With the PlayStation 4 on the horizon, Sony's consoles are on everyone's minds lately. The recent Twitter hashtag, #playstationmemories, got me thinking about my own time spent with the consoles. I've owned PlayStations 1 through 3, so a fair amount of my gaming time has been spent on Sony consoles. Each console has affected my taste in games in various ways, but the original PlayStation has probably been the most influential to me, since it was one of the main consoles I used growing up. The following games are the ones that I have the fondest memories of, the games which may have helped shape what kinds of games I like to play today. For reference, I was about 7 when the PlayStation was released, so these games were probably played between the ages of 7 and 12.
Spyro the Dragon
The original Spyro was by far my favorite video game growing up. The 10-year-old me thought it was just so cool to play as a dragon. I remember I rented the game first and thought it was the best thing ever, but the rental version was scratched and it would freeze whenever you got into the hot air balloon to travel to the second world. Then I got it for Christmas later that year, and was so freaking excited that I would finally be able to see the rest of the game! It really was a beautiful game for its time. Everything in the game was rendered in 3D, and the worlds were so colorful and magical. Even the music was unique. I liked Spyro so much at the time, that it even influenced my very first screen name when my family finally got AOL. I chose the name Spyro06 (not sure where the 06 came from... it was probably just a random number that I had to choose because Spyro was taken). I played the sequel, Ripto's Rage, when it came out later, but wasn't as enthralled by it. My interest in Spyro has since diminished, and the first game remains the only one that I really enjoyed.
Tomb Raider might have been the very first PlayStation game I ever played. I remember my brother's friend had a PlayStation before us, and that was the first time I'd even heard of the console before. He brought it over to our house one day to show us Tomb Raider. It's possible that this was the first 3D video game I'd ever seen. Obviously, I was blown away by the experience. Being able to fully navigate 3D environments in a video game was crazy to me at the time. Even the game's visuals, which have aged quite horribly, were absolutely beautiful to me back then. I became completely immersed in the intricate caverns and ruins. I remember literally falling out of my chair the first time I encountered the T-rex, and shrieking and mashing the swim button the first time I encountered a crocodile underwater. I also remember my mom watching me play one day, and making some remark about how I was playing as a sexy girl, and how she thought she knew now why I had been playing Tomb Raider so much lately. I think she might have missed the mark a bit there...
When my parents finally bought me my own PlayStation, the first game they got for it was Rayman, instead of Tomb Raider like I had asked for. I was fairly disappointed at first. The character on the cover looked so bizarre. Why doesn't he have limbs? And what's with his hair? When I started playing the game, I realized that it wasn't 3D like Tomb Raider had been, and I was even more disappointed. It wasn't what I wanted at all! But since it was the only PlayStation game I had for the time being, I kept playing it anyway. Eventually I came to the realization that, my god, this game was incredibly fun! The characters and the worlds were so imaginative and colorful. Even though it was 2D, it was by far the most beautiful 2D game I'd ever seen. It was also extremely challenging! I wasn't even able to get past Band Land, the second world, without my brother's help. Also, I had way too much fun pressing the one button which made Rayman make a weird face and stick his tongue out. It didn't really do anything, except occasionally surprise an enemy into running away, but it always made me laugh. In retrospect, I'm really glad my parents decided to go with Rayman as my first PlayStation game!
Metal Gear Solid
My brother decided to rent Metal Gear Solid one day, a game which didn't look too interesting to me, but I tried playing it anyway. I was absolutely terrible at it. I don't think I could even figure out how to get through the first room and make it onto the elevator. My brother was good at it though, so instead of playing it myself, I opted to just watch him play it. It was a good thing, then, that Metal Gear Solid was just as entertaining to watch as it was to play. I became captivated by the serious story and the characters, even though I didn't really understand what all was going on. I remember the Cyborg Ninja scared the shit out of me, and I freaked out when Sniper Wolf shot Meryl. And the fight against Psycho Mantis blew my mind! For some reason I couldn't comprehend the moving controller and the Hideo blackout screen, it seemed like the game had a mind of its own. I guess I was kind of a dumb kid. I watched my brother play the game all the way to the end, and it was amazing. I didn't actually play the game myself until several years later, and the experience was just as amazing then!
Bushido Blade was another game that my brother decided to rent, which I probably would have never played otherwise. I'm actually not even sure why I liked it so much as a kid, since it's really nothing like the types of games I liked to play. In case you haven't played it, Bushido Blade is a samurai-style fighting game with no health bars. You fight until someone is mortally injured, which could happen after a single well-aimed strike. If your limbs sustain serious injuries, your character will be crippled, forcing them to limp or crawl around the arena. Even today, I still think the mechanics of this game are brilliant, and lead into some very tense, almost realistic duels. I'm kind of surprised my younger self appreciated it so much, but I played it a ton with my brother and friends, where we'd fight and run around the map trying to discover all of the various areas you could fight in. I even bought it as a birthday present for one of my friends, but I don't think he appreciated it quite as much as I did...
