Every week (or as often as we can), we will get a group of great writers to contribute their thoughts on a particular topic about video games. Each author can address the issue how they please and give their own unique opinions. Please stay tuned to one-hitkills.com and @onehitkills for updates. Please feel free to give us any feedback you feel is necessary and enjoy.
By Francis McCabe- @onehitkills
I was late to the party on the PlayStation. All I knew growing up was Nintendo and the N64 with Mario and Zelda consumed me. Plus, PlayStation wasn’t featured in my monthly gaming mag, Nintendo Power. But as I grew older and the internet boomed, my interest in Sony’s consoles (and the Xbox) only grew as I decided to broaden my gaming horizons. The game that pushed me over the edge into my first PlayStation console was Kingdom Hearts. The fanboy-drenched blend of Disney (my favorite) and Final Fantasy was just too much to resist. As I worked and earned money for myself, I bought myself a PS2, and a copy of Kingdom Hearts. I don’t know if it was the new console smell or the immersion of Kingdom Hearts, but it was love at first play.
I quickly bought Final Fantasy X and continued to add much more to my collection. Since backwards compatibility was still a thing, I also would go to Gamestop every so often and add PS1 games to my back catalogue. Since Dragon Warrior VII hasn’t appeared again in NA, it has become one of my most cherished gaming possessions. For the simple fact I can still play the game at my leisure. I rediscovered my love for Final Fantasy and many other unique games I didn’t know even existed.
The PS2’s insane sales worldwide saw a nearly unprecedented variety of games. Even the quirkiest Japanese titles that would never leave the other side of the pacific ocean were localized. In addition to playing epic and beloved RPGs like Final Fantasy XII, Dragon Quest VIII, and Kingdom Hearts II, I discovered some of my now favorite RPG series like Shin Megami Tensei (and its spinoffs), Disgaea, Shadow Hearts, and Xenosaga. That’s not even mentioning games so crazy, you’d be wondering what the developers were on. Katamari Damacy was one of those. It’s music and challenges were addictive and it is still one of my Day 1 buy series. I even own Mister Mosquito, a game where you play as a mosquito looking to suck the blood of every member of a family. It was stuff you couldn’t make up and I loved it.
Sony’s own 1st party lineup combined its Japanese origins with the booming western development scene. God of War, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Team Ico, and more. I played them all too. They beefed up a lineup that is nearly unparalleled. Not to mention PS1 staples Gran Turismo and Wipeout continued. Even with owning a Gamecube and Xbox, the PS2 instantly became my most played console and I ended up owning nearly 100 titled.
I bought the PS3 when it came out in 2006. Despite the high cost, I knew I would get a ton of great exclusive games. It didn’t quite give me the total high that the PS2 did, but it provided a ton of great games. I not only bought new games, but the HD versions of tons of classics from the previous generation like all-time favorites Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy X/X-2, Kingdom Hearts series, and the Sly Cooper series. I rebought even more on the PSN store to duplicate my PS1 collection and grab games I missed out on. Seeing that games like the classic Suikoden II are still coming is a great sign. I never got a chance to play it and wasn’t willing to shell out $100 for a copy.
The PSP and Vita gave me a ton of niche games and ports, but those niche games and ports were awesome. With the exception of the PS4, I’ve come to own every PlayStation console. In their own ways, I’ve mined countless hours of enjoyment out of each one. I want to own every console, but PlayStation consoles will continue to be a priority. Hopefully, there will be 20 more years of PlayStation consoles and 20 more years of re-creating that moment from the first time I turned on Kingdom Hearts.
20 years of Memories
In some ways it is hard for me to grasp that the Playstation has been around for 20 years. I mean, I was there since the beginning and had already been playing games for a decade plus beforehand. But when I think back on the Playstation it seems like it wasn’t so long ago that I was contemplating trading in my Sega Genesis for this new magical Sony device that would in fact go on to revolutionize my gaming lifestyle.
20 years is a long time to look back on and there are a ton of great gaming memories that I have had with Playstation but the below are a few of my favorites.
