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Celebrating 15 Years of PlayStation

Wed 29 Sep 2010 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Publishing

Leading developers share their favourite games, the most influential titles and the lasting legacy of the original PlayStation

Fifteen years ago today the original PlayStation launched in Europe, ushering in a new era of videogames and changing perceptions of the business forever - from niche nerd past-time to credible and cool home entertainment.

To celebrate the history and achievements of Sony's first home console, leading developers have shared with GamesIndustry.biz their own personal favourite games, those titles that set new standards and helped define the hardware, and the lasting legacy the system had on the videogame industry.

Lorne Lanning, creative director, Oddmob

What were you doing 15 years ago?

In 1995 we were still madly trying to figure out how to burn CD's without write failures due to trucks passing by outside. My, how the times do change.

PSX Driver

Driver: The controls and physics of the cars in the game still supercede the feeling of most driving games today, says Lanning

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

My two favourite games on the original PlayStation were Loaded and Driver. With Loaded, PSX had just come out and this updated mix of Smash TV meets guts out lunacy was completely addictive in two-player mode. It was also a cool production design with excellently executed lighting effects for the day.

Was one of the first times where the weapon lighting effects on the environment really had that visceral popping impact that firearms should have in simulation. We had a blast with that game and even referenced how they did a number of the light effects for how we would approach some of the effects in Abe's Oddysee.

With Driver, this game had it going on way before most even tried to pull it off. The true genre predecessor to Grand Theft Auto, even though Grand Theft Auto never got a burnout button right like Driver did. Driver's burnout button made all the difference in the world, and for the first time you actually felt like you were in high speed pursuits in an open city. That button gave you an entirely different level of control over the physics and fun factor just in raising havoc with your car.

The controls and physics of the cars in that game still supercede the feeling of most driving games today. They just nailed it for the day and it was amazing the degree of simulation that they were running that early on the PSX. It was absolutely my favourite game of the era, and also the first time I ever wrote a fan mail to a game company.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

I would have thought that Crash Bandicoot would have had the most impact, as it had such tremendous sales for the era, but in hindsight its interesting how little those genres are moving forward on consoles. Then there was the Final Fantasy games, which had enormous sales, yet they too did not tend to shape much into the future. So I'd have to say it was probably Tomb Raider that had the most impact on games going forward. How many games have we seen and still see that are taking the format of the genre seriously.

At the time, it was the best looking real-time environments in a game and the blend of story, action, and adventure has only taken off all the more since then. I'd have to say it was Tomb Raider that had the most influence on games to come.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

It was the first real viable CD-ROM based system that had enough horsepower to start ushering in those next-gen games. It was also a great system for playing around with bitmaps in a new way and the more memory enabled games like Oddworld to start being made with the graphics quality we were looking for. In many ways, I'd have to say that the true legacy of the PSX was that it did shine the light on the next generation of 3D gaming possibilities for consoles. It was a great system and its dev environment was more reasonable than its later incarnations.

Karl Hilton, managing director, Crytek UK

What were you doing 15 years ago?

I was busy making backgrounds for GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. I was new to the industry and on a steep learning curve.

PSX Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo: According to Crytek's Karl Hilton, it immediately made all previous racing games obsolete.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

Ridge Racer. It seemed so close to the arcade version which I loved. It had a great frame-rate and was truly addictive. And Wipeout. Once again it looked fantastic, had great gameplay and also a superb use of music. One of the first 'cool' games for a console.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

The first Gran Turismo set new standards for realism, both in terms of the physics and graphics that we could expect in a racing game. It immediately made all previous racing games obsolete and brought in new and much broader gameplay ideas to the genre.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

I think PlayStation elevated gaming from a child's pursuit and brought it in to the adult realm. The demographic of game players was growing older and Sony used the PlayStation 1 to not only satisfy, but grow and expand the market for new age groups. And I still love playing Wipeout games

David Braben, chairman, Frontier Developments

What were you doing 15 years ago?

