PlayStation is virtually synonymous with video games. But in late 1994, it was a total newcomer, with only the Sony name suggesting this funny grey box with the odd-shaped controller was anything more than a wannabe. But then something extraordinary happened.
These incredible games transformed PlayStation into a world-wide phenomenon.
Namco’s racer was one of the first texture-mapped polygonal 3D racing games and the quality of its home conversion finally confirmed that the gap between consoles and arcades was finally so narrow, the only major difference was a hydraulic seat.
Ridge Racer proved beyond any doubt that PlayStation was the best 3D machine you could buy, trashing Saturn’s abysmal Daytona USA conversion. It’s still impressive today, as day turns to night before your eyes. Not even Forza 5 does that.
Metal Gear Solid
Around 1999, PlayStation was already ahead of the competition, but consolidated that lead with some breathtaking titles. The jewel in the crown was Metal Gear Solid. The 3D game world was more detailed than any that had come before, but it would have been nought without the genius of Hideo Kojima’s imagination and direction.
It also introduced stealth to the masses, turning the action genre on its head. Intelligent and engrossing, playable movies were suddenly within touching distance.
Psygnosis’ futuristic anti-gravity racing game arrived at just the right moment to propel gaming into the public consciousness. Not as a child’s toy, but as new media.
Children who grew up playing Sega and Nintendo were now in nightclubs. And there, in chill-out rooms (as legend will tell it for millennia) was WipeOut, complete with a licensed CD-quality soundtrack of tunes from Orbital. And the freakin’ Chemical Brothers. Of course PlayStation was going to succeed. It was just so cool.
On the fuzzy RF connections and 15-inch color TVs of 1998, the (totally fake) reflection effects on Gran Turismo’s gleaming cars made the game look like reality. But that wasn’t where its pursuit of actuality ended. These were real cars that you could feasibly buy with actual money.
In Gran Turismo 2, they were racing around real-world raceways. Gran Turismo 3on PS2 was another astonishing leap forward and made the buyer’s decision plainly obvious: If you wanted to play the best games, you had to buy a PlayStation.
Final Fantasy 7
Resident Evil is the finest example of the bold strides forward into uncharted territory that PlayStation was making, dragging the unsuspecting industry with it. The ‘this game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore’ warning at the start isn’t kidding.
Resi’s realistically-textured zombies (because zombies are real, we know this) can have their heads removed from their bodies with a shotgun blast to the face. That’s quite a departure from the likes of Super Mario Bros. And gamers loved it.
PaRappa the Rapper
Why is a rapping dog in a beanie hat one of the games that defined PlayStation? Because Parappa represents all of the extraordinary imagination and originality that fills the PlayStation’s library.
With an eventual install base of over 100 million, PlayStation enabled developers to confidently cater to all tastes. Even a risky title like Parappa could enjoy breakout success… and it did. Parappa – and PlayStation – you rappin’ GOOD.