The new PlayStation Classic and the rise of retro consoles

If 2018 has proven anything, the retro game console is here to stay.

09 Oct 2018

Yes, the news is true: the original Sony PlayStation is back.  

Sporting a new slimline frame and with 20 preinstalled games below the hood, the PlayStation Classic is dropping December 2018 – just in time to give Christmas a decidedly 90s twist.

It marks Sony’s first foray into retro console territory and follows hot on the heels of the NES and SNES in 2016 and 2017 respectively. These two pint-sized replicas helped stoke interest in retro games consoles that work well with modern TVs.

With that in mind, we’ve unpacked how the retro gaming market looks currently – and where we think it’s headed in the coming years.

Upcoming: Sony PlayStation Classic

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Original release date: 1994

Classic release date: 3 December 2018

At first glance you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Classic for the real thing. But when you pick it up you realise it fits snugly into one hand; that it’s nearly half the size of the PlayStation of old. In part this is down to the fact the Classic no longer comes with a disc tray. While the OPEN tray button remains as a nod to the original, it now acts as a switch between the 20 preloaded games on the hard drive.


20 preloaded games you say? Yep! Sony has confirmed the following titles so far: 

  1. Final Fantasy VII
  2. Tekken 3
  3. Ridge Racer Type
  4. Wild Arms
  5. Jumping Flash

Final Fantasy VII is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, and Tekken 3 as one of the best demonstrations of the fighting genre ever seen. Good news, then, that both are part of the PlayStation Classic bundle.

With 15 more games still to be announced, there’s a lot to be excited about. Might we see the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Abe’s Oddysee as well?

This was an era when technology was hitting its stride, when CDs were letting developers push the limits of what was possible on a home console. As 3 December fast approaches, we’re reminded yet again of the influence the PlayStation has had on the games industry as a whole.

In the box, you’ll get the console and the games, two controllers, a USB charging cable and an HDMI cable. This last accessory is especially good because old consoles relied on red and yellow AV cables which are slowly being phased out of modern televisions.

The PlayStation Classic will retail for £89.99.


Upcoming: SEGA MegaDrive Mini

Image credit: SEGA_Official Twitter

Original release date: 1988

Mini release date: 2019

SEGA’s MegaDrive (dubbed the Genesis in America) arrived in 1988 and enjoyed a long and spirited rivalry with Nintendo’s NES and SNES (more on those consoles below).

SEGA is taking its time with the new MegaDrive, which has had its 2018 release date pushed back to 2019.

There is a third-party version of the console you can buy right now, courtesy of AtGames, but it’s not an official product and reviews have been lukewarm. Its one plus point is the inclusion of a working drive allowing you to play your old games. Rumour has it this feature will be present in the official SEGA rerelease too, so you might be better off waiting until next year before taking the plunge on either.  


Available to buy: Super Nintendo Classic Mini (SNES Classic)

Original release date: 1990

SNES Classic release date: 2017

Now we get to the consoles already in circulation.

Critics love the new SNES Classic (sometimes called the SNES Mini), citing its attention to detail as a major draw. The new model looks exactly like the original – albeit smaller – with a superb matte finish and those classic muted greys of the time. Pop one of these in your living room and it’ll be like going back to a world of faded denim and flannel. There’s even an option to play the games with a CRT filter enabled, mimicking the horizontal scan lines that used to run across old screens.

The original SNES was a sequel to the NES and a brute of a machine. Because of its power, games were truly state of the art at the time. Who could forget the gorgeous Mega Man X, or Star Fox, with its 3D polygon graphics?  

Or, perhaps you were too young to have played those games in the first place. Fortunately, now’s your chance.

In the box, you get the console and power cable, two wired controllers and an HDMI cable, making the system a plug-and-play joy that takes seconds to get up and running. 


What games do you get with the SNES Classic?

For the SNES Classic, you’re limited to the 21 games pre-installed on the console. The good news is that the games you do get are excellent, with many appearing on a “best of SNES” list:

  1. Contra 3: The Alien Wars
  2. Donkey Kong Country
  3. EarthBound
  4. Final Fantasy 3
  5. F-Zero
  6. Kirby Super Star
  7. Kirby's Dream Course
  8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  9. Mega Man X
  10. Secret of Mana
  11. Star Fox
  12. Star Fox 2
  13. Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  14. Super Castlevania 4
  15. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
  16. Super Mario Kart
  17. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  18. Super Mario World
  19. Super Metroid
  20. Super Punch-Out!!
  21. Yoshi's Island


Available to buy: Nintendo Classic Mini (NES Classic)

Original release date: 1983

Release date: 2016

Donkey Kong. Castlevania. Metroid. If you’re an 80s nostalgist you know full well that the NES birthed some of the greatest gaming franchises. In 2016, Nintendo brought back its earliest console – and some of its very best games – prompting a stampede of pre orders. Stock was limited, but sure enough, more NES Classics arrived this year and a cool 2 million have been sold to date.

The NES comes with two controllers, an HDMI cable and 30 preloaded games, all of which are heavily steeped in nostalgia.


What games do you get with the NES Classic?

  1. Balloon Fight
  2. Bubble Bobble
  3. Castlevania
  4. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
  5. Donkey Kong
  6. Donkey Kong Jr.
  7. Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  8. Dr. Mario
  9. Excitebike
  10. Final Fantasy
  11. Galaga
  12. Ghosts 'n Goblins
  13. Gradius
  14. Ice Climber
  15. Kid Icarus
  16. Kirby's Adventure
  17. Mario Bros.
  18. Mega Man 2
  19. Metroid
  20. Ninja Gaiden
  21. Pac-Man
  22. Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  23. StarTropics
  24. Super C
  25. Super Mario Bros.
  26. Super Mario Bros. 2
  27. Super Mario Bros. 3
  28. Tecmo Bowl
  29. The Legend of Zelda
  30. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link


Most wanted: Nintendo 64 Classic/N64 Mini


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Original release date: 1996

So, now we get to the section of the article where we enter what if territory. These are consoles that aren’t confirmed to be in production, but are ones we think have a good chance at arriving in the next couple of years.

Right off the bat, we think the N64 would make a lot of sense. It’s suitably old and fondly remembered. It had a classic library of games that you can’t easily play today, and a controller shaped like a spaceship that no one’s going to forget in a hurry. In short, it’s a classic console that sticks in the memory, and with games like GoldenEye, Ocarina of Time, Perfect Dark, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 64, we think it’s only a matter of time before Nintendo starts working on this one.


PS2 Classic

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We’re not sure about this one. On the one hand, a PS2 Classic sounds like a wonderful idea. On the other, there are some very obvious reasons it doesn’t make sense right now.

After all, the best PS2 games are being remastered for the PS4 all the time. And it’s not as if the PS2 itself is rare either: more than 150 million units ended up being sold, and the console was still being manufactured until 2013.

On the other hand, there’s an enormous PS2 games library that isn’t backwards compatible with the PS4 and while a handful of those games are playable through the PS Now monthly service, many more are not.

Time will tell, but a pint-sized PS2 is an exciting thought.


Dreamcast Classic

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SEGA’s last ever console was 1998 Dreamcast. It was big in ambition and sold over 9 million units. But it ended up being a disappointment, favouring style over substance and offering up several cool-looking features that flopped in practice.

There are rumblings that a third-party re-tread of this console might be in the works, but we think it makes a lot of sense for SEGA to take the helm instead. There’s plenty of love for the Dreamcast despite its initial unfulfilled promise, and with games like Skies of Arcadia, Virtua Tennis 2 and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver waiting to be played, there are plenty of reasons to jump back in too.

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