All aboard the nostalgia train.
Following Nintendo’s lead, Sony announced that they will be releasing a PlayStation Classic, set to hit store shelves in early December. The announcement came during the Tokyo Game Show. Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition and Super Nintendo Classic Edition have both released to rave reviews and super high fan demand, so Sony is clearly banking on their miniature console experiencing the same success.
The PlayStation Classic will come pre-loaded with 20 games, although only five have been announced so far: Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, Jumping Flash! and Wild Arms. It’s set to have a $99.99 price tag, which has elicited some complaints, but really it may be a consequence of Sony having to pay a high amount of licensing fees. After all, when you think of some of the PlayStation’s greatest games, most of them are probably of the third-party variety. Of those five above, only Jumping Flash! was a first-party title.
Speaking of the games, with 15 slots left to fill, what titles will round out the PlayStation Classic’s roster? Below I will talk about five games I think are locks for the console and five which may be dark horses. In no way do I think that these games would be the only locks or dark horses on Sony’s roster, but it will be interesting, once the full lineup is released, to see which ones I got right and which ones I completely missed. Let’s get started.
Metal Gear Solid (1998 – Konami)
Think of games that successfully made the jump into the third dimension. Chances are this game is at the top of your list, along with the likes of Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This stealth action series returned in a big way after an 8-year hiatus, as Solid Snake was given even more varied ways to combat, but more importantly, evade your foes.
Production values were through the roof, with the use of voice acting and cinematic cutscenes to tell the story. There was such a colorful cast of characters, both friend and foe. And who could forget those fourth-wall breaking moments, such as Col. Campbell telling you to find Meryl’s Codec frequency on the back of the game’s jewel case, or Psycho Mantis making your controller vibrate through “the power of his mind.”
Why it’s a lock: This is more than one of the best games on the PlayStation. It’s a genre-defining title.
Resident Evil 2 (1998 – Capcom)
Survival horror found a home on the PlayStation, and maybe no game exemplified that better than Resident Evil 2. Taking place two months after the original, players take control of series mainstays Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they try to escape Raccoon City, after its populace has been transformed into zombies.
Improving upon the original with branching paths and unique storylines, Resident Evil 2 still managed to keep the edge-of-your-seat suspense around every turn. Sure, shots of those doors opening may have been loading screens, but you still feared seeing a couple of zombies on the other side.
Why it’s a lock: With a remake set to hit early next year, now seems as good a time as any to show new gamers where it all began.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997 – Konami)
While other franchises made the jump into 3D, Castlevania, at least on the PlayStation, proudly stuck to its 2D roots. But instead of giving us the action platformer that had defined the series up to that point, it went in a completely different direction.
With the ability to explore all of Dracula’s Castle, the introduction of RPG elements such as hit points and experience points, and a multitude of weapons, items and abilities to find, Symphony of the Night didn’t just re-imagine Castlevania, it coined a new term now part of the gaming lexicon: Metroidvania. Oh yeah, and when you thought you were done, it gave you a second castle to explore, effectively doubling the game’s length.
Why it’s a lock: Over 20 years later, SotN is still considered by many to be the best Castlevania game.
PaRappa the Rapper (1996 – NanaOn-Sha)
Before Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Elite Beat Agents and even Dance Dance Revolution, there was PaRappa the Rapper. A rhythm game with an unique style, players guide Parappa through six stages as he seeks to win the heart of the girl he likes by rapping about learning kung-fu, getting a driver’s license and having to use the restroom. Yes, I’m serious.
With extremely catchy tunes and distinctive visuals, players are encouraged to go back once they completed the game and play the stages again to try for higher scores. Doing so unlocks special scenes and new characters. It’s that kind of work/reward system that was a hallmark of classic gaming.
