Games That Defined The History of the PlayStation (PS1)

defined-ps1

The Sony PlayStation essentially came out of nowhere in the mid 1990’s to take on both Nintendo and Sega in the heated console wars.  With some impressive technology and a heavy marketing budget behind them, Sony rallied a number of the best game developers in the industry to create a powerhouse library of games – many of which laid a solid foundation for generations to come.

This overview of the PS1 takes a look at the games that made the largest impact on the industry at the time and gave the Playstation its unique personality while overcoming its opponents (as opposed to a standard list of “the best” PS1 games)

Due to the size of this article and the variety of games discussed, it quickly became a group project.  While Ack and I led this project, there were also many contributions from Daniel Primed, The Apprentice, Radarscope1, Niode, Fastbilly1, and BulletMagnet.  Thanks to all for their contributions and I hope everyone enjoys the results!

Final Fantasy Seriesff7-2

Before Sony made the bold move of taking on Sega and Nintendo in the ultra-competitive gaming industry, Sony had partnered with Nintendo to develop a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo.   After Nintendo breached the contract and ultimately decided to ditch the CD format, Sony decided to create the PlayStation on their own and make Nintendo regret their decision.

In addition to a new competitor in Sony, Nintendo suffered from the loss of Squaresoft as premier third party publisher.  Square, angry about Nintendo’s decision to go with the cartridge format instead of CD, dropped all connections with the company and instead began producing titles exclusively for the PlayStation, including their beloved Final Fantasy series.

As the first Final Fantasy game to be presented in three dimensions, Final Fantasy VII was a milestone in the RPG genre.  For many impressionable youths in this new gaming generation, it was an introduction to the genre and was an early showcase of what could be done with computer generated cut-scenes and story-telling.  Even though it may not have been the greatest Final Fantasy in terms of game mechanics, it is definitely high on the food chain in terms of iconic characters and experiences from the 32-bit era.

ff9The PlayStation would also see highly-anticipated releases of Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX – each of which was met with rave reviews and tremendous sales.  Final Fantasy VII finished up with 9.8 million copies worldwide and the sequels followed up with 6 million and 5.08 million respectively.

Final Fantasy VIII and IX really showed Square’s growth in using high-quality music and graphics for storytelling.   The length of the games was also quite impressive.  Final Fantasy VII spanned multiple discs at it’s release in 1997 in Japan, just over two years after the release of the console, using disc space to put 3D rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds, as well as featuring 3D combat and pre-rendered cut scenes.   Final Fantasy VIII and IX took it a step further by filling up four CDs each.  Indeed, the quality of CG would make Square even more famous then it had been after its success with Nintendo’s previous consoles.

When the book was closed on these blockbusters, the huge revenue stream helped fund the company’s attempts at breaking into other game genres.  While Square would not see nearly as much success in these areas, the games did endear more fans to the company, leading some to speculate that Squaresoft alone could pick which console would win the generation wars.
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Metal Gear Solid

metalgearsolidHideo Kojima’s career-spanning series, Metal Gear, broke into super-stardom on PlayStation with Metal Gear Solid.  Selling over 7 million copies during its lifespan, the game would become on of the highest selling games in the 32-bit generation.  Of course, it also was the beginning of a franchise that would help sell millions PS2s and PS3s for years to come.

Metal Gear Solid’s success comes as little surprise as it brought movie-like cut scenes, an incredible cast of characters, bizarre secrets, incredible audio, and more stealth action than one could shake a stick at.  The game mechanics came as such a pleasant surprise to mainstream gamers that Metal Gear Solid is often credited as having created the popularizing the Stealth genre that is now filled with many blockbuster titles.

Of course, what more could be expected from a title whose designers were out to “literally make the best PlayStation game ever”.  And despite some criticisms about the short length of the title, the constant cut scenes, and how easy it was to avoid enemies, some gamers could argue they did it, or at least came close.

Looking back at the 32-bit era, it’s easy to see that many of the early 3D games don’t age especially well when compared to their newer counterparts.  However, Metal Gear Solid seems to be one of the few exceptions to the rule.  Kojima and Company did an outstanding job making use of the PlayStation’s capabilities and made sure to push the limits of the things that matter most in the long-term: gameplay and story.  Even though the game was remade on the Gamecube, it is still strongly recommended that one play the original version of this classic on the PlayStation.
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Crash Bandicoot Series

crashbandicootOriginally created by famed developers, Naughty Dog, the Crash Bandicoot series would see five releases on the PlayStation before going multi-platform in 2001.  While the Crash series has seen 14 titles, with over 20 million games sold worldwide, the PlayStation era yielded the largest impact.

Crash had a couple of things going for it during the 32-bit era.  First of all, as Sony was trying to make its mark in the gaming industry, it unofficially embraced Crash as it’s mascot – much like Nintendo’s Mario and Sega’s Sonic characters.  Just as Sega of America’s advertising campaigns went down the tubes, Sony was airing numerous commercials featuring a guy in a giant Crash Bandicoot suit that seemed like something that the cutting-edge Sega would have run in the Genesis days (including ones where Crash challenged Mario to a fight).

In addition to the advertising campaigns, Crash Bandicoot was one of the first 3D platforming games that were worth playing.    Sure, it wasn’t quite as smooth or expansive as the revolutionary Super Mario 64 (which came out just before Crash Bandicoot), but it was a leap above most of the rest of the competition – especially on the PlayStation.

The series would see annual releases up until 2000, with the second and third games, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, being released in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Both continued being platformers, though introduced major changes for the better.  Indeed, Crash 3 is considered by many to be the best of the entire series, as well as one of the greatest platformers of all time.

From there, the series branched out, with the 1999 release of Crash Team Racing, a kart-racer like Mario Kart 64.  It was Naughty Dog’s last release before Eurocom took over the Crash franchise with Crash Bash, a party game that sold relatively well despite less than stellar reviews.
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Gran Turismo Series

granturismo-2For racing junkies and PlayStation fans alike, Gran Turismo is recognized as one of the greatest high-speed series of all time.  Seeing only two releases on the PS1, both titles serve as some of the best-selling racing games in history.  The original Gran Turismo holds the honor of being the highest selling PlayStation game in the world, with over 10.85 million copies sold worldwide and the sequel isn’t far behind at 9.37 million sold.

Of all things, perhaps Gran Turismo’s greatest strengths are its realism and its size.  It wasn’t quite as easy to dive into as your standard arcade racers, but it rewarded those who invested the time necessary to master it.   From the beginning of the series, the developers at Polyphony Digital were committed to make sure the models and handling of the vehicles were as true to life as possible with the technology at hand.  Everything from physical to accurate audio was taken into consideration.   In addition to having relatively accurate representations of each of the featured cars, players were able to tune the performance to their liking.

The first game featured over 170 selectable vehicles and 11 racetracks, as well as a soundtrack featuring the works of Chemical Brothers, Garbage, Feeder, and more.  Gran Turismo 2 continued this success, with nearly 650 playable vehicles and 27 tracks, as well as being released with a full soundtrack.  The game was so large that it required two disks, something unheard of in a racing game.
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Tekken 3

tekken3While the Tekken series may have been one of the greatest selling 3D fighters on the PlayStation console, it is specifically Tekken 3 that deserves special attention.  Considered the pinnacle of the series, Tekken 3 brought over fifteen new characters, a revised combat system where moves were easier to combo, the z-axis and side-stepping were made key to avoiding attacks, and jumps were severely toned down.

When brought over from the arcade, mini-game modes like Tekken Force and Tekken Ball were added on top of the older modes from Tekken 2.  Backgrounds became more limited and character models had frames of animation removed as well as lower polygon counts and fewer textures.  The game also was forced to a lower resolution.  The new gameplay was left largely intact, however, and including all unlockables, the roster held an impressive 23 characters.

At its release, changes to the combat engine were happily accepted and the game was considered almost perfect by reviewers.  Three out of four reviewers at Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a 10 out of 10, with the last giving a 9.  Years later, the game is still considered one of the best, appearing on Top 10 lists.  As of this writing, Game Rankings rates Tekken 3 as the 10th highest rated game of all time, much to the ire of Virtua Fighter fans everywhere.
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Tomb Raider Series

tombraider2The Tomb Raider games may seem like standard fare now, but back in 1996, the series was revolutionary in more ways than one.  First of all, Tomb Raider was one of the first 3D action adventure games on the market and had excellent use of 3D environments in an era when most developers were still trying to wrap their brains around truly 3D game design.

