Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Celebrating 20 Years of PlayStation: Favorite PS1 Games

Today is the 20th anniversary of Sony's original PlayStation. What started out as a partnership between Nintendo and Sony turned into one of the most successful brands in gaming today. I'm pretty pleased Nintendo dropped out of its partnership with Sony (whether this was because Sony was rumored to take the rights of all Nintendo's properties or not is up for debate, but doesn't really matter in the context of this article), because without that, the PlayStation brand would not be here today, and we would not have all the fantastic games and franchises associated with the PlayStation name.

This list of over 15 PlayStation games (they don't have to be exclusive) delves into some of the favorites that the lineup is known for. After you've read SuperPhillip Central's list, definitely jump on into the comments section to say games you found missing.

Final Fantasy VII, VIII & IX

Three titles meant the original PlayStation was the king of the RPG genre in its day. Those three were Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. While the first two of this unofficial trilogy pushed towards a more industrial and modern setting, Final Fantasy IX returned to the more fantastical aspects of pre-Final Fantasy VII Final Fantasy games. Each has a special place in the mainline series for a various reasons, and each belongs in every RPG fan's library at some point in their life.

Final Fantasy Tactics

What I consider the best Final Fantasy spin-off yet, Final Fantasy Tactics took the franchise to tactical RPG form with a Medieval story of conspiracy and monsters. The central point that aligned it all together was the fantastic tactical gameplay consisting of a myriad of characters, job classes, skills, magic, weapons, armors, and much more. And do I even have to make mention of the marvelous music the game had?

Chrono Cross

A sequel to the great Super Nintendo classic Chrono Trigger seemed like a fool's errand, but its release happened with Chrono Cross on the PS1. Full of intricate systems within battle to work with, a wide world to explore in two different forms, and a robust amount of characters both mandatory and not to join protagonist Serge's party, Chrono Cross might not have outperformed its predecessor, but it was a good game all the same.

Crash Bandicoot Trilogy

While Naughty Dog is apparently above games like this now, the company did work on colorful platformers in its past. The Crash Bandicoot series was at the time supposed to be a rival to Nintendo's Mario and Sega's Sonic, with a higher focus on the former. The interesting behind-the-back camera angle gave the games a 2D feeling in a 3D space.

Spyro the Dragon Trilogy

Before Insomniac Games struck gold [bolts] with its Ratchet & Clank series, the developer worked on a trio of 3D platformers starring a precocious, purple, young dragon named Spyro. The games had great controls, lovely graphics for the time, a humorous story, and enough mechanics to keep the gameplay experiences from growing dull.

Metal Gear Solid

Tactical. Espionage. Action. Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain recently released to the world a week ago, but we're going to be looking at the first Metal Gear Solid entry. Creating an exceptional stealth-action title with an intriguing plot consisting of more twists and turns than a daredevil roller coaster, Metal Gear Solid set a new standard for cinematic storytelling and gameplay in gaming.

Twisted Metal

Sweet Tooth and friends (or is it "total enemies"?) took to this destruction derby from Hell with the very first Twisted Metal game, a franchise that still stays with us to this day. Drive, ram, slam, bash, shoot, and destroy your opponents-- all of that was what was needed to ensure victory and total domination in this adrenaline rush of vehicular combat and total annihilation.

Crash Team Racing

A great rival to Mario Kart and its clear inspiration, Diddy Kong Racing, Crash Team Racing featured a wide array of cartoony characters to race as, some diabolical track designs-- one of my personal favorites taking place in a castle-- and some very tight drifting and boosting mechanics. The multiplayer rocked, too, making for one fantastic racer for the PlayStation.


Whether battling with martial-arts style combat on the ground or taking on foes in massive mech suits, Xenogears delivered a sensational action-time battle system, similar to the ones used in the Final Fantasy series of more modern times. Its story was also quite deep, reflecting on real world issues like psychology, science, and religion. What you ended up with was an RPG that made you think... about why the second disc fell apart so quickly!

Wild Arms

One of two favorite PlayStation RPGs that go one after the other on this list, Wild Arms consisted of three characters that each had their own items to use outside of battle in order to solve devious puzzles and to avoid dangerous traps. Complete with a glorious Wild Western setting and soundtrack with a lot of science fiction elements, and you had a game that was well worth playing, a lovely look at the early 3D era of the PlayStation.

