In a move surprising almost no one (though its suddenness caught me off guard), Sony recently unveiled the PlayStation Classic. Releasing in a little over two months, the PlayStation Classic will be the first plug-n-play console to venture beyond the fourth generation.
To date, only five of the twenty bundled games have been announced (Final Fantasy 7, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms). Sony has stated that the additional fifteen games will vary by region, and forums have since run wild with speculation about just what the remaining titles may be. And why should TAY be the exception?
So, as a fan of PlayStation from damn well near day one, I’m making my own sort-of-but-not-at-all educated guesses about the unannounced titles.
In terms of first-party, Twisted Metal 2 and PaRappa the Rapper feel like locks to me. For as much as I’d prefer UmJammer Lammy (and for as much as it’s the better game) the original PaRappa is by far and away the most well-known installment of the series. Twisted Metal 2 doesn’t really need any further explanation. It’s arguably the single most popular game the car combat genre ever produced. And, to the eyes of many, remains the high-point of the series.
Warhawk is another strong contender as it’s one of the system’s earlier releases, has a decent following, maintains the emphasis on polygons the PlayStation Classic is undoubtedly going for, and hasn’t aged as poorly as you’d think.
Wipeout is where we may see our first regional difference. The absence of of licensed music in the North American version makes the game an easy pick. But the presence of The Chemical Brothers and other high-profile electronica acts in the European release could possibly make it a tougher get across the pond.
Here is where things get muddier.
On the surface, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and Medievil all seem like obvious choices. But the already released remake of Crash and the soon-to-be-released remakes of both Spyro and Medievil make all three games feel more than a little redundant. The fact that Sony no longer owns the Crash and Spyro IPs doesn’t help matters, either. Though Final Fantasy 7 and Tekken 3 prove that they’re putting in work. However, if I’m forced to choose one, Medievil by virtue of it being the path of no resistance licensing-wise.
Similarly, while Legend of Dragoon seems like a solid choice, Wild Arms is already repping Sony on the first-party RPG front. It’s also well over a gigabyte versus Wild Arms far leaner 300MB file size. (File size will come up a lot in this discussion as I believe Sony had no intention of including more than 16GB of storage.) Points in Legend of Dragoon’s favor are that it’s another well-loved, semi-cult classic, and (unlike the aforementioned mascot platformers) has aged comparatively well. Being one of the few genuinely AAA JRPGs released during the fifth-generation lends it a certain cache the could also serve to elevate the collection. Consequently, I’m making Legend of Dragoon my next guess.
Including the already announced titles, this brings us to eleven games - nine of which are first-party. Given how much of PlayStation’s early legacy is tied to third-parties, I firmly believe that Sony has done their damnedest to secure the PSX’s most iconic titles. Whether or not they’ve succeeded remains to be seen, but, again, Final Fantasy 7, Tekken 3, and Ridge Racer Type 4 do instill a good deal of hope.
And in terms of third-party candidates, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night feels like the next most obvious pick. It’s iconic, unique amongst the PlayStation’s library, maintains a strong association with the brand, and has aged brilliantly. And it doesn’t require Konami do anything beyond sign off on it and then collect their check.
Metal Gear Solid (despite being every bit as platform-defining as Final Fantasy 7) may be a harder sell due to the Mature rating. Ditto Silent Hill, only more so. It’s the same reason why any version of Resident Evil may not make the cut. That said, much like Deadpool - where Fox knew damn well that parents were gonna take their kids regardless of the rating - Sony may just say ‘fuck it’ and accept their ‘M’. Confident that A) parents will be buying PlayStation Classics more for themselves than their kids and B) early polygonal sex and violence is so abstract it borders on the quaint. So, assuming Sony is indeed comfortable with the world’s first M-Rated plug-n-play, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil: Director’s Cut are my next two choices. The latter is particularly intriguing as the absence of replica DualShocks means we’d likely be getting the black label release and its far superior soundtrack.
Speaking of Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha and Mega Man Legends both feel like safe bets from them. The former comes down to fighting games being the benchmark genre of the time, with Street Fighter Alpha being Capcom’s most visible offering (the original is also less than 100MB). As far as Mega Man is concerned, while I’ve seen Mega Man X4 get bandied about quite a bit (I’d prefer Mega Man 8 if they’re going that route), Legends still feels like the more likely choice simply due to it being 3D. (And, before anyone says anything, rights issues would likely prevent the inclusion of either Street Fighter Ex or Rival Schools.)
Getting back to the original game announcements, specifically Square’s, I think that in addition to Final Fantasy 7, the most likely inclusion is Final Fantasy Tactics. I say this because - out of Square’s entire PSX catalog - it is the the most obvious and dull choice. I mean, yeah, Final Fantasy Tactics is great game and I’d play it happily. But there are so many more exciting options - especially amongst the titles which never saw release as PS1 Classics. So, while I hope for the likes of Brave Fencer Musashi, SaGa Frontier, Ehrgeiz, or Bushido Blade, the only other real possibility feels like Vagrant Story (again, due to cult status and an exceedingly small file size). Which I’d actually hugely prefer to Tactics, but we’ll see. Though if Squeenix matches their SNES Classic output, then I’d say Vagrant Story is a lock alongside Final Fantasy Tactics.
I could also see Square pulling something of a bait-and-switch and making Tomb Raider one of their picks. Though I do hope they’d keep it semi-separate as to more accurately reflect the era and, more importantly, not dilute their original fifth-gen contributions. But, yeah, Tomb Raider. ‘Nuff said. It remains a strongly associated franchise despite being multi-platform from the word go. (The Saturn version of the original actually released before the PlayStation edition.)
Finally, my entirely baseless, out-of-left-field pick: Grandia. Cult following, freshly visible due to impending re-release of parts 1 and 2 on Switch and PC (and eventually PlayStation 4 if there’s any justice) and originally published by SCEA. (That last one probably no longer has any bearing, but who knows?)
So, yeah, those are my (mostly) best guesses for the remaining fifteen games.
Bookmark this article and let’s all come back in a few weeks time to either point and laugh or marvel at my prognosticative abilities.
As a side, the following are games whose inclusion I’m less confident about, but still feel they have a (potentially very slim) chance all the same: Alundra, Battle Arena Toshinden 2, Chrono Cross, Fighting Force, Legend of Legaia, Soul Blade, and Xenogears. Also, Thousand Arms - but only for the Japanese edition, more’s the pity.
UPDATE (9/24): After giving it a little thought, I’m semi-replacing (but more offering alongside of) Grandia with Motor Toon Racing. It’s first-party, it’s Kaz, it’s free of the licensing issues that will inevitably keep so many other racing games off the PlayStation Classic, and it helps fill out the offerings for what was - alongside fighting games - a benchmark genre of the era.