Why it’s a lock: Rhythm games began in this generation, and this one requires no extra peripherals.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (2000 – Neversoft)
In the mid-to-late 90s, with the rise of extreme sports and events to showcase them like the X Games, fans had plenty of options when it came to extreme sports video games. But none came better than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Building upon the original with more tricks, more skaters, more stages, more missions, more collectibles, more everything, THPS2 was truly bigger and better. It’s been downhill for the Tony Hawk series ever since (except for perhaps Tony Hawk’s Underground), but there was a time where the name Tony Hawk brought approving nods in gaming rather than derisive chuckles. This game is the reason why.
Why it’s a lock: It was truly a product of its time, a worthy entrant in the PlayStation museum.
Ape Escape (1999 – Sony Computer Entertainment)
A platformer with action and puzzle-solving segments that has you tracking down monkeys, under the command of an highly-intelligent, evil monkey, across time before they can do any damage to the time stream. Yes, it sounds silly, but it really is a charming game with quite a bit of depth to it.
Players have command of various gadgets, some of which are unlocked as you progress. You have monkeys that will run at the drop of a hat, and other monkeys that will actively try to defeat you. Some monkeys are out in the open, others are cleverly hidden. It’s a game that tests your reflexes as well as your brain.
Why it’s a dark horse: Ape Escape primarily used dual analog controls. The PlayStation Classic controllers are the original models without the analog sticks. Still, the overwhelmingly positive reaction may urge Sony to find a way.
Parasite Eve (1998 – Square)
Billed as the cinematic RPG, this RPG/survival horror hybrid put players in the shoes of rookie NYPD Ofc. Aya Brea, the only person capable of stopping a demonic entity known as Eve from ravaging Manhattan and taking over the world, quite literally from the inside.
This game truly was a hybrid, with turn-based action-oriented combat, an item system which encouraged customizing your equipment, while managing your inventory, and Square’s always gorgeous CG cutscenes that produced moments of dread. It was a successful experiment for Square, but one they haven’t been able to replicate, as its two sequels haven’t been as well received.
Why it’s a dark horse: RPGs are epic in scale and therefore can take up a lot of space on a console like this. Parasite Eve is a smaller game, but with plenty to sink your teeth into.
Syphon Filter (1999 – Eidetic)
This game puts players in the shoes of counter-terrorism operative Gabe Logan as he investigates a string of biological weapon outbreaks. While the game’s main focus is on run-and-gun action, there are stages where stealth is essential and some areas, and boss fights, which require the use of puzzle-solving.
Syphon Filter was a huge game, spread across 20 stages in locales like Washington, D.C., Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. The game gave you plenty of weapons to combat foes, including the Taser, which comically caused enemies to spontaneously combust. The game provided a difficult but fair challenge, especially in later stealth-based stages.
Why it’s a dark horse: It’s overshadowed by more well-known action titles, but it’s one of the PlayStation’s sneaky good hits.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998 – Capcom)
We’ve got a 3D fighter on the PlayStation Classic, so how about a 2D one? And not just any 2D fighter, but one of the best of its time. Street Fighter Alpha 3 gives you that classic Street Fighter gameplay it’s known for. It just gives you a lot more of it.
Thirty-four fighters and three play-styles spanning Street Fighter’s history, along with those familiar pick-up-and-play mechanics, responsive controls and smooth animation. The game is a lot of fun, whether you’re playing alone or with friends.
Why it’s a dark horse: With Tekken 3 already announced as part of a 20-game roster, how many spots does Sony want to fill up with fighting games?
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins (1998 – Acquire)
There have been many games that have put you behind the cowl of a ninja, but few that have actually captured the essence of what being a ninja is all about: Blending into the shadows, striking swiftly and leaving before anyone knew you were even there. Tenchu is one of those few games.
Putting you in control of two ninjas with different attributes and fighting styles, you have plenty of techniques at your disposal to go toe-to-toe with foes. But for that pure ninja feel (as well as unlocking even more ninja weapons and gadgets), you have to kill by stealth. Hell, it says it right there in the tagline (“Live by honor. Kill by stealth.”)
Why it’s a dark horse: Tenchu is a series that has kind of fallen off in recent generations. But its peak deserves to be recognized.
So that’s my list, but what games do you think we’ll see on the PlayStation Classic? Let us know in the comments below!