Gaming

PlayStation Classic PAL Games List: Worse Performance Than Original PS1 or PSP

Reviews for the PlayStation Classic—Sony’s nostalgic mini-console that takes after Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic—have not been kind. Many of them bemoan the selection of 20 games that many reviews, including ours, felt was not the best possible representation of the system’s massive library of classics.

While all those reviews get to the essence of the problem—the selection of games—a new video from Digital Foundry explains how the PlayStation Classic also fails on a technical level, producing worse graphics than even the original system! Particularly troubling is Sony’s decision to include PAL versions of nine different games, effectively chaining them to the limitations of a European broadcast standard that simply doesn’t operate well with games originally developed in Japan or the United States.

Despite a gigabyte of RAM and 16 gigabytes of Flash storage making the Classic far more powerful than the original PlayStation, Digital Foundry’s John Linneman has documented the constant software problems dogging much, if not all, of the PlayStation Classic library.

The video gives side-by-side examples of how the PlayStation Classic fails to stand up even to the graphical standards of the original console, thanks to poor emulation, too much filtering and improper scaling, resulting in blurrier graphics.

This leads to some major flaws, such as slowed-down audio. One especially egregious example: the “battle swirl” drawing players into combat in Final Fantasy VII animates incorrectly on the PlayStation Classic. Since this is an old-school RPG with plenty of random encounters, you’ll see this animation thousands of times in a complete playthrough.

playstation-classic-pal-games-list-final-fantasy-vii Yikes! Digital Foundry via YouTube / Square Enix

“When you couple this with the typical blurry upscaling of 720p content you get on modern flat-panel TVs, the result is poor image quality that does the games now favors,” Linneman says, putting some of the blame on the open-source emulation software Sony opted to use in the Classic.

But the biggest problem with the PlayStation Classic software comes down to nine of the 20 available games being the PAL versions, rather than the NTSC versions released in North America. PAL broadcasting refreshes at a different rate than TVs in the United States or Japan. This lead to issues when games developed in the U.S. or Japan were improperly optimized for the different standard, leading to slower animation and gameplay, along with dropped frames in cutscenes. Sony has now ported all of those issues to the PlayStation Classic. This is especially noticeable in fighting games, such as the included Tekken 3 .

The PAL games included with PlayStation Classic are Jumping Flash, Tekken 3, Battle Arena Toshinden, Cool Boarders 2, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Grand Theft Auto, Destruction Derby, Oddworld Abe’s Odyssey and Resident Evil Director’s Cut.

Games included in their NTSC versions are Final Fantasy VII, Intelligent Qube, Metal Gear Solid, Mr. Driller, Revelations: Persona, Rayman, R4: Ridge Racer, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Syphon Filter, Twisted Metal and Wild Arms.

All of these issues combine to make some of the games, particularly the original Grand Theft Auto , nearly unplayable. What’s even more surprising: the PSP and PS Vita both play PlayStation games better than the brand-new Classic!

“No matter which game you select, performance is never as fluid as on original consoles or using any other official Sony solution,” Linneman concludes.

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