The 20 greatest Sony PlayStation moments for its 20th anniversary. What are your favourites?
Ah the Sony PlayStation. The console that changed the gaming landscape, and blew the natural order of Nintendo and Sega out of the water. They had it too easy as there was no real other competition for them, and then along came Sony. Who, incidentally, they had both refused to work with. Oh dear.
The original PlayStation launched on 29 September 1995 in the UK (December 1994 in Japan) for a recommended retail price of £299. Amazingly Sony only discontinued production of the original PlayStation, and its smaller sibling the PSone, in 2006, after giving the console an 11-year life span. Which is even more amazing when you consider that the PlayStation 2 was launched in the year 2000.
It’s really easy if you’ve been around long enough (as I have), to see gaming as two distinct periods; before PlayStation and afterwards. The culture, technology, and scope of video games have just changed that much since the original Playstation kickstarted the second wave.
Anyway, to celebrate the 20th anniversary we have dug around and came up with 20 defining moments in the history of the Sony Playstation. Which isn’t easy as Sony’s gaming career thus far is packed with standout moments, great games, and all-important turning points for the whole industry. But we have managed to whittle down the Playstation Megamix to just 20 of it’s greatest moments anyway, so get a little misty-eyed, before wiping away the tears and sending us some of your favourite PlayStation memories.
1. The Nintendo Play Station
As everyone now knows, the PlayStation was originally developed in a loving relationship with then video game market leader Nintendo. The Play Station (note the spelling) would have been a CD rom add-on for Nintendo’s Super Nintendo. However Nintendo, for some reason, got cold feet about the deal and spurned the love of Sony by starting a torrid affair with rivals Philips. This mightily annoyed the jilted Sony, who decided to just go it alone and produce the standalone PlayStation. Which resulted in them swiftly stealing the top spot from Nintendo and getting joyous revenge. Nintendo, though, persisted with their new love, Philips… who went on to make the horrendous CD-i and the uncontested worst Zelda and Mario games ever.
2. Gran Turismo
Vrooooooooooom! Goes the sound of Gran Truism racing in the lives of PlayStation owners everywhere in 1988., which is when Polyphony Digital released their era defining racing sim game. With five years in development, 140 cars, 11 tracks, and 10.8 million copies sold worldwide, Gran Turismo was a roaring success that got even better with each release, with the PS2’s Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec the high point.
3. Lara Croft
Ah, Lara Croft. The game that captured the, ahem, imagination of every teenage boys ‘heart’. Apparently, the story goes that little old Lara was a bit of an accident. An artist was fiddling with the dimensions of her character model, inadvertently slipped his mouse, and caused her chest to increase by 150 percent. However, chest size aside, Lara is also the first woman to star in a video game, and a kick-ass woman at that. With imaginative gameplay and puzzles aplenty, the Lara Croft games were essential to play, and are still going strong today. With a less pointy chest though.
4. PlayStation advertising
PlayStation advertising wasn’t aimed at young kids. It was adult. It was weird. It challenged conventions. Indeed you could argue that the classic PlayStation advert ‘Double Life’, which was created by ad agency TBWA and accepted into the prestigious Clio Hall of Fame in 2007, was the Kipling for the ASBO generation. Sending out the notion of a double life for everyone as a violent, vandalising thug with a stirring monologue.
5. The rave generation of WipeOut
As much as Gran Turismo was an amazing and groundbreaking game, WipeOut was for the happy hardcore generation and raver gamers. Back when WipeOut came out, illegal raves and ecstasy were all other the newspapers, and the party loving youth were being condemned everywhere. WipeOut was for those very same people. WipeOut was for the ravers who, upon getting home with their friends and still being, ahem, quite awake. they plugged in, turned up the soundtrack which featured acts like Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, and Orbital, and just immersed themselves the in the super fast gameplay and the colours. Oh the colours!
6. Tony Hawk Pro Skater
I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent playing the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series over the years, but every single hour was extremely satisfying and worth it. It really captured the thrill of skateboarding and, with brilliantly designed levels and lots of hidden secrets, it still remains the game to beat of the genre. I have hopes of a VR version being released at some point.
7. Crash Bandicoot
Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic, and for a while Sony had Crash Bandicoot. Crash appeared in a deceptively challenging self-titled platform game, which boasted a unique and colourful art style, memorable 3D chase levels and a likeable lead that looked set to become Sony’s mascot for years to come. Unfortunately, despite selling millions for the original PlayStation, the quality of the Crash Bandicoot series would eventually decline and its popularity started to wane, leading to a now four-year exile. Rumours of a return are rife, and here’s hoping it’s also a return to form.
