The PlayStation has been in my life for years, practically since it came out. It was the very first home video game console I’ve ever owned and I still have my original console to this day. 25 years ago the original PlayStation hit the shelves and ever since Sony has proven themselves to be top dogs in the video game world and the PlayStation 2 STILL holds the record for the highest selling video game console in the world. This will be a look back at the past 25 years the PlayStation has been around, and it will also be a look back at my experiences with the consoles Sony has put out over the years.
I didn’t get my first PlayStation until Easter morning of either 1998 or 1999 (I can’t remember the exact year but it was around then). Until then the only video game devices my younger brother and I had were our Game Boys or our Windows 95 computer. Our parents weren’t anti-video games but they wanted us to go outside and play, also these new systems were expensive. Even when the price fell to $99 that was still pretty steep for my parents. However our lives changed when we walked into the living room that Easter morning to see our very tired dad hooking up the PlayStation to our TV. We of course lit up, thanked him profusely, and he gave us the demo disc and a quick rundown on how to work it before going back to bed. We knew the PlayStation existed and even played it before getting one ourselves. My friend up the street had one and even when my mom would talk to the other moms she heard that they were trading in their kid’s N64’s for the much more powerful PlayStation. Later that day when we found our Easter baskets, we both got our first games. I got Twisted Metal 2 and my brother got Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Hours were spent going between those two games. Even when the PlayStation first came out in ’94 the games were good, they got even better when Sony came out with the Dualshock controller in ’97. In my personal sphere the SEGA Saturn barely existed and I didn’t even know about the Jaguar until well into my adult years. That’s how prominent Sony and Nintendo were back in the day. SEGA was quickly falling by the wayside and it was just no competition when it came to the other systems. The massive library only helped the PlayStation since third party developers flocked to Sony after the N64 and the Saturn made programming a pain to say the least. The original PlayStation had over 2,400 titles (with my personal favorites being Mega Man Legends, Final Fantasy VII, Ape Escape, and Crash Team Racing) and many are considered gaming classics. I remember combing over the PlayStation section at Blockbuster on a Friday night with my family, looking to see what game I wanted to rent next. Some titles I eventually bought since they were so good or because I loved them (mostly those were Mega Man titles), and a few we played once, liked it, then never played again. Funny enough there was this one Monster Rancher game my brother rented from Hollywood Video that he and I could not stop playing. We were familiar with the show but for some reason that game captivated us that we rented it twice and kept a save file. When we finally did return it we never saw the game again in a store or anywhere else. One of my fondest memories with the PlayStation was one night my Dad and I were playing 3Xtreme well into the night. Just the two of us, constantly going back and forth in the 2 player versus mode, having a blast. The PlayStation was a great machine and I have stories up the wazoo with playing games with my brother, my Dad, and just having fun experiences with the system.
THE GOLDEN AGE
The PlayStation had a great run, over 5 years until the release of the PlayStation 2 in 2000. When the PS2 was coming out that was all the kids at school would talk about. Sure the Dreamcast came out in 1999 with some fanfare, but the PS2 would crush the competition with one perk of the system being one of its biggest selling points. The PS2 was also a DVD player. Now back in the very early 2000’s DVD players were still pretty expensive. My family got one for Christmas in 2000 and from what I remember my parents telling me, it was not cheap. However, for a ton of families the PS2 became their primary DVD player AND their main video game machine. The added perk of being backwards compatible was also a huge plus, especially since this was the time when older PlayStation games were going on sale and you didn’t have to unplug and replug in your systems. If it worked on the PlayStation, then it should work on the PS2. Like my original PlayStation I still own my original PS2. It was originally my younger brother’s birthday present. He was outside playing with his friends while Dad and I set up the system in his room. Once we were done he got the great idea to start playing it so we played a few rounds of a snowboarding game we got for him. To say that my brother was a little mad when he came into his room a few minutes later is a bit of an understatement. He would get his revenge though, in the form of always playing my new Guitar Hero games that were my birthday presents before I did. Years would go by, we would trade the system between our rooms until it finally came into my care permanently. Once we got it we couldn’t stop playing and buying games for it. The library of games for the PS2 is quite possibly the best game library ever. The system had practically every genre of game you could ask for and then some. Games I would spend hours on playing over and over again. Kingdom Hearts I and II, Final Fantasy X and XII, God of War, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Burnout 3: Takedown, the list can go on and on. Many games for the PS2 are considered classics and must plays. It was home to the iconic Shadow of The Colossus, a game that sparked the now age old debate of whether games should be considered art (in my opinion they are). Countless times have I walked in on my brother playing one of the many GTA games we had and just having a blast. Hours were spent grinding my characters in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time or Kingdom Hearts. I can’t tell you how many times I beat the first game when I was waiting for Kingdom Hearts II to come out. Or getting freaked out by playing Resident Evil 4 and playing with the lights off. Even when the PS3 was released I would still go back and hook up my PS2 and find hours upon hours of enjoyment playing the older games. The PlayStation 2 was truly a golden age for gaming and the era where I cemented myself as a gamer.
