Written By: Charlie Lowe
The original PlayStation changed everything when it hit the streets in the UK back in 1995. The video game industry was dominated by Sega and Nintendo at the time and gamers were widely considered kids and lonely male computer nerds. But with the introduction of PlayStation came the idea that gaming could be for everyone. Now in 2015 the gaming industry is bigger than the movie industry, with major game releases outselling their movie counterparts and even costing more to produce. Gamers now come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and are just as likely to be female as they are male. In 20 years a lot has changed, and it’s not unfair to say that change started with Sony and the PlayStation.
So in honour of the console that not only brought so many good memories to our lives but most likely changed our lives, I’m going to bless you all with my list of personal favourites. I'm nice like that.
Wipeout single-handedly made gaming cool, it brought it to the over 18s crowd. Literally. Night clubs in the Good Ol’ UK had booths set up for drunken fools to go play Wipeout. I can’t imagine why you would want to drive futuristic hover race cars, moving at insane speeds, across race tracks that more resembled roller-coasters, whilst drunk, but that wasn’t entirely why people loved Wipeout at the time. Granted, the gameplay was awesome, but the real reason people loved Wipeout was because it was just so cool! It combined real-world designer logos into a brilliantly well realised future setting, cleverly bringing pop-culture into gaming in such a way console games had never seen before, and to top it off it came with a sweet techno/electronic licensed soundtrack including the likes of The Prodigy, Underworld, The Chemical Brothers and The Future Sounds of London. Let me tell you, there are still few things more satisfying than that robotic announcer stating ‘Contender Eliminated.’ after you’ve just nailed some fool in front of you with plasma, while travelling at 250 Kph, with Prodigy’s Firestarter blaring in the background.
Resident Evil 2
I loved Resident Evil 2, I must have played it from start to finish 40-50-60 times, that’s probably an exaggeration, but I played it a lot. I unlocked everything there was to unlock, costumes, characters, guns. My friends and I would speed-run it in one sitting just to see how fast we could do it, eventually becoming so good we would moon walk and dance around the shambling undead, popping heads whilst spinning 360 degrees. As far as I’m concerned that was an achievement to be proud of, considering the now infamous tank-controls of Resident Evil, at the time, meant moving with the finesse of Michael Jackson was pretty much impossible. But we did. In fact, we could easily have re-enacted Thriller on the streets of Raccoon City if we wanted to. ‘Cos this is Thriller, Thriller night. And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike. You know it’s Thriller, Thriller night. You’re fighting for your li…BLAM! Take that meat sack. Oh where’d your head go zombie? Let me help you. BOOM! Got your nose. Haha! …Oh, shit. Zombie dog!!' Forget all these so-called Call of Duty experts. If you don’t sing and dance, both in game and in real life, while performing head shots, you’re not a real gamer.
Grand Theft Auto
Yes. Grand Theft Auto. Running down innocents. Shooting police. Blowing stuff up. And hunting down those orange dudes that walked around in a line. You know, when you found them you’d try to flatten them in one go, running them down in such a way you left blood red skid-marks. Those were the days. Skid-marks aside, Grand Theft Auto was something uniquely special. Although strictly adult in nature, the top-down bird’s eye view of the early games made the cars look like Micro Machines or Matchbox cars. All of a sudden those hours of my young life spent playing with cars in the garden imagining car chases with the police, I could re-enact them for real! Well, virtual real. Let’s be honest, nobody bothered much with the missions, we just drove around the open city causing havoc. I’d plot up in front of the tv, a book full of cheat codes in front of me, and mess around to my heart’s content. Endless fun. And that’s never changed. Grand Theft Auto might look and play completely differently now to how it did when it first came along, way back in 1997, but the opportunity to get chased by the police, causing as much destruction as possible before you get caught or blown up, has always been the best reason to play GTA. ...Well, that and the endlessly entertaining Radio stations.
