In this week's Friday nostalgia trip, the HITC gaming writers share their personal PlayStation One favourites.
The PlayStation One celebrated its 20th anniversary this week causing many to think back to the 90s and the games that shone on Sony's maiden console. Over at HITC we've been kicking around the games that made the PS1 great and decided, in honour of its 20th year to share our more personal PS1 gaming experiences from back in the day. While it's been hard to single-out just one game from the PS1, (there are so many good ones) if a proverbial gun were placed to our heads here's the games we'd say were our favourites.
Matt – Wipeout 2097
Whenever we are talking about classic games, and especially those that defined a system, Wipeout 2097 is always my first port of call when it comes to the Playstation. The 1996 ultra-futuristic racing game was a major factor in Playstation’s huge rise to the top. The game featured insane graphics, fast paced racing, amazing weaponry and a soundtrack that was so up to date it helped to define an entire genre.
For me this was a must buy game back in the 90s, It was everything I wanted from a game in 1996. When I did finally purchase I remember going completely nuts, I was 13 after all, getting home, taking off the wrapper and getting that shiny black disc into the Playstation.
I was instantly struck by the stunning visuals, in 1996 this was as close to the future as you were ever going to get. I loved the design of the craft in the F5000 Anti-Gravity racing league and was stunned by their speed as I raced around the opening stage, Talon’s Reach. The tracks were a real eye opener too; gamers had become used to racing games essentially using the same visuals just with different shaped courses, Wipeout 2097 gave each course a unique back story and visual style, complete with advertising boards for Red Bull at every turn.
Finally I have to talk about the music. The soundtrack to 2097 sounded like the future and, in some respects, it was just that. Many of the acts on the soundtrack went on to shape the Dance and Rave scene of the late ‘90s. Comprising of Breakbeat, Techno and Drum & Bass, featuring artists such as Future Sound of London, The Chemical Brothers, Photek, The Prodigy and Underworld, this high octane sound made the racing all that more intense, whilst giving the game a position in popular culture that was unprecedented. The soundtrack was even released on CD and Vinyl and was hugely popular; I don’t believe I knew many people in the late ‘90s that didn’t own it. In fact it is one of the CD’s that I still spot in peoples collections to this day.
When you put all of these factors together it is easy to see why I have chosen Wipeout 2097 for ou rlist of defining Playstation games.
Steve - Tekken 3
I tend to go for fighters less these days but they were once a gaming staple. Having grown up with Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat on previous consoles, fighting games for me had always been the choice to get out when you had a lot of friends gathered round the telly. Not only did you have the ‘pass the controller around - winner stays on’ multiplayer, but if you were good you could flaunt how cool you were and stir up some frenzied competition.
There was a skill gap in those games though and bothering to master your Hadoukens and Fatalities set you apart from the newbs. What I like about Tekken, although some find it a bugbear, is that the button-bashers can put up a fight. Along came Tekken 3 and Eddy Gordo - affectionately dubbed ‘Legs Man’ by my gaming peers - the helicopter-kicking, button basher’s dream and a nightmare to face against as you’re bombarded by torrents of spinning legs.
If you were a practiced Tekken master, fighting Legs Man and other button bushing flukers, you could still show off though, it’s just newbs could win the odd fight and so not ragequit and still want to stay in the game.
Tekken 3 also had great graphics at the time and after playing previous Tekkens it felt like the formula had been honed perfectly. The headroom was lower and juggle combos worked better, you could sidestep adding a bit more three dimensionality and the pace of the action was faster and more fluid.
The reason I'm calling out Tekken 3 as my favourite PS1 game is down to the fact that its the fighting game I’ve spent most time with. I could be bothered to get really good at it and put a lot of time on practice mode to learn the move-sets. I loved the almost musical. 'slow, quick, quick, slow' of the 10 hit combos and the methodical way you began to approach fights as you mastered a character's moves.
Tekken 3 also brought in some of my favourite characters from the series. Bryan Fury, who I’m convinced is a homage to Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of Replicant, Roy Batty in Blade Runner, the Tae Kwon Do kick-master Hwoarang - who felt like a more hardcore version of Baek and Xiaoyu, my go-to character in subsequent Tekkens as she is fast, ticksy and can slap you hard - her ‘straddle your head and punch you in the throat’ move is always satisfying when you pull it off.
Plus Tekken 3 had Force Mode, certainly one of my favourite minigames, the side-scrolling of which took me back to the Double Dragons and Streets of Rages of the arcades, except now you had a whole tonne of moves. Beat Force Mode enough times and you unlocked Dr. Bosconovitch - difficult to master, but devastating if used right. Like the flatulent Gon, Bosconovitch provided a bit of comedy relief in Tekken 3 - he’d spend a lot of time lying down and stumbling about only to pull of a nasty uppercut, or you could make him sit down and slide along on his backside. I love those silly add-ins you get with Tekken, something that’s evolved into dressing up your character with the most stupid outfit possible.
Below is Bosconovitch doing his thing - hearing the music again takes me back, the metally, breakbeat stylings are very reminiscent of the time, kind of like a low-rent Wipeout soundtrack
Adam – Final Fantasy VII
I may have admitted this before, but I’ll do it again, just so you’re up to speed. I have never finished a Final Fantasy game. Ever. And this makes me both sad, and takes away some credibility as a Final Fantasy fan.
I love the series, I’ve played most of the games, but have yet to actually complete one of them to the very end. I usually start to play, and then get side-tracked onto something else, and by the time I’ve come back to play the FF game, I’ve forgotten what was going on, where I was, why I was there etc. And I like to know all of that stuff, so I start the game over again. But, I still class Final Fantasy VII as one of the most stand-out games on Sony’s original PlayStation, despite not finishing it.
Not only was FFVII the first in the entire series to use 3D graphics, but it was also the first in the main series to be released in Europe. Meaning I first got to play it back in 1997, the same year it was released in Japan.
FFVII used the PS1’s power to great effect, with brilliant FMV sequences, gorgeous-looking turn-based battles, and the Summon animations were always a joy to watch every time.
I could go on and on about the game’s graphics, and how they were ground-breaking at the time, or even the music, which is incredible – especially the boss fight music. But, for me, it’s the story, the setting, the characters, and the gameplay that kept me coming back time and time again, in my attempts to finally finish it. A few times I made it to the final encounter of the game, but god only knows what distracted me so much that I never got around to actually completing it all those times.
I will finish a Final Fantasy game one day, they’re all on my bucket list, so I have to. But I want the first one to be FFVII, it holds such a special place in my memories, along with its world and characters.
Here’s an almost 10 minute tribute video to the game. Don’t watch it if you want to avoid spoilers as it’s packed full of them. It’s more for those who have played and want that sense of nostalgia.
So those are our favourites from the PlayStation One. Jump in and let us know which game's you loved most on the console.