Late night gaming sessions have always been a thing with me but the best, most memorable ones always featured friends. One late night I found myself and a friend in a darkened room playing the original Silent Hill on an old Commodore 64 monitor. We’d trade off playing various sections of the game while offering each other commentary and help as we tried to figure out the twisted puzzles that we came across. At one point we were tasked with going to the school in the town and my friend handed over the controller for my turn at driving the game. The school was, as it should be, extremely creepy and with the lights in the room out and just the glow from the monitor the atmosphere was set for some excellent scares. I walk into an atrium and out of nowhere comes a little ghost child walking directly towards me. I screamed, panicked, and emptied an entire clip into the apparition before it disappeared.
After both of us realized it wasn’t something that could hurt us, we got a good laugh. But we turned on the lights after that. It still stands to this day as the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced in a game.
Another time, with the same friend from Silent Hill, we played an entire tournament of NFL Blitz, which I won by using the games busted mechanics to make Dan Marino into the most awesome running quarterback ever. Anyway, not the point… after this tournament my other friends left and we were hanging out in the basement when my friend pulls out this racing game, Gran Turismo. At this point in time I wasn’t much of a racing game fan, in fact my interest probably lived and died with Mario Kart. But he says he wants to show me this game. And he does, and it is amazing looking. Easily the best looking game I had seen to date and better yet, it played great too and I found I had a knack for it. We started a new career mode and took turns running through the license tests and cup progressions. One of us would drive, while the other would navigate. Navigation wasn’t really necessary but it was fun to imagine we were part of the crew helping to win the races. We played for about six hours straight and when I left his house as the sun was rising, I left with a love for racing games that has stayed with me since that time.
While many of my favorite memories of the Playstation revolve around playing with friends, including countless hours of NHL hockey, NFL Blitz, and WWE Warzone, not all do. I’m not even sure I’d classify the next memory as a favorite but it is one that will never leave me. My grandfather had been suffering from cancer for quite some time and eventually he succumbed to the disease. My mom rushed up to Massachusetts to be by her mother and sister’s sides but left my Dad, my brother, and myself behind. We’d eventually head up to attend the memorial service but there wasn’t anything added to having us up there at the current time. The whole situation left me feeling useless and depressed. So while everything was being taken care of six hours away from me, I locked myself in my room and started a fresh run of Final Fantasy VII. And over the next three days, I destroyed it. The constant random battles helped me to just zone out and help me through what was a really sad moment for me and my Playstation helped me through it.
The Playstation has meant a lot to me over the years. It has made me closer to friends and helped me through trying times. I’m glad to have had it for twenty years and I hope to have it for another twenty.
The original Playstation is interesting for a variety of reasons, though it’s mainly loved for its nearly peerless library of games. It’s absolutely one of the consoles of choice for JRPG fans like myself, with countless brilliant RPGs peppering its library over the 5 years of its hardware generation. I would even dare to say that, with the exception of Nintendo’s early consoles, no other game system has spawned so many brilliant, revered franchises for gamers of my tastes.
I could easily rant and rave about the original Playstation all night long but, in my eyes, the best way to share my own Playstation memories is to list my 5 favorite PS1 games . It was no easy choice, given the amount of brilliant games on Sony’s fledgling console, but I somehow managed to pull it off! Go me! Anyhow, here’s my top 5. In order to avoid making it JRPG: the list, I’ve limited my selection to one game per franchise, including spin-offs. Let’s get to it, shall we?
5 – Mega Man X4
Capcom’s Blue Bomber has always been a favorite of mine, having starred in many of the games I coveted as a child. As I aged with the series, I found myself enjoying the slightly more “mature” Mega Man X titles a little more, and there is little doubt that X4 stands tall as the best of that bunch. I could never forget the countless hours my friend and I put into this game, scouring it for secrets and figuring out the most efficient boss order. It made for the perfect single-but-totally-multiplayer experience. Really though, it’s the perfect sprite graphics (that still amaze me today) and challenging but fair gameplay that ensure repeat visits from gamers like me.
