With just a few simple steps, the Playstation Classic becomes a universal retro console. But how does it compare to the Raspberry 4? TechStage tested it.
In recent years there has been real hype about retro gaming. The commercial success started with the introduction of Nintendo’s SNES Classic Mini (test report). Other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and have launched their own consoles on the market. These include the C64 Mini (test report), the Sega Megadrive Mini (test report), the Neogeo Mini (test report) and Sony with the Playstation Classic (test report). This had disappointed in the test with poor title selection and loveless software, but that has changed in the meantime. With the free software Autobleem Not only is it possible to install your own Playstation 1 games, but it also enables emulation of other console titles.
In order to use the Playstation Classic as a universal console, only an additional USB stick with the software is required Autobleem needed. If you want to play in pairs, you also need a USB hub.
As simple as that may sound, there is a small catch: Not all USB sticks are compatible with the console. This is due to the limited performance of the USB port. It provides so little power that many modern USB sticks don’t work at all; the console then simply switches off. USB 3.0 sticks can be completely forgotten for this project because they use too much power. Even with older USB 2.0 sticks you have to be lucky. In practical trials, however, we found a suitable memory in our personal fund: a dusty giveaway from 2017.
In preparation, the USB memory must be formatted to FAT32 and renamed to SONY (capitalized). Now the Autobleem software is used. After the download, the ZIP directory is extracted and the content is copied to the main directory of the USB stick. This should look something like this:
Theoretically, the USB stick is already operational. However, the ROMS, the actual games, are still missing. Playstation 1 titles are added to the Games folder. If you want to play games from other consoles like NES, N64, Neogeo or Sega, copy them into the ROMS directory. For a better overview, we recommend creating subfolders for the various consoles (e.g. NES, SNES, GBA, etc).
Now the USB stick comes into the connection port for the second controller. If you want to play multiplayer games such as Mariokart, insert the stick into a USB hub and this into the second USB port. The Playstation Classic boots directly from the USB stick and starts the Autobleem software.
The program recognizes subsequently added Playstation games after a short scan. The games Ace Combat 3 and Smurf Racer downloaded from the Internet as a test are then also displayed in the menu; just like the original Playstation Classic titles. To start, the game is selected and started by pressing the X button.
In addition to various surface designs, various languages are available under the settings, including German.
The games from other consoles can be found in the Retroarch emulation interface included in Autobleem. This starts from the main menu by pressing the square key on the controller. The user now lands on a surface that is similar to the Recalbox or Retropie (comparison test) programs from the Rasperry Pi. Now you choose the point Load content (first tab) and then that Start directory. There you will find the subdirectories for the various consoles previously created under ROMS. After selecting the title, the software asks which emulator should be used. The game starts a few seconds later and is ready for use. The automatic emulator selection always worked perfectly in the test, but some titles ran significantly too slowly. Choosing a different emulator version will help solve the problem. Games from Amiga, NES, SNES, N64, Neogeo or Gameboy Advanced ran flawlessly and smoothly in the test. However, when emulating newer consoles like the Playstation 2, the hardware reaches its limits. These games are jerky and do not run properly.
And there is something else to mention. If you want to play N64 games, you need a different controller. The old Playstation joystick simply lacks the analog sticks. We have summarized suitable input devices in the article Seven controllers from 6 euros in the test.
Overall, the Playstation Classic works well as a universal console. The completely uncomplicated handling of Autobleem is particularly useful for inexperienced users. If you want to play retro games with little effort, you get a cheap and very uncomplicated solution here.
The Raspberry Pi 4 is ideal for a DIY console because of its compact dimensions, good performance and wide range of software. How exactly that works and can look concrete, we explained in a step-by-step guide in the article Retro console build with the Raspberry Pi itself.
Compared to the Playstation Classic, the mini computer Raspberry has more power, a network connection and a much larger community. But there are also some disadvantages. It starts with the purchase of the hardware. While everything comes neatly packaged and ready for play to the customer on the Playstation Classic, the single-board computer still requires a power supply unit, housing and controller. Although these accessories are not particularly expensive, the Raspberry console still costs a whole lot more than the Playstation version. Installing the software and equipping it with ROMs is also significantly more complicated than working with Autobleem.
If you feel like reading in the topic, the Raspberry is more flexible overall. The better performance and the possibility of a network connection are homicide arguments for real nerds.
The main problem with both variants is the supply with ROMS. Even decades old titles may not be legally downloaded. However, they are often the only way to play old games at all. Dodgy dealers have recognized this and are offering pirated copies in packs of several hundred or a thousand titles.
If you don’t want to take any risks, you should look for so-called homebrew ROMs. These self-developed games for old consoles are usually free and completely legal.
The Playstation Classic is perfect for playing old games. If it is really about gaming, the console offers the best price-performance ratio of all universal retro consoles. In addition to the console for just under 60 euros, all you need is an old USB stick and the free software Autobleem.
If you want to install your retro console in a stylish housing, integrate it into the network or operate it with self-made controllers, you are still better advised with the generously equipped Raspberry console (instructions). Operation and setup of the single-board computer are overall much more demanding than using the Playstation Classic or another retro console.
The fact is that the Playstation Classic disappointed us after the first test. The price, which has now dropped to 60 euros, and the ability to play other game titles with the console, now lead to a different result. If you want to play old retro games quickly, cheaply and easily, you can do everything right with the Playstation Classic. If you are unsure about the console, you should compare the article 10 official retro consoles. To get a taste of the topic, we recommend the instructions: Retro gaming on your smartphone or tablet.