Monday morning Sony announced the full line-up of games to be featured on the PlayStation Classic mini-console. The list includes hits like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy 7, but also several eclectic choices like Intelligent Qube and Battle Arena Toshinden. Also of note are several significant absences, ssyuch as Gran Turismo and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Needless to say, Sony’s decisionmaking with regards to the PlayStation Classic line-up is intriguing if not surprising. Choices like Grand Theft Auto and Twisted Metal over their stronger sequels, the inclusion of several popular games in Japan that didn’t see similar success in the West, and a lot of high profile titles not making the cut beg for further explanation. While Sony is unlikely to comment on its decisions, the least that can be done is a general comparison and breakdown of the included games’ details: genre, sales, and review ratings as they’re available.
- Battle Arena Toshinden – Genre: Fighting – Sales: >150,000 (US) – Ratings: 69/100 (Metacritic); 30/40 (Famitsu)
- While Battle Arena Toshinden‘s sales numbers and ratings are average, it likely makes this list due to it being a PlayStation launch title and having been co-published by Sony itself.
- Cool Boarders 2 – Genre: Sports – Sales: 1,210,000 – Ratings: 70.42% (Metacritic)
- Not as popular or well-received as Cool Boarder 3, Cool Boarders 2 did help Kickstart the popularity of snowboarding games. It also helps that it was co-published by Sony.
- Destruction Derby – Genre: Vehicle Combat – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 25/40 (Famitsu)
- Due to its below-average reception and the inclusion of Twisted Metal on the console, Destruction Derby is a bit of a mystery. It likely benefits from being a near-launch release, having multiplayer, and being owned by Sony.
- Final Fantasy 7 – Genre: RPG – Sales: 9,800,000 – Ratings: 92% (Metacritic); 38/40 (Famitsu)
- One of the best-selling and highest reviewed games for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy 7‘s inclusion makes the “Classic” branding ring true.
- Grand Theft Auto – Genre: Action-Adventure – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 68.33% (GameRankings)
- Grand Theft Auto was a popular but not well-reviewed starting point for the hit franchise, eventually improved upon with Grand Theft Auto 2 also on the PlayStation. It’s unclear why the first title was chosen over the second.
- Intelligent Qube – Genre: Puzzle – Sales: 1,010,000 – Ratings: 72.29% (GameRankings)
- Particularly popular in Japan, Intelligent Qube likely is included on the PlayStation Classic due to its genre and the fact it was published by Sony.
- Jumping Flash! – Genre: Platformer – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 83.70% (GameRankings); 34/40 (Famitsu)
- Considered by many to be one of the most underrated PlayStation titles of its time, this cult hit laid the groundwork for first-person 3D platformers like Portal and Mirror’s Edge. It also happens to have been published by Sony.
- Metal Gear Solid – Genre: Stealth Action-Adventure – Sales: 6,000,000 – Ratings: 94% (Metacritic); 93.24% (GameRankings)
- Another PlayStation classic, Metal Gear Solid is the tenth best-selling game on the platform and easily one of its highest rated as well.
- Mr. Driller – Genre: Arcade/Puzzle – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 75.17% (GameRankings)
- Published by Namco, this unique puzzler spawned over a dozen sequels and is particularly popular with Japanese audiences.
- Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Genre: Platformer – Sales: 3,500,000 – Ratings: 88% (Metacritic); 87.94% (GameRankings)
- One of the PlayStation’s most successful and well-received platforming games, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a western exclusive inclusion on the PlayStation Classic.
- R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 – Genre: Racing – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 88% (MetaCritic); 35/40 (Famitsu)
- The Ridge Racer franchise is particularly popular in Japan and is likely one of the few racing games, not including Gran Turismo, that was well-received in both east and west regions.
- Rayman – Genre: Platformer – Sales: 4,000,000 – Ratings: 75% (GameRankings); 29/40 (Famitsu)
- Rayman was a hugely popular platform lauded for its unique visuals and crisp but challenging gameplay. It didn’t take off in Japan, and is thus a western exclusive on PlayStation Classic.
- Resident Evil: Director’s Cut – Genre: Horror – Sales: 1,130,000 (Original: 2,750,000) – Ratings (Original): 91% (Metacritic); 38/40 (Famitsu)
- Resident Evil: Director’s Cut is unique in that is effectively the same game as the original, yet still managed unprecedented success on its own. Together, its place on this is justified despite a more successful sequel, unlike some other titles on the PlayStation Classic.
- Revelations: Persona – Genre: RPG – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 78% (Metacritic); 32/40 (Famitsu)
- The game that started the Persona franchise was very popular in Japan, but suffered in the west due to a rough localization. Nevertheless, perhaps due to the success of Persona 5, it’s being included on the PlayStation Classic.
- Syphon Filter – Genre: Stealth Shooter – Sales: 1,750,000 – Ratings: 90% (Metacritic); 31/40 (Famitsu)
- Despite the worldwide success of stealthy Metal Gear Solid, Syphon Filter‘s success largely stemmed from the west due to the action-focused shooting.
- Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo – Genre: Puzzle – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 80% (Metacritic)
- Filling out the puzzle genre on the PlayStation Classic is Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, perhaps included due to the modern popularity of Puzzle Fighter on mobile devices.
- Tekken 3 – Genre: Fighter – Sales: 8,300,000 – Ratings: 96% (Metacritic); 39/40 (Famitsu)
- The first through third Tekkens were released on PlayStation, but it was Tekken 3 that proved both the most popular and highest reviewed.
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six – Genre: Tactical Shooter – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 48% (GameRankings)
- Perhaps the oddest inclusion on the PlayStation Classic, while Rainbow Six was well-received on PC the PlayStation version was widely panned but nevertheless popular in the west.
- Twisted Metal – Genre: Vehicle Combat – Sales: 1,080,000 – Ratings: 66% (GameRankings); 17/40 (Famitsu)
- Another surprising choice for the PlayStation Classic, if only because Twisted Metal was outperformed by both Twisted Metal 2 and Twisted Metal 3 on the original PlayStation.
- Wild Arms – Genre: RPG – Sales: N/A – Ratings: 79% (GameRankings); 31/40 (Famitsu)
- One of the first RPGs released on the PlayStation, Wild Arms‘ inclusion on the PlayStation Classic is only curious due to so many other incredible RPGs having been left out.
Sony’s priorities with the PlayStation Classic’s line-up should hopefully be apparent now that some perspective has been provided regarding each game’s history. Sony seems to have put a priority on offering a diverse range of genres while mixing in high-profile games that appeal to both Japanese and Western audiences. Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, and Tekken 3 are both diverse and hugely popular in all regions.
Sony’s success on the PlayStation may have become a struggle for the PlayStation Classic since the original had a staggeringly large support base from third-party publishers. Today, however, it’s probably too expensive to go after licensing for games like Tomb Raider 1 through 3, Final Fantasy 8 and 9, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Legacy of Kain, Need for Speed, or the dozen or so JRPGs that defined the era. And then there’s the likely licensing issues with regards to Gran Turismo‘s cars and the modern rereleases of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, preventing even more popular PlayStation games from being included in a 2018 mini-console. Sony had its work cut out for itself.
PlayStation Classic purchasers can decide for themselves whether the $99.99 price is worth it or not. It’s undeniable that the console has a line-up of great games that are difficult if not impossible to play anywhere else. Just maybe not the all of the games everyone was expecting.