1995. If you were living in the UK then it was full of dark and tragic events, from notorious serial killer Fred West hanging himself in his cell to the deaths of Peter Cook and Fred Perry, two individuals whose impact is still felt to this day. However it wasn’t all bad as the year also saw the introduction of something that would have a huge impact on not only the UK but the entire world.
No, I’m not talking about the glorious birth of me (those anticipating that event had to wait another year for that) . Those who paid attention to the title will know that I’m of course talking about the Playstation which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Anyone who has ever played a video game, or even those who haven’t, know what a Playstation is. It’s had such an effect on pop culture and our everyday lives that your gran or mum will no doubt refer to any console you play as a “Playstation”, just like the Gameboy did all those years before it. So I thought what better than to share my fond memories with the console, all the way from the PS1 up to the PS4 and even asked the kind folk on Facebook and Twitter to let me know theirs. Without further ado, here they are.
Crave for Crash
Whenever you see someone my age get reminiscent of their childhood, they’ll tend to focus on all the cartoons they watched or toys like Tamagotchis and no, this isn’t some “special snowflake” sentence before you jump to that conclusion. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re one of the 102 million people who bought or received a PS1 and what’s just as likely is that you’ll have played Crash Bandicoot.
There’s really no way I can put how great this franchise was back in the days and all the memories that go along with it. Whether it be the “BOOGA BOOGA” when you first got 3 Aku Aku masks and the catchy jungle drum beat that you couldn’t get out of your head long after you finished the level, riding that hog and panicking as you avoid everything in sight or running away from boulders, the first game was something that made it so memorable. Although it was one of the first games I played whenever I got my console, it was hardly easy as the save system made it extremely difficult to 100% it but I’ll never forget the satisfaction I experienced when I finally beat Dr Cortex and watched him fly off into the sea below (um yeah, spoiler alert).
And that’s only the first game in the series. There was Cortex strikes back, Warped, Crash Team Racing and even a Mario Party inspired spin off called Bash. Even if the games on PS2 were slightly less polished thanks to Naughty Dog wanting to move onto other projects (more on that later), Crash Bandicoot will always be the unofficial Sony mascot to me. Although we’ve not had a proper Crash game in 7 years, there’s always a bunch of wumpa fruit and crystals to collect while we wait patiently for a return to form from our favourite Australian marsupial.
An RPG to the feels
Well before Disney were the colossal force they are now with Marvel and Star Wars under their belts, the company were…well still a colossal but that’s besides the point. Disney have always contributed to gaming in some sort of way and some of the greatest games on the SNES were Disney IPs (although they were made by Capcom but just go with it) so it made sense that they would try their hand at making a new franchise with another capable games developer Square Enix, the company best known for the Final Fantasy series.
What we got sounded like the most absurd concept ever at the time: an RPG with children protagonists donning bigger hairstyles than Jedward exploring Disney worlds full of characters from the movies. Oh, don’t forget cameos from Final Fantasy characters. It brings to mind the whole “too many cooks spoil the broth” saying but what we got was a wonderfully executed game, full of great game play and dripping with nostalgic goodness.
Since the first entry in the series also being the first RPG I ever played, I was unaware of how easy it was to sink hours and hours into the game and story, getting emotionally invested in the characters and, dare I say it, caring for them.With the ending resulting in me being close to tears (I wouldn’t cry at a game until Telltale’s The Walking Dead left me crying like a baby), Sora and co. will always hold a special place in my gaming heart and with Kingdom Hearts 3 in development for the PS4, my tear ducts should enjoy all the rest they can get.
Sports! (But without the sweating)In news that will surprise no one, I’m not very sporty. In fact, “not very” is an overstatement. If walking up 7 floors at college counts as a sport then consider me a pro athlete but other than that, I’m a stereotypical self loathing teen who would rather spend most of their time in their bed than on their feet.
Thanks to the PlayStation though, I did discover an interest in many types of sports. Actually it’s more of a challenge to find a sport that didn’t have a game adaptation, Razor Freestyle Scooter being a true testament to that. Pro Evolution Soccer always has and always will be the best football game for me, whether you blame it on me looking through rose tinted glasses doesn’t matter. Any interest in football I’ve had has all but disappeared though my love for PES hasn’t as to this day I can still boot up PES 5, my personal favourite, and easily lose hours of my life trying to win the league with Merseyside Red (bonus points who know the team without a Google search).Despite Football games like FIFA selling millions of copies to this day, there’s one franchise that appeared on PS1 and PS2 that even when uttered, triggers a wave of happy times and frustration to those who played it.
