The PlayStation Classic is coming to North America on December 3. It’s priced at $99.99 USD, and it’s pre-loaded with 20 games of, let’s say, varying quality.
Sony is undoubtedly cashing in on the sweet, extremely profitable vein of nostalgia Nintendo tapped with great success using the NES Classic and the SNES Classic. That’s cool; the PlayStation, which dominated living rooms in the latter half of the ’90s, commands some powerful memories of its own. But we can’t deny Sony made some odd choices with the games it picked out for its nostalgia-box. Some of the selections are truly great. Others are, well, kind of mediocre.
The PlayStation Classic’s game line-up isn’t as appealing as the All Hits All the Time playlist on the SNES Classic. We ranked each title to help you determine which ones are still capable of standing on their own two feet all these years later. You can find answers to additional questions about Sony’s wee machine on our PlayStation Classic guide!
20: Destruction Derby (Psygnosis, 1995)
We’re not going to yank your chain: Some of the game choices Sony made for the PlayStation Classic showcase the console’s most mediocre and awkward moments. In cases like Destruction Derby, we’re talking about games that received some rave reviews in the earliest days of the 32-bit era, but are looked back upon with a shrug at best. As its name suggests, Destruction Derby is a racing / demolition derby title that’s…fine. No doubt you’ll enjoy its polygonal injection of mid-’90s nostalgia for ten minutes before you jump over to Final Fantasy VII and forget about it for another 20+ years.—Nadia Oxford
19: Cool Boarders 2 (Sony Computer Entertainment America, 1997)
Cool Boarders 2 is a trick-based snowboarding game that’s all about racking up huge scores. It also carries the amazing subtitle « Killing Session » in Japan. Besides offering players the challenge of pulling off as many tricks as possible while racing to get the best time, Cool Boarders 2 contains a ton of stuff to unlock and collect. That includes lots of courses and snowboarders, but most importantly, there are a whole lot of ways to customize your snowboard. Cool Boarders 2 retained more fans than Destruction Derby, but even with all its collectables, it’s another game you’ll probably bounce off quickly enough.—Nadia Oxford
18: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (Ubisoft, 1998)
Rainbow Six is an interesting inclusion on the PlayStation Classic. On one hand, it marks the beginnings of a landmark tactical shooter series that’s since gone on to become a triple-A game franchise that’s sold millions of collective copies. On the other hand, its nostalgic appeal is a bit limited; kind of a « Why play this when you can play the latest Tom Clancy game? » moment. Give Rainbow Six another playthrough when you net your own PlayStation Classic, or just ignore it. Both choice are valid. Just tip your cap in respect when you scroll past the game on the menu. Rainbow Six has come a long way.—Nadia Oxford
17: Syphon Filter (Eidetic, 1999)
Syphon Filter was one of those games you probably saw for $5 in your local GameSpot bargain bin in 2001. Like Metal Gear Solid, it’s a stealth tactics game, serving as a sort of precursor to the likes of Splinter Cell. It was critically acclaimed in its day, and it received several sequels on the PlayStation 2 and PSP. Later entries were received less enthusiastically, though, and these days Syphon Filter is mostly forgotten. Despite that, it still has a place in PlayStation history as one of the platform’s formative 3D action games, even if Metal Gear Solid makes it somewhat redundant. Worth playing maybe as a historical curiosity, but otherwise it’s mostly chaff. —Kat Bailey
16: Battle Arena Toshinden (1995, Sony Computer Entertainment America)
Toshinden, Like Destruction Derby, is an example of an early PlayStation game everyone lost their minds over before history quietly buried it. Visually, it’s much more impressive than Virtua Fighter, the direct competitor hailing from the Sega Saturn at the time. It does get credit for being one of the first weapons-based 3D fighting games, a legacy carried by the likes of Soulcalibur. I also remember two-page ad spreads in game magazines wherein Polygon Man tried to tantalize me with descriptions of Sofia, Toshinden’s buxom blonde fighter. Thanks, spiky dude. —Nadia Oxford
15: Revelations: Persona (Atlus 1996)
Revelations: Persona is an interesting inclusion on the PlayStation Classic. As the first entry in the culturally-significant Persona series (and technically the first Shin Megami Tensei game to come West), its historical significance is undeniable. At the same time, there’s a reason why the first Persona game is left out of series’ general « best of » discourse (hint: The series has since improved upon itself tenfold. And dig that « Kids to Adults » ESRB rating!). Still, Persona is worth a go, even if I personally think your time is better spent on Persona 4 or Persona 5. Japanese high schools don’t save themselves from marauding evil, I guess.—Nadia Oxford