We just had our first Playstation 1 devkits, and were trying to get them to work! They were fragile PC cards, as I remember, and took careful treatment to get them to work.

PSX Ape Escape

Ape Escape: The first PlayStation game to make full use of the analog sticks.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

Bizarrely, probably the original Ridge Racer. Not because I think it was the best made, but for a while it was one of the few games (other than our own in development) I got to play in those very early days. We also got quite competitive in our office about lap times!

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

Tricky. There are a few that moved things forwards, but didn't get the recognition for it. Ape Escape was perhaps one, where the control moved on to the analogue sticks for the first time. The original Gran Turismo raised the quality bar for racers, and perhaps Metal Gear Solid for presentation and stealth gameplay. For me, there was no one title (unlike on some of the other platforms at that time) that stood out as the obvious one for this.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

From a developer point of view, it turned a business that felt a little amateurish, into something that felt slick. I remember the original presentation from Phil Harrison to developers, of the new "PSX" machine. It felt a little like unveiling of a new car. It was slick, professional, polished (with great imagery of an animated T-Rex). We haven't looked back since.

David Perry, CEO, Gaikai

What were you doing 15 years ago?

Sheesh, it feel like 10 minutes ago. What the heck happened? Where did this grey hair come from? I think we were in the Earthworm Jim/MDK phase. I was super stressed about moving to 3D when we had such a good team of 2D guys (I'm not kidding, Earthworm Jim was drawn with pencils!). Luckily the bet on introducing sniper mode into a game turned out to be a good one and MDK allowed us to smoothly make the transition into the world of 3D.

PSX MGS

Metal Gear Solid: Creator Hideo Kojima was more popular than Stan Lee, according to Perry.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

I still remember Battle Arena Toshinden, I liked it because I found some move combinations that let me win against nearly everyone. I also remember just staring at Ridge Racer thinking "how the hell are they doing that?" It was just so stunning for its time.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

I think that Metal Gear Solid was one of my favourites, they were smart. The games didn't look great by chance, the work they put in was insane. I was sitting once with Kojima and Stan Lee - the creator of Spider-Man - they were signing autographs, and amusingly Stan Lee ran out of people wanting his autograph. Kojima had a long line, people were bringing games and having him sign their belongings etc.

Stan Lee looked over to me and said "Who the heck is this guy?". For me Kojima has always been a pillar of the PlayStation and always kept us excited to see what could be done next.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

It changed everything. Suddenly 3D wasn't just kind of possible (like the Genesis 32X), it was real and in every console. After that dinosaur demo the energy was incredible and Sony jumped in with both feet firing up all marketing cylinders. My hat also goes off to Phil Harrison who got on the road and really made sure everyone paid attention. Great hardware, great support, great games, it's no surprise that even 15 years later you still want to write about it.

Martyn Brown, business development director and co-founder, Team 17

What were you doing 15 years ago?

Fifteen years ago we were readying the original Worms for PlayStation, wondering if our simple looking little 2D game could really wrestle with the likes of FIFA 96 and Tomb Raider.

PSX Resident Evil

Resident Evil: One of many franchises still going strong after launching off the PSX platform.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

On the original PSX, I think stuff like Tekken, Ridge Racer were early highlights, it's odd to remember being so excited about high quality 3D – although obviously looking at the PSX now, it's pretty groggy.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

There are many games whose purpose really flew with the advent of the PSX and the mass market it delivered, I'd say the EA Sports series, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear series, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider were all very influential in terms of driving quality and production value.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

The legacy of the PSX for me was a real step-up in terms of the production of games, the complexity of environments, licensing of music, celebrities – it was as if the industry moved on a gear. Some may suggest that this has little to do with the quality of games itself, but certainly the PlayStation became a household name, a huge brand – and that made the world take notice of the industry in return.

Martin de Ronde, chief creative officer, Vanguard Entertainment

What were you doing 15 years ago?