I’m of course talking about the Tony Hawk games, one of the best easy to learn, hard to master games you’ll come across on any console. I’d spend hours trying to top my personal best combo, mastering manuals and special tricks until they were second nature, no doubt pushing out any ability to do maths from my brain. The highlight of this series was no doubt the soundtrack and introduced loads of young people to some awesome bands like Rage Against The Machine, The Clash and Red Hot Chili Peppers. As soon as I asked you lot about your PlayStation memories, so many replied back with the impact the Tony Hawk’s games had on their childhood.
Ask anybody what their favourite game is on any console and no doubt it’ll be one of the following games I’m about to discuss. The one (I seem to be repeating that number a lot this article) thing that joins all these games together is the fact that, obvious or subtly, they’re all Platformers.
I’ve already talked about Crash Bandicoot so let’s talk about the next best thing depending on who was your favourite: Spyro The Dragon. Just like Crash, Spyro has went the way of the dinosaur (sorry) as the last proper game he appeared in was The Legend of Spyro: Dawn Of The Dragon which also came out 7 years ago which feels like a lifetime ago. Back in the day though Spyro gave Crash a run for his money but unlike the Mario/Sonic rivalry before them, they weren’t so much enemies, more friendly acquaintances (hell, Naughty Dog even put demos for Insomniac’s purple dragon in their games). Although Activision may have tainted his name with those gimmicky and expensive Skylander games, those who played these games will still have recurring nightmares over that pesky egg thief.
Speaking of Naughty Dog, remember how I mentioned they wanted to work on other projects? One of said projects was Jak and Daxter, one of the…weirdest trilogies to put it lightly. The series started off with a light, friendly platformer which introduced us to the mute character and his friend turned otter…weasel hybrid looking thing as they try and save the world. Nothing too far away from the norm and it definitely stands out as one of the most enjoyable games on the PS2. Then came Jak and Daxter 2 which just thought “fuck it” and changed absolutely everything. Like Jak being quiet 24/7? Hello new voice actor. Enjoy the open but still kinda linear platforming as you hunt down collectibles? Hello open world city a la Grand Theft Auto. Everything about the game was tremendously darker but I can’t blame Naughty Dog for doing so. Their audience wasn’t the same children and teens they entertained with platformers and as the gamers got more mature, they thought so should their games.
And that’s only the tipping point of the platforming iceberg. From Ratchet and Clank to Sly Cooper to Uncharted to Croc, the list is virtually endless and I’d be here all day talking about why I loved all these games. While us gamers might want more and more from our games like better graphics, deeper gameplay, richer stories, it’s always nice to return to the simplicity and fun platformers never fail to deliver. Speaking of deep gameplay…
Where do I begin? How do I describe something like Metal Gear Solid, a series which has lasted 4 console generations and the past 17 years? How do I put into words how amazing and emotional the story is while at the same time how hilariously absurd it can be?
The simple answer is that I can’t. All I can really do is say how it’s pretty much defined what the Playstation is, even if the games haven’t all stayed console exclusive. You want a great story? You’ll not get one much better than that from the genius Kojima who never fails to disappoint, even if there’s a slight hiccup from time to time. With characters that consistently top “best video game characters” lists due to the time players have spent with them and the care taken by the team who created them, it’s hard not to find yourself at awe at some of the events that unfold over your duration in the boots of either Solid Snake, Big Boss or *shudder* Raiden.
Gameplay wise the games are perfect. Recent entry The Phantom Pain is arguably the best game to come out this year which is made all the more impressive when we’ve had games like Witcher 3 and Arkham Knight so far and many more still to come. I’ve spent 40 hours in the massive open world of Afghanistan and I’ve only completed 15% of it with my Mother Base not even half way to perfection. In those 40 hours I’ve invaded enemy bases and fultoned (i.e stick a baloon on them and watch them scream as they fly off) them back home to work as my staff while I remained incognito the whole time as well as raised my very own D-Dog to fight alongside me on missions. That’s only a small portion of the things that have happened and once I’ve finished the story, there’ll definitely be a review on its way. Big Boss may have kept you waiting but I won’t
Metal Gear Solid has been a system seller to many and both young and old have bonded over the highs and heart breaking lows they’ve went through during the series. It’s practically the synonym for Playstation and whenever I see an entry topping a “best PlayStation game” list, I can’t help but nod my head and agree.
There were so many great tweets and comments from you guys that I’d be typing a dissertation trying to write bits like I have so far about them all. So here’s a run down of all your favourite moments about Sony’s world changing console.
So what did you make of my rambling about my favourite console? Love it? Hate it? Share your favourite gaming memories in the comment section below and don’t forget to share this if you enjoyed it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.