Happy 20th Birthday, PlayStation. We figured that we'd take a trip down memory lane, reminisce about some of our favourite PlayStation memories, and ask our readers to do the same.
When it comes to standout memories of the Playstation brand, there are two that come to mind. The first was when I was 14 and still primarily a PC gamer. The last console I had bought was a Sega Mega Drive, so I had yet to dive into the new-fangled craze that was Playstation, but all that was to change just a week before Christmas. You see, I had just bought Men In Black: The Video Game on PC, but my machine wasn’t having any joy running it well enough to play. My best friend Paul had come round to see if we could fix it, but neither of us were as clued up on troubleshooting PCs as we are now. As such, and I couldn’t tell you what he did, Paul tinkered with something that bricked the computer. I was distraught – not being able to play my new MiB game was bad enough, but now I couldn’t play even play Civilization II. Then, in a sign of true friendship (or more likely though a horrific feeling of guilt), Paul loaned me his PSone and his copy of Metal Gear Solid over Christmas.
There was a catch, though – he forgot to give me a memory card.
So there I was experiencing a game like none I had played before, and I had to do it in one extended session. If anything, the lack of save game facility heightened the tension despite the fact you could press continue upon dying. It meant that every action I made couldn’t be undone. It was glorious and terrifying in equal measure (especially the Psycho Mantis bit) but ultimately it showed me that home consoles were capable of delivering gaming experiences that could match or even supersede those found on PC. While I didn’t purchase another console until the PS2, that Christmas with the PSone changed everything for me as a gamer, and it was all thanks to Metal Gear Solid.
My second big PlayStation memory actually relates to the relationship I have been in for the last 12 years. You see, I’m lucky in that my other half has always enjoyed playing or watching others play computer games. She sat there as her twin brother played through Half-Life in their cramped study, and witnessed him going through Halo: Combat Evolved on the Xbox, so upon learning this I knew I had to get her to play a game that meant a lot to me at the time – Final Fantasy X on the PS2.
Having played it through the year before, the effects of its story were still quite strong, and because of her love for fantasy settings and anime, I figured she would appreciate the game. What this lead to was her sharing the same joys and heartbreak I can experienced, and watching her play through moments like the return to Bevelle, Seymour being an ass-clown (multiple times), and that scene in the lake helped to bring us closer together. We would sit up late theory-crafting about the world of Spira, discussing our love for certain characters, and even replayed it together every year. That said, it was usually me doing all the Blitzball and god damn Thunder Plains bits. Ugh.
Fast forward to this year, and the release of the HD Remasters of X and X/2 has meant we have experienced it all over again, with her playing it on the PS3 and me on the Vita at the same time. We’ve even helped each other out, and by that I mean I did her Blitzball while she did all my monster capture. If that isn’t proof of a strong relationship, I don’t know what is. Anyway, I digress – the point is that even to this day, FFX remains one of my most important Playstation memories not just because it was such a fantastic game, but because much of my relationship was built upon a shared love for what it offered.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got the bloody Thunder Plains to do on her go while she goes and gets me some Lvl 4. Key Spheres. Our goal as a couple is to destroy Penance, and we won’t rest until it is crushed under our virtual feet.
So here’s to you, Playstation – without you Metal Gear Solid would not have saved Christmas, and Final Fantasy X would not have helped grow a loving relationship. Here’s to another 20 years of memories!
Looking back at 20 years of PlayStation history, it's somewhat fitting that my most enduring memories are all from the PSOne. As the first home console I personally owned after many happy years with my beloved Amiga 600, Game Boy and other people's Mega Drives, that big gray slab has a very special place in my heart.
Metal Gear Solid blew my mind. I genuinely never thought that videogames were capable of something so amazingly ambitious, not just in terms of gameplay freedom, but storytelling that dealt with hot-button issues like nuclear proliferation and genetic experimentation, immersing me in its fleshed-out universe, not just its mechanics. The characters felt so real and complex, the themes were so important and earnest, the gameplay proved so tense yet enjoyable and the emotional wringer of the final hour is still the best videogame ending ever created. Psycho Mantis' mind-reading still freaks me out to this day, nothing compared to when he reached out of the game and moved my controller in real life oh my sweet lord.