In addition to the relatively expansive and innovative game design, Tomb Raider was also a trailblazer in terms of character design.  Even though Nintendo’s Metroid series was the first to have a strong female character as a lead, most gamers would never have known it at the time.  However, it was hard to ignore the fact that Lara Croft was not your typical game protagonist.   While the extra curvy character design raised some eyebrows and attracted some extra attention from young male gamers, Lara was more than a pretty face.

The Tomb Raider series focuses on Lara’s archaeological exploits in various tombs around the world and how they often turn sour, due to animal attacks, traps, puzzles, or nefarious forces attempting to steal said artifacts.   Once gamers played the games, it was obvious that Lara Croft was more of a female Indiana Jones-meets-James Bond than a stereotypical pin-up girl.

Developed by the relatively small team at Core Design (which was newly acquired by Eidos), Tomb Raider was a quite ambitious project, but the early hype and the large sales impact the game had at the 1996 launch took the team by surprise.  Though originally being released on the Sega Saturn, the first Tomb Raider would see great success on the PlayStation console, leading to further success on Sony’s console and easily becoming a top-seller.

After blowing the gaming industry away, Eidos pushed Core to have Tomb Raider II ready to ship by the holiday season of 1997.  Even under such a tight deadline (development was finished in nine months), Tomb Raider II was a solid product that adequately improved over the original with superior graphics, twice the scope, more flexible controls, and the ability to use vehicles.  This time it wasn’t much of a surprise that Tomb Raider II was heavily anticipated and had amazing sales numbers.

In the end, Core Design pumped out five solid, blockbuster games in as many years and gave not only the PlayStation, but also the entire gaming industry one of the most iconic characters of a generation.  The series didn’t have a huge evolution within itself, but it definitely inspired many other developers to create many of the more advanced 3D adventures that we enjoy to this day.
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Resident Evil Series

resident-evil-ps1Capcom had a lot to offer when it came to two-dimensional games, but with the rise of the PlayStation and the demand for the 3D games, Capcom needed to reinvent itself a bit to stay ahead of the competition.   Its first successful 3D title, Resident Evil (known as “Biohazard” in Japan) was a new direction for the company and helped popularize the “survival horror” genre.

The Resident Evil games typically followed the exploits of two characters as they end up ensnared in a diabolical plot by the Umbrella Corporation, a leading pharmaceuticals company.  Umbrella produces biological weapons which turn people into zombies, and said zombies then attack other people, making them zombies and propagating Umbrella’s weapon.

The main objectives of the games were to conserve ammunition and health items while dealing with limited inventory space, bizarre puzzles and fetch quests, and attempting to avoid such enemies as zombies, dogs, giant spiders, and other creatures that will make you jump out of your seat.

The PlayStation-era Resident Evil games weren’t as fully three-dimensional as some other titles out there, but instead featured 3D characters moving against pre-rendered backgrounds.  They were also known for their tank-like character controls.   Modern gamers might be a bit put off by the control scheme, but it’s fun to look back on them and see how much the series has evolved.

Something Resident Evil has never shied away from is violence.  The large amounts of violence, bloodshed, and gore began a trend that continues into modern gaming, where Sony was given the image of catering towards a more adult crowd while Nintendo added to its image of being the “kiddy” game company.

The Resident Evil series would eventually see three installments on the PlayStation in addition to a Director’s Cut of the original game.  While all three games would later see re-releases or remakes on other platforms, the PS1 was the place to play them when they were cutting-edge.  The Resident Evil series has remained tremendously successful, seeing multiple spin-off titles, sequels, prequels, numerous game-based merchandising, ports and remakes, as well as comic lines, book series, and films.
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Ridge Racer Series

ridgeracer4The mid-1990s saw an arms race on the arcade scene, with more and more powerful graphics engines being developed in response to waning player interest and increasingly popular home consoles. The result was a huge gap between arcade games and console ports in many cases. So when new PlayStation owners popped in this disc and saw Ridge Racer running smooth and playing even smoother on their TV at home, it was enough to change the mind of even the most skeptical gamer about whether Sony was worthy of entering the home market.  Even though Ridge Racer was in the arcades for about two years before it was ported to the PS1, it didn’t make it any less impressive when it was released.

While many Ridge Racer reviews lead one to believe that the PS1 port is “arcade perfect”– the textures are much lower resolution than the arcade version, and there’s good deal of tearing at the seams if you go back and play it today. Two other aspects of the game held up perfectly, however – the gameplay and the audio. The visceral drifting action at the heart of the game was unchanged, and the sound (annoying announcer and all) was the type of thing that simply couldn’t be done on the cartridge-based systems of the time.

Ridge Racer on the PlayStation was actually a fairly light on content, though it did go beyond what the coin-op machine offered. There was essentially a single track that also had an extension section filled with hairpin turns on the harder difficulties. Coming in first on all four races (beginner, medium, expert and time trial) unlocked the reverse courses. A little trick (running through the wall behind the starting block at more than 60 mph) also unlocked mirror courses, for a total of 16 ways to race the track. Beating a Galaxian mini-game during the load sequence unlocked eight more cars in addition to the original four, and beating the impossibly fast #13 black car on the time trial unlocked it as well.

Ridge Racer was also notable because it was the first Namco game on the PlayStation. Namco went on to become a huge force the system. It rarely published games on other consoles, and essentially became a defacto second party developer for Sony, much like Squaresoft did for Nintendo in the 16-bit era. It supported the PlayStation with dozens of games, include three more Ridge Racer titles.
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Final Fantasy Tactics

fftacticsMentioned separate from the Final Fantasy series specifically to make a point, Final Fantasy Tactics was the first truly successful strategy RPG released in America.  It was not the first, with titles like Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen being released on Super Nintendo, but it sold significantly more units and brought tactical RPGs to the masses.  Of course the similarities between the Ogre games and Final Fantasy Tactics wasn’t a coincidence.  Tactics actually shared much of the same team that made Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre.

What’s also interesting about Final Fantasy Tactics is how different it was from the other Final Fantasy games in the 32-bit era.  Instead of pushing 3D graphics and focusing on visual story-telling, Tactics took an old-school approach with sprites and a rotating, isometric playing field.

The classic combat gameplay found in Tactics is just as outstanding and is really the star of the show. The game features a complex “job” system, first introduced in Final Fantasy V. Much like a game of chess, Tactics forces players to think carefully about each move, to plan ahead, and to bring the best possible strategies to duke it out against many challenging opponents. Many games, since its time, have attempted to copy and improve on its formula, but none have managed to do so with the same dramatic flair and unusual style as Final Fantasy Tactics.

Indeed, probably the greatest problem Final Fantasy Tactics had would also be the thing that would make it popular: it’s featuring the Final Fantasy name.  While this likely led many fans of the Final Fantasy series to pick it up, it also led to its inevitable overshadowing by Final Fantasy VII, released only a few months before it.    However, Tactics was still quite successful, selling about 2.3 million copies on the PlayStation.  It also saw a handful of spin-offs/sequels on portable platforms, but none has received quite as much praise as the PlayStation original.

When all was said and done, Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the most involved, serious, and well-rounded strategy RPGs out there. Despite being more than 6 years old, it remains as playable and fascinating as ever. Final Fantasy Tactics is notable for its well-crafted storyline, which might actually be one of the best in the Final Fantasy series.
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Spyro the Dragon Series

spyroWhile Crash Bandicoot would be the closest any character would come to being the PlayStation’s mascot, Spyro the Dragon was a close second.  The Spyro the Dragon games are cartoonish 3D platformers that were quite popular with the younger crowd, but also had enough substance to keep established gamers entertained as well.    And like Crash Bandicoot, the Spyro games were some of the few non-Nintendo platforming games that did well in 3D.

The Spyro games each featured free-roaming 3D environments, fantasy and futuristic locales, and even crossed over to the Crash Bandicoot series from time to time.  (In fact, several of the later PlayStation Crash games would feature demo discs for Spyro titles, and vice versa.)

