I’m in danger of being a cynic. Yesterday’s news sparked another eruption in our little retrogaming community, Sony have jumped on the bandwagon and are launching a PlayStation Mini this December:
And whilst initially jumping on the HYPE train, now that I’ve slept on it, I’m becoming less and less enthused.
Underwhelming lineup announced so far
It’s exactly that. Jumping Flash, whilst being ground-breaking at the time (pun intended), has aged badly and never seems to make anyone’s top 20 PlayStation lists. Wild Arms is a solid RPG which in 1997 was promptly usurped by the amazing Final Fantasy VII (the only standout game in this initial five, in my opinion). Ridge Racer Type 4 is a fun but limited racer, that pales in comparison to Gran Turismo, TOCA, Colin McRae etc. Tekken 3 is a good game, but my gut says that its predecessor should have gotten the nod (more fun, and I don’t care much for Tekken Force).
The other thing to note is that the developers here are Namco, what was Squaresoft (now Square Enix of course) and Sony Computer Entertainment. This hints at minimal third-party involvement in the total lineup, will there be any of the great titles created by Capcom or Konami? Only time will tell.
No Dual Shock
Seriously. And the inclusion of Ridge Racer Type 4 (which as many have pointed out, was designed with analogue in mind) is a puzzling one to add into the mix bearing this in mind. The reasoning behind this could be more underhand than we’re anticipating. Of course, less plastic equals less cost, that’s a no brainer, but it’s not as though the Dual Shock was a last minute introduction in the lifecycle of the original PlayStation. By removing analogue capability, the unit has controllers that are not compatible with any other device (it appears as though they have a custom attachment as opposed to USB). Imagine if you picked this up for £89.99 and it came with two controllers that used USB connectivity and were PS4 compatible? I don’t think Sony’s Finance dept would be particularly happy with that.
£89.99 and no adaptor included
Minor in comparison to my other points, and we’ve all got hundreds of Android adaptors lying about the house, but another corner cut to ensure the RRP for the product didn’t top £100.
Less scope to hack and include as many games as you want
Nintendo have, purposely or not, made their mini NES and SNES easy to hack and there appears to be several ways to hack each unit. Clarification on each unit’s internal memory would be useful here, but even given a standard 16 or 32GB SD this allows for full NES and SNES libraries to be added. The PlayStation is a CD-based system of course, with CD-quality sound. Any fans of emulation will tell you that even one-disc PS games will set you back a meaty 400 to 700MB, and my recent download of FF7 from the PS Store weighed in at just over 1GB. Therefore, there is a real possibility that the unit’s storage will be taken up in its entirety by the 20 planned titles.
The unit has no USB sockets (as far as I can tell), unlike the C64 Mini, which eliminates the ability to store and play ROMs from an external flash drive or similar. The only way in appears to be the power socket, which is more problematic, but I’m sure not impossible for some of you fine people to get through.
Why have they done this?
Why not! Christmas is coming and us retrogamers need things to put on our lists. It’s a collectible official product of a much-loved console and they’d be silly not to get on the bandwagon, which Sony are used to (harsh?).
What else could they have done with this console?
Many touted improvements would be solved with a purchase of a Vita or a slimline PSP… Joking aside, a key question surrounds the addition of HDMI out only. True aficionados will point out that this wasn’t how the original console was enjoyed, and will also decrease the fog of a lot of the console’s 3D titles, thus exposing how so many of them have aged badly over the years.
Will I get one?
Maybe. The fact remains that PS titles are freely available to purchase for Sony’s handheld devices and if you picked up a second hand PSOne and those five titles mentioned it would probably cost you less than £90.
It’s clear that the remaining 15 tba titles will have a big swing on the fence-sitters like myself but given the probable shallow net in regards to third-party involvement I don’t hold out much hope. Will Sony risk putting some of the console’s rarer titles on there? Or stick to the bread and butter of popular titles? Roll on December.