The 20 most important games on PlayStation One

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Launched on 3 December 1994, the Sony PlayStation ruled console gaming for five quite astonishing years, introducing 3D visuals to the mass market and hosting dozens of vital game design innovations.

This is not a “best of” PlayStation list. These are 20 titles that originated on the machine and either helped drive it to 100m sales or provided a lasting legacy to the industry.

Have a read, try to calm down for a few minutes, then add your corrections in the comments section …

20. Jumping Flash (SCE/Exact Co, 1995)

Imagine Crash Bandicoot crossed with Mirror’s Edge and you have this early, impressively experimental first-person platformer in which a robotic rabbit named Robbit (of course) must explore 18 worlds collecting missing jetpods. Released a year before 3D platforming legend Super Mario 64, Sony’s title gave gamers a fascinating hint at what was to come.

19. Einhander (SCE/Squaresoft, 1997)

Back in the mid-​1990s, it was widely assumed that the scrolling shooter would die out, but then Squaresoft created the awesome Einhander, which combined 3D polygonal spaceships with scrolling backgrounds, and featured a claw that let you steal weapons from enemy spaceships. As the likes of Geometry Wars and Resogun have subsequently confirmed, no modern console is complete without a good shmup.

18. Intelligent Qube (SCE/G-Artists, 1997)

With its state-of-the-art graphics processor, the PlayStation didn’t seem like a sensible home for abstract puzzle titles, until Intelligent Qube (known as Kurushi in the UK) came along. Here, players must clear each stage of giant cubes, while looking for bonuses and trying not to fall into oblivion. It’s a complex challenge, and it paved the way for other puzzlers like the equally thoughtful Devil Dice.

17. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (Eidos/Crystal Dynamics, 1999)

Sequel to the 1996 action adventure Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Soul Reaver is a hugely atmospheric vampire thriller, where the player moves between the apocalyptic realm of Nosgoth and its shadowy spectral plane. It’s filled with challenging puzzles and great story-telling, but more importantly it united Amy Hennig and Richard Lemarchand, two of the key designers behind the Uncharted series.

16. Ape Escape (SCE Japan, 1999)

True, this gaudily bright 3D platformer is about traveling through time capturing cheeky apes to protect humanity, but don’t let that lull you into thinking it isn’t sophisticated and innovative. Because it is. Developed at Sony’s Japan studio it’s the first PlayStation title to require the new Dualshock controller – the left analogue stick controlling movement, the right handling all the gadgets. A series of sequels followed, as well as a cameo appearance in Metal Gear Solid 3.

15. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (Activision/Neversoft, 1999)

Neversoft’s thrilling skateboard sim combined a ridiculously intuitive control system with a wonderful open-world structure, giving players a true sense of being in a skate park, pulling off cool moves. Released during the pinnacle of the extreme sports boom, the game quickly became a post-pub staple, giving players the freedom and flexibility to show off to each other without breaking their legs.

14. ISS Pro Evolution (Konami/KCET, 1999)

Although Konami’s superlative footie sim has its roots in the publisher’s 1996 title Goal Storm, it was in this, the fourth title in the confusing “Winning Eleven” series, that the real magic happened. Improved animations, fluid player movement and the in-depth Master League mode worked together to produce the most compelling and authentic football game so far. This was the beginning of the glorious PES era.

13. Dance Dance Revolution (Konami, 1999)

Konami had been experimenting with music action games for a couple of years with its DJ sim Beatmania and frenzied strum-’em-up, Guitar Freaks, but Dance Dance Revolution was its masterpiece. Players move their feet on a touch-sensitive mat in time with onscreen directions, competing against pals and falling over a lot. The series ran for several years popularising the rhythm action genre and preparing us for the likes of Just Dance and Dance Central.

12. Medal of Honor (EA/Dreamworks Interactive, 1999 onwards)

Designed in conjunction with Steven Spielberg and inspired by Rare’s N64 classic Goldeneye, Medal of Honor created a new genre of cinematic military shooters, designed around highly choreographed set-pieces. After the 2002 instalment, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, 20 of the staff left and formed their own studio, Infinity Ward, creator of Call of Duty. So there’s that too.