Of course, the games each centered around Spyro, a cocky little purple dragon that is a bit on the curious side.  When enemies come and invade the various fantasy worlds that Spyro inhabits, he inevitably must go out and solve the problem, usually with the help of a group of friends.  Though Spyro would branch out in later years to different consoles and handhelds, three titles were released on PlayStation.  These three were the only three designed by Insomniac Games, and are often considered the best of the series.

On a side note, all of the original PlayStation’s releases feature music by Stewart Copeland, better known as the drummer from the band The Police.  It is often compared to Mutato Muzika’s music from the Crash Bandicoot games.
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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

castlevania-sotnSymphony of the Night would mark a turning point in the history of all Castlevania games.  It would follow the son of Dracula, Alucard, instead of a Belmont clan member.  Instead of a level-by-level design that previous titles had stuck to, Symphony of the Night featured a more open-ended play style for traversing Dracula’s castle, as well as a leveling and equipment system similar to RPGs.  While these ideas had been tried in passing in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, they would really be explored on this PlayStation hit, and would become mainstays to the series afterwards.

The controls were also opened up a bit, allowing for abilities like double-jumping, as well as magic spells and a series of transformations the player could gain, allowing Alucard access to new areas of Dracula’s castle.

Perhaps one of the most important features of the game is its 2D style.  On a console known for 3D games, Symphony of the Night shined as a model of what 2D could be like in the 32-bit era, with excellent backgrounds and sprite designs that hold up well years later.

The musical score also featured a large variety of musical styles, ranging from jazz to metal to techno, and received much praise from fans.  Because of its success, almost all following Castlevanias would feature a similar format and Symphony of the Night is still the standard by which all future Castlevania games are measured.
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Twisted Metal Series

twistedmetal2While most European and Japanese fans may not remember the Twisted Metal series due to its lack of release anywhere but the United States, American gamers will never forget how awesome a game about vehicular combat could be.

The Twisted Metal series was synonymous with the PlayStation almost from day one, seeing it’s first game put out in just under two months after the North American PlayStation’s release.  The series would become known for its large cast of kooky characters, its outrageous storyline and ending sequences, its explosive combat, and its exclusivity.  (Twisted Metal games have only ever appeared on Sony consoles and PCs).

And what’s not to love about a series where the player can select a hearse or a biker to bring untold destruction upon a dune buggy or a police car?  Sure, the drivers sometimes change vehicles between games, and the cast fluctuates with each new title, but the old favorites almost always find some way of returning.  And though the series would see five releases on the PlayStation alone, the gameplay was always one giant destruction derby battle royale to the last man standing.
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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Series

tonyhawk-ps2Before the Tony Hawk series plummeted into mediocrity, its first four installments broke new ground in a crowded market by offering unique gameplay, intuitive controls, and customization. The series first two titles were best known for their PlayStation releases, and rightly so; the PlayStation ports were superior to the Nintendo 64 versions and outsold the Dreamcast ports.

What makes Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater so revolutionary? When the game was released in 1999, it was almost alone in its genre since many previously released skateboarding games were commercial failures. The game made a terrific first impression however and game store demo kiosks were often surrounded by gamers waiting to play it. It offered a unique control scheme that offered steaming, smooth combos allowing gamers to skate realistically for the first time, and the skating environments were ingeniously designed to allow for maximum replay value.

The second game upped the ante with an expanded arsenal of tricks at the player’s disposal, improved graphics, and a skater and level creator, which was a real novelty at the time. The third and fourth installments also expanded the gameplay and allowed for greater replay value, although these games were also given superior releases on next-generation consoles. Slowing sales might have influenced the game designers, judging by the later levels of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, which are unpolished and glitch plagued. Despite these issues, all four of the PlayStation releases are technical achievements for the console and are worth playing today.
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PaRappa the Rapper

parappaOne of the first groundbreaking rhythm games, PaRappa the Rapper was also one of the most bizarre and interesting.  Players follow PaRappa, a rapping dog who wants to win the affection of a girl named Sunny Funny by doing such tasks as learning to drive and baking a cake – oh and, of course, he has to show off his rapping skills in the process.

That’s where gameplay actually comes in.  To rap, the player must press certain buttons in the right rhythm to get higher ratings.  Screw up, and lyrics come out as unintelligible gibberish.  Do well enough, and PaRappa gets to go nuts and freestyle.  While not overly complex, the title attracted fans with its story, its style, and its art.  The entire game features 2D flat characters on 3D backgrounds, similar to Paper Mario.

While not nearly as popular as other titles on the list, PaRappa the Rapper did receive a sequel on the PlayStation 2, as well as a spin-off game, UmJammer Lammy.  It also spawned an animated series in Japan, PaRappa Rappa.  The title would also serve as a view of things to come, as rhythm games would soon after be a major draw in arcades around the world.
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Dance Dance Revolution Series

ddrCreated by the same team at Konami that designed Beatmania a year before, Dance Dance Revolution (often-abbreviated DDR) would begin taking the arcade world by storm in the late 1990s.  The title is a rhythm game that requires the player to press arrow buttons with their feet in time with the arcade cabinet’s screen, a concept that seems simple enough until the actual speed of the game and the various potential foot maneuvers are taken into account.  The console release would see floor pads that were similar in design in function, keeping the arcade feel of the game in the home.

While most nations wouldn’t see much in the way of console releases until late in the PlayStation’s life, Japanese gamers would see thirteen different DDR games released for their home consoles, with different tracks or remixes and slightly tweaked rules upon each release.

DDR eventually became one of the few games in the US that would keep the few remaining arcades open.  Die-hard rhythm fans would practice on their PlayStations at home before showing off their skills in the public venue.

Eventually Disney would get in touch with Konami, leading to titles like Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix.  It would also spread to the next two generations of consoles, DVD games, television games, the PC, and cell phones.
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Chrono Cross

chronocrossThe Super Nintendo’s Chrono Trigger was a fantastic journey that served as one of the best role-playing experiences of all time.  However, considering that Chrono Cross didn’t have the full “Dream Team” of developers behind it (only Hironobu Sakaguchi returned), this sequel had a lot to live up to.

A lot of things have changed from Chrono Trigger, especially the characters we grew to love.  In Chrono Cross, our hero is Serge, a teenage boy who shows up in an alternate world in which he had already passed away mysteriously over ten years ago.  Of course, he teams up with a number of other characters along the way (the game features forty-five playable characters) in order to find the Frozen Flame, which will allow them the bend space and time and ultimately help them find out what is really going on.

Much like Chrono Trigger, the whole “parallel dimensions” thing plays a very large role in the story and gameplay, so there are a lot of parallel concepts between the two games.  However, since the storylines are not directly connected, you can play Chrono Cross before Chrono Trigger without feeling lost or being dragged down with the feeling that you’re missing out on a back-story.

While some fans were a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as much of a direct sequel as they would have liked, the general consensus was quite positive and is typically regarded as one of the premier games in an already impressive selection of Playstation RPGs.
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Xenogears

xenogearsWhat happens when you take many of Squaresoft’s best and brightest from the 1990s, give them a piece of an epic six-part series, and tell them to add in anime cutscenes directed by Koichi Mahimo (known for his work on Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion)?  You get Xenogears, a title many refer to as one of Square’s greatest works.

Xenogears, part five of the six-part Xenogears Perfect Works book series, combined an epic storyline, lengthy amounts of anime cutscenes, a combat system that featured both mech combat and fighting game mechanics in an RPG, and even an ending theme with vocals by Joanne Hog.

Not bad for a title that almost didn’t see a stateside release due to “sensitive religious issues”  (and European gamers still haven’t seen an official release).  While the game’s amount of questions may leave some people scratching their heads, the combat system was something very unique for its time.  Random encounters were fought either in giant mechs, called Gears in the game, where actions are controlled by fuel, or on the ground in between the player’s party and various NPCs.  In this mode, characters use various combinations of buttons to attack with, varying in power and point value.  Use a combination enough and a special move may be unlocked, allowing you to use that ability when you attack.  These moves are generally impressive to watch, and some of the later ones are actually quite breathtaking, though by that point players are usually fighting in Gears.  The second disc is also usually frowned upon by gamers as being too short and linear, possibly due to the developers being rushed.

