GameCentral readers celebrate 25 years of the PlayStation and old school games like Crash Bandicoot and WipEout.
With the PlayStation 1 celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, the subject for this week’s Hot Topic asked about your fondest memories of Sony’s first console. Did you own a PS1 when it first came out and why did you choose it over the alternatives? What was the first game you played on it and what did you think of it?
Many recalled the original console with great fondness, even as they admitted that most of the games had not stood the test of time – at least in terms of graphics.
I have extremely fond memories of the original PlayStation, or as I still tend to call it, the PSX (no doubt if the internet was as active as it is now there would have been many jokes with the name as per the Xbox Series X).
I didn’t own one when it came out, as I had a SNES which was still going strong and it was pretty expensive. I did play it fairly soon into its life, as my cousin had purchased one. I believe the first games I played on it were WipEout, which I didn’t like that much, and X-COM : Enemy Unknown (a renamed UFO: Enemy Unknown), which I absolutely loved and quickly found had an MS-DOS version which I then bought (this remains one of my favourite games ever).
I really didn’t like the marketing around the PSX, and in fact it probably resulted in me getting it later then I should have, as it ended up being one of my most loved consoles ever, with tons of fantastic games in some of my favourite genres, many of which not only stand up well now but often are still among the best decades on.
Breath Of Fire 3 is probably still my favourite Japanese role-playing game ever, and some of the others, like Grandia, Final Fantasy 7 to 9, Vandal Hearts, Suikoden 1 and 2, Xenogears, Alundra, Vagrant Story are some of the best in that genre.
Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night hooked up the ‘Vania franchise to Metroid style progression and is still looked at as one of the best in the genre all these years later. The first Metal Gear Solid remains my favourite Metal Gear instalment, and I see it as the last top class game Kojima made before he kinda went off the deep end in his quest for cinematics.
I fell in love with Soul Blade/Edge’s Edge Master mode, though Soulcalibur 2 far surpassed it when it came to actual battle mechanics. Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the other hand is probably still my favourite Street Fighter game.
Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain and Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver are still a lot of fun, though Soul Reaver is a bit less impressive now as the technical brilliance of disc streaming is now commonplace. I need to replay PaRappa The Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy, and Vib-Ribbon to see if they are still as fun as they were back then, though I suspect they are.
GC: Castlevania games have featured Metroidvania style gameplay since the NES days. Although Symphony Of The Night was the first to feature traditional role-playing elements, which is not a Metroid trait.
Out of the box
In honour of the PlayStation’s 25th birthday, I set up my PS1 again in order to replay some of my favourite games on the system. It’s the second version with analogue controls, which I think is a really neat piece of kit.
I started with Tomb Raider, which is the game that really kickstarted my love of gaming, but I gave up when I discovered I couldn’t make Lara walk across the room in a straight line by using the directional buttons, although back in the day I had no problems at all, I’ve somehow lost the knack. I had the same problem with Tomb Raider 2 and Exhumed, my first first person shooter which I absolutely loved and played to death.
Next up was Shadowman, which was and still is probably the weirdest game I’ve ever played on any system. A mix of voodoo and Jack the Ripper set in places called The Temple of Blood, The Asylum, and the Cathedral of Pain, to name just a few. As I said it’s seriously weird. That went back in its box pretty quickly though, because the graphics were terrible. I don’t remember them being this bad but maybe my HDTV is responsible because no way could I have ever played the game looking like it does now.
Currently, I’m playing a real favourite, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver and I have to say it has stood the test of time pretty well. It looks good considering its age, I like the story and solving the puzzles, by phasing between the two realms and warp gates, is as satisfying as it ever was. It’s also no pushover, so I expect to be wandering the halls of Nosgoth for quite a while.
The PS1 was many things to me. It was my reintroduction to gaming after a long break since the mid-80s during which I completely lost touch. It provided a lot of fun after five years where I was working and completing a qualification, with little spare time or mental energy. It was a great bonding experience with my youngest brother-in-law-to-be, which remains to this day. It was also the start of many criticisms from my wife about how many domestic chores were not being done while I am gaming.
It was my wife who bought the PS1 for me in 1998 for my 40th birthday, with Gran Turismo and Bust-A-Move 2 (which remains pretty much the only game we’ve played together). I was aware of the launch and it looked interesting but I didn’t seriously consider getting one as I knew it would be too much of a distraction.
What followed was an absorbing rediscovery of what had been made possible since Elite on the Commodore 64. Favourites included the ISS Pro series, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Panzer Front, Tenchu, Vandal Hearts, Syphon Filter, Crash Team Racing, Future Cop: LAPD, Oddworld, TOCA, Medal Of Honor, Bishi Bashi Special, Final Fantasy 9, Spyro, Soul Reaver, R-Type Delta, and Vagrant Story.
What strikes me in making that list, and considering the many others I left out, is the wide variety of games that I played and enjoyed. I have replayed only a few of them in the last few years, and I’m not sure I want to revisit others in case it spoils my happy memories of them.
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I bought my PlayStation from Dixons. That brand might only exist online now. Dixons was at the Princes Street entrance of St James Centre in Edinburgh. It’s been knocked down now.
I can’t really remember knowing anything about Sony’s new console at the time. I’d been playing a Mega Drive until then, I hadn’t bought a video game magazine since Crash. My first console was a borrowed teak effect Atari. My dad’s excitement at watching me elude ghosts on Pac-Man is my first memory of paternal interest I have. It’s a fond memory though.
