Eight Games the PlayStation Classic Sorely Lacked To Be a Hit

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

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PlayStation Classic | Console box

One year ago today, the PlayStation Classic launched to underwhelming fanfare worldwide with twenty titles that ranged from classics such as FINAL FANTASY VII and Twisted Metal to the inexplicably included Mr. Driller and Jumping Flash!. As history has proven, consoles live and die by their console titles, and the extremely mixed bag of games that came installed on the PlayStation Classic swiftly regulated it to the discount bin.

It shouldn’t have been that way, though. The PlayStation Classic, coming out hot on the heels of Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic Consoles, could have been those console’s perfect counterparts instead of being mostly an afterthought.

I compiled a list of eight games that, if the PlayStation Classic had it at launch, would have quite possibly changed the legacy console’s destiny for the better. These games are not only all classics on the PlayStation, but are still quite fun to play even in 2019.

Now, in no particular order…


 

Street Fighter Alpha 3

PlayStation Classic | Street Fighter Alpha 3 Box Art

Publisher: Capcom
(NA) Release Date: June 29, 1998
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 93

The Basics

In this entry of the Street Fighter franchise, there are thirty-four different fighters (which includes three unlockable secret fighters) that are available to fight with. Each of these characters have their own unique storylines available to explore as you defeat your opponents in Arcade Mode. There are also other modes such as World Tour Mode, Arcade Mode, and more to explore.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 | Combat

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is simply a beautiful game to watch and play. (Image sourced from here.)

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

This is THE 2D fighting game from the original PlayStation to rival the 3D TEKKEN 3. There are three different ‘isms’ included in this game, which allows multiple styles of gameplay and Super Combo usage for all types of players. The different modes are incredibly varied and fun as well. World Tour Mode forces you to fight opponents and sets various ‘win’ conditions, which means you can’t simply ‘beat-em-all-up’ to get through to the end. World Tour mode is further enhanced by you getting powerups (such as the ability to resist dizziness or the ability to auto guard) as you’re clearing each level which you can pick and choose from to enhance your fighter between matches to further customize your own fighter. Finally, the 2D graphics in this game are beautiful to look at as the character animations and the level backgrounds are some of the best animation quality of this generation.

If you’re going to pick a single fighting game to have included on the PlayStation Classic, Street Fighter Alpha 3 is the game to pick. The replayability factor for this entry is so high that its omission from this compilation’s release was all the more baffling.


 

The Legend of Dragoon

PlayStation Classic | The Legend of Dragoon box art

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
(NA) Release Date: June 13, 2000
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 74

The Basics

Dart Feld leads a party to prevent the God of Destruction from reviving into his body by destroying the Signet Spheres scatted around the world of Endiness as war rages between on between various nations. Also, Dart becomes a Dragoon as the story progresses.

It is very hard to write about The Legend of Dragoon without spoiling everything, and you will want to play this one for yourself.

PlayStation Classic | The Legend of Dragoon Gameplay

The Legend of Dragoon does utilize some classic JRPG tropes in addition to the revolutionary combat system, it is still quite fun and is a game that shouldn’t be missed. (Image sourced from here.)

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

Why this game belongs on PlayStation Classic: While this game is often outshone by the FINAL FANTASY title included later on in this list, it does not mean that The Legend of Dragoon isn’t worthy of inclusion as well. The combat system is innovative with the inclusion of ‘Additions’ (where you time your button-presses with your attacks in order to do additional damage during combat) and being able to transform into various Dragoons (which grant you special attacks that mix up your regular combos or are a combination of spells). The CGI scenes, the music, and the lighting elements were all top-notch in 2000, and showed that the world of Endiness is real.

My only honest complaint (and the reason that I initially hesitated with including this title) is that the storyline is rather cliche and doesn’t do anything to make me feel truly attached to the characters. This is the lowest Metacritic-scoring title on my list, but any PlayStation Classic should have this game included on it.


 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

PlayStation Classic | Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Logo

Publisher: Activision
(NA) Release Date: September 20, 2000
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 98

The Basics

With sixteen total characters (including three unlockables on the PlayStation platform), multiple levels, and more tricks than you can imagine across multiple gameplay modes, this is an extreme skateboarding title that also served as the highpoint of the franchise and genre.