Even with its weaknesses, Xenogears often finds itself listed as one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation, which is no small feat considering the large number of them.  If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a look by any RPG fan.
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Dragon Warrior VII

dragonwarrior7The Final Fantasy series may get much of the RPG love around the world, but it’s actually the Dragon Warrior series (known in Japan as Dragon Quest) that is the big seller in is native country.   Dragon Warrior VII, however was the first game in the series to be released outside of Japan since Dragon Warrior IV (which was on the NES nearly a decade earlier)

Dragon Warrior VII is probably best remembered for its more than 100 hours of gameplay – which can be both a blessing and a curse.  Most people will agree that most of that time is quite enjoyable, but others will claim that it requires quite a bit of patience to make it through the journey.

Dragon Warrior VII ultimately became the eighth best-selling video game ever in Japan at 4.12 million in Japan alone – which puts it right up there with the worldwide sales of games like Spyro and Tekken 3 and ranked it as the eighth best-selling game ever in Japan.   Of course, in the US the sales were limited more to the diehard RPG crowd, but it is definitely one of the more prolific RPGs in the PS1 impressive role-playing library.
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Silent Hill

silenthillConsidered by many to be one of, if not the, scariest game of all time, and definitely the scariest title at its release in 1999, Silent Hill showed the world just how adult the PlayStation could really be.  While Nintendo was busy trying to stave off an image of being “kiddy,” Silent Hill would continue to build on a foundation set in place by the likes of Resident Evil.  A gloomy setting combined with bizarre puzzles and creatures designed to make the skin crawl would serve to cement its place as the beginning of a long and well-respected survival horror series.

But the title is also remembered for its quality.  While it wouldn’t go on to become a million seller like other titles on this list, it did sell enough to gain a “Greatest Hits” release.  Many reviewers at the time also gave it high marks for avoiding Resident Evil-style scares of making the player jump, instead going for atmosphere and mood.  The creative team behind the title has claimed inspiration came from such varied places as the works of David Lynch, The Wizard of Oz, the plays of Kobo Abe, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and even the music of groups such as Sonic Youth or the Moonriders.

The series is also of note as it eventually become popular enough to garner a movie that audiences actually seemed to enjoy, a rarity amongst video game-based movies.  Also, in an interesting bit of censorship, the Grey Child enemy was edited in the United States release.  Originally looking similar to nude children, designers thought the idea of beating them down with a metal pipe would be too much, and changed them to look more demonic.  In the PAL version, the Grey Child was removed completely.
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Syphon Filter Series

syphonfilter3Syphon Filter, both the original game and the series as a whole has always had the uncomfortable pleasure of being compared and contrasted with the PlayStation’s grand opus: Metal Gear Solid. While both games strike their own merits, the comparisons are understandable. Both games are key PlayStation franchises, wrapped in fictional spy-movie inspired attires, released only a few months apart.

It’s unfortunate then that we must crown one a “winner” and the other a “loser” when both franchises are such interesting titles, likening themselves to different styles of spy based fiction. With this mindset, Syphon Filter feels more like a Van Damne than a Schwarzenegger but at the same time, packs it where it counts.

Most Syphon Filter fans would think that I am talking about gadgets and weapons, but the game actually thrives on variety and balancing the momentum of play. Each mission is divided up into a series of stereotypical spy tasks such as rescuing hostages and taking out Russians. The trick is that you are never doing something long enough for it to become tiresome.

The basic shooting works well, due to the aforementioned weapons which are both vast and highly satisfying to use (especially the air taser) but even when you’ve done enough of that, you’ll be moving onto something different. Each quantifiable element of Syphon Filter is well polished which goes a long way to keep you playing. This is the key to what makes playing Syphon Filter feel so apt title; quality, variety and balance.

Later games in the series, slowly lost sight of this balance but introduced some additions, which made the games retain the original’s qualities.

While not an overall momentous series in contrast to say Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil, there is no doubt that Syphon Filter is significant franchise, which helped solidify the PlayStation as a strong gaming platform.
Check for Syphon Filter Series on eBay

Wipeout Series

wipeoutIf the technical racing of Gran Turismo isn’t your thing, perhaps you would enjoy the high-speed futuristic racing that the Wipeout series has to offer.  Considering it was released in 1995, its impressive how much fast and smooth this racer ran on the PlayStation hardware.  The game was also released on the Saturn, but because the developers struggled with the dual-processor setup of Sega’s machine, didn’t have quite the graphical flair of the PS1 version.

In addition to the adrenaline-pumping speed, Wipeout was also known for its audio quality and soundtrack.  The techno tracks from The Chemical Brothers, Orbital, CoLD SToRAGE, and other artists propelled Wipeout to the top of many gamers favorite soundtrack lists.

Wipeout XL (known as Wipeout 2097 outside of the US) was released a year later.   As expected, the sequel added a few things here and there such as new tracks, crafts, and weapons.  It also made it a bit easier for beginners to pick up and play while still giving experienced players a challenge.  The game was criticized for not having slip-screen multiplayer, but it did offer PS1 owners to link two PlayStations together for networked play.
Check for Wipeout Series on eBay

Driver Series

driverDriver, developed by Reflections Interactive (creators of the successful Destruction Derby series) has you adopt the role of Tanner, an NYPD undercover detective tasked with infiltrating an underworld syndicate of crime gangs as a wheelman. Your wheelman role has you fulfilling several roles, such as getaway driver, delivery man and car thief or in one particular amusing mission, intimidating a particular taxi customer into disclosing lucrative information through reckless driving.

The game was designed to be faithful to 60s and 70s car chase films such as Bullitt or the TV show Starksy and Hutch. Characters are dressed in 70s getup and the music has chicken scratch guitar and grooving basslines synonymous with that period.

The game’s ‘Director’s Mode’ was highly praised by critics and gamers at the time of release for it’s unique ability to fully edit and sequence camera angles during replays of your missions (or just general driving around in ‘City’ mode.) Hours could be spent tweaking your replays into seamless 70s action sequences. This added longevity to the game despite its lack of multiplayer mode.

The games story is split into four main cities, each city tasking you with missions for the three different gangs in the game. The cities are Miami (the city you receive your first real mission after you finish the punishing training mission), San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. Missions can occur at anytime of day and some missions are set at night with some impressive (for the PlayStation) lighting on the cars and roads.

The game was met with mostly positive feedback and acclaim upon its launch. Most criticism about the game was regarding its lack of multiplayer and somewhat punishing driving mechanic. Many people found that they could not get further than the training mission in the parking garage at the beginning of the game. This particular mission had you demonstrate your driving skills to a gang of thugs without damaging your car. Certain objectives were a little obscured such as the slalom through the pillars of the garage requiring you to do a 180 and go back through them and the infamous J-turn maneuver (reverse 180) all within a strict time limit.

Street Fighter Alpha 3

sfa3Even though 3D games were all the rage on the PlayStation, there were still a number of beloved 2D fighters on the platform as well.   Franchises from both Capcom and SNK made their mark on the PlayStation, but Street Fighter Alpha 3 is probably the most treasured out of the bunch.

Gamers love the combination of the Street Fighter world and large character rosters, so Street Fighter Alpha 3 received a great deal of praise by merging the Alpha 2 cast with some beloved characters from Street Fighter 2 and in addition to some completely new contenders.  The games also had a wonderful blend of fresh sprites, great combos, and a fighting system that was easy to play, but difficult to master. It also allowed great flexibility in choosing your fighting style, resulting in some great dorm-room matchups back in the day.

In most cases, the PlayStation was at a huge disadvantage to the Sega Saturn when it game to 2D fighters.  The Saturn was a 2D powerhouse with lots of RAM.  The PlayStation, on the other hand usually had stripped-down ports of the arcade favorites.  However, Street Fighter Alpha 3 for the PS1 was actually a superb arcade port that also offered a number of extra game modes.
Check for Street Fighter Alpha 3 on eBay

Einhander (and the rest of the Shmup library)

einhanderIn addition to 2D fighting games, the PlayStation was also a haven for fans of 2D shooters.  There are a ton of good arcade ports in addition to some PlayStation exclusives.  As was the case with the far more ill-fated Sega Saturn, many of the shooters on the PlayStation never saw release outside of Japan, and remain veiled in obscurity to this day.

