Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rank Up! - PlayStation

Happy Fourth of July, America. After digesting two barbequed hot dogs, my hunger may be satiated, but my thirst for blogging today isn't quite quenched. Enter Rank Up! Last month's Central City Census asked what your favorite PlayStation platform was. We got a lot of votes as the PS2 barely squeaked out a victory over the PS3. However, you might be wondering what my personal opinion on Sony's video game machine series is. No? Well, you're going to get it anyway. Rank Up! is where I list a franchise or series of items and list them from least greatest to greatest. The subject of this installment is all about PlayStation. Let's not jump the gun, though. Let's see what I'll be ranking:

PlayStation 2
PlayStation Portable
PlayStation 3
PlayStation Vita

In 1995, a new competitor entered the video game console hardware space to counter the efforts by Sega and Nintendo. After a falling out with Nintendo involving a CD-Rom add-on to the Super Nintendo, Sony decided to develop a console of their own, led by Ken Kutaragi who would be later known as "the father of the PlayStation." After hundreds of millions of consoles sold later, the PlayStation brand is a true juggernaut in the gaming space. Live in your world, play in PlayStation's indeed. Note: The rankings will not be considering backwards compatibility in the ordering of these platforms. 

5) PlayStation Vita

It's obvious that the platform that came out less than a year ago would start us off, and it's not even a bad platform either. The ultimate in power portable, the PlayStation Vita sports a spectacular 5" OLED screen, dual analogs-- a first for a handheld, rear touch support, and Sixaxis technology built directly inside the system. The launch game-wise was one of most impressive launches ever with games like the newest entries in the Uncharted, Hot Shots Golf, Wipeout, and Katamari franchises. My problem with the Vita stems from the idea that the system seems to be on life support (or is that Vita support?). Currently, Sony is not being proactive in selling or even getting games for their fledgling platform while it just lonely lingers on store shelves and in portable purgatory. The Nintendo 3DS had a chance to turn around its successes (or lack thereof) because consumers and fans alike knew that Mario and Pokemon would eventually be coming and it had a dramatic price drop. Sony doesn't have a Mario or Pokemon equivalent, and a price drop seems impossible for the struggling company at this stage. I'm hoping for more support for the system eventually because as it stands, the future isn't looking too bright in an age where smartphones and tablets are slowly killing off the market for dedicated portables.

4) PlayStation Portable

The best-selling competitor to one of Nintendo's handhelds, the PlayStation Portable has sold upwards of 70 millions units. The system had a wide screen, gorgeous display, face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and yes, an analog nub for 3D games. One of my favorite features of the PSP is the ability to shut the system off mid-game, turn it back on, and pick up right where you left off. The lineup of the PSP is truly tremendous, full of engaging games. I'm talking about first and third-party exclusives like Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 1 & 2, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the Monster Hunter series (which skyrocketed the system's success in Japan), Phantasy Star Portable 1 & 2, LocoRoco and its sequels, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Resistance Retribution, Star Ocean: Second Evolution, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Jeanne D'Arc, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, LittleBigPlanet, Patapon, Mega Man: Powered Up, and so many more. Nonetheless, even with all of these terrific titles, piracy really killed the system's chances in the West as most software sales were pithy compared to other platforms. It's sad as I have stated that there are so many exquisite titles on the PSP for owners to indulge in that were deserving of loads of sales. They just didn't get them outside of Japan.

3) PlayStation 3

Sony's current console, the PlayStation 3 had an inauspicious launch with a lack of compelling games and a huge price tag. However, things turned around for the system as more games released, the platform's online service evolved to something akin to Xbox Live (but thankfully free), and sales which are now rivaling the Xbox 360. Sony has put out their best first-party efforts with the PS3, with such exotic and fantastic new franchises like Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, inFamous, ModNation Racers, and the upcoming The Last of Us. PSN offers a wealth of downloadable titles, full retail games for downloading, and demos for forthcoming titles. The addition of trophies brought forth many PS3 owner desires to fully explore each game they play, and the bonus of the PS3 being a Bluray player (at the time one of the cheapest on the market) was also a plus. In 2009, a Slim version of the console was released with less technical problems and more storage. And while the PlayStation 3 has been great for gamers, it hasn't been so much for Sony. At the start of the PS3's life Sony was selling the system for over a $200 USD loss per system. This made them bleed money to the point that rumors say that they effectively blew nearly all of the money they made in the PS1 and PS2 eras. 

2) PlayStation

The system that started it all, while Nintendo was making the move to 64 bits and the continued use of cartridges to eliminate long loading times, Sony was busy with a console that read compact discs. Sure, the ability to play audio CDs was a nice bonus, but it was the games that truly set the system apart. It was the original PlayStation, a console that cemented Sony as a major player in console manufacturer arena. The PlayStation was the first, but most certainly not the last home console to sell over 100 million units worldwide. The console was the place to be for third-parties who brought their "A" game to the platform. Such titles like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and Tactics, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Wild Arms, Mega Man 8, Mega Man X4, X5, and X6, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Tomba!, Jet Moto, WipEout, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, Ape Escape, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and The Legend of Dragoon are just some of the fantastic titles one can experience on the very first PlayStation. The controller for the PS1 was so perfect that each successor to the system has-- for better or worse-- used the same archetype and build with minimal upgrades. Many series made their start on PlayStation, and it is such a ground-breaking platform that it is hard to not rank the system highly on this list. Note: The version shown above is the sexy PSOne model, not the original.

1) PlayStation 2

But even the original PlayStation cannot hold a proverbial candle to the king of PlayStation platforms, the PlayStation 2. While the system started off relatively slow in the market, it quickly gained a swift pace and high sales. The fact that it was one of the earliest (and cheapest) DVD players for consumers to purchase definitely had something to do with it. But of course, hardware does nothing without competent software, and the PS2 had that in spades. Many games and series from the PS1 era made the jump to the more powerful PlayStation 2 like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Dragon Quest, Mega Man, Castlevania, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, SoulCalibur, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, and more, but with the PS2 era came entirely new franchises, some of which are still around to this day. I'm alluding to popular series like Kingdom Hearts, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Katamari Damacy, Singstar, among many, many others. In 2004, four years after the PS2's release, the system received a new Slimline model. It was much smaller, thinner, and quieter than its big brother. To date, the PlayStation 2 has sold more than 150 million units worldwide But if the impact and extraordinary sales status of the PS2 still isn't quite clear to you yet, be floored by this: Even 12 years after the console's launch, the PlayStation 2 is still getting new games. One of the most successful systems in gaming hardware history, the PlayStation 2 is without a doubt the best PlayStation platform currently in existence.


So now that you know my rankings of the PlayStation platforms, what comments do you have to share with me and your fellow readers? Do you agree with my order? Did you enjoy this edition of Rank Up? Let your voice be heard below.

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