★★★☆☆ The original PlayStation represents a pivotal moment in the history of video games, the dawn of 3D graphics. This tiny, nicely accurate scale model of the console boasts 20 built-in games, a range that can’t be expanded as it has no internet connection. The selection is rather eccentric, with bona fide legends such as Gran Turismo, Silent Hill and Tomb Raider all missing, but there are legitimate classics: Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII, Ridge Racer 4 and Metal Gear Solid ( above) are all represented, though time has been very cruel to them. Early real-time 3D visuals weren’t pretty. Every joint grinds and blurs, every surface is a blinking mosaic of contorted shapes.
PlayStation Classic is fascinating as an easy means of rediscovering this crucial era of game development, but it is not great as a nostalgic toy. The form factor is lovely, but the functionality is so bare-bones, you feel it has surely been rushed to market for Christmas. There are no display options at all – you can’t change the screen resolution or ratio and there’s no option to add simulated scanlines to emulate the feel of an old CRT television. Running on your big LED display, these old 3D games look blocky and tired.
The original machine had a confident sense of culture around it, the memorable TV and magazine ads. Could some of that swagger have been included? Lodged between cheap and easy nostalgia and historic recreation, the PlayStation Classic serves neither market wholly. What we have is the bare minimum: a machine that looks nice, is really easy to use and has at least some games that people will remember and enjoy playing again.