My first experience of Tekken 2 came on a demo disc with the Official PlayStation Magazine, the demo included the intro sequence to Tekken 2 in awesome (at the time) cgi. I used to play the demo just to watch the cgi intro, over and over and over again, but then I started to get into the game. And what a game! Tekken 2 was one of those very rare console games which actually did things better than its arcade counterpart. Character animations were incredibly fluid, button presses satisfyingly responsive, combos worked, (great for me as I sucked at beat ‘em ups… and still do) and those little sparks of coloured energy when you pulled off a particularly powerful move never ever got old. …Until Tekken 3 came along and my mum could consistently beat me with Eddy Gordo …that stupid hand-stand-splits-twirly-helicopter-kick thing the bane of my life. Hate Tekken, Stupid game.
Oh Lara Croft, How many hours did I waste trying to get you naked with bogus cheat codes? I’m pretty sure I spent more time trying to remove your virtual clothes than I ever did revising for my A-levels, GCSE’s and any other important exams combined. I mean, what the hell!? I gave up my future for you Lara, and what did you do? You exploded?! That’s right, no cheat code actually existed, ever. Instead she would just explode, as if to punish you for being such a dirt bag. ‘I just wanted to see if it worked, that’s all. I swear.’ ‘Screw you, pervert!’ BOOM! And her poor butler, the less said about locking him in freezers the better. Lara Croft really was nothing more than blocky pixels, with her weird triangular boobs, but she would become a pop-culture sensation, and the media machine turned her into a real celebrity, even appearing on the front of non-gaming magazines, giving her life and character and most importantly, more realist looking boobs. I just had to see them! Breasts aside, Tomb Raider was a game above and beyond the best at the time, truly amazing 3D graphics, great atmosphere, deeply engrossing gameplay with cinematic camera angles and sound cues, detailed world design, it felt unique and revolutionary, and… I…, can’t stop thinking about her legs, in those tiny shorts, guns strapped to those luscious thighs, that tiny tight little top she’d wear, her sweet innocent English accent. …Glorious, just glorious. ….Oh, and the game was pretty good as well. Yeah.
Metal Gear Solid
‘Snake? SNAKE!!??’ Yeah, Yeah. I’m dead, again. I get it. I was rubbish at Metal Gear Solid. And that damn Game Over screen. Stop shouting at me, I’m dead! Thing is though, Snake was the coolest guy in the world. Like Snake Plissken, minus the eye patch. In fact, Hideo Kojima openly admits he based Solid Snake on Snake Plissken. What a genius that man is. He should have called it Escape from Shadow Moses Island. Or better yet, Escape from New York – The Game. Similarity’s to awesome movie anti-heroes aside, It really was the movie-esque attention to detail, complicated Hollywood script, memorable characters, brilliant cut-scenes and genuine top quality real world feel of Metal Gear that made it so good to play, even if you’re as terrible at stealth games as me and try to hide in a cardboard box when a huge tank-like mech comes barrelling towards you, It didn’t matter when you had such a great story to get engrossed in and so many cool gadgets to play around with. Snake was so badass you could make him smoke a cigarette! Once I discovered that it was pretty much game over for me. I’d try to sneak around without being spotted, fail because I was useless, and so would make Snake stand there and smoke a cigarette like a Don whilst his face got shot to death. So awesome. Though it wasn’t so awesome when that stupid Game Over screen popped up for the hundredth time ‘Snake? SNAKE!!??’ …Urgh.
I’m no puzzle gamer, I have the patience of someone with Roid Rage trying to grab the last green pea with chopsticks. Puzzle games hate me, and I hate them. But sometimes a puzzle game comes along that grabs my attention, though still annoys me. Kurushi was one such game. Initially discovered on an Official PlayStation Magazine demo disc. I was glued to it. Maybe it was the unique feeling of imposing doom? You played as a character standing on a grid of huge square blocks, on top of which sat more square blocks which would slowly turn over towards you, you had to ‘delete’ the blocks by marking areas on the ground, and as the blocks rolled onto them they would disappear at the press of a button, if you didn’t get rid of them all you would lose a row of blocks at the end of your grid, giving you less time to get rid of the new set that rolled towards you. It was a constant race against time, the crashing sound of the blocks as they rolled towards you like a ticking clock of death. Sounds terrifying, and it was, but insanely addictive as well. They should make reality shows like this, with real blocks and real people. That would be way more interesting than stupid Big Brother or The X-factor. ‘I think I should win The X-Factor because I’ve had a hard life and people should feel sorry for me.’ ‘Right, chuck that idiot on the Kurushi grid.’ They’d probably release their debut album a little more sharpish as well.