One such game, however, that nearly any player of the era has at least heard of, is this uncharacteristic Squaresoft production. Having been catapulted out of the niche market in the West by the runaway success of Final Fantasy VII, the company was riding high, and eager to spread its wings farther outside of the RPG and Strategy genres than usual; in addition, it was less afraid to take the risk of localization, giving foreign gamers a shot at some of its more unusual titles. Thus Einhander, unlike so many of its kin, was both widely-available (except in Europe, unfortunately) and well-received enough to become, arguably, the shooter that defined the PS1.

Of course, the unusual-by-default nature of an old-fashioned shooter released in that era, as well as the suddenly-desirable Square label on the cover, weren’t the only things to garner the title so much attention, though they certainly were factors. Its graphics certainly didn’t hurt its cause either – while we are talking 32-bit polygons here, the designs and details (your craft is especially nifty-looking) were top-notch back in the day, and actually still hold up rather well over ten years later. The cliché but solid techno-laden soundtrack and plot (in a bit of a twist, you’re actually the “invader”, sent by a moon colony to attack Earth) round out the presentation. Once you pick up the controller, in many ways the title plays like a “typical” side-scroller, but with a unique power-up system – with the exception of your default pea-shooter, the only weapons you’re going to get are the ones you can salvage directly from defeated enemies. This being the case, you’re required to aim carefully during battles, so as to blast rivals’ weapons off of them before bringing them down – if done properly, you can gingerly swoop in to collect their arms, and thereafter use them yourself.

Despite its sometimes being labeled as an example of a “modern” shooter, the game actually comes across as far more of an “old-school” tribute after spending some time with it, since it doesn’t hesitate to make you memorize its layout to succeed (let alone score well), not to mention send your sorry carcass back to a checkpoint with all your collected weapons gone after being shot down. As such, while the trimmings are most likely to appeal to curious newcomers to the genre, it will likely be the long-time shmuppers who will be most at home after becoming acquainted with its inner workings. All told, Einhander stands as an appealing, if slightly intimidating, blend of old and new, and the PS1’s most famous foray into the shooter realm. The game was recently put up for download on the PS3 via the Japanese PlayStation Network, so if you’re unwilling to fight over an original copy on eBay this might be your chance to see what all the fuss is about.
Check for Einhander on eBay

Honorable Mentions:

There’s so many great games and franchises on the Playstation, it pains me to leave some of them off the full list.  Here’s some others that were a big part of the the Playstation library.  I’m sure you all have additional favorites — feel free to mention them in the comments below.

  • Ape Escape
  • Grand Theft Auto Series
  • Medal of Honor Series
  • Dino Crisis Series
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Bushido Blade
  • Legacy of Kain
  • Jet Moto
  • Grandia
  • Lunar Series
  • Breath of Fire Series
  • Soul Blade
  • Suikoden
  • Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
  • Rayman
  • SaGa Frontier
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story
  • Colony Wars Series
  • Tales of Destiny Series
  • Cool Boarders

138 Comments

  1. Mozgus says:

    Ooo, I spotted a couple of my screenshots.

  2. racketboy says:

    I thought you’d enjoy that :)

  3. tylerbgood says:

    Great list! I always find a gem or two I don’t have.
    I would add the Grand Theft Auto series and Medal of Honor, and Mega Man 8 representing another franchise stolen from Nintendo.

  4. Droid_Party says:

    I second tylerbgoods recomendations. GTA and MOH should at least be “Honorable Mentions”.(Never been a fan of the Mega man series).

  5. Shazback says:

    A very nice collection, and I must say that I largely agree. I’d put WipEout and Oddworld up instead of Einhander and Twisted Metal, and GTA or Legacy of Kain might also be worthy of a honourable mention. Great list.

  6. racketboy says:

    Well it might take me a while to get some full writups for additions, but I’ll see what I can do.

    If I had to bump one up, it would be Wipeout.
    Was the GTA series that popular then? I mean I played the first one on the PC, but it didn’t seem like it really caught on until it went 3D on the PS2.

  7. Amazing list there! I love all these games, there all great, did you mention GTA? They are brilliant games

  8. makis says:

    shadow of the colossus!!

  9. fingersmaloy says:

    Man, I thought Tenchu was a no-brainer. Then again, I guess it never led to much besides other, crappier Tenchu games.

    What about Ape Escape? It was probably the first game to really take advantage of the Dual Shock controller, and now Sony’s still using it.

  10. tylerbgood says:

    @ Racketboy:
    My friends and I played GTA II for PSX constantly back in the day. The game sold 1.15 million in the US and gave birth to a series of games which defined the later PS systems.
    Just my two cents.

  11. racketboy says:

    Makis, Shadow of the Colossus was on the PS2.

    Everyone else: I’ve added Wipeout to the main list and added the other suggestions to the Honorable Mentions — thanks!

  12. sir jorge says:

    This is awesome, and true on all accords.

  13. JohnnyRocket says:

    Where’s WarHawk!!??

  14. numbnuts2 says:

    I can’t give this list credit if they didn’t even mention Mortal Kombat. I guarentee you, mortal kombat is tons more popular than Tekken.

  15. racketboy says:

    In my mind, Mortal Kombat was old news by then — just a few fans hanging on — it was way hotter in the SNES/Genesis days.

    SFA3 sold much better also.

  16. Arby3k says:

    This was an awesome blast of nostalgia.
    I loved the 4 crash games Naughty Dog made.

    I’ve lost all but a few PS1 games, in the many times I have moved. But with the Ps3 allowing for playable full version downloads, makes it better i think :p

    /goes to get Crash3 again. :D

  17. Cody says:

    No Tomba?!

  18. bobbie boy says:

    You forgot NBA!!

  19. mike says:

    mortal kombat 3 was the first release on the psx that everyone really looked forward to. mortal kombat was far from old news by then.

  20. matt says:

    How is GTA and Jet Moto only Honorable mention!!!!

  21. Endsville says:

    Another great list. I know lists like these always have someone saying “you forgot”, but I have to add that Vagrant Story is probably one of the single best, and under-rated PS1 games ever made. It’d be nice to see it at least in the Honorable Mentions.

  22. Dentedskillet says:

    I know the racing genre has already been well represented with Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer, I feel that Need for Speed might also fit on the list. Sure it got started on the flop 3DO and PC, but I felt it really became the brand on the PS1.

  23. Matt says:

    NFL Blitz.

    I loved reading this; it was like a recap of my childhood

  24. Nick says:

    Ah, the good days of PlayStation. Jet Moto was amazing to me, to bad it’s only honorable mention.

    @matt: GTA at that time was still overhead and I would think it’s impact in gaming didn’t come until the game went 3D in GTA 3.

  25. safadasas says:

    Love the main list.
    Thanks for giving soulblade an honorable mention. Its sad to go into a retro game store and find that not one person knows anything about it. not like it matters i guess.

    ..GTA was popular on the PS1? I’m not sure if it’s worth even an honorable mention as a game that defined the PS1.
    What about the Bust-A-Move series? It has more of a spot than GTA on the honorable mentions at least.

  26. Hodges says:

    Damnation! No donation, no salvation!!!

    -Great GTA II quote :)

  27. JM says:

    SPIDERMAN

  28. slowslow325 says:

    INCORRECT! Sony decided they didn’t want to make the CD add-on Nintendo was the one that asked them to do it. Then Nintendo was mad and partnered with Phillip, Sony’s competitor. The CD-addon was later dumped

  29. Jakovive says:

    good read.

    Two things I noticed, Legacy of Kain is on the honorable mentions list twice and why no mention of Medievil?

  30. Molyneaux says:

    FF 7 and FF Tactics were great games. Am I the only way to love Civ 2 though?

  31. The Apprentice says:

    Finally! Great article, especially the Tony Hawk bit. :P

    Also, looks like there’s a problem with the last paragraph on Crono Cross’s section.