I went into Dixons and I might have bought the PlayStation on store credit. In those days they threw store linked cards at you. All it took was a phone call and you were good. I remember it being expensive. You got about six games with it. Tunnel B1 and Ridge Racer, that’s really all I can remember apart from the fact most of the games were rubbish and they’d ran out of one of the games. I was given a choice. Nowadays I would take five minutes and be on my phone checking – look at what your good selves would say for instance. The game I chose was Tomb Raider.
Wow, apart from Ridge Racer which was pure arcade but so addictive, Tomb Raider was the find. It had an atmosphere I’d never experienced in a video game, until GTA 3 on PlayStation 2. I’d never played anything that immersive. It had puzzles and some shooting. I swear I can remember the intro video clearly.
I have a PS4 Pro now but I’ve had all Xboxes, all the Nintendos – you know what I want next gen? Great games and a quiet fan. Just quiet.
PS: I think my PSN ID is now brethren09
My first memory of the PS1 was seeing it playing on monitors in my local Virgin Megastore just after its release. Battle Arena Toshinden was playing on it and I just stood for five minutes in disbelief. The graphics astounded me, and I immediately planned how long it would either take me to save for a PS1 or how close Christmas/my birthday was to ask for one.
I went into the store to investigate further. The console and logo looked ultra cool, the controller seemed revolutionary, and the games looked like nothing I’d seen before. Even the memory cards and how they slotted neatly into ports above the controller ones were cool! My Atari ST suddenly felt obsolete and I just wanted one immediately.
The ‘Do not underestimate the power of PlayStation’ ads reinforced the coolness of the console, a particularly memorable one called Double Life ends with the words ‘I have commanded armies and conquered worlds.. and although I have lived a double life… at least I can say I have lived’, almost daring you not to buy one. Very clever Sony.
I can’t even remember how I eventually came to own my PS1, but it really was as great as I was hoping it would be. I played Ridge Racer first and was convinced it was an arcade perfect conversion! And without broadband and YouTube who was around to convince me otherwise?
I eventually built up a collection of about 50 PS1 games, many of which seemed so advanced compared to the games I’d been playing previously – the PS1 was a true evolution, more so than any jump between generations since.
If I had to choose a top five I guess it would be the Tomb Raider series, Metal Gear Solid, Colony Wars, Resident Evil, and Oddworld Abes Odyssey… ooh, and… WipEout, Final Fantasy 7, Ape Escape, Tekken 3, Die Hard Trilogy, Vagrant Story, the Formula 1 series, and so many more.
The PS1 really did increase the coolness of gaming, associating it with the clubbing scene, whilst at the same time introducing us to worlds and gameplay which wasn’t possible to this point. It has had an undeniable influence on how we game now, and in living up to its own advert, really did conquer the gaming world.
The PlayStation 1 is in a strange console, because while it’s probably one of the most important pieces of hardware ever released I don’t think I’d want to play any of the games as they originally existed now. There’s tons of SNES and Mega Drive games that are just as playable now as they ever were but that’s not true for the PS1 – as the PlayStation Classic, as flawed as it was, ably proved.
The old 3D graphics are just too much of a product of its time. And yet it’s a fairly fine line as most good N64 games are still very playable and yet Saturn games, which had even worse 3DS, almost seem like they’re not real because they look so bad.
So well do to Sony and the PlayStation, your place in history is well deserved – but as a museum piece not a playable experience.
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I never actually owned a PlayStation 1. I was always a Sega boi (she said see ya later, boi – I wasn’t good enough for her! Cause she had a Nintendo and preferred Mario, she’d never played Gunstar Heroes!) so even when I started to earn my own money towards the turn of the century I got a Saturn.
My first taste of its games were Dreamcast ports: Resident Evil 2, 3, Soul Reaver, and Dino Crisis. I didn’t think too much to Dino Crisis, got bored of it within an hour. Resident Evil 2 and 3 were much more impressive – both boasting an impressive structure. Hopefully the remake will preserve and maybe expand upon the idea of branching paths for Resident Evil 3.
Soul Reaver was very enjoyable – and weirdly my first taste of anything like a Zelda game. It had Z-targeting, block pushing puzzles, and secrets to uncover once you had upgraded your abilities. Naturally, only about two or three of the bosses were any good – Kain in particular being a huge disappointment. But I liked how being ‘nice’ to humans meant they would stop attacking you in the future. Not that they were much of a threat unless you go over to their city.
I played a few more of the original Sony console’s titles when I had myself a PlayStation 2. I beat Silent Hill, got through the first disc of Final Fantasy 7, and struggled with Vagrant Story. Vagrant Story was always one of those games I intended to go back to, but something shinier was always in the way. Silent Hill was brilliant and had a very impressive and surreal finale.
Final Fantasy 7 baffled me. I mean, the score’s in the title. I had already played the likes of Skies Of Arcadia, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and even Final Fantasy 10-2 and the hype for this thing was through the roof, shooting up into the sky and blasting apart the obligatory steampunk airship. Best game ever? It’s not even the best Final Fantasy! Come on! Wake up and smell the X-Potions, Final Fanatics!
I notice, that whenever its loudest advocates go overboard in their praise (don’t get me wrong, it’s still decent) they never cite examples. ‘Oh, it has really sophisticated themes about the environment and corporate exploitation!’ Yeah, so? So did Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic did it better without a single line of dreary, self-pity fuelled dialogue! And it’s not funny! Like, ever! Cait Sith made me want to tear my own face off! And I remember the marketing making me want that game more than I wanted my next breath!
Sony really did knock it out of the park with their marketing, if you’ll excuse my American expression. They made their console seem extremely desirable. It’s what helped them win that whole fifth generation. That and Sega and Nintendo just bungling it.
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