Working my butt off in all kinds of sh***y jobs to get the money to get one of the first import machines from Japan, for the ludicrous amount of what would now be €1000 (for a games system!)

PSX Wipeout

Wipeout: A soundtrack of the moment that made the music press prick up its ears and take note of PlayStation.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

Ridge Racer, the launch title, so close to the coin-op (which was very important to me back then) and a great game in itself. I still like to believe 48.53 seconds in the black Diablo is the world's fastest laptime on the original Ridge Racer.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential and why?

Wipeout, for almost single handedly turning gaming's niche and nerdy image into the complete opposite of that, thanks to a great concept, new style visuals, a superb selection of music and great controls all coming together at exactly the right moment in time.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

Several great franchises, more mature gaming content, disc-based storage of videogames (for 15 years now) and a controller with 'handles'. And a great new publisher (SCEE) which has brought the games industry many great new franchises.

James Brooksby, studio head, double six games

What were you doing 15 years ago?

15 years ago I was starting as a junior artist on my first job in the games industry. It was awesome and I could not believe I had made it in considering I trained as an engineer and art was something I had been practicing at home on the Amiga while I was supposed to be at lectures.

PSX Guitar Freaks

Guitar Freaks: Imported from Japan by music fans, including Headstrong's James Brooksby.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation and why?

It has to be Final Fantasy VII. I loved that game so much and it made me cry at the end of disc one (all those who played it know). Of course there was also Gran Turismo - number two was my favourite as it had my car in it. And who can forget Metal Gear Solid, I loved that game for its clever set pieces and heart busting tension. And finally I was busy importing the first dance mat and guitar games and playing them on it too, so Guitar Freaks was also at the top of my list (although everyone said it would never sell in the West. Hah!).

Which titles would you say have been the most influential and why?

Its hard to say, but for me personally it has to be FFVII as it made me change from someone with quite a hard core and almost solely PC view on the world of gaming (as PC up to then had provided me with all my favourite RPG and strategy games) and changed me to someone who would now forever have a console under the TV.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

The PlayStation legacy lives on through mass recognition of what the brand brings. People still are heard referring to all games consoles as PlayStations (not the hardcore consumer of course), and for many it was their first console as the PlayStation truly went mass market and pushed the gaming world out of the niche it had been up to that point. The family gathered around the PlayStation and played together, having fun together around the family TV like never before, and all of us in the industry now live off of the back of that success

Andrew Eades, co-founder, Relentless Software

What were you doing 15 years ago?

15 years ago I was a programmer at DMA Design with Dave Jones working on a Nintendo 64 game.

PSX Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider: One of the most influential games released on the system.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

Ridge Racer. We used to play this all the time. It was amazing. Like nothing we'd ever seen on a SNES or Megadrive.

Looking back, which titles would you say have been the most influential and why?

I think Tomb Raider has to be one of the most influential games from that time because it broke the mould with a complex 3D environment and a main character that was completely fresh. It was a long way from Mario and Sonic.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

PlayStation enabled more games to be made as Sony really made an effort to enable third-parties to make games for their machine. It was much more of a closed shop before PlayStation with Nintendo and Sega calling all the shots.

Andrew Oliver, chief technical officer, Blitz Games

What were you doing 15 years ago?

PSX FIFA

FIFA: One of many EA Sports franchises that began to shine on the original PlayStation.

PlayStation had just started using 3D graphics and so we were writing a new 3D graphics engine and creating a toolset/pipeline for creating 3D environments exported from 3DS Max. The work we were doing then was an early forerunner to our licensable middleware, BlitzTech.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

The PlayStation had so many classic games it's hard to pick. Tomb Raider was obviously a massive success; it had 3D worlds, Indiana Jones style adventure and Lara Croft - a killer combo. I also enjoyed the fact that it was written just up the road by guys I knew and really put British talent on the map. I'd also choose Wipeout, it was a good spectacle, fast and fluid with a pumping sound track. Finally, I'd pick Gran Turismo, as it was a fantastic showcase for what could be achieved on the PlayStation.

