Happy 20th Birthday, PlayStation. Looking back to the very beginnings of the brand, we take a look at ten of the finest games to grace the PsOne. Frankly, a roster of ten isn't nearly enough, and there'll be plenty of many people's personal favourites that we won't have been able to fit in here, but hit u up with your thoughts, and your top ten PSOne games of all time in the comments box.
Honourable Mentions: Dino Crisis, Parasite Eve, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy Tactics, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Chrono Cross, Crash Bandicoot 3
10. Gran Turismo 2
Those race replays were the most jaw-dropping things I'd ever seen. The original GT was a cracking game, but GT 2 ramped things up to a whole new level. With its faithful balancing act finding the sweet spot between simulation and accessibility, Gran Turismo 2 was the closest thing to driving nirvana on the PSOne. It turned everyone who had it into a car nut, with racers swapping tuning specs on memory cards in playgrounds across the land. Oh yeah, and it had over 650 cars unlockable via the awesome gameplay. What do you have to say to that, The Crew?
9. Tekken 3
Tekken 2 was what got me into the series, but Tekken 3 was the true revelation. The storyline that was filled with innumerable betrayals, the huge roster of characters, unlockable dinosaurs, the introduction of Tekken Ball and Tekken Force. I remember being stunned by how much the home consoel version resembled its arcade equivalent. It felt like the future of fighting games. There are arguments to suggest Tag Tournament was a technically better game, but frankly, the series would never be quite as astonishingly brilliant as it was when Tekken 3 ruled the fighting genre.
8. PaRappa the Rapper
They just don't make games like this any more. One of the first rhythm games to strut it's stuff, PaRappa the Rapper was stuffed with beats that would get lodged in your head. Nintendo had long been peddling catchy tunes, but no-one had really thought to design an entire game around them. It's still amazing to play today.
7. Silent Hill
Silent Hill 2 is still the best game in the series, but the original was a striking affair too. Silent Hill was the game that taught us that psychological horror was much more effective and creeping us out than jump scares and disgusting monsters. Silent Hill had those, of course, but Harry Mason wasn't a fighter or a soldier. Above all else, Silent Hill taught us that sometimes fear isn't there to be shot at and overcome, sometimes you just have to run away and hide and hope and whimper. Cerebral, psychologically-challenging, dimension-jumping, interactive horror... we never stood a chance.
6. Final Fantasy IX
One of the most traditional Final Fantasy titles in terms of its fantastical setting, Final Fantasy IX made us care about its characters perhaps more so than any of the games that came before it. A breath of fresh air after its absurdly convoluted predecessor,FFIX kept things pretty simple but executed everything with aplomb. A dazzling last hurrah for the series on PSOne that found huge critical acclaim, if not quite the vast audience that the previous games had enjoyed.
5. Resident Evil 2
Resi 2 outdid its predecessor in pretty much every possible way. When people talk about a "true" Resident Evil experience, this is generally the game that's providing the benchmark. The locations, story, graphics, cinematic scares, and the two character at the heart of it all -- Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy -- were all streaks ahead of their counterparts in the original game. There was a time when Resident Evil was a series that did tense and terrifying well. This was it.
4. Final Fantasy VII
It's Final Fantasy VII.
3. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
There are games with serious legacy here, and games whose series have dwindled and burnt out. Looking back, to even consider the name Tony Hawk is to sigh with weary abandon. But back when Tony Hawk's pro Skater 2 came out, it was the coolest game around. Every kid around was playing this things. No one cared if you could ollie in real life, but if you could Hardflip a fat gap straight into a reverse manual, and Shove-It into a Darkslide for maximum points in a virtual skate park, you were made. You'd play local multiplayer with friends, or just hotswap the controller, beating one another's two-minute scores. The bloat started afterwards, but THPS2 was a peerless slice of arcade, score-attacking, pop cultural brilliance.
And it had the best soundtrack.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
It's still the best Castlevania game that there is. The game was vast, filled with secret areas, opportunities for replayability thanks to persistent unlocks, RPG-esque systems, new items and abilities to play with and so on. Symphony of the Night boasts one of the finest musical scores ever conceived for a game. It spawned an entire genre (along with Metroid). That's how good this game is, it's up there with freakin' Super Metroid. Forget the best PSOne games, Symphony of the Night is, quite simply, one of the very best games of all time.
1. Metal Gear Solid
There's no button mashing in MGS. If you get caught in combat, the clunky nature of the game's action controls will frequently lead you to your death. But Hideo Kojima's stealth-em-up was such an outrageous, impressive, challenging, technically stunning tour de force when it emerged onto the PSOne that we forgave it everything. The cinematic cutscenes were one thing, but it was the audacious level design, the perfect stealth gameplay, the fourth-wall-breaking moments that made rumble features the coolest they ever would be. It was ambitious, steeped in rich production values that we'd never really associated hugely with games before. And suddenly our eyes were open. It is simply masterful.