Unfortunately I only went and lost the sodding box! Finding someone at school who knew the frequency turned out to be a right old mission.
Time Crisis, though, may have been my favourite game. I've always loved arcades and lightgun shooters, so having spent many hours shooting claw ninjas on Southend seafront -- virtually, mind you -- the feeling of being able to take the arcades home was amazing. Sadly, I had to make do with a mate's home for a while until I could afford my own G-CON 45: truly the once and future king of console peripherals.
But my most treasured memories are of playing through Final Fantasy IX with my sister. We went halves and played the game to death, sometimes together, sometimes alone, meaning that we both only saw half the story the first time round! Plus, she named Amarant "Trash" before I could do anything about it, though I actually agree with the sentiment. Regulars probably know this, but FFIX is actually my favourite core Final Fantasy game (because Tactics Advance beats all comers, end of), and sold me on the strength of its amazing characters, levity and the simple joys of mullering bombs with Vivi and Steiner's ridiculous Sword Magic. Plus, Steiner and Beatrix' awkward steps towards romance is one of the most disarmingly uncomplicated and heartfelt relationships in any Final Fantasy game to date, and made me punch the air while watching the final cutscene in sheer delight.
I do have to give a shout out to the PSP. As a lifelong handheld gaming fanatic, I owned a PSP since launch and loved the thing to death. Not only did that system open up a vast and under-appreciated games library (come on, Coded Arms wasn't that bad), but it also served as my main computing device during a later year of university, seeing as I'd blew my money on games rather than repairing my laptop. It worked, I could use the internet well enough and, frankly, I made the right choice. Which might be why I'm currently writing about PlayStation memories rather than prospecting or surveying with a geology degree, I guess.
I wouldn't have it any other way. Happy birthday, PlayStation.
I've never owned a PSOne, and yet some of my most enduring PlayStation memories come from time spent with that console. As a kid, I wasn't exactly the most sociable fellow, and I didn't have too many friends growing up in the Nineties. But I did have one or two really close mates, both of whom had PlayStations. Weekend would be spent hopping between their houses, sinking hours and hours into Mortal Kombat Trilogy, printing out the massive move lists for all of the fatalities, brutalities, babealities, and friendships... FRIENDSHIPS?
When the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater demo emerged, in a disc from the front of a magazine that has long-since bitten the dust, we'd spent hours just playing that same Chicago skatepark level over and over again -- two minute runs, who can get the highest score? I can still picture it perfectly: the rail grind at the start, with its two levels; then a grab trick off of the quarterpipe at the end, a spinning transfer that would land us in the halfpipe where quick grab combos and lip tricks could be used to rack up huge multipliers.
We played that same level over and over and over, for hours upon end.
It wasn't really until the PS2 era that Final Fantasy and PlayStation became inexorably tied together for me. See, I played FFVII on PC, and it wasn't until years later that I even picked up FFIX. Byt that time, there was a PlayStation Network. But I bought a PS2 so I could play Final Fantasy X, and it made me laugh and cry and roar in frustration. It was the first thing I'd played on a console other than one made by Nintendo that spoke to me on an emotional level. I can listen to its soundtrack today and tears will just start streaming out from my eyes. It's super weird.
Thing is, again, many of the strongest gaming memories I have of the PS2 era have little to do with the finest games on that console. Silent Hill 2 and Shadow of the Colossus aside, which thoroughly floored me, it's the games shared with friends that really stick in the mind. I was still a Nintendo fanboy at that point, obsessed with my Gamecube and loudly telling PS2 owners that nothing could possibly compare to Metroid Prime. But the truth is that I sank so many more hours into Dynasty Warriors 4 and Tekken Tag Tournament than I think I ever did on my Gamecube titles, barring Mario Kart and TimeSplitters 2. Even then, we'd usually play the latter on a PS2.
However, my strongest PlayStation memory is surely hating the controllers with a passion. I loathed the DualShock as soon as it came out. It felt all kinds of wrong to me, forcing my hands into an uncomfortable shape for twin-stick titles that left my limbs clawed and cramped.
Still, it only took them the best part of two decades to fix.
What are your enduring PlayStation memories? Let us know in the box below!