Why is the PlayStation Classic such a downer? This week on Kotaku Splitscreen, we discuss that question and much more.
Then (21:14) we take another deep dive into Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the most fascinating games I’ve ever played. We talk about how it bucks AAA conventions, how weird it is, and how it hits a new bar for details that miiiiiight just be unsustainable. Plus: much more.
Get the MP3 here or read an excerpt of us talking PS Classic:
Jason: ...There are a few good games on here, don’t get me wrong. Tekken 3 is a classic, Wild Arms is a great JRPG. Final Fantasy VII, obviously. But not only is it missing all the classic PlayStation games like Tomb Raider and Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, it’s also missing all of the games that made that platform great, like Final Fantasy Tactics, and Xenogears, and a bunch of others that I could list. So basically this thing is just— I don’t see why anyone would want it unless they want to hack it to get more games on there, which I think might be a reason to get one. But man, $100 for this thing is just a major disappointment, especially after the killer lineup of the Super Nintendo Classic.
So I know you didn’t grow up with a PlayStation — does this interest you at all?
Kirk: No. I’m not interested in this one. I saw someone make this observation that’s probably a pretty common one: the appeal of the Super Nintendo Classic is that it’s the pinnacle machine of the 2D era, and the PlayStation is just a more awkward console because it’s the beginning of the 3D era, so it’s more awkward. I didn’t have a PlayStation, I don’t have any affinity for any of those games or series, even to the point that I do with Super Nintendo games, despite that I didn’t own a Super Nintendo either. So yeah, I have zero reason to buy this one. Plus, owning the Super Nintendo Classic has put me off buying these anymore, because it’s cool and everything but I literally never use it. It just sits here on my desk.
Jason: That’s fair, although you could if you didn’t have so many other things to play. You could totally pick it up and say, ‘Hey, why don’t I try Earthbound for the first time?’
Kirk: Sure, but I have Earthbound on other systems, and also— Exactly, I don’t use it because there are other things I’m playing instead, that’s the whole problem.
Jason: To your point, by the way, I think in general 2D games have aged better than those early polygonal 3D games, which look terrible today and feel super clunky, so many of them. Even playing Mario 64 today is not quite as smooth as playing, say, Super Mario World today.
Kirk: That’s interesting. That sort of technological divide that can happen when a new type of technology is being explored. I think about this a lot with Fantasia 2000, that movie, and people have made this point with computer-animated movies versus hand-drawn animation. Going to see Fantasia 2000 now, it’s a really cool movie still, but there are these sequences where it’s very clearly computer animated, and there are these parts where it’s like, ‘Oh this looks very much like early 2000s CGI.’ And then they do the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and it’s hand-drawn Mickey and it looks beautiful and everything looks amazing and you’re like oh, because they drew that by hand. Sort of a similar parallel there.
Jason: It’s true, whenever you’re entering this realm of new technology, especially graphical technology, there’s always going to be those awkward pre-pubescent years when it’s still trying to figure out what it actually is.
Kirk: And it makes for such a fun experience of looking at the covers of old PC and PlayStation magazines where the headline blares, ‘Graphics you’ve never seen before!’ next to the worst-looking polygonal garbage screenshot of just brown nonsense.
Jason: It’s crazy. ‘This is the cutting edge! This is the future of graphics!’
Kirk: And you always wonder if people are going to look back at Red Dead Redemption 2 in ten years and laugh at everybody freaking out about how that game looks.
Jason: It’s hard to imagine. Because even back then, I owned a PlayStation 1 on launch, and even back then I remember thinking, ‘Oh god this is ugly, I wish this was 2D.’ One of the reasons I loved games like Suikoden and Lunar and other JRPGs like that is because a lot of them were 2D and stuck with that, which wound up tanking them sales-wise because everyone just wanted to buy 3D games at that point, but if you look back at them now they’re still beautiful.