4 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
If it’s not already apparent from my fifth place game, I love the classic 2D games of days long gone. It is for this very reason that the Castlevania entries from Symphony and on stood out to me as absolutely brilliant works of gaming art. Helping pioneer the excellent “Metroid-Vania” spin that I’ve completely fallen in love with, Symphony of the Night was everything that a Castlevania game should be: challenging in all the right ways, addictive, and amazing to look at. Even if some of the voice acting is hilariously bad to today’s standards, this is one game that can be played again and again.
3 – Suikoden II
If there is one franchise that I would say is criminally overlooked (something I say all the time, I know), I would definitely pick Konami’s brilliant Suikoden series. Sure, the 3rd and 4th installments are kind of garbage, but the two that hit the original Playstation are absolute masterpieces. The biggest draw of this game is its ridiculously large cast (108 playable party members!) and the cool, innovative castle system. Early in the game, you gain control of a dwelling for your army and, as you recruit characters into your cause, the dwelling expands into a massive, active castle. A great story, fun characters, addictive battles, and one of the bets paces in gaming keeps the game going from the intro right through to the credits. Absolutely brilliant stuff.
The original Suikoden can be found on PSN for a paltry few dollars so, if you have a pulse and any interest in JRPGs, get out there and grab it up! It’s worth every dime and will surely sate your appetite until the vastly superior Suikoden 2 appears on PSN.
2 – Parasite Eve
Ah yes, Squaresoft’s “Cinematic RPG”. Parasite Eve arrived with that strange billing, promising deep RPG gameplay, unprecedented cinematics and a horror themed adventure. It could very much be seen as a combination of Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and the loot collecting antics of the hack and slash genre, creating a completely irresistible experience for RPG and horror nuts like me.
What really draws me into this game is its interesting, addictive item customization system. While working your way through the main quest, you come across items simply known as junk that can be brought into the precinct that serves as the game’s main hub. From there, you can add slots to your weapons and armor to be filled with unique abilities and augments, creating an addicting sense of power and customization . All of these customized items are then carried over into subsequent playthroughs, allowing players to build an absolutely monstrous arsenal to take into the immensely challenging bonus dungeon. Really addictive stuff.
It may have aged rather poorly on the polygonal vomit engine that the PS1 was capable of producing, but it’s still one of the most unique, playable games available on that masterful console. Given the strength of that particular library of games, that is saying A LOT.
1 – Final Fantasy Tactics
Even though The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past dominated my childhood and can never be ousted from its thrown, no game has sent me into an addicted frenzy like Final Fantasy Tactics did. Coming hot on the heels of the massive success of Final Fantasy VII, Tactics introduced the beloved series lore to the relatively new strategy RPG genre.
Adopting the venerable, innovative job system first introduced in Final Fantasy III and V, Tactics featured thousands of combinations of jobs and abilities among your squad of 5 fully customizable party members. Though a little dated by today’s standards (and with a sloppy translation), the tale weaved in Final Fantasy Tactics was an incredibly compelling one stuffed with strife and betrayal between warring factions set in the fascinating world of Ivalice.
Players can and will easily spend hundreds of hours in the game simply leveling up their party and mastering the jobs available before being able to put this one down. The unstoppable combination of the Final Fantasy universe, compelling narrative, endlessly customizable battles, and incredible music puts this title on top of them all as an enduring PS1 classic and, for me, the greatest game of all time.
By Wally- @TempleofRetro
I was completely and instantly hooked by the advertising and marketing of the Sony Playstation. The intensity, the ‘cool’ factor…it was all there, and upon playing the PS1 for the first time, I wasn’t disappointed.
In fact, the first time I played Sony’s first console, my brother and I had to rent it. We wanted to play it a couple of times before we decided to put our money together and buy one. We rented the console, along with Air Combat.
We were blown away.
Was Air Combat any good? Not particularly. But the sharp graphics and rockin’ CD quality soundtrack was far from any Super Nintendo or Genesis game we had played. An hour in, and we were ready to make the purchase.
My fondest memories of those early years centered around one game in particular: Twisted Metal.
Those who played Twisted Metal during that time know exactly what I’m talking about. Fast-paced action, explosions, and rock music? It was a recipe for success.
