Sony Computer Entertainment
Ben and Sophie share their favorite happy, fraudulent, maddening, PlayStation memories
The PlayStation 4 will likely be announced by the end of the day, but for now Ben and Sophie would like to sit down, spend some time with you, and share their favorite PlayStation memories of the past. Let's all go down memory lane with Sony's system, shall we?
The world was a different place before Sony got into the video game hardware business. I remember agonizing over the PlayStation vs. SEGA Saturn debate, a decision that was made by reading the coverage in Next Generation magazine. I finally decided on the PlayStation, although I would also later buy a Saturn as well. I remember preordering the system and getting access to that great preview disc with the T-Rex animation that was so impressive. I remember taking out the Ridge Racer disc and putting in my own CDs in order to listen to whatever music I chose. The PlayStation was also one of the best systems in history when it came to RPGs. Final Fantasy VII is the obvious game to mention here, but my heart belonged to the first Suikoden. I skipped a staggering number of days of high school in order to play these games. This was before schools had computer systems, and I worked in the counselor’s office in the morning. One of my jobs was to file absentee slips into the big master list of students, and while I did this I would often remove one or two of my own. I had that shit figured out. It was weird to think we had to buy memory cards for our games, since we couldn’t just save our progress onto the cartridge. See full-motion video cutscenes amazing, at first. WarHawk is still one of my favorite PlayStation-era games, and it was crazy to me that the little screen in the ship’s cockpit showed a video of what was going on in front of you. It also blew my mind when you could fly through the clouds of the volcanic area and see the beautiful sky above the storms below the cloud level. That was cool as hell. I could go on for pages, but I’ll pass it off to Sophie.
The first thing that occurs to me is the fact that the PlayStation taught me to let go of my long-held console fanboy attitude. Growing up, I was a devout SEGA fan. I rented Genesis games from the local grocery store every weekend. I had SEGA-branded shoes. I dressed up as Sonic for Halloween. So help me God, in third grade, when we had to do a group project that involved turning our favorite book into a puppet show, I made a Knuckles puppet out of felt and papier-mâché. Nintendo? Sure, I played a game or two for it. But SEGA always had my heart. I still vividly remember the thrill of trying out a Dreamcast demo unit at Toys Я Us store. It would be the first system I ever bought with my own money. How I loved and adored my Dreamcast. I brought Official Dreamcast Magazine to school for study hall reading. I took my Chao with me on road trips. I couldn't get enough. And then it died, and my mind named PlayStation 2 the killer. How I hated the PlayStation 2. The system is so stupid! Why would anyone want it? Anyone who likes this is dumb! I was inconsolable. At least I was, until I saw the games.Hey, Twisted Metal: Black! I remembered playing those games with my brother! And a new Silent Hill? I love scary games! And what's this Jak & Daxter game coming out soon? Holy crap, Metal Gear Solid 2 looks amazing! Final Fantasy is getting voice-acting! The PlayStation 2 was the place to be for wonderful, exciting games. To this day, I've bought three PlayStation 3s. Not once have I picked up a Slim, because doing so would mean leaving behind too many great games that - currently - lack HD translations: Legacy of Kain, Disgaea, Final Fantasy X, Burnout 3, TimeSplitters 2, the list goes on ad on. To experience all these great games, however, I had to stop thinking my system was the best. I couldn't let my blind love for SEGA stop me from moving on. It's easy to see the competition between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo as a trifling thing when you've learned to stare down the thing that killed your love, look it right in its cold, blue LED and say, “I forgive you.” The PlayStation 2 taught me to appreciate games for games, not for the brand names behind them or the proprietary hardware that powered them. Ben, what were some of your favorite PlayStation games?
Let's go back a bit to the launch of the PSP. I was in love with that system, and I was working at Electronics Boutique at the time. We had a deal where if you traded in two or three eligible game, I forget how many you needed, you could get a PSP launch title for like $10. The computer system would tell employees which games were eligible for this deal, so I sat down and did a search for the eligible games that were priced the lowest, and that we had in stock used. Then I used my in-store discount to buy the games, since we got an extra bonus on used games, and then I would re-trade them in to get the bump in value. I picked up most of the PSP launch library for very little money with this trick. What's funny is that back in the day Electronics Boutique stores were ranked by revenue, but also by trade-ins and the use of this sort of deal, so once my staff caught on and did the same thing my store actually went up in the rankings even though we lost money in the deal. My district manager thought I was a genius. I regret nothing. But looking at my favorite games, I loved Gitaroo Man, especially because there was a boss named “Ben K,” which was pretty badass. I was a big fan of Mr. Mosquito, and I loved to find these weird, out of the way games that no one else played. I was a big fan of Irritating Stick on the first PlayStation, but it was more fun to say than it was to play. Seeing the T-Rex in the original Tomb Raider was an amazing moment, which makes me realize the PlayStation had a weird T-Rex thing going on.I also remember using this weird third-party product along with a hard drive that allowed me to essentially “rip” games to the hard drive, so I could take my PlayStation 2 with me without packing any games. It turned the system into a kind of gaming jukebox: You just picked a title from the menu that came up instead of a game. I loved that thing, and only ripped the games I owned, but I understand why that sort of thing won't happen again. I also loved the crazy hardware. You could link up two systems to play Doom! There was that weird flight stick! Me and Sony systems have a ton of great memories. Sophie, what was your favorite PlayStation system so far?
Sophie's final thoughts
Oo, tough call. I can look at each PlayStation and associate it with a different period of my life. The original PlayStation came at a time when I was just developing into a gamer, and I loved seeing how far games had come. I often cite Metal Gear Solid as the video game that turned me from a casual player into a “gamer.” The PlayStation 2, as I just described, forced me to evolve my tastes. The PlayStation 3, while probably my least favorite of the systems, is still fondly, proudly cared for and fed tasty games. What's interesting, and what I think will be a challenge for Sony, is the fact that gaming is no longer a separate part of our lifestyle, nor are the systems as unique as they once were. Remember when it was possible to count polygons on a new character? Or how much data could fit on a disc? These arbitrary measurements don't mean anything anymore. The era of macro-scale changes is over. Gaming has become less focused on the hardware, and more focused on the way the console interacts with the player.Ask me again in 10 years, and the question might not be “Which system was your favorite,” but instead something along the lines of “What services were your favorite?” The PlayStation 3 certainly had some growing pains, none more painful than the PSN shutdown during the summer of 2011. But compare the PlayStation 3 at launch to the PlayStation 3 now; they hardly feel like the same system, due in large part to the services they now offer. Can you remember a time before Netflix was on your console? Would its addition or subtraction change the way you felt about the system? One thing I don't worry about - and maybe I'm naïve here - is the threat of some outside force coming in to spoil all our fun. We've heard people cry out that hardcore gaming is ruined forever several times this previous decade, and it's never been true. Console FPS games didn't ruin the mouse and keyboard, iOS and Android Market games haven't replaced AAA, high-budget games, and the Move and Kinect haven't ruined hardcore games. That's not to say these situations don't have drawbacks, but gaming is strong. Gaming is strong: I hope that same message will resonate when Sony unveils… whatever it is they're unveiling.