Let’s face it, Driver was Grand Theft Auto in 3D. It was what we all longed for. However, that game wouldn’t arrive until the PlayStation 2, so we’d have to make do. But in fairness, Driver was a great game. A really great game actually. That insanely spongey suspension on the 1970s inspired cars made recreating car chases massively satisfying. And you could watch replays of every mission with cinematic camera angles, complete with alleyways always strewn with cardboard boxes for your car to smash through like a classic cop show. The real aim of the game was to drive like a pro, maintaining high speeds throughout a chase, weaving expertly through traffic, power sliding into narrow alleyways, landing cleanly over huge jumps and causing the police to crash into each other. Of course, I would drive straight into an obvious lamp post, reverse into a chasing police car, panic and head towards the nearest alleyway, completely miss judge the size and rattle off the walls all the way through like a pinball, fly over a jump sideways and end each mission with a car that more resembled crumpled paper, Crumpled paper that was also on fire. 'Yeah… I don’t think I’ll be saving that replay…'
Medal of Honor
The great thing about Nazis …I’m using the word ‘great’ in a very particular context here, not literally, I’m no Nazi sympathiser. Anyway, the amazingly awesome and incredible thing about those Nazis (remember the context) is that when they get shot in the face, you know they deserved it, so there’s no guilt (See, I’m a good guy). Nazi’s are the ultimate bad guys, not just because they were pure evil, but because they actually existed. So the satisfaction in shooting real bad guys rather than made up fantastical ones is that much better. It helps that I’ve always had a deep interest in the World Wars, so playing an actual World War 2 game was a genuine joy. Couple that with the fact the game really was awesome, with great graphics, great sound effects, great attention to detail, an amazing fully-orchestrated soundtrack, incredibly satisfying gunplay, oh and Nazis that reacted to where they’d been hit. Shoot them in the foot and they’d hop around, blast them in the hand and they’d pull it away and look at it, bust a shot in their evil Nazi balls and they’d cup them with both hands and crumple to the floor, land a bullet in between the eyes and they’d fling their head back and fall flat on the ground. Endlessly satisfying. A particular mission had you go undercover, Nazis would ask you ‘Your papers please’ and instead of showing them our papers my buddies and I would try to outdo each other with increasingly awesome one liners before whipping out our silenced pistol and blasting them in the face. Favourites included ‘I got your papers right here.’ BOOM! or ‘Will a bullet do?’ BLAM! Sometimes they were a little more sophisticated like ‘Nazi says what?’ POW! or simply ‘Your Mum.’ SPLAT! My personal favourite was ‘Your face is ugly!’ BLAMMO! …Yeah, mine were always the wittiest…
I was addicted to Gran Turismo, I couldn’t stop playing it. It was its mix of simulation racing and role-play game progression. Cash felt like experience, passing the licences felt like leveling up, those awesome replays felt like awesome replays. Before Gran Turismo, replays were just the view from inside your car, but GT used realistic camera angles like you were watching something on tv. And those graphics were revolutionary at the time. I got just as much satisfaction watching the game as I did playing it. I remember getting so addicted I lugged my crappy old tv into the garden one day, set it up so I could sit in the sun and play all day long. It was bliss. Fresh air, sunshine and endless races and replays. Pretty sure my dad, who likes peace and quiet whilst lounging in the sun, didn’t feel the same stuck next to me with my tv up full blast. But forget his peace and quiet, I needed to replay the Sunday Cup a hundred times in order earn enough money to buy that Dodge Viper GTS I wanted!