8. No more air guitar, we have Guitar Hero
When, in 2005, Guitar Hero entered our lives,the music loving gamers rejoiced and strapped on their small plastic guitars. All those of us that had always wanted to rock out, but lacked the ’real’ guitar skills, rejoiced and moshed while racking up those precious points. And with songs from Pantera, Black Sabbath, the Ramones and Queen, we royally rocked out.
9. The multimedia future entered our lives
I remember the old days when gaming consoles were just for, well, playing games on. Sounds quaint and old fashioned right? But it is true. Back then, cameras only took pictures and phones only made phone calls too. Then came along the PS2, and media went multi. Now you could shoot all the Nazi bad guys that you wanted too and, if you wanted, stick on a DVD of the Lion King. Or listen to the latest Spice Girls CD if you wished. Then with the PS3, you could import all your pictures, watch movies off a USB stick, AND browse the internet. Phew!
10. GTA goes 3D
Grand Theft Auto was originally a top-down PC crime caper which, although great fun, gave no real indication to what it would later become. When GTA II launched exclusively on the PS2 our lives were changed forever. The 3D graphics, the vast three dimensional gameplay, the open-world city to wreck havoc in… all these blew our mind and we have never looked back. And neither has the games industry.
The PlayStation isn’t all about sex, drugs, and wars in the Middle East. It can do cute as well as those guys from Nintendo, and the greatest example of that is LittleBigPlanet. It isn’t just cute though, it invited a thimble-fingered army of creatives to create their own levels, offered whole new ways to play and share, and inspired a bunch similarly creative games in its wake (none of which were as good). Oh, and it also had Stephen Fry’s velvety hug of a voice.
12. Final Fantasy VII
Sony, the spurned lover of Nintendo, were not satisfied with wrenching the console market away from them, they also grabbed the long-running Final Fantasy series from under Nintendo’s nose as a key blow in the console war. Before then, Final Fantasy was a strictly Nintendo affair, but from Final Fantasy VII that was no longer true.
13. The Dual Analog Controller
Damn, this really did change gaming. Who would have thought that the console controllers needed dual analog sticks and vibration feedback. Released in Japan in April 1997, along with releases of analog-capable titles Tobal 2 and Bushido Blade, it allowed for more precise and fluid control of the games’ fighters, with the rumble feature contributing to a more realistic experience. It changed the way we played games forever.
14. Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece simultaneously raised the bar, pushed the limit and established one of gaming’s most iconic franchises and shifting perceptions of the entire medium. Complex characters, hidden secrets, supreme world-building and a man with an eye patch called Solid Snake, this game has it all. Stealth action wasn’t really a thing before Metal Gear Solid.
15. The PS2 networker adapter
“What, you mean you couldn’t’ play your games with other players in the world”. No, we couldn’t. We had to, instead, play split screen games with our friends instead. And we had to be in THE SAME ROOM! Now, though, we can don headsets and converse with our international partners in war.
16. Resident Evil 2
The scary game benchmark with terrifying enemies, intriguing storylines, and some pretty awful voice acting (which I love, by the way), Resident Evil 2 was a horror tour de force which shipped with two discs, giving players a new perspective when they played with the second character.
17. The EyeToy
Long before Xbox introduced the Kinect into the world, the Sony PlayStation has the EyeToy. Launched in 2003, this was a Logitech-manufactured digital camera that came bundled with many a madcap minigame which helped usher the gesture-based gameplay revolution.
Do you remember the short-lived format battle? Essentially, after DVD, there were two formats that were looking to take over and become the standard for a new generation. Toshiba had HD-DVDs and Sony had Blu-Rays, and there could only be one winner. Of course, Sony built Blu-ray functionality into the PS3, while Xbox 360 owners had to buy their HD-DVD drives separately, so Sony easily came out the victor in that particular battle.
19. The Share Button
Life now is all about the sharing. And gaming is no different. It is not the preserve of the mythical gamer sitting, alone from the world, living out digital fantasies. We all partake in sharing, liking, reblogging, lol’ing and all that stuff. And with the share functionality that sony introduced into the PS4, that has been made easier. Now you can simply press the share button on your controller and take a picture or record a video and upload it for major kudos from your peers.
20. Sony Playstation VR
It has gone from Sony’s “Project Morpheus” to just “Playstation VR”. Okay, the name is less creative and whimsical than it is blunt and maybe a little boring, Sony’s but attempt at making a virtual reality headset is almost at the point of being, ahem, reality. With others, such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive also getting ready to enter the VR wars, Sony looks well placed to take the battle to them. With more than 20 million PS4s already in people’s homes, Sony has a larger addressable market than competitors relying on PC gamers with high-end machines. If Sony can line up interesting games, Morpheus could be the device that convinces millions they need VR in their living room when it launches next year.