I don’t mean to alarm you or set you careering headfirst into an existential crisis, but the original PlayStation is officially 25 years old. That’s a quarter of a century. That wonderful grey rectangle, which was the first love of so many gamers my age, is now in its mid-20s.
Locking the Butler in the walk-in freezer in Tomb Raider II. Unlocking Spider-Man in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. That goddam tutorial mission in Driver. As a child of the 1990s, most of my earliest and best-loved gaming memories come from the PlayStation, and I’m certain I’m not alone in that.
We’ve all got our favourite games and fondest memories when it comes to Sony’s first foray in the world of consoles, I’ve no doubt. Below are just five reasons I’ll always have a place in my heart reserved for the PlayStation. Read on, and bask in the safe white glow of that nostalgic startup screen.
That Sweet, Sweet Startup Sound
What do I even need to say here? Booting up the PlayStation felt like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. The difference, of course, was that you could stay sat on your sofa and explore new worlds without having to sell out your family for a box of Turkish Delight.
The unsettling, otherworldly jangles and whooshes that spilled out of our TVs’ chunky speakers promised something new. Something exotic. Something quite unlike anything we’d ever seen before. More often than not, that’s exactly what we got with PlayStation.
It Did Absolute Stonks For Sony
I’m sure there were more than a few execs at Sony HQ that were unsure how well they’d do, stepping into a market that was already dominated by Nintendo and PC games. Fortunately, the PlayStation was an unequivocal hit.
The original console managed to shift an amazing 100,000 units on its very first day on sale in Japan. It would go on to become the the first ever console to sell more than 100 million units worldwide.
Recently, it was revealed that the original PlayStation is currently the third best-selling console in history. It currently stands at 102.5 million units sold, ahead of the Wii’s 101.6 million and just behind the PS4’s 102.8 million.
In fact, all three top-selling consoles are PlayStation, with the mighty PS2 sitting firmly in the top spot with a frankly ludicrous 155 million. It’s one hell of a legacy, and it all started with the OG PlayStation.
You Could Play Final Fantasy VII On It….
A console is nothing without a strong lineup of games, of course. Fortunately, the PlayStation had a boat-load of memorable exclusives under its belt. Out of all them, however, Final Fantasy VII was arguably the greatest of all.
Released in 1997, this was the Final Fantasy – no, this was the RPG – that changed everything with its cast of unforgettable characters, gorgeously-realised world, and epic, cinematic battles against ancient monsters, cunning foes, and… giant houses.
Widely regarded as one of the best and most important RPGs of all time, Final Fantasy VII was a truly mind-blowing achievement at the time. The cutscenes were eye-poppingly beautiful, the open(ish) world was massive, and the story of corporate greed and environmentalism is more relevant today than it was two decades ago.
Final Fantasy VII was the reason to own a PlayStation in 1997, to the point that I still can’t quite comprehend that you can now play it on a Nintendo Switch. It’s great, but it just feels a bit… wrong?
….Oh, But There Was SO Much More
Metal Gear Solid, Spider-Man, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Tekken 2, Grand Theft Auto, Ape Escape, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 2, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon and SO. MANY. MORE. The original PlayStation was a goddam treasure trove of games. Not all of them were perfect, but nearly every single one was an absolute blast to play regardless.
Inject a Croc: Legend of the Gobbos remaster straight into my veins, please and thank you. Hell, remaster all of my favourite PlayStation games. I’ll sit there and devour them all like a greedy Tudor king.
Genuinely, at least once a week, someone at work will remind me of an old PlayStation game that I’d somehow managed to completely forget about, and I then become singularly obsessed with tracking down YouTube videos and reminding myself of the good times I’d had with the previously-forgotten title.
Last week it was Rugrats Studio Tour. This week it was Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories. Who knows what obscure gem I’ll become obsessed with next week?
The DualShock Controller
The first DualShock controller didn’t actually release until 1997, three years after the slightly clunkier (and less curvy) PlayStation controller launched alongside the console. That’s not to say the original PlayStation controller was particularly bad… but there’s a reason the design of the DualShock has barely changed over the last 25 years.
The DualShock controller is, quite simply, a truly beautifully-designed piece of kit. It’s also, in this writer’s opinion, one of the most satisfying controllers ever released. Where the N64 and Dreamcast offered us ridiculously chunky, unwieldy beasts with which to play our games, PlayStation gave us a smooth, compact controller than anyone could pick up and work out.
Just look at the DualShock 2, 3, 4, and even the alleged patents for the DualShock 5. Apart from a few tweaks here and there, the basic PlayStation controller as we know it has remained virtually unchanged. A real testament to the original designs of Teiyu Goto, who wanted the controller’s shape to reflect the PlayStation’s ability to run 3D games.