PaRappa the Rapper
‘I gotta believe!’ I love you PaRappa the Rapper. You weird talking paper dog thing. I couldn’t care less for music-rhythm games. But I love you. The way you showed Chop Chop Master Onion who the true master was, the way you taught Instructor Mooselini a thing or two about how to really drive, the way you proved to Prince Fleaswallow you could make money with the best of them, the way you expertly baked a cake after just one lesson with Cheap Cheap the Cooking Chicken, and finally, the way you held it down alongside MC King Kong Mushi live on stage. I was in tears of joy. It was like watching 8 mile after ‘accidentally’ consuming tonnes of hallucinogens. What a unique joy you will always be. And you’re a better rapper than the likes of Kanye West. Just sayin…
I like horror games. Is it weird to like being freaked out? Personally I think if a game can send a chill down your spine, make you feel genuinely uncomfortable, I consider that an achievement. It’s rare for me though as most so called ‘horror’ games aren’t scary at all, and most of my so called ‘friends’ are terrified of games I’m quite happy to dance through, (see Resident Evil 2) But Silent Hill, Silent Hill was a psychological attack which genuinely messed with your mind. The game was purposely vague in terms of telling you what the hell was going on, and that fear of the unknown just made things worse. Add to that the grainy, foggy and claustrophobic environments, the messed up ambient sounds, the weird soundtrack and the utterly horrible monsters, and you’ve got yourself some rather worrying nights in alone. Resident Evil might have been the king of jump scares but this game got inside your head and showed you screwed up things even Clive Barker would be concerned about.
I was the luckiest guy in the world when my Mum bought me my first PlayStation. I couldn’t wait to boast about it to all my friends. Bunch of losers. But there was one problem. Quite a major one actually, one I kept secret for years after. I had to share the bloody thing with my younger Sister! …Nice one Mum. I briefly had everything and it was taken away from me by my hellspawn Sister… The bane of my young life. Mum tried to even things out by buying us a game each, the little Devil got Mickey’s Wild Adventure and I got Crash Bandicoot. Fair deal. To this day though I still believe Mickey’s Wild Adventure was the harder game, and if that’s the case, was my Mum trying to tell me something? Emotional scars aside, Crash Bandicoot was the first PlayStation game I ever played and is still one of the best. More a classic platformer than the new age 3D games of the time. It was 3D in appearance, but you moved along set paths, be it away from the camera, towards it, or a more traditional side-scroll. I loved Crash Bandicoot, but the game drove me to insanity. Platformers always have been and always will be the most rage inducing type of game in existence. Falling down the same hole 20 times is so infuriating it’s beyond words. But not beyond actions. I once ate a gamepad out of pure frustration. True story. I counted it as one of my five a day.
MediEvil is THE GREATEST GAME EVER MADE. Right, moving on…
Future Cop: LAPD
I’m just gonna say this now. Future Cop: LAPD is easily one of the most underappreciated games ever. Granted, it did well critically, but nobody bought it!? I just don’t get why! You played as a transforming Combat Mech codenamed X1-Alpha, (Nice) you policed the mean streets of a futuristic Los Angeles, (Also nice) each level boasted a badass villain who would taunt you throughout, (Very nice) the game had a brilliant sense of humour but remained ultra-cool, (Even nicer) you had an array of weapons from mini-guns and rockets to lasers, mortars and a robot police dog! (Can it get better?) sometimes during the campaign your assistant would announce ‘Crowd control situation’ in which the camera would zoom in from the standard high-angle 3rd person view to a position sitting just behind X1-Alpha's shoulder, allowing you a brief close up of the crowd of bad guys you were about to mow down with your mini-gun, or flamethrower or Gatling laser or electric gun or robot dog or you could just charge through them and watch them splatter against your steel (Yes. Yes it can get better) and that was just the campaign! Half the brilliance. The other half consisted of Precinct Assault, a mode which set you against a friend or against a now infamous flying robot called Sky Captain who would insult and taunt you endlessly whilst you competed to capture bases and turrets, all the while accumulating points in order to build tanks and attack helicopters. And the soundtrack didn't mess around either. Forget the Final Fantasy 7 remake, or any other remake for that matter, THIS is THE game that NEEDS to be remade.