Looking back, which titles would you say have been the most influential and why?

I think a lot of the PlayStation games were so influential because they started incredibly strong franchises, so FIFA, Madden, Tiger Woods and Need for Speed are good examples. There were also some iconic characters that started with the PlayStation, like with Tomb Raider and Lara Croft, which now has its own series of blockbuster films.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

3D. Before the PlayStation all games were 2D and Sony gave developers the opportunity to add a whole new dimension. I remember lots of developers complaining that not all games should be 3D, but the PlayStation changed a lot of people's perspectives. The other major legacy of the PlayStation was that it made gaming cool. Before the console's release, if you were a gamer or developer you were automatically labelled a geek, but once the PlayStation was on the scene owning a console became cool and the games developers almost rock stars.

Guillaume de Fondaumière, co-CEO and executive producer, Quantic Dream

What were you doing 15 years ago?

Pretty much to the day 15 years ago, I was sitting at a bar in Frankfurt with Paulo Coelho - a then unknown Brazilian writer - and we were discussing the crazy idea of creating a videogame together. Two years later this very first game I produced came out (Pilgrim, published by Infogrames).

PSX Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII: A fondly remembered epic from Square.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

My favourite game on the PlayStation at that time (1995) was certainly WipeOut. The most vibrant memory however remains Final Fantasy VII which released two years later. That was a real revelation.

Which titles would you say have been the most influential?

Apart from the aforementioned FFVII that so hugely impressed me with its lavish graphics, great (if sometimes idiosyncratic) story and...length, I would name Tomb Raider because it demonstrated that a games IP could become a universal mainstream entertainment franchise. And Resident Evil, one of the very first games to introduce (B-movie-esque) cinematic video footage in an attempt to immerse the player into a story.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

Thanks to the DVD player and the console's top notch architecture, the PlayStation democratised 3D in games. With its winged shape and the abundance of well-positioned buttons, its DualShock controller was as user-friendly as it was precise and powerful. In other words, the PSX was a perfect mix of sophistication and accessibility. That is, I think, its legacy.

David Amor, co-founder, Relentless Software

What were you doing 15 years ago?

15 years ago I was finishing a Space Hulk game on 3DO at EA. The office stopped work when the parcel from Japan arrived. Without any games, we stared at it for fifteen minutes and then decided to put a screwdriver to it.

PSX Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer: Singled out as the 'arcade perfect' launch game.

What were your favourite games on the original PlayStation?

The game I remember most fondly for PlayStation was Ridge Racer. Western driving games didn't really cut it for me, so to have an arcade-perfect Japanese driving game at the PlayStation's launch was a big deal. That game put blisters on my thumb. To take a hundredth of a second off my lap time was a good use of an evening.

What has been the legacy of the original PlayStation?

The legacy of PlayStation is immense. I could mention many things, but I think the most important is that it made videogames culturally acceptable. Until that point there were Nintendo games that shouldn't be played by the over-25s or PC games for men with beards in their forties.

The PlayStation came along and suddenly it seemed that it was okay for anyone to play videogames. I don't know if it was the marketing, the games or just the stars aligning, but it exploded the market massively.

15 Comments

Victor Vieira
editor

6 0 0.0
Wow, what a great article!

Posted:4 years ago

#1

Antony Cain
Lecturer

263 21 0.1
Pfff all obvious picks :p

Now, Kurushi... that was a game!

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Rich Sturgess
Business Development Director - EMEA

12 1 0.1
A really great read Matt, top work mate.