14: Ridge Racer Type 4 (Namco, 1999)
It’s Ridge Racer! Riiiidge—[immediately silenced by gunshot]. Ridge Racer Type 4 is, like its predecessors, an arcade-style racing game. It’s one of the later releases in the PlayStation Classic’s repertoire, which means it’s also one of the better-looking games on the little system. Most Ridge Racer consider this to be one of the best entries in the series owing to its excellent graphics. Give it another spin once you secure your own Classic; you might find you enjoy it as much as you did the first time around. —Nadia Oxford
13: Rayman (Ubisoft, 1995)
The PlayStation has some great 2D platformers, and it’s a shame so few of them made it onto the PlayStation Classic. At least Rayman made the cut, even though his first adventure isn’t exactly in league with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Mega Man X4. Rayman’s graphics are still easy on the eyes, and I’m kind of glad the little fellah hopped over to the PlayStation instead of fading into obscurity with the Jaguar, the ill-fated « 64-bit!! » system he was originally designed for. Of course, now we have Rabbids, but even those screaming bundles of insanity eventually proved they aren’t so bad.—Nadia Oxford
12: Grand Theft Auto (Take-Two Interactive, 1997)
Ahhh, here’s where it all started. Er, sort of. The « modern » age of Grand Theft Auto that eventually earned its place in infamy with its shooting and beatings wouldn’t kick off until 2001 with Grand Theft Auto III. That’s not to suggest the top-down crime-making game on the PlayStation Classic is full of gentle kindness. No, the very first Grand Theft Auto is still all about stealing cars and getting up to no good. It’s not quite as busy and exciting as the series’ 3D entries, but it’s still a good way to blow off some steam. No risk of motion sickness, either! —Nadia Oxford
11: Twisted Metal (Sony Interactive Studios America, 1995)
Twisted Metal is maybe the most 1990s video game out there, as it practically oozes edginess out of its demonic ice cream truck hubcaps. It’s also a car combat game—something that pretty much screams 1990s. The in-your-face, unapologetic humor that was popularized by South Park is dusted into Twisted Metal’s dark Los Angeles-based tale, where the setting is that the winner of a car-battle to the death is awarded anything they dream by a man named Calypso. Twisted Metal is a key piece of PlayStation history, for its attitude, for the genre it skid a pathway for, and for inspiring a lot of dudes to probably get Sweet Tooth tattoos. —Caty McCarthy
10: Intelligent Qube (Epics, 1997)
Intelligent Qube is one of those nerdy additions intended for hardcore collectors. Released in 1997, I.Q. was well-received by critics, with its eerie soundtrack receiving special mention. Its gameplay revolves around maneuvering a character around a stage and clearing rows of blocks of rising blocks. It was a financial success in Japan, earning it several sequels. It’s not particularly popular or fondly remembered these days, but for a certain subset of retro enthusiasts, it’s a worthy addition. —Kat Bailey
9: Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (GT Interactive Software, 1997)
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a 2D platform-adventure game built around a highly unique alien world (and a delightfully dark sense of humor). Abe’s Oddysee helped introduce players to a slower, more methodical kind of platforming built around non-verbal communication. It also made us wonder what Mudokons taste like (don’t lie). Numerous sequels followed Abe’s Oddysee, but it’s still worth having a go at the series’ beginnings. —Nadia Oxford
8: Jumping Flash (Sony Computer Entertainment, 1995)
Some critics argue the PlayStation’s breakout 3D platformer, Jumping Flash, was quickly outclassed by Super Mario 64 for the N64. And, well, they’re right. But it’s not as if Mario 64’s genius automatically bumps this hippy-hoppy adventure game down to the genre’s trash tier (currently occupied by Bubsy and Earthworm Jim, and boy howdy, are their corpses ever starting to stink). There’s still plenty of fun to be had with Jumping Flash. Robbit’s loooooooong jumps are fun to execute, especially when you land on an enemy. Bam. —Nadia Oxford
7: Wild Arms (Sony Computer Entertainment, 1996)
It’s good to see Wild Arms getting some love on the PlayStation Classic, because man, talk about a game that got steamrolled when Final Fantasy VII entered the fray shortly after its release. While Wild Arms isn’t nearly as impressive-looking as Square’s juggernaut (admittedly, its polygonal battle graphics are downright ugly), its fusion of Western and sci-fi themes still carry a unique charm. There’s no RPG quite like it, as its battle system throws in a few unique twists on the classic menu-driven system. The longer you fight, the more powerful your characters become. The same holds true for your foes, too. Wild Arms has some intense boss battles as a result—in addition to one of the best JRPG soundtracks of all time. —Nadia Oxford