Destruction Derby 2
Destruction Derby was another childhood joy brought to life. When I was a little’un I did one of three things with my toy cars; a) Put them into huge lines of traffic (not really sure why, seems like a boring thing to do. 2) Acted out cops and robber chases (covered by GTA and Driver) and, d) Smashed the cars into pieces by stamping on them, scratching them against walls, breaking the plastic windows and generally making them look like they’ve done a good bit of crashing. Bring on Destruction Derby. A game all about smashing your car into tiny pieces. Yeah, there was a racing mode, but nobody played that. No way, straight on to Destruction Derby mode. One arena, loads of cars, try to survive. Joy of joys. Although, going into race mode and either driving the wrong way round the track aiming for a head on collision or turning the car sideways in a narrow part of the track in order to cause a massive pileup. That was beautiful.
The G-Con 45. The coolest light gun ever. It looked so good. It felt so good. And I looked so good shooting bag guys with it. Time Crisis was by far my favourite game in the arcade. Back in the glory days of the arcade friends and I would spend entire days in there, and I’d spend hours on Time Crisis. I was so good, people would regard me with awe. I’d bust virtual melons with my eyes closed, wielding a light gun in each hand. I became known as ‘Twinkle fingers - The prancing prince of light gun gallantry’ …It was a terrible name with no ring to it at all. But it stuck. Besides, I had to appease the fans. Life as a Gunfighter Rock Star was hard. I started to do drugs and drink heavily, I married 5 times, I constantly had to fight off young upstart rivals and I even found time to adopt a small African child. …Alright, I admit, I only married 4 times, but such was the amazingness of using a real (plastic) gun with genuine recoil and people actually gathering round to watch you, Your mind gets a bit carried away. It’s an awesome feeling though, and playing Time Crisis at home with a plug in G-Con 45 came pretty close to re-enacting it. Believe me, if you want to feel like a big man, buy a gun. That’s good advice by the way.
Populous: The Beginning
‘I AM YOUR GOD. DO AS I SAY!’ A regular line I would shout whilst playing Populous. I mean, who doesn’t want to act like a God? That wasn’t a question. You all do. I loved being a God so much I bought Populous for both PC and PlayStation. Why? I’m not really sure, but screw it I’m a God I do what I want. In fairness, Populous was way better on PC. It worked better, played better and just was better. It’s not really a very Godly move putting the inferior PlayStation version on a PlayStation favourites list. I never even finished it on PlayStation either! I mean, how could I!? The controls are just stupid when using the PlayStation pad. That line ‘I AM YOUR GOD. DO AS I SAY!’ I was shouting it alright, at the pad! Without the smooth control a mouse and keyboard provides, the game becomes stupidly difficult to play in the later stages. Instead of commanding the masses like an almighty deity I found myself ranting like a clueless fool. ‘I AM YOUR GOD. DON’T GO THAT WAY, GO THIS WAY! Who’s casting fireballs?! Was it you shaman? Right, that’s it, no sacrifices tonight. Oh great, great, a volcano’s burning down my village. That’s just perfect. Well, what use are you to me on fire follower?! No, don’t go and cut down trees, put yourself out first you mad man! For Christ’s sake, I AM YOUR GOD, why isn’t anyone listening to me?? Hello!? Bloody useless gamepad!’ And so on...