PlayStation Classic | Trick Flip

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was a genius title that deserved to be included in any PlayStation Classic console. (Image sourced from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

With series misfires such as Tony Hawk Ride and Pro Skater 5, it is hard to remember a time when the Tony Hawk franchise used to be one of THE best video game franchises out there.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is one of those rare titles where the controls are so tight that you can pull off tricks with ease and if you fail, well, you deserved it. The levels are all free-roaming with secret areas and plenty of places to pull trick combinations off of to a rather amazing hip-hop and rock soundtrack. This game has plenty of replay value to it too, and you can even make your own custom skateparks and characters to play as in the game. Finally, this game was simply just fun to play, even if you had absolutely zero interest in how Tony Hawk was the first person ever to land the 900 at the 1999 X Games or his skatepark-related philanthropy work.


 

Ape Escape

PlayStation Classic | Ape Escape

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
(NA) Release Date: May 31, 1999
ESRB Rating: E
Metacritic Score: 90

The Basics

A white-haired monkey named Specter puts on a helmet and becomes both evil and super-intelligent. In a very Planet of the Apes-esque fashion, Specter then puts these helmets on ALL the monkeys in the amusement park he calls home. You play as Spike, who comes to a laboratory that the monkeys have taken over. Spike and all of these super-intelligent monkeys are then sent throughout time, and Spike has to catch ’em all to fix things. There are also minigames that can be unlocked for play during the course of the game.

PlayStation Classic | Ape Catching

Ape Escape was one of the most unique, yet fun, titles from the original PlayStation console. (Image sourced from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

Ape Escape was the first game on the PlayStation console that actually required the Dual Shock controller, with the left stick controlling your movement and the right control stick controlling the various stun club, two types of monkey-catching nets, slingshots, and more weapons that you can set to the four face buttons. In order to go from 3D level to 3D level, you have to catch a certain number of monkeys per stage and more than a few of them would require careful plotting in order to finally capture.

When I played through this game while I was growing up, Ape Escape quickly became a game of ‘…Just one more monkey, THEN I’ll stop. Maybe.’ There is seriously something addictive to catching these monkeys one after another while using the tools at my disposal, and this game honestly holds up even twenty-years later.


 

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

PlayStation Classic | Castlevania Symphony of the Night

Publisher: KONAMI
(NA) Release Date: March 20, 1997
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 93

The Basics

You play as Dracula’s son, Alucard, as he explores his father’s castle in a non-linear environment Metroidvania environment to defeat Richter Belmont. Alucard can use a variety of weapons, cast spells, and summon familiars to help him out in his quest. This entry of the Castlevania franchise was designed to be a free-roaming-and-exploration-based game instead of a level-by-level setup like several of the classic NES games.

PlayStation Classic | Castlevania Symphony of the night gameplay

No longer confined to linear progression, Alucard tracks and back-tracks around this gorgeously done castle. (Image sourced from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

This game came out at a time when Super Mario 64 had dominated the landscape and exposed the world to the potential platforming and exploration that 3D can bring. That said, those people in 1997 who dared to pick up this latest entry in the Castlevania franchise found an absolutely gorgeous and musically-perfect gothic world to explore.

The storyline is top-notch, the combat is fun, and there is always a reason to push through just a little bit further to see what lies ahead. And in a surprising twist – if you complete certain objectives while playing the game through the first time, you can actually FLIP the castle upside down and re-explore it in order to obtain a completely different ending. Finally, as mentioned earlier, this was a game that placed an emphasis on exploration and back-tracking throughout the castle instead of merely linear progression, and this would set the subsequent tone for later games and the genre title “Metroidvania”.

There is so much play value in this game, it is one of the strongest entries in the franchise to date, and it definitely deserved to be on the PlayStation Classic.


 

Gran Turismo

PlayStation Classic | Gran Turismo

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
(NA) Release Date: May 12, 1998
ESRB Rating: E
Metacritic Score: 96

The Basics

This is a racing game that comes with two modes: Arcade Mode and Gran Turismo mode. In Arcade Mode, you can do a single race against five AI opponents, you can do a two-lap time trial, you can race your friend, and view unlockable bonus items. In Gran Turismo mode, you start with some cash and you have to climb your way up by passing various licensing tests to get into bigger race championships, win prize money, use that prize money to upgrade your car, rinse and repeat.

