PlayStation Classic vs. SNES Classic vs. NES Classic: Retro Showdown

Senior Editor
Updated

With the reveal of the PlayStation Classic, Sony is officially jumping on the retro console craze that Nintendo sparked with its NES and SNES Classic systems.

Like those consoles, the PlayStation Classic will be a miniature replica of the iconic 1994 system, complete with faithful throwback controllers and a ton of games that will usher in the first 32-bit retro console.

But how does it stack up to the competition? Let's have a look.


PlayStation Classic
SNES Classic
NES Classic
Price and Release Date
$99.99, Dec. 3
$79.99, out now
$59.99, out now
Number of Games
20
21
30
Included Controllers
2
2
1
Special Features
Save states, others TBD
Save states, screen filters, frames, rewind functionality
Save states, screen filters

Games

Retro consoles live and die by their game selections, and the PlayStation Classic's lineup is a mixed bag of absolute essentials and so-so filler. The console's 20-game library is headlined by such hits as Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil: Director's Cut, with some deeper cuts that include Battle Arena Toshinden, Revelations: Persona and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. There are some glaring omissions here, including Crash Bandicoot, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Tomb Raider and Gran Turismo.

Credit: NintendoCredit: Nintendo

The NES Classic is the winner in terms of sheer volume, offering 30 games including such staples as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Castlevania, Mega Man 2, Punch Out and Tecmo Bowl.

But while the NES Classic wins on quantity, the SNES Classic's 21-game lineup arguably has even better and more enduring titles, with such classics as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Street Fighter II Turbo and Donkey Kong Country. It's also the only official way to play Star Fox 2, which was scrapped just before it was set to launch in the mid 90's.

Overall, the NES and SNES Classic seem to do a better job covering their respective console's most essential games. But if you have a fondness for the 32-bit era, there are some undeniable classics on Sony's retro box.

Hardware

All three consoles share the same basic design principles: they're tiny plastic replicas of the original systems that are powered by USB and connect to your TV via HDMI. The PlayStation Classic even apes some of the basic functionality of its Nintendo rivals, such as the ability to suspend your game by pressing the Reset button.

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

Same goes for the controllers, which are all pretty faithful, to-scale recreations of each system's gamepads (though the NES and SNES Classic cables are woefully short.) The PlayStation Classic controllers are based on the launch models, so those expecting the more modern DualShock pads may be let down.

Credit: SonyCredit: Sony

For what it's worth, the controller ports on the NES and SNES Classic also support Nintendo's Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro pads. It's unclear exactly what controller connection Sony is using for the PlayStation Classic.

Special Features

The SNES Classic is loaded with neat bonus features, including save states, display filters that evoke your classic CRT TV, and a handy rewind feature that lets you turn back the clock when you're struggling in a difficult game. The older NES Classic has many of the same features, save for the rewind functionality.

Credit: NintendoCredit: Nintendo

Sony has yet to announce the PlayStation Classic's full suite of features, though the system's official announcement blog seems to indicate that it will also support the ability to suspend and resume your game like Nintendo's consoles do.

Value

At $60 with 30 titles, the NES Classic gives you the most games for your money, though it only comes with one controller. The SNES Classic packs two gamepads and 21 games for $80.

The PlayStation Classic is the most expensive of the bunch at $100 for 20 games, which is currently a bit hard to swallow given how mixed the system's game lineup is.

As it stands right now, the SNES Classic arguably gives you the best mix of quality games and hardware for its price. But, naturally, the value of each system will largely come down to how much you care about old PlayStation, NES or SNES titles.

Bottom Line

The PlayStation Classic could end up being a great alternative to Nintendo's proven retro packages for folks with a fondness for the early days of 32-bit gaming. If Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal and Final Fantasy VII are among your favorite games, you'll find plenty to like, but the system is simply missing too many games that defined the OG PlayStation.

Naturally, if old-school Nintendo is more of your thing, you’re better off with the NES or the (superior) SNES Classic. But we’re eager to see how Sony stacks up to the classic competition come December.

Credit: Playstation; Nintendo