It’s hard to believe that it’s 15 years ago this week, since the original PlayStation hit shops (29 September) in Europe. And with it came the 32-bit generation of gaming. We waved goodbye to the game cartridge, well everyone but Nintendo, and welcomed in the CD. This next generation of gaming would also let us go "fully 3D," replacing side-scrolling games with Doom-style corridors to turn down, doors to open and blocks to slide. We got slick cut scenes, textures and light effects and we changed from geeks to gamers – it was a brave new world.
To mark the occasion and the legacy of Sony’s first home console, I’ve been reminiscing about games of yore. Take a look at what I was playing and what was exciting us gamers 15 whole years ago.
Whether you love or hate racing games, you can’t talk about the legacy or success of PlayStation without mentioning GT. Now this was a game that really demonstrated what the 32-bit generation was all about. Those cars gleamed, the physics was first rate and like nothing we’d seen or played, at home, before. This was arcade gaming at home.
I spent many evenings with friends racing cars around various tracks and it became a staple post pub activity. It felt like everyone was playing GT, wherever you went and they probably were because this was the PSX’s best selling game and it shifted consoles.
Now, I wasn’t really a huge WipEout fan and didn’t play it very much, but every body else certainly did. This game was huge and appealed to the club going crowd. Something Sony would exploit beautifully for the marketing of the PS2.
It had a silky-smooth frame rate, pounding dance music, slick futuristic environments and lots of speed. Suddenly, games were cool. They weren’t just for geeks who understood computers; they were for guys who talked about football down at the pub. Games were mainstream.
It’s got to be the RPG that nearly everyone’s played .Even those people who don’t like RPGs checked this out. FFVII was epic. It made you cry and took a lifetime to finish. Three discs of exploring the weird and wonderful world of the characters, those darn random battles and the awesome cutscenes.
It was the console RPG that set the benchmark for all that would follow.
Tomb Raider I&II
I can’t separate the TR games. One was the herald of a new era of 3D gaming and brand marketing within the industry and the other was my personal favourite. When Tomb Raider hit, even the mainstream media were talking about games. We had a figurehead and it was a woman. Okay, she was well-endowed, but she was a strong female character who’s gone on to produce a major movie franchise.
Then of course there was the game itself. For me, it has to be TRII every time. It pushed serious boundaries in terms of textures, lighting effects and cinematics. This was the cutting edge of 3D gaming and we’re still reaping the rewards of its lasting legacy. And frankly, the number of evenings I sat with friends crowded round shouting ideas and instructions for puzzles are too numerous to count.
Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding (Pro Skater in the US)
Oh-my-god, I spent a good month playing the demo for this every single waking moment that I wasn’t at work. A friend from the industry came home with the disc, I stuck it in and was hooked. From that moment, until the game came out, I played it all evening, every evening with one particular friend until we could pull a 360 Christ air in our sleep. I think it was up down circle.
This game rocked and was just one of numerous long-lasting series that began life on the PSX.
Metal Gear Solid
Despite not being an MGS girl, I cannot deny the impact it had. It was slick, engaging, polished and one of the first stealth-em ups. MGS took cinematic gaming to a whole new level and pushed the limits of what could be done on the PSX, in terms of graphics and story telling.
Kojima was hailed as a god and we got a new style of gaming. It was a win-win.
At the time of MGS, I was playing Tenchu. This was the other game that went the way of the stealthy. I loved the fact that it was a game that didn’t require running in all guns blazing – in fact, there were no guns. This was feudal Japan and it was all cherry blossom and sneaking over rooftops in true ninja style.
In hindsight, MGS was definitely the better game, but at the time, Tenchu struck a chord and at no point did I have to hide in a box.
Other Games of Note
With so many great years and great games on the original PlayStation, I can’t leave without at least mentioning the following:
Pa Rappa the Rapper – crazy Japanese onion-headed weirdness and my first rhythm action game
Silent Hill – always so much scarier and more stylish than Resi
Colin McRae Rally – so many hours spent driving muddy roads
Dance Dance Revolution – introduced gaming to mums and daughters
Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge – the first game I reviewed for GiN.
So happy birthday Mr. PlayStation! Here’s to many more!