Speaking of success, the ability to have crystal quality REAL music had a major, if not overlooked, impact on the Playstation. Those who played Tony Hawk, Smackdown, or pretty much any other PS1 game remembers hearing musical soundtracks that were comparable to anything you could buy in store, and in some cases, were compilations of artists that lended their music to a game. No more chip tunes or synthesized midi sounds. This was the real deal and it had a serious impact on game play.
In fact, take Battle Arena Toshinden for example. It was bundled with my PS1 when I purchased it, and after playing it, I was delighted to discover that I could put it in my CD player, and listen to the game’s soundtrack in my bedroom. Doesn’t seem like much by today’s standards, but at the time, it made a huge difference in a gamer’s experience.
Think about Resident Evil. Without the sound capabilities of the Playstation, how much less intense would the experience be? Go back and play Resident Evil with the volume cranked up. Then try and tell me that the sound and effects didn’t make that game what it is.
For as many innovations as the Playstation brought to the video game industry, the adaptation of CD quality sound and music in gaming is what helped to push the PS1 as the leader of a generation. It’s an often overlooked detail, but shouldn’t be.
Until a few months ago when my mother-in-law found a PS1 in her basement and gave it to me, I never owned one. She thinks it belonged to my sister-in-law’s ex-boyfriend. All I know is that I finally got my hands on a console I’d always wanted.
A month after the PS1 came out in North America, I turned 15. I wasn’t into video games as much by that age and I honestly remember none of the marketing for any of the 5th gen consoles. Those were also the years that I started PC gaming more than on console. Plus, I still loved my Genesis. So it was my two younger brothers who saved up their money to buy our household’s next console. They went with the N64: the 2nd worst console I’ve ever owned (don’t worry, Wii, you’re still the worst).
So when people were playing Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy VII, I was playing Diablo and Heroes III. It was only maybe in 1999 or the early 00s that I’m first got to play a PS1 game. I had a friend who would often call me over when he’d get stuck in a game. He’d borrowed the console from another friend and couldn’t finish a certain battle in a particular RPG. I went over, played a game I’d never played before, finished the battle, watched a few cutscenes, and then got very confused when he started crying. I’d just seen some girl get stabbed straight through her chest by some emo dude. It was weird.
Around that same time, I played a bit of Symphony of the Night and Wild Arms at another friend’s house. I immediately loved Wild Arms and immediately forgot all about SotN for about half a decade. While still in university, my roommate dropped out but left his PS1 and a few games. I beat Syphon Filter, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and got to the emd of the 3rd disc in Final Fantasy VIII, which was already, and remains, my favourite FF game of all time (I’d previously played it on PC, got to the end of the third disc, but then moved away for university).
I had no idea if any of these games were considered good or bad, classics or forgettable. I thought they were alright, except for MGS, but it was only once I got my PS3 that I started to appreciate the PS1. I borowed SotN from the same friend with whom I’d first played it. It quickly entered my top 10 favourite games list. I beat FF VIII (FINALLY! Still my fave). I’ve gotten fairly far in FF VII and am liking it. Same goes for FF Tactics. Crash Bandicoot is awful, and MGS still is as well. I discovered that my favourite genre, RPGs, made themselves at home on the PS1 like no genre seemingly had done so completely before, so I’ve got a couple Wild Arms games, Legend of Dragoon, and Disgaea already bought, with stuff like Suikoden, Grandia, games from the Shin Megami Tensei series, Legend of Mana, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, and Xenogears at the top of my wishlist.
Besides RPGs, I’ve already bought a few Gex and Spyro games, plus the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games I’m loving. PaRappa the Rapper, Parasite Eve, Abe, Vib-Ribbon, Mega Man X games, Mr. Driller, Twisted Metal, Klonoa, Arc the Lad, Legacy of Kain games, Silent Hill, Rayman, and a tonne of other games are on my wishlist.
Looking back now, 20 years after its Japanese release, the PS1 is far and away the console I didn’t own growing up that I wish I’d had the most. To me anyway, and no disrespect to the N64 and Saturn, it was clearly the superior 5th gen console.