PlayStation Classic | Gran Turismo

Considering that Gran Turismo was made by Sony itself, its omission is all the more baffling from the PlayStation Classic. (Image sourced from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

Arcade mode is pretty much what people would expect if you were to play Gran Turismo as a random arcade racing title in the 90’s – race your friend and a handful of opponents, and see what times you can set on a particular race course. That mode is really nothing special or did anything to help push the genre forward as a whole.

The reason this game belongs on the PlayStation Classic, however, is because of the Gran Turismo mode. When you play it, you are put into a world where you are racing your opponents in order to win titles, get money, and customize an ever more exacting and powerful car. This creates an incredibly fun loop of gameplay of racing in better cars to get even better cars for more racing, which, when matched up with the tight controls and the most realistic driving physics in a racing game at that time, makes it a clear no-brainer that should have be included in this collection.

(Note: While Gran Turismo 2 also came out on the PlayStation and could also merit inclusion on this list, I always felt that the first game was superior to the sequel.)


 

Tomb Raider

PlayStation Classic | Tomb Raider

Publisher: Eidos Interactive
(NA) Release Date: October 25, 1996
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 91

The Basics

Lara Croft heads to Peru, Greece, Egypt, and more to uncover the truth about what just might be the legendary city of Atlantis. During her globe-trotting 3D adventure, Lara has to solve puzzles and fight with a variety of firearms to survive and complete each level. In addition to the standard puzzles and combat, there are also optional secrets for Lara to uncover that can reward her with a variety of bonuses.

PlayStation Classic | Tomb Raider Gameplay

Tomb Raider helped to define the action-adventure genre for a 3D universe. (Image screencapped from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

Tomb Raider is one of those games that, whether you first played it in 1996 or 2019, sticks with you. Lara moves and fights in a gorgeous 3D environment with a brilliantly fitting soundtrack that only plays during relevant events instead of acting as an ambient background sound. This game also placed a huge emphasis on telling Lara’s journey through a heavy focus on storyline and on characters such as Lara Croft, Jacquelina Natla (who hires Lara to find these artifacts), and the legends behind Atlantis. The combat is also quite fantastic, with Lara being able to shoot two firearms at once, and having a variety of weapons to choose from in her adventure.

After playing through Tomb Raider, it is easy to see why this series has spawned three movies, a theme park ride, and a series of titles that continue into the present day on modern consoles.


 

FINAL FANTASY IX

PlayStation Classic | FINAL FANTASY IX Box Art

Publisher: SQUARE ENIX
(NA) Release Date: July 7, 2000
ESRB Rating: T
Metacritic Score: 94

 

The Basics

Zidane and his crew of bandits that disguise themselves as a theatre troupe kidnap the princess of Alexandria, and set off a series of events that culminate in the whole world being placed at risk of destruction. This is a four-disc JRPG with plenty of references to classic FINAL FANTASY tropes from the SNES and NES-era titles. Just like with Legend of the Dragoon, it is hard to write about this game’s plot without spoiling it.

PlayStation Classic | final fantasy ix combat

With up to four people in your party, and each person in your party having a distinct personality, FINAL FANTASY IX is one of the best FINAL FANTASY franchise titles ever to be released. (Image taken from here).

Why this Game Belonged on the PlayStation Classic

While FINAL FANTASY VII was included on the PlayStation Classic, FINAL FANTASY IX is the superior title for this franchise. The Ability System, which defines the character’s attacks via their innate skills and gear (and which would later be recycled for the Blue Mage job in FINAL FANTASY XI) is easy to grasp and utilize. The playable characters, especially Vivi, are exceptionally well defined and give both depth and complexity that stays with the player long after the game is complete. Finally, the graphics and music are some of the best in the series, with beautifully rendered backgrounds and cutscenes, and a soundtrack composed by Nobuo Uematsu that is simply unmatched.

FINAL FANTASY IX is -the- FINAL FANTASY game to play on the original PlayStation console, which makes it omission all the more baffling from the PlayStation Classic.



These are just eight games that should have belonged on the PlayStation Classic, and would have undoubtedly elevated it to the highest echelon of retro consoles if they would have been included.

I am sure that I am missing some games from this list. For example, my editor-in-chief/review manager, Josh Speer (@SpeerofD3stiny), believes that Parasite Eve should have be included.

What do you think is missing? Would you have picked up a PlayStation Classic at launch if these games were included?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.