Mega Man Legends
I had been a pretty big fan of the Mega Man games on the NES and SNES, so when I saw there was a 3D Mega Man game for the PlayStation, of course I had to try it out. What I found in Mega Man Legends was unlike any other Mega Man game I'd ever played, but it was very special in its own way. The game was humorous, and at times pretty dark, and there were so many little details that brought life to the island of Kattelox. If you got in the way of a vehicle, it would knock you off the road. If you kicked a vending machine, you might get a free drink. If you helped the Servbots with their money problems in some sidequests, they'd eventually open up a hamburger shop in town. I felt like I was constantly discovering new things to do or find in this game. Not to mention, the Bonne family and their Servbots are some of my favorite video game characters ever! Tron, Teisel and Bon are the kind of villains you feel sorry for, and wish you could help out. The romantic tension between Tron and Mega Man always made me smile. And of course, the Servbots are just about the most adorable little minions you'll ever encounter! Mega Man Legends is still one of my favorite games to this day, and it still makes me sad that it's not considered profitable enough to release any more sequels for it. At least I'll always have the first two games and Tron's spin-off to cherish.
I rented Tomba on a whim one day, most likely because of the colorfully exciting cover art that couldn't be ignored on the shelf. I was not disappointed! Tomba encapsulates the kind of super happy, whimsical attitude of video games that I still enjoy to this day. There was just something about jumping around as a wild pink-haired boy, tackling pigs and birds and other enemies into submission that made me laugh with childlike joy. It reminds me of the same kind of feeling I get playing games like Katamari Damacy or Rhythm Heaven Fever, some of my favorite games of all time. Tomba also had a unique quest system built into the platformer genre, and an interesting, though admittedly confusing, mechanic where you could jump between foreground and background. That mechanic caused me to get stuck in the game as a kid, because I never realized that you could enter doorways that looked like they were part of the background. I had to return the game without ever having beaten it, which I was upset about. I eventually picked it up again a few years ago after a bout of nostalgia, and was finally able to beat it. I'm glad I got around to doing that, because it was a lovely game the entire way through.
I'm pretty sure I never rented or owned Ape Escape (until recently). I must have played it at a friend's house or something, but I certainly remember being very intrigued by the game. A game centered around capturing rogue monkeys was such a bizarre idea, but it worked. Those damn monkeys were so quick and crafty, you had to be very skilled and persistent to capture some of them! It helped that the world of the game was so charming and fun to explore. I had way too much fun running around with the dinosaurs and swimming around with the huge fish in the jungle levels. The game also appealed to the collector side of me, as I wanted to catch every last monkey and read about them in the info menu! Unfortunately, I don't think I ever managed to do so...
Crash Team Racing
I did play the Crash Bandicoot games when I was a kid (well, at least the first one), but for some reason I enjoyed the racing game way more than the main games. Maybe it was because I was really bad at Mario Kart 64, but relatively good at Crash Team Racing. So while my friends would destroy me in Mario Kart, I could turn around and wreck them in Crash Team Racing! I always played as either Pura, the cute little tiger cub, or Polar, the cute polar bear (I like cute things... shut up). I still remember almost all of the tracks, with the Hot Air Skyway standing out the most in my mind. It was like the equivalent of Rainbow Road. When we'd get tired of racing, the battle arenas were just as much fun. I think it definitely stood its own as one of the better mascot-themed racing games.
Twisted Metal 2
Twisted Metal was another one of my brother's rental choices. I think he rented the first game and then ended up buying the second game. It took me a while to warm up to Twisted Metal, but eventually it became one of my favorite multiplayer games to play with my friends. It was pretty violent, but since it was mainly violence against vehicles, it didn't seem so bad in my mind. I remember my brother and I took turns attempting to beat the game with every character to try to see their endings, which were all pretty horrific yet humorous at the same time. When we encountered Dark Tooth for the first time, we both freaked out and panicked trying to defeat him. My favorite vehicle to play as was always Thumper, because it looked really sleek and its special fire attack seemed to be very effective. I also had way too much fun destroying all of the various landmarks found throughout the game. You could destroy the Eiffel Tower and use it as a bridge, blast your way into a museum and shoot up the Mona Lisa, or blast the dress off of the Statue of Liberty, revealing an unflattering bikini! I'm not too crazy about the Twisted Metal series these days, but I sure played the hell out of it when I was younger!
Final Fantasy IX and VII
Final Fantasy IX was one of the last PlayStation games I played before moving on to the PS2. I'm not sure why I didn't check out VII or VIII before it, because we already owned IV for the SNES and I loved that game. For some reason, though, none of the other Final Fantasy games really caught my attention until I was looking at the cover for IX while trying to decide what game to rent next. I distinctly remember seeing Vivi on the cover and thinking I really liked his design, and since I'd already played a Final Fantasy game before, I decided to see what had become of the series. I never expected to become so goddamn obsessed with that game! I couldn't put it down until I'd beaten it, and after I beat it I kept playing to try and discover all of the endgame stuff, searching for every item and secret that I could possibly find, locating and defeating Ozma, etc. I put a ridiculous number of hours into that game, and after I'd finished it, I started up a new file and played it all again! I was hooked. After finally losing steam with IX, I discovered that my cousin was in possession of VII, only his mom wouldn't let him play it because the huge sword on the cover looked too violent. So they let me borrow it, and I soon became just as obsessed with VII as I had been with IX! I'm not sure which game I spent more time with, but I'm sure I spent a disgusting number of hours between the two of them. Surprisingly though, I never felt inclined to play VIII or anything released after IX. I'm not exactly sure why, maybe the character designs just weren't doing it for me. Regardless, VII and IX remain two of my favorite video games ever.
I played a lot more PlayStation games than just the ones listed here, but these were the games that meant the most to me. What were some of your favorite PS1 games growing up?view gallery