11. PaRappa the Rappa (SCE/NanaOn-Sha, 1996)

Designed by idiosyncratic genius Masaya Matsuura with art by Rodney Greenblat, PaRappa is a wonderfully weird musical adventure that eschewed contemporary obsessions with visual authenticity and thematic darkness in favour of karate-kicking onion teachers and lovesick rapping dogs. The follow up, Um Jammer Lammy, is equally sublime.

10. Wipeout (SCE/Psygnosis, 1995 onwards)

With its Designers Republic iconography and trendy club culture soundtrack, this space craft racing title exemplified Sony’s determination to capture the 20-something crowd. Beyond the hype and Chemical Brothers beats, it was a challenging weapons-based shooter that just kept coming back to enliven subsequent PlayStation machines.

9. Driver (GT Interactive/Reflections, 1999)

Before Grand Theft Auto III hit the PS2 like a cannonball made out of cocaine and bullets, the original PlayStation got this thrilling open-world crime adventure, which had players going deep undercover as a cop trying to trap gangland hoods. The knockabout handling and authentic reproduction of US cities made Driver the ultimate interactive car chase movie.

8. Crash Bandicoot (SCE/Naughty Dog, 1996)

Envisioned by Naughty Dog founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin in the middle of a roadtrip, Crash Bandicoot was enthusiastically adopted by Sony, which was still lacking a platforming character to go up against Mario and Sonic. With its brash comedy, likeable lead and daft plotting, the game was a smash hit, proving that PlayStation could be a family machine when it wanted.

7. Tekken (Namco, 1995 onwards)

With its intuitive combat system, sharply textured fighters and ridiculous operatic narratives, Tekken provided a feisty competitor to Sega’s more complex and demanding Virtua Fighter series. Originally developed for the arcade using Namco’s System 11 technology (basically just a PlayStation with more RAM) the game provided a seductive graphical showcase for Sony’s machine.

6. Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft, 1997)

Sony’s coup in teasing Squaresoft from its exclusive Nintendo relationship was a major controversy at the time – as though Roy Keane, at the height of his prowess, had left Man United for Liverpool. But the game was a spectacular success – a thrilling steam punk odyssey, following spiky-haired eco-warrior Cloud Strife and his ragtag gang, facing the evil Shinra corporation. With its likeable characters, rich combat system and ​oh so much drama, the game defined the modern RPG experience.

5. Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996 onwards)

Intended as a modern take on Capcom’s little-known supernatural adventure Sweet Home, Resident Evil is effectively an interactive B-movie, combining the expressionist terror of George A Romero with the gory zeal of Lucio Fulci. Although famed for its terrible voice acting, Resident Evil set in place a fiendish blueprint – combining jump scares, puzzles and low-resource combat – that inspired a whole generation of survival horror classics.

4. Metal Gear Solid (Konami/Kojima Productions, 1999 onwards)

The game that popularised the stealth adventure, MGS, is a unapologetic collision of cinematic hubris, anime narrative complexity and silly gaming in-jokes. Creator Hideo Kojima says he got the idea for stealth from the destructible barriers in Space Invaders. Wherever it came from, it changed game design forever.

3. Gran Turismo (SCE/Polyphony Digital, 199X onwards

Shifting more than 10m copies, Polyphony Digital’s racing simulation radically altered the concept of the console driving game. Providing hundreds of realistic car models and a detailed series of driving tests, it demanded serious skill from players rather than arcade twitch-n-drift instincts. It was also a genuine system seller, with thousands of petrolheads purchasing successive PlayStation consoles just to play this one series.

2. Tomb Raider (Eidos/Core Design, 1996 onwards)

Yes, the original game launched on Sega Saturn, too, but Core Design’s archeological adventure came to symbolise the PlayStation era. Lara Croft was the perfect protagonist for the nineties, pleasing to the gloating lad mags, but also strong and resourceful enough to provide a role model for a new generation of women gamers. From Face Magazine cover shoots to Lucozade adverts, she was everywhere, helping to legitimise games as a cultural medium.

1. Ridge Racer (Namco, 1994 onwards)

The game that effectively launched the PlayStation was a super-slick racer converted from Namco’s cutting edge arcade original. With its texture-mapped polygonal car models, its slick framerate and its rousing score, the game thrilled early adopters. Four years later, a graphically improved remake was packaged with the brilliant Ridge Racer Type 4, reminding many of why the PlayStation was so exciting at launch. It felt like the future.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 13.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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