Posted:4 years ago

#3

Mark Pittam
Producer

1 0 0.0
And not one mention of Jumping Flash. The only true 3D platformer! :(

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Kevin Clark-Patterson
Lecturer in Games Development

292 27 0.1
Loaded would benfit from a 2011 remake! :)

Introduce online multiplayer/deathmatch and it'll be surefire winner

Posted:4 years ago

#5

David Wicks
Editor / Co-Founder

34 0 0.0
and now for a look at how playstation are celebrating... http://blog.eu.playstation.com/ nothing, nada, zip dispite a torrent of comments over the last few weeks from users asking what we can expect today... seems everyone cares about today but SCEE...

Posted:4 years ago

#6

David Wicks
Editor / Co-Founder

34 0 0.0
looks like SCEE have woke up, they'll have a post up at 5pm to celebrate the 15th anniverary... better late then never i guess :P

Posted:4 years ago

#7

Private
Industry

1,176 182 0.2
Wow no Silent Hill, Syphon Filter, Destruction Derby, Jade Cocoon? A bit of a lack of Psygnosis games except for the obvious WipEout (correct spelinng no upper ase o :D ), always liked G-Police and Colony Wars, but somehow space operas died at around the same time as the PS1 did. Kind of a shame really, during that time you had X Wing, Colony Wars and Wing Commander along some other decent space operas. Now that the PCs and Consoles are really powerful there isn`t much left of the Genre.

Can`t really think about a single game that was great for the console there are just too many good games, till now still got the Ridge Racer 4 intro in my head.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 29th September 2010 11:59pm

Posted:4 years ago

#8

Stefan Janke
Gamedesign

6 0 0.0
Great Article, Colony Wars is one of the greatest games on the PS1, Resident Evil 2, I played it two weeks ago, for my girlfriend, she likes it very much. My first games were TEKKEN 2, Ridge Race Revolution (awesome Game)and Porsche Challange. Happy Birthday i::i

Posted:4 years ago

#9

Jason Avent
VP, Studio Head

139 140 1.0
All good picks. Tekken 3, Colin McRae and Tony Hawks were pretty great too. I think MGS made the biggest impression.

Posted:4 years ago

#10

Richard Hewison
IT and Freelance Game Journalism

1 0 0.0
I was only at SCEE for a few months in 1994, but I remember when the PSX controllers appeared in the office for the first time and we realised how small they were. I shipped out the development kits to developers in the early part of the Summer that year, so I like to think I had a hand in the success in a small way!

Posted:4 years ago

#11

Charley Wang
Studying Engineering

5 0 0.0
The PSX was when I really fell in love with video games. IIRC the Game Gear was my first system, but my selection of games was pretty sparse (I had this one Batman game where I could never get out of the opening screen... The folly of youth!). I still remember poring over the guide for FF7 months before I even owned a PSX :D

Posted:4 years ago

#12

Eoin Moran
Studying Bachelor of Engineering

35 32 0.9
Some of my favourite memories from psx
1) Getting to the fianl boss in FFIX (after about a billion hours), yet being unable to beat him as i didnt level up enough on disc 3

2) Always being beaten by my friend at Tony Hawks 2, who could somehow always get this half million point combo in the school level

3) Completing Pepsi-maaaaaaaan!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eoin Moran on 2nd October 2010 2:28am

Posted:4 years ago

#13

Ricky Hodgson
Studying BA (Hons) Computer Games and Visual Effects

27 0 0.0
A trip down memory lane or what. I was much younger than these guys at launch (only 6!) but damn was that a time to be growing up as a kid gamer. The whole era was pretty much magical in my eyes. Life changing i think.

Still remember popping in the "demo 1" and thinking the t rex is absolute coolest thing i have and ever will see.. 15 years later and im hoping to work in this great field myself.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4
This year is the 25th Anniversary of so many great Commodore 64 games, like Elite and the 10th anniversary of PC games like Deus Ex, but do we hear about that? No. Because they were computer games not console games.

We certainly never got any coverage of the 10th, 15th, 20th or 25th anniversaries of the Commodore 64, the biggest selling computer brand of all time.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

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