  32. elbillo says:

    honorable mention: time-crisis / point blank /light-gun genre

  33. Felipe Gonzales says:

    Where is Tomba? And where is ISS or PES, the best soccwer games ever…
    But reading about Gran Turismo 1 and MGs really did bring me back to my old room and old tv…

  34. Chase says:

    I guess the series didn’t “define” the history of the Playstation, but it breaks my heart to see no mention of Wild Arms. This list brought back memories of so many amazing games. It’s kind of sad, consoles don’t thrill me anymore :/

  35. hah says:

    Being able to buy and download PS1 games on my PS3 is the only reason I’m not totally regretting my purchase of a PS3.

    If only a game could come out for the PS3 that would even compare to the fun I have playing any of the above games.

  36. Ack says:

    Man, reading all these comments, I see there are a lot of games you guys hold dear that we missed. It’s tough coming up with all these titles for you guys. As you can see, there are LOTS of great games on the PS1. For all you guys into retrogaming, if you don’t have a way to play PlayStation games, find one. You will not be disappointed. And keep posting and reading the comments for more great titles mentioned by readers!

  37. racketboy says:

    Well, it’s impossible to please everyone. If you count sequels in the series we mentioned, there are over 50 games covered in the main list. Then add the honorable mentions. Make the list too much longer and then somebody will complain that it wasn’t narrowed down enough :)

  38. Radarscope1 says:

    My 2 cents on MK and GTA:

    MK didn’t “define” the PS1 because it was available so many other places and really peaked around MK2. It just wasn’t as big a deal by the time 3 came out. Still big, yes, but not something you couldn’t find on Saturn, SNES, Genesis, hell even on the Game Boy.

    GTA was pretty big I guess, but what if the 3D games never existed? Would we even be talking about the originals here? They would be a high-quality second tier games at best.

  39. racketboy says:

    Yeah, that’s what I wanted to say, but couldn’t put into words.

    Thanks Radarscope1 ;)

  40. Niall O'Neill says:

    I almost shed a tear thinking about all the precious memories all this has brought up.

  41. executioner says:

    Great article, racket you should fix the ebay link for crash bandicoot its in the gran turismo part.

  42. RyaNtheSlayA says:

    didnt see a thing i didnt agree w/. Great article once again.

    Quote: Live in your world.
    Play in ours.
    Playstation.

  43. ryan says:

    what about brave fencer musashi???

  44. tylerbgood says:

    Been thinking about the old Playstation all day because of this article and came back to mention Medievil and NFL Blitz, but they’ve already been commented on.

    And since GTA is still such a hot topic, another of my two cents: Not only were the games big sellers (and launched a franchise) but they were some of the first sandbox games where you could choose to do anything you wanted. There was a sense of freedom which at the time seemed unparalleled in any other action game.

  45. racketboy says:

    I know what you guys are saying — and you’ll notice they are on the top of the Honorable Mentions list.

    But the list can only be so long. I’ve already had to mod my database server so it can handle WordPress posts this long :)

  46. Chris G says:

    fantastic article man, big props for including Resident Evil and Silent Hill, plus you gave a nod to Dino Crisis…perfection!

  47. jakov says:

    If ISS was here i would say that this is the best list of all time… on any console, of any genre… THIS IS IT! the games we grew up with, the games we cherished, the games that made us what we are today… hell yeah!

  48. homer says:

    are you feeling what i’m feeling? the games listed in this article are not on my playlist.

    from the above list, i would actually play again:
    castlevania
    chrono cross
    dragon warrior 7

    where are?
    suikoden
    soul blade
    total eclipse
    legend of mana
    arc the lad
    breath of fire
    dew prism
    persona
    rival schools
    star ocean
    thrill kill!!

  49. Haoie says:

    1 of the best articles I’ve seen on this topic. Great job.

  50. pisa4u says:

    Amazing what you can see
    playing these. Its time
    to starting buying again

  51. Jack says:

    Another triumph! Excellent list! I freaking love the PS1! I won mine in an Australian McDonalds competition!

  52. darastrix says:

    where is DEVIL MAY CRY?!

  53. butane bob says:

    It’s on a different system.

  54. Mightyhypnotoad says:

    Hogs of War should be in there for it’s incredibly vicious multiplayer and where was Pa Rappa the Rapper which Guitar Hero is merely a modern day clone of (albeit a very very shiny one). What about Colony Wars or G Police? The PS1 had a plethora of amaizing titles I could go on all afternoon…

  55. Krug says:

    So the games that defined the PS1 are…every game ever made for the PS1. Seriously, folks, could we not be a little more selective? It’s like someone said, “This is the greatest game ever…except for that that one, that one, that one, ooh, that other one…oh, and that one is good, too…”

  56. Yeah racketboy, make up your mind. I think the games that defined the history of PS are the ones the Sony team played with their clients.

    EOF.

  57. racketboy says:

    Krug, are you referring to the authors or the commentators?
    And Intelligent Game Reviews, I’m not quite following you — the comment made little sense….

  58. Lane says:

    Great article! Takes me back to my middle- and high school days.

  59. Andru says:

    Legacy of Kain is mentioned twice in the Honourable Mentions list. Soul Reaver might be mentionable in its place ;)

  60. Fabian says:

    Very good list. Metal Gear Solid was definitely my favorite out of all of those.

    I wouldn’t put GTA at the top though. Sure, I and II were good games but GTA didn’t really “make it” until III came out on PS2.

  61. rsn1762 says:

    What about the Gex series?

  62. Lebat says:

    Ahh, sweet memories. Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil for me.

  63. Spades says:

    Nice, just the kind of list I was looking for- on the lookout for new PS games and that. Maybe only additions would be R-Type Delta and Legend of Dragoon. And maybe that controversial game that never went on sale?

  64. finty says:

    Brilliant read!

  65. DarkClownNizzo says:

    Just a quick comment: the open-ended gameplay in Castlevania SotN was actually based on Rondo of Blood, of which SotN is a sequel of sorts. (The intro playing as Richter is a direct tie-in)

  66. hurri says:

    well alright, but Honourable mentions sees the lack of Vandal Hearts by Konami, a small and worthwhile fft variant.

  67. NUTZJ98 says:

    Only us die-hard GTA fans appreciate what it was on PS1. As far as defining the console, I think the other games mentioned for the most part did a better job. There are at least two but I’ll name 3 that shouldn’t be on this list and there were some left off that were far more “defining”.
    1.Chrono Cross
    2.Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
    3.Final Fantasy Tactics

    Clearly the writer of this list a little bit of a fanboy. Now for the 3 that deserve to be on this list in place of the previous:
    1.Medal of Honor Series
    2.Oddworld
    3.Cool Boarders Series

    All the mentioned games were great and entertaining in their own way but not defining of a system.

  68. racketboy says:

    lol — I’m about as much of an anti-PS1 fanboy as possible (die-hard Sega Saturn fan) and Ack is quite level-headed as well.

    Just look at the sales numbers alone and you’ll see that Chrono Cross, SOTN, and Tactics blew away the three you listed.

  69. Cool post .. I don’t see Winning Eleven in your list :P

  70. spades says:

    NUTJ98 I think might be European since the releases he mentioned were a big hit outside of Europe and bafflingly weren’t released in Europe.

  71. Ack says:

    Yeah, hate to say it guys, but the majority of those writing here are Americans, so you’re gonna see our perspective a lot.

    Feel free to start giving us more info from the EU, Australia, Japan, or anywhere else you might be from.

  72. rommy667 says:

    Great stuff just got a old modded ps1 off a m8 :)

  73. Jay says:

    I tried so many times, but I just couldn’t get into the Spyro series. Crash Bandicoot and FF on the other hand…HUGE FAN.

  74. breakwind says:

    I don’t see neither of the 2 Vigilante games mentioned here.Gameplay,graphics,mechanics-wise it is superior to all other games in it’s car-combat genre.

  75. web says:

    excellent list.. you just can’t beat the first THPS

  76. Alfonso says:

    Oh well, finally a “list” on Digg that isn’t the usual “Top XX” shitware thingy and is worth reading :-P

  77. somerandomdude says:

    For all those insisting that game X or game Y should be on this list, think about what this is really about. This isn’t a list of your favorite games from the PS1 era, it’s a list of games/series that defined the PS1 era in general. As such, it’s going to based on sales figures and critical acclaim, not your precious memories. There are plenty of games I’d like to see getting recognition, such as Legend of Legaia, Suikoden, and Legend of Mana, but the games mentioned are more fitting for this particular list. Well, for the most part anyway. I’m still not sure Einhander made it on here.