6: Resident Evil Director’s Cut (Capcom 1997)
With Resident Evil 2’s remake on the horizon, I guess it was a longshot for Resident Evil 2 to make it onto the PlayStation Classic. Still, I held out hope, only for it to sizzle out with the reveal of Resident Evil: Director’s Cut being the lucky undead duck to make it. But who am I kidding? Resident Evil remains an all-time survival horror classic. Those tank controls. Those Crimson Heads. The unmatched eeriness of Spencer Mansion. Resident Evil spawned a revolution in the world of gaming. Not just for Capcom’s legacy, but for an entire genre. —Caty McCarthy
5: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (Capcom, 1996)
I’m sure plenty of people would have preferred, say, Street Fighter Alpha 3, which wasn’t perfect, but had a marvelous suite of solo content. But this is nevertheless an inspired addition to the PlayStation Classic’s library. Many games of a certain age will remember hours long multiplayer bouts in Capcom’s splendid little puzzle game, which mixes familiar characters with Puyo Puyo-like gem clearing. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo represents an entire generation of multiplayer puzzle games on PlayStation, many of which retain a following to this day. Like we said, an inspired choice. —Kat Bailey
4: Mr Driller (Namco, 1999)
The round, smiling face of the titular Mr Driller betrays his dangerous mission. As the son of arcade superstar Dig-Dug, you’re tasked with plunging underground and drilling away the colored blocks bubbling up from the depths. Four (or more) blocks of the same color will disappear when they collide with each other, which helps prevent you from suffering an unfortunate Death by Squishing. Just make sure to grab the air tanks scattered in each level, or you’ll suffocate instead. Hooray! What a horrifying, adorable, maddeningly addictive puzzle game! —Nadia Oxford
3: Tekken 3 (Namco, 1998)
Tekken 3 was the first game in the beloved fighting series to add some depth—literally. Tekken 3 lets fighters shift in and out of stage backgrounds, bringing a new element of strategy to the PlayStation’s third King of the Iron Fist tournament. Unlike some games on the PlayStation Classic, Tekken 3’s inclusion is easy to understand. It’s still fun to fire up, and it remains one of the PlayStation’s best-selling titles (and indeed, one of the best-selling fighting games of all time) with over 8 million copies sold.—Nadia Oxford
2: Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation, 1998)
As far as I’m concerned, Metal Gear Solid almost makes the package worthwhile by itself. Hideo Kojima’s tale of mechs and genome soldiers is considered by many to be the best game on the PlayStation, serving to revolutionize both the stealth genre and triple-A action. It was phenomenally ahead of its time in terms of both storytelling and setpiece design, overcoming the PlayStation’s limited graphics to craft a setting that feels compelling and atmosphere. Even now, Shadow Moses Island is one of the franchise’s most memorable locations.
It remains a fan-favorite to this day, and we ranked it #2 on our list of the best Metal Gear Solid games. Nevertheless, it’s surprisingly hard to find unless you still have a PlayStation 3 or a Vita. The PlayStation Classic once again makes it readily available—a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre package. If you aren’t old enough to remember this classic, then give it a shot, because it’s still very much worth playing today.—Kat Bailey
1: Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft, 1997)
Final Fantasy VII is to the original PlayStation as bees are to flowers. It seems like every gaming generation has that one moment where we cross the threshold from the old to the new—I think Sonic the Hedgehog clearly marked the jump from 8- to- 16-bits, for example—and Final Fantasy VII was the game that welcomed us to 32 bits with its cinematic scenes and mature themes (though the level of actual « maturity » behind those themes is up for debate).
Final Fantasy VII also welcomed a lot of newcomers to the JRPG genre. An aggressive Western marketing campaign by Sony helped make swords, magic spells, and spiky hair cool with the mainstream.
When we look back at Cloud’s journey to discover his soul, it’s easy to point out its flaws or laugh at its blocky character models. Final Fantasy VII shouldn’t be dismissed on any level, though. Its construction is fascinating to look back on, and it’s still one of the most playable RPGs of all time thanks to its epic soundtrack and a simple menu-based battle system that doesn’t pull any fancy tricks. Lord knows what sights the Final Fantasy VII remake is going to show us, though. —Nadia Oxford
This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.