Star Ocean: The Second Story

The other of my favorite PlayStation RPGs on this list is Star Ocean: The Second Story. Allowing players to choose from one of two protagonists, Claude or Rena, the game offered action-RPG goodness with real-time battles, gorgeous art, massively magnificent music, and multiple characters that could be added to your party depending on your choices throughout the game. While it has its share of issues, Star Ocean: The Second Story (also on the PSP with the subtitle of Second Evolution) remains one of my favorite RPGs not just on the PS1, but of all time.

Breath of Fire III & IV

Here are two more nostalgia-producing games to look at. Now, when I say "nostalgia", I'm not meaning that you need to have that in order to enjoy these games. Quite the contrary. Both Breath of Fire III and its sequel were excellent RPGs of their time, and they're excellent games now. I can say with the utmost certainty that it definitely hurts looking at what types of Breath of Fire games we had back then compared to what Capcom is giving us now (hint: it's an unattractive mobile game--not to say all mobile games are bad, but it's completely unlike what fans like me were wanting).

Suikoden II

Full of parties consisting of six members, the ability to recruit a healthy heaping of characters, and a battle system that was far from repetitive, Suikoden II was yet another great piece of software in the PlayStation's wide collection of RPG classics. Whether you just wanted to play through the story once or obsessively tried to recruit every possible party member, Suikoden II had something for any type of player.

Legend of Dragoon

With Legend of Dragoon, it was time for players to unleash their inner dragons. Not the most worthwhile RPG in the PlayStation's healthy arsenal of role-playing epics, but it is especially worth note for being produced by a popular face in PlayStation today, Shuhei Yoshida. Not only this, but Legend of Dragoon as a franchise is one that has potential to this day. It just needs to reawaken its inner dragon and set the gaming world on fire again-- if only Sony will let it!

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

What is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Well, it is certainly not anything miserable, unless you mean it's miserable in how it sucks the hours away from you like a vampire bat. Symphony of the Night brought forth a new chapter in the Castlevania franchise, opening up the level design to be less about linearity and more about the freedom to explore massive areas. I'd say this new direction worked, as plenty of other titles in the franchise followed this grand formula.

Resident Evil 1, 2 & 3

Evil took up residence on Sony's PlayStation with three terrifying titles. Now, while the tank controls seem just a tad archaic in this day and age, they still perform admirably and lend themselves to the horror feeling of the series. It didn't matter if you were in the Spencer Mansion or Raccoon City-- there was going to be a scary, pulse-pounding experience no matter what.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 & 2

Are you ready to go? Millions of gamers were with the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its near-perfect sequel. The following games on the sixth generation of game consoles also managed to make players gush with their massive levels to skate, grind, thrash, and trash in. However, THPS 1 & 2 hark back to an earlier, simpler time in the franchise, where there were less moves to worry about and more casual-friendly gameplay, opening the series for a wide audience.

Mega Man Legends

Mega Man went into three dimensions with Mega Man Legends, partly due to SCEA's attitude towards developers and publishers putting non-3D games on its hardware at the beginning of the PS1's life. Looking back, that might have been a good thing, as we might not have gotten Mega Man Volnutt and the series he led because of it. Treasure hunting in mysterious temples and towers, defeating giant robots, and even kicking soda cans in Apple Market were all fun diversions in this epic Mega Man adventure. It's a shame we'll probably never see Mega Man Volnutt get off that moon with Capcom's current attitude towards the series!

Mega Man X4

My favorite of every Mega Man game released on the original PlayStation, Mega Man X4 felt like a significant upgrade from what we saw on the Super Nintendo. With more special effects, greatly improved visuals, awesome music, stellar cutscenes (well, if you ignore some of the voice acting), and polished gameplay, Mega Man X4 was a beast of a game, and it remains one of my favorites of all time.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

We end this special look back at the original PlayStation with Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. The game was unlike other platformers because while it was 2D, it didn't stay on a 2D plane. No, level paths would twist, turn, and cross over others, making a 2D experience seem 3D. Guess that's why they call it 2 1/2-D, huh? Grabbing enemies and using them to double jump was an ingenious mechanic that would show up in every other Klonoa game released. Here's hoping Bandai Namco finds it in its heart to bring back the floppy-eared feline for a new game!

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