekeeping" rendering methods now standard even on CPU integrated graphics chipsets. Sony missed the mark in a big way with their take on the Classic, which wants to be super authentic, even though it's not chip accurate and produces noticably imperfect emulated results. How many of us actually want to go back to those infant days of low everything 3D graphics? The SOC that powers the unit is powerful enough for moderate improvements in the emulator they chose to license for this product, but they've applied nothing more than a basic scaler for what were originally 480p graphics.

The results are blurry at 720p, and I'm reluctant to try anything higher. There are many reasons why remasters make serious bank these days. It's a logical step for popular games, and a chance for beloved yet cult-classics or otherwise imperfect titles to patch things up in a version of "what could have been" for audiences new and old. For cripes sake they ship the PSX Classic with two controllers but only two games that will use them both.

Sure I get that everyone has a list of favorites, and with such a vast library of popular titles it would have increased materials cost for both controllers to have analogues and the console more internal memory for more games in any attempt to accommodate the demands of a system that was so popular. It ships with a measely 16GB on board, and has a scant list of what I'd consider essential in terms of retro gaming options.

You get just one Save State, a guide for the pack-in games, and that's it. The emulator has hidden options you can access if you have the right keyboard, and no this isn't a "premium" product with chip accurate emulation, but where's my fast forward? Screen scaling or shader options? Just a few?

No, you don't get anything. Just the games, which not even BleemSync will allow you to replace. It's not that the games are bad, but it's obvious that the selection happened because those where the most affordable and available licenses to acquire. I suspect they had a few already, but ... good gravy they could have done better.

Was it worth my $30 CDN for this adorable little grey slab? Yes. The included controllers feel quite authentic and are pretty comfortable to play with. They also work seamlessly with Windows and RetroArch, which is handy when my XBox One controller just doesn't want to sync wirelessly anymore for reasons I don't understand. It's not that old, but anyway...

It really is a cute little unit, and in my opinion a better selection of titles, a single controller with analog thumbsticks would have justified the initial asking price of $80 instead of the close to cost prices they're resorting to now just to clear warehouse space. The PSX Classic is cheaper than a fully-loaded RetroPie, and has all sorts of potential, depending on how far the community is willing to develop BleemSync for it.

It's also a pretty stunning example how greed can cause Sony to misfire, and it makes me leery about the PS5 with them jumping the gun in announcing specs. So... yeah... where do you stand on the whole run of "Classic" consoles?

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joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - April 22, 2019 (12:59 PM)
I'm all about the upcoming Genesis Mini. Don't fail me now, Sega!
Masters Masters - April 26, 2019 (08:39 AM)
A couple of things.

First of all, how did you manage to snag this thing for $30? Where at?? Which is not to say if were available to me cheaper than the $80 I see it listed for everywhere I would buy it, because I probably wouldn't.

Your post reads like internal conflict poured out on the page. Given what you've said about the system, there's no logical reason you should have bought it. And yet... I get it, because I bought the NES Classic, for similar reasons, and it took me a few days to chastise myself for being so weak (not saying that's the case with you), and to eventually return it.

The nostalgic draw of the cute, revamped brand spanking new-old product is so hard to resist; on some level, I want to grab up all of them. But as you point out, emulating this stuff on my laptop with filters and options and save states, and using my superior Xbox One wireless controller, actually makes for a better retrogaming experience than the limited but cute and costly classic consoles.

When I think of it that way, it's too hard to pull the trigger. I only bought the NES classic because I had a bunch of EB Games store credit and wanted to spoil myself. I ended up going with a $100 Steam Card instead. (Which, ironically, also turned out to be somewhat of a 'waste,' given that, like the majority of Steam gamers, I just bough a ton of BS because it's 'on sale,' and then never play it.)
hastypixels hastypixels - April 26, 2019 (01:38 PM)
@Masters - Well, Best Buy had a sale. I've seen the PSC turn up for sale on Amazon and number of other retailers. Primarily because the controllers lack analog controls and the selection of games isn't representative of what was popular on the system for most players.

Yeah, I was pretty conflicted about it - I mean, it's cute'n'all - but emulating retro games is a better experience even on my laptop, though PSX emulation itself can be iffy with some titles, namely Front Mission 3, which gets unstable after mid-game. On the other hand the controllers are quite nice ... $30 was just the right price to take a chance on a retro-mini that have been able to mod to play SNES/Genesis/etc games on. I just completed SMW on the thing and that worked flawlessly.

Steam has fallen to the wayside for me, and with the division happening, I'm having to throw my chips down on a console. I was never going to buy another Sony console, but I'm pleased to own a legit piece of PSX kit to go along with the real thing I've got tucked away.

Yeah, it wasn't logical, but I knew what I was paying for and decided just how much I'd put down on something so frivolous. Like I said, I still want to get a SNES Classic because that's my childhood system, and I haven't written off the idea that might happen... but in the meantime I can emulate those games on something like it, so... I like it.

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