  78. somerandomdude says:

    ^I meant to say I’m not sure *WHY* Einhander made it on here.

  79. Paulo Jr says:

    where’s the The King of Fighters series? I think it defined PS too.

  80. Paulo Jr. says:

    And where’s one of the more important games of the PS library, Parasite Eve?

  81. neimado says:

    “Vigilante 8″ Rules!!! The original version blows away any other car game for PS1.

  82. Zombi says:

    Just to clarify,Twisted Metal was released in Europe,or at least here in the UK.
    It’s a bit hard to get hold of now tho.

  83. Ack says:

    Ok, first off…Einhander’s a great representative of the SHMUPS on the console, and I like to plug it to show Square could do stuff beyond RPGs.

    Paulo Jr., I consider the KOF one of the series that defines the NeoGeo, but when I think home consoles, I tend to lean towards the Sega consoles for it. As for Parasite Eve…excellent game, you have great taste. I love that title. I don’t consider it something that defined the PlayStation however, though I do think more people should play it.

    Zombi, sorry about that. I looked but didn’t find anything on a UK release. Thanks for the info!

  84. Andrea says:

    wow..this list brings me back to my high school period..i also remember “tenchu:stealth assassins” quite innovative at that time

  85. Pedantic Person's Magic Power Pendant says:

    Okay, I’m way late, but I wanted to elaborate on a point in the Silent Hill section. I’ve seen it repeated quite a bit and I’ve never found anything definitive, so I’ll mark the below appropriately.

    Absolute 100% No Lies Totally Unbiased Objective Fact: The “grey children” actually do appear in the original US release of Silent Hill in all their “Oh my God I’m murdering schoolkids” glory. I can’t confirm whether or not they’re present in Greatest Hits versions of the game but prior releases, yup, they’re in there, burning all the nightmare fuel they can get their grubby claws on.

    Europe was a bit touchier about it all, so for the PAL release they were replaced with the “teddy bear” enemies. The shadow versions of the original “grey children” enemies encountered near the end of the game are left untouched. There are a few other minor regional differences, mostly with the PAL version being more okay about Harry saying, “Jesus” when shocked.

    Not Completely But Pretty Sure So Salt, Grains, Take Them: The hubbub about US censorship actually stems from a decision the Japanese development team made about removing a specific enemy from the school area, because they too strongly resembled infants. The little fellas are still in the game, though; you just can’t hurt them and they’re totally harmless. They’re actually kind of cute.

    I believe the original designs for the “grey children” had a darker skin tone and overall slightly more human look than the final version. Whether that design appears in any version, I don’t know, but I think it was universally scrapped for the revised “grey child” we know and cower at the sight of.

    Also it’s cool to see that the Sonic Youth influence made it into the article!

  86. racketboy says:

    I greatly appreciate the comment — thanks so much for sharing!

  87. 瑜珈 says:

    wow..this list brings me back to my high school period..i also remember “tenchu:stealth assassins” quite innovative at that time

  88. Gridlocked says:

    what about HYDRO THUNDER! that was definately a fun raceing game. Most will probly remeber it in arcades but it was available for playstation, just hard to find a copy.

  89. PSPfreak says:

    Its amazing how may PS games made it on the PSP

  90. WTF? says:

    What about ICO and The Colossi?

  91. Rikriel says:

    I live in England and used to love playing the Twisted Metal games, which leads me to believe that the game must have been released in Europe at some point.

    The best part for me was blowing up the Eiffel Tower and driving through it. I wouldn’t recommend doing so in real life, of course.

  92. TheJackal says:

    So in other words this article is really all good games that was ever made for the PS1?

  93. David Meech says:

    Man, I love these classic games lists, a good ones always flood me with fond memories of nostalgic games past.

    I am a huge RPG whore, I’m still yet to try Xenogears though, would it be too late to go back and try it, or would the graphics and loading times be too frustrating and dated to make it worthwhile?

  94. Ack says:

    Well David, I’ll be honest. Graphically it is pretty dated by today’s standards, as are many PS1 games. Still, if you can come to terms with it, the anime cut scenes, gameplay, and complex story more than make up for it. I don’t remember the load times being too terribly bad, though they are noticeable. If you can find a way to play before you buy, I recommend trying the game.

  95. Jobob38 {ewz} says:

    xenogears was very awesome i remember spending loads of times at the arena fighting other gears oh the great times

  96. Kevin says:

    The game that brought a lot of the older generation (professionals in their late 20s/early 30s onto PlayStation was Formula 1. It was advertised hard around the City of London.

  97. bluntedone says:

    where is malice???? oh sh*t thats right it got delayed to the ps2 fudgeknuckles!!!

    i would remove tony hawk for dave mirra freestyle bmx for two reasons
    1. i used to freestyle from 83 – 98

    2. it’s the only good freestyle bmx game on the playstation

    and dave mirra freestyle maximum remix sux!!!!! the orig is better and it brought out tricks from a game that couldnt be done in real life (at the time) to them actually existing in real life!!!

  98. Anonymous says:

    More like good game series that were RUINED by Playstation. Final Fantasy was WAY better before it went Playstation (I believe its because the one-award-winning story/director of Final Fantasy left and we got stuck with overrated crap like VII.). And Metal Gear’s plot got all convoluted by MGS2 and probably should have just ended with MGS.

    I also just don’t like Playstation.

  99. samuraifez says:

    Such a great list, this one of the last ones I’ve yet to read on the site.

    Dave Mirra’s Freestyle BMX is a much better game on the Dreamcast, bluntedone.

    I should really try to get a copy of Xenogears one of these days.

  100. Reaper says:

    Yea the Dreamcast version of Dave Mirra’s Freestyle rocked. I like the Playstation list but would have put up the Point Blank series as it was a kick in the A$$ using light guns.

  101. Des says:

    Resident evil?

    Surely overlooked, massive release for the ps1.

    Not for alone in the dark, id say it opened a new genre, certainly made it one of the most popular over the last 10+ years.

    Number two took massive sales at the time, handed over 50 quid for it on the day of realease, never regreted it.

  102. Ack says:

    Don’t worry Des, Resident Evil is in there, between Tomb Raider and Ridge Racer.

  103. j boy says:

    dose any one know the name of the car game where you would basically drive around one or two player in different citys like paris and tokyo, you could go in the buildings ets and have mint 4×4 vans n stuff?

  104. jimmycolorado says:

    Really, a flawless list. It would have been nice if there was a small GunCon writeup (similar to the shmups section), but I don’t know how defensible it is to include such a niche part of the console. I’m biased, but I will support any list that can somehow sneak Elemental Gearbolt onto it. :P

  105. Faust says:

    Legend of Mana was a big one, I saw it mentioned 2 times. Maybe three. It didn’t go on to float a huge franchise, it tried but didn’t catch on too well. I know there were previous Mana Titles and LoM wasn’t exactly storyline following material, but it gave you a story to write and some amazingly detail maps to fight on. Also the enormous weapon system was nice, definitely a first.

  106. DJKal says:

    where is legend of dragoon? by far one of the best rpg’s to come out for ps1 and its almost always overlooked. very dissapointed.

  107. Anthony says:

    Monster Rancher was the reason that I bought a Playstation. After having seen it demoed at a friend’s home, I bought the Playstation within the next week. And Monster Rancher. Then, later Monster Rancher 2.

    Also want to mention Front Mission 3 as being a fun tactics-type game, and easy enough that even a casual gamer could make their way through both story lines.

  108. fess1996 says:

    you are wild ass ff 7 did not place a mile stone for rpgs on the ps1 it is kings field 1 that was a milestone cuz that came out in 1994 for the ps1s that coud play nintendo cartrgigs too.

  109. mule says:

    what about Hogs of war?

  110. Vandal Cain says:

    Hey guys, if the game you loved isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun game. The list is entitled, “Games That Defined The History of the PlayStation (PS1)”

    Think about that before including your bid for some game that wasn’t mentioned on this list and in all honesty, probably didn’t “DEFINE” the history of the PS1. It’s in the title. Think about it.