Final Fantasy VII
I have a confession to make. I never actually finished Final Fantasy 7. I’m sure that makes connoisseurs’ blood boil ‘How dare you talk about a game you never finished! What gives you the right!?’ Relax, you’ve nothing to worry about. Final Fantasy Sucks. You people are losers. …I’m joking. Final Fantasy 7 is an amazing game that changed the role-playing genre forever. I know this because I did play my fair share and I also watched it played from start to finish by multiple friends. I saw the whole story. You might be thinking ‘But Charlie, you like watching games? Why? What’s wrong with you?’ Well, Reader, that’s a question I’ve been trying to answer for 29 years now. I’ve no idea what’s wrong with me. But that’s another subject for another time. Anyway, stop distracting me. So Final Fantasy 7 is really good, right. It contains one of the best stories in video game history. You guys will freak when Aerith dies, I mean seriously, you will ball your eyes out. Oh wait… is that a spoiler? …Right, right, erm… ‘Spoiler Alert’ Good, that should cover it. ...Or maybe I should have put that before I told them about Aerith’s death?... Naa, they’re idiots, it’s all in one ear and out the other anyway. You did good. Oh Thanks. Finally, someone who appreciates my work!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
There was a time in the late 90s and early 2000s when skating really seemed to spike in popularity. Shows like Jackass were all over tv, and rap, rock and even rap-rock music was everywhere. For a time it was impossible not to find some kind of skating reference in popular media. The problem was it made idiots like me think I could get involved. Walking around in clothes two sizes too big and attempting tricks I was in no way skilled enough to pull off. ...I really do apologise to all the skaters out there that were talented and enjoyed what they did because I wasn't a proper representation at all. But it’s ok, cos Tony Hawk came along and gave me Pro Skater, and even though it spurred my deluded mind to continue thinking I could skate, it also kept me indoors, where I belonged, leaving the act of actual skating to those who knew what they were doing. I played for days. Friends and I would stay up all night playing the first game, but the second, that changed everything, the second gave us ‘The Manual’ and all of a sudden you could string tricks together which wouldn’t end. The high scores became insane, the lack of sleep started to hurt and, on top of more tricks and higher scores to chase, we had the Park Editor and Create a Skater. So much gaming joy! Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is the best improvement on an already amazing game ever! And, for a time, it stopped me attempting something I had no business trying in the first place. Nice one Tony.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Screw Abe, and his oddysee. I’ve still no idea what women want in a guy in terms of looks ‘I want a strong man, I want a tight-jeaned man, I want short hair, long hair, facial hair, clean shaven, glasses, no glasses, particular colour socks.’ What the hell!? Then someone like Abe comes along and confuses things further. A skinny, loincloth-wearing, alien-freak with 3 fingers on each hand and 3 toes on each foot, with a bald head apart from a tuft of hair sprouting from the top that looks like a turd, and horrific looking sewn together lips, yet he could talk? And the magic happened when he spoke. 3 words, that’s all it took for women to fall under his spell ‘Hello’, ‘Follow me’ that was it! Girls loved his cute voice, his quest to save his fellow Mudukons, and the weird world he lived in. And yet, when I shaved my head and ran around in a loincloth I just got weird looks from girls. And trying to get girls to follow me just made things worse. I love you Abe, I embraced your world like no other, but you let me down bro.
Honourable Mention - Net Yaroze
Net Yaroze wasn't a game, but I didn't expect anyone to actually get this far down the list so I figured I'd get away with bending the rules. Net Yaroze was a special black PlayStation which gave budding young developers the opportunity to make ‘quality’ games of their own. They would send their creations to The Official PlayStation magazine who, in turn, shared the games on their monthly demo discs. Some games were terrible, while most were just plain bad, but all possessed a character unlike anything I’ve played since, and all have remained ingrained in my memory. Blitter Boy, Gravitation, Haunted Maze, Clone, Total Soccer Yaroze, Rocks ‘n’ Gems and the now legendary Terra Incognita with its questionable grammar and spelling. Oh how I miss you Net Yaroze. Most of the games were based on games which already existed but that didn't matter, they were still genuinely fun and addictive in their own right. Indie games might be all the rage right now but Net Yaroze was the godfather of console Indies and the games created using it remain some of the most stupid fun I’ve ever had.
Well that’s it. My very professional list of PlayStation favourites is complete. Or is it? In reality there’s tonnes more titles I wanted to talk/rant/go off subject about but this list needed to end somewhere. Maybe in the not too distant future I’ll bless you all further with a part 2? We’ll see. Until next time friends.