Now after the PS2’s success it seemed obvious that the PS3 was going follow on that success. However it was not to be. The PS3 was the only main PlayStation system that I never owned. The biggest reason being the asking price when it came out back in 2006. It was $599 for the model with the most memory and even though it came with a built in Blu-Ray player, the Xbox 360 and the Wii were cheaper options and the selection of games during launch wasn’t the greatest. I remember a Mobile Suit Gundam game being among the launch titles and my heart sank when I heard it wasn’t good since I’m a huge fan of the franchise. Christmas of 2006 was the year I would get my Nintendo Wii and the next year my brother would get his Xbox 360, the first time we branched off from getting a PlayStation console. We did own a PSP, but we barely played it as the Nintendo handhelds were more our speed. Eventually the PS3 would lower the price with the PS3 Slim (even though the newer models took out the backwards compatibility feature) Sony never really recovered even though the system would eventually be home to some of the best titles. The Last of Us and the Uncharted series to name a few. It was also during the PS3 era when the PlayStation Network was hacked and millions of user’s personal information was stolen in April of 2011. There was outrage at Sony not because of the attack, but because they waited over a week to inform its customer base that their personal information was taken. PSN was down for about 23 days and Sony was getting flack not just from it’s fans, but from the government as well. It was during this time I was glad I didn’t own a PS3, and I was slowly but surely slipping out of playing video games as a whole. When I did get my video game groove back, and moved back into my college dorm, my roommate had a PS3. It was through this I was able to play the amazing Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City games on the PS3. Sadly these were the games I would spend any major time with. I played a few rounds of Soul Caliber IV here and there, but that still didn’t really get me into wanting a PS3. Most of the games I really wanted to play were also available on the Xbox 360. There was one time I could’ve owned a PS3, Dad bought one for a friend’s son down in Brazil and the night before he was supposed to leave he accidentally left it at my Mom’s house. I drove it to him so he could take it and when I dropped it off he said, “You know if I didn’t have it I would’ve let you keep it right?” I really wanted to keep it, but I had no money for the games I really wanted and I couldn’t take a present meant for someone else, so I gave it back to Dad and his friend’s son loved it.
THE RETURN TO FORM
Now the PS3 wasn’t a failure, sure it didn’t do nearly as well as the PS2 did, and the 2011 hack on Sony left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, but the PS3 did sell a respectable 80+ million units. However PlayStation would have a return to form in 2013. I remember it well, E3 2013, Sony and Microsoft were about to reveal their newest consoles to the world, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Microsoft’s conference could not have gone worse, as fans and critics were confused and concerned with what the Xbox One could do. Sony struck when the iron was hot, essentially proving that they were back with a $100 cheaper console than Microsoft, and no crazy way of trading games. Of course Microsoft changed all of that when the Xbox One launched but the damage was done. Sony learned from their mistakes with the PS3, and applied that knowledge to the PS4. As of now (according to IGN.com) the PS4 has sold over 102.8 million units, making it the 4th best selling console of all time. The biggest drawback for the console for me was the fact that there was no backwards compatibility feature like its predecessors. However that was quickly remedied with HD Remasters and re-releases of PS3 titles and PS2 titles being available for download. Truly the PlayStation had returned to form with not only a great system, but a system with some of the hottest titles around. Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War 2018 being some of the biggest exclusive titles, as well as carrying a Last of Us Remaster has done nothing but help the PS4. The PS4 was the first major game console I bought on my own without help from my parents. I got mine in July of 2015 and have been loving it ever since. Being able to experience God of War was a treat, but also being able to catch up and play almost all of the HD Kingdom Hearts games before Kingdom Hearts III came out in January of 2019 was something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. My library of games is a mix of both brand new and remasters of older games. I proudly have Crash Bandicoot the N-Sane Trilogy, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, God of War III and the Shadow of the Colossus remake just to name a few of the older titles. Of Course God of War, Final Fantasy XV, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and Soul Caliber VI are in my library as well.
What I like most about PlayStation is the consistency of the name of their systems. You look at Nintendo and even Microsoft and the names for their consoles are all over the place. You have the Gamecube, then the Wii, then the Wii U and then all of a sudden you get hit with the Switch. Don’t get me started on the Xbox One, because I know I am not the only one who was very disappointed when Microsoft didn’t name the successor to the Xbox 360 the Xbox 540. Yet with Sony and the PlayStation, you know what’s coming next, and so far the shortened form of it still rolls off the tongue. It comes as no surprise that I am a big PlayStation fan, and how can I not? The system has been in my house since the day my Dad brought it home, and to this day I’m still finding older PlayStation games and even old PS2 games to buy and play eventually. Sure its had it’s hiccups here and there, the most recent one being the PlayStation Classic which is a topic for another day, but even with those missteps Sony seems to learn from them and get right back into what matters. I know I’ve barely talked about the handheld systems and they are great systems, but when I hear PlayStation I’m thinking of home consoles. Consoles that have great games attached to them. These past 25 years have been mostly great for Sony and I’m glad to say that I was there for practically the entire ride. My favorite era of video game history is the late 80’s and early 90’s, an era that I was either not alive for or just barely learning how to walk. To look back at the history, the storied history of a console that I was actually there to see and witness for myself, is pretty cool. I think I understand a little better no how some people feel when the younger generation talks about older systems and how cool they were. Sure the PlayStation’s graphics may be a little hard on the eyes to most, but to me, they are treasured memories. The PlayStation 5 is literally right around the corner, and I can’t say I’m not looking forward to what the PlayStation will become in the next 25 years.