  111. Falcon_Stryker_Plus says:

    I had a game from a long time ago. it had at the beginning a cutscene like some guy got into a car crash and as hes being pushed down stairs he sees other people with like machines in their eyes and then he gets one. the game starts out as your in this futuristic car thing and your fighting teddy bears and taking out laser robots… what is it please???

  112. Rob says:

    *sniff* What? No Parasite Eve on Honorable Mentions?

  113. Cargo Cultist says:

    “For many impressionable youths in this new gaming generation, it was an introduction to the genre and was an early showcase of what could be done with computer generated cut-scenes and story-telling. Even though it may not have been the greatest Final Fantasy in terms of game mechanics…”

    This is such BS. I’ve heard endless variations on this statement, and it’s never been
    convincing. Sure, some of the people playing it were new to the genre, and some of us were
    avowed RPG fans a long time before then. How does that impact the quality of the game in any way?

    As for the term ‘RPG mechanic’, I suggest you stop using it until you’ve learned what it means.
    To put it succinctly, ‘RPG mechanic’ means making meaningful choices that impact players and the world that their characters inhabit, not dungeon-crawling (which rarely involved meaningful
    choices beyond how you’re going to slay the next horde of generic monsters; usually with the
    same tactics as the last three million times) or stat-boosting. I can boost my stats in Fight
    Night. I can level up my weapons in Cave Story. Does that make them RPGs?

    That said, Squaresoft’s games don’t have many such choices. Going by the definition above, most
    JRPGs are interactive story books with battles. If you want to see ‘RPG mechanics’ in action,
    refer to the Fallout or Mass Effect series. If by ‘RPG mechanics’ you mean ‘battle systems’, the
    one featured in FFVII is certainly better than the ones features in prior or subsequent entries in the
    series. (Draw? Job system? Espers? I’ll pass.)

    I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but it goes to show that if you don’t challenge oft-
    repeated cliches, they fester and become truisms.

  114. Sabrina says:

    Thanks for this list!!
    I’ve been trying to remember the name of one of my favourite games of all times (Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee) for weeks! It was such an odd game… haha
    Now I got it and will download it for my Mac! ^.^

  115. Rune the Koopa says:

    What about Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and Croc 2?

  116. Patrick BBE says:

    Jet Moto…the first game… was my favorite PS1 racing game! I ruled as Max, the best racer in JM.

  117. bondfan007 says:

    what about 007?

  118. Chris says:

    Suikoden 2 really f”d with my emotions. I kept waiting for jowy to be a good guy and it never happened. It broke my little jr high heart. That knight villian boss was sick.

  119. ness7281992 says:

    Great, but…
    FFT wasn’t the first successful TRPG stateside, though.
    I thought Genesis’s Shining Force was

  120. Mark says:

    Great list, but no one seems to have mentioned Doom – I know it was already around on the PC and has been ported to various consoles, but Doom was the sole reason I bought my Playstation in 1995

    Gran Turismo, MGS and Tomb Raider certainly defined the console and it’s great to see a few people mention Hogs Of War – awesome Worms type game.

    Also thought Rayman and Destruction Derby were pretty important franchises for the success of the Playstation.

    Great days!!

  121. pakopako says:

    Stumbled here by accident, but hey, how come the Job class began with “Final Fantasy V” when it really began with “Final Fantasy III” on the Famicom (you could argue it began with class-choices in FF1, but FF3 introduced the juggling concept).

  122. Richard says:

    One thing I never see mentioned about the 32-bit era survival horror’s tank like controls is what they added to the genre rather than took away from the gameplay. I actually miss this quite a bit. This along with the limitations to ammo and health added to the fear effect. When you knew something was behind you and your character just wouldn’t turn around fast enough it made you panic and that was half the fun.

  123. ness7281992 says:

    Lunar only made it into honorable mention? What about the killer packaging, the actually okay voice acting, the exquisitely well done FMV sequences, the well-rounded characters? I have more memories of enjoying Lunar than Chrono Cross. CT was excellent, but, yeah, CC kinda disappointed.

  124. racketboy says:

    Lunar defined the Sega CD more than the PS1 as it originated it there.
    On the other hand, Chrono Cross was an PS1 exclusive.

  125. Ace says:

    It’s too bad games like Flashback and Out Of This World are always forgotten and passed bye by console gamers, they are great, groundbreaking games

  126. Ace says:

    ooohhh, my bad Flashback was on Genesis….wow, that was a long time ago

  127. Axel'sVirtue says:

    1. This list has nothing to do with weather or not a game is good. It is about the historical impact it had for the system (which could technically doesn’t have to be a good impact). As such, if you describe a game as underrated or overlooked, it obviously does not belong on this list.

    2. I was under the impression that Ape Escape and possibly Suikoden where too overlooked to even be honorable mentions on this list.

    3. to Cargo Cultist: You do realize that the quote you used has absolutely nothing to do with your rant, don’t you? It says “game mechanics” not “RPG mechanics”. Also, the article never claimed that the type of people playing the game effects the “quality”.

  128. Doom says:

    Doom should be on this list, for the music which was unique to the PSX. Very spooky and atmospheric. We all played the hell out of this game for months.

  129. StrayFire says:

    destruction derby series?! iss pro series? cnc red alert? some of my highlights..

  130. Colin Mackn says:

    Great list, I always remember though when the playstation was released it was all about destruction derby and Loaded!

  131. RomanBlade86 says:

    Even though I’m not a fan of RPGs other people liked them and I personally witnessed their popularity and impact from the people I knew in the 90s.

    I agree that Street Fighter Alpha 3 was a solid port and I played the heck out of it back in 1999. Street Fighter Alpha 2 was also decent but it was hard for me to go back to it after playing Alpha 3 and all the cool game modes. I loved Alpha 2 in the arcades though and still played it even back in early 2000 because I could get so far with a quater.

    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a highlight for me and I played it like crazy. I would always keep at it and it was a rewarding experience. I also got Pro Skater 2 but even though it was technically better I didn’t have the same connection with it like I did with the first game.

    I owned Einhander but I sucked at it so bad. I remember getting my copy sealed at Funcoland for $30 in 1999.

    Crash 3 was also one I spent a lot of time with. It’s a solid game and I imagine it holds up well even today.

    I owned the majority of these games at one point not including RPGs and I’d say this is a solid list and all the bases were covered of what made the Playstation great.

  132. Patrick BBE says:

    Front Mission 3…hell yeah. Where is 5 & 6 for the PS3?

  133. Eul says:

    I’m really disappointed no one mentioned the first 2 digimon world games. Other than that, cute list.

  134. Wan says:

    Agree with Eul, Digimon World Series especially Digimon World 3 (NTSC) or Digimon World 2003 (PAL) also defined PS1

  135. gaferreira says:

    Great list… Although it’s missing Medievil, digimon world, firebugs, net yaroze, oddworld: abe’s exodus, c-12, and some other great games I used to play on those black demos :D

  136. SeekerRSA says:

    Thanks for a really good site, I enjoy all the articles thoroughly!

    I come from South Africa and during the 80′s and 90′s Nintendo wasn’t available to us here (outside of importing and bootlegging) so we pretty much fell under the Sega umbrella until the Saturn crashed and the PS1 took over. These are my experiences apart from the ones already listed in this awesome article that defined the PS.
    No GoldenEye? No problem! We had Syphon Filter 2 and put up a cardboard box in the middle of the tv dividing the room between 2 factions during “deatmatch” sessions, not to mention a pretty good single player experience as well.
    Wipeout 3 SE: This game used the PS link cable which was my first experience of taking a tv and console to a friends house for the weekend.
    Pro Evolution Soccer started on the PS (not counting ISS or the NES game) which I prefer to FIFA to this day and the reason why I say it is defining is because Konami still fights the good fight against one company owning a specific brand or sport by proving that good games can be made without a license, giving consumers a choice.
    Hailing from a rugby and cricket mad country, it’s worth noting that Jonah Lomuh Rugby and Brian Lara’s cricket were 2 games that everyone here seemed to own and everyone offered some level of competitiveness, people who did not even like games had a playstation for these games, which says a lot in general on what the PS I am sure meant for not only here, but all over the world.

  137. jason says:

    anyway we will see a “games that defined ps2″ entry anytime soon?

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