As most of you probably already know, this week the videogame industry celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of the PlayStation. Say what you will about the Sony brand these days, but back in 1994 they truly revolutionized gaming not only technologically, but they also opened up our minds to just what videogames were capable of. Little did we know at the time that it was just the beginning for the juggernaut we know as the PlayStation.
Sony had incredible foresight in the mid to late 90s when it came to knowing where the industry was heading and making sure they were at the forefront. The first time I put a CD in the PlayStation and actually heard the music coming out of the television, I nearly pooped my jeans. There are well over a hundred titles that are deserving of being on a top 5 list, there was something for everyone, and my list, while having some classic titles and all-time greats, will likely look different than yours. I wasn't an RPG player, so I'm sorry in advance, you won't see any Square Enix games on this list. If this were my wife's list, it would probably be nothing but Final Fantasy titles, and if it were my list...wait a minute, it is my list! With that being said, let's put some arbitrary numbers next to videogame titles and get this list started!
I really miss demo discs. Of course, with the advent of online services in the console space, their usefulness is basically zero these days. The demo disc shown in the picture above is the one that I played ragged. Every Saturday was pizza night at the Thomas household, and there was nothing I loved more at the time than a stuffed crust Pizza Hut pizza (hence the reason I was an overweight child). But on this particular Saturday, I got more than just cheese and bread stuffed with more cheese, I got the Pizza Hut PlayStation Demo Disc. I assume they just gave copies to everyone, because I had no idea it existed and my mother certainly wouldn't have asked for it. Inside the sleeve was a shiny green disc, and the contents of that disc were nothing short of awesome for one reason only: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
Yeah, it had four other games, and I tried all of them at some point, but they all paled in comparison to Tony Hawk's warehouse level with Goldfinger's "Superman" playing over top of it. Ape Escape seemed alright, Crash Team Racing was fine, Coolboarders 4 didn't interest me much because I had burnt myself out on the series with Coolboarders 2, and after dying on one of the first enemies in FFVIII, I said "This is stupid" and went back to busting out heel flips and trying my hardest to complete the "Holy Sh*t Grind." Of course, any time I mention THPS (or have an opportunity to plug something), I have to couple it with the story that my best bud, Chris, who is a co-host on my podcast, played the demo so much that he busted blood vessels in his eyes. If you want to hear that story, you can listen to it here.
Hang around me long enough and you'll come to find that I'm an avid sports fan. I grew up playing baseball and basketball, I've always been a football fan, and of course there's my wrestling career. But I hate golf. So why is it that I've always loved golf videogames? In early January I'll be doing a top 5 games of 2014 list, and there's a very great chance that Mario Golf: World Tour is going to be not only on the list, but very high on the list.
Hot Shots Golf was another game that I first discovered on a demo disc. The demo featured the last three holes on the game's first course, and I must have played those three holes at least fifty times. I knew I needed more, so I traveled to the local Funcoland and found a used copy for a very reasonable price. I'm not entirely sure, but this may have been the first time I ever purchased a used game. I remember bringing it home and on my very first 18-hole round, I got a hole-in-one. I don't know why, but it was one of the most exhilarating moments of the PSone era for me.
I'm really glad I gave that demo a shot, because to this day, I've owned every Hot Shots game and it's seriously one of my all-time favorite franchises. Unfortunately, the series seems to be mostly relegated to Sony's handheld platforms, but here's to hoping that the PS4 will one day receive an entry in their beloved golf series.
Car combat games certainly existed before the advent of Twisted Metal, but in my opinion, Twisted Metal is the undisputed champ (and if you're going to say something about Carmageddon or Vigilante 8 you can just go ahead and shut up). I played the original very briefly whenever my brother's friend would bring over his copy, and the three of us would always battle to the death, taking turns in the one-on-one mode. I wound up winning so often that I was banned from picking Hammerhead.
But when Twisted Metal 2 hit the shelves, it was practically the only game I played for months on end. I had to see all the different endings. I had to discover every little secret. And I never got tired of blowing up the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower. I knew where every health pickup was. I knew where every weapon pickup was and which weapon was going to be there. I knew how to evade and attack certain enemies. I even had strategies for every level, for instance, on the Antarctica level, I would teleport to the lone iceberg and just sit there allowing my special attacks to stockpile and unload it on whichever AI enemy was bold enough to use that teleporter to come find me. Today, we call that "camping", but back then it was called "conservation".
At times the game can be frustrating and can seem almost unfair, especially when fighting Dark Tooth, but you're always having more fun than anything else, so it's easy to forgive. The thing that makes the game so great are the different locations. You go everywhere from a New York skyscraper to the amazon to Hong Kong. There's even a Holland level which is completely flat with nothing more than a couple windmills for scenery. That may not sound interesting, but it somehow works, and is one of my favorite levels in the game.
After TM2, I didn't really care about the series much until Twisted Metal: Black on the PS2, which is an underrated gem. I haven't gotten a chance to play the PS3 version, and while I've heard mostly negative things, I'm still curious to play it at some point.
The original Resident Evil was the first survival horror game I ever played, and ever since then, I've been a huge fan of the genre. Then Resident Evil 2 came out took everything that was great about the original and ran with it. I also really enjoyed RE3, but it seemed like a step back. It went back to only having a single protagonist, back to only one scenario (down from the four you had with RE2), the monster designs were less inspired than before, and overall, while still a solid game, didn't grab me like its predecessor.
I've already swooned over this game in my Top 5 Resident Evil Games list, so I'm honestly struggling to find things to say about Resident Evil 2 without repeating myself. It's revered by many fans as the best in the series and is undoubtedly one of the best survival horror games ever. It's still 100% worth tracking down and playing today if you've never had the chance, and you can pick it up reasonably cheap on PSN.
Fans have said this for years, but with the upcoming remake of REmake, it seems like a shame that we only got an update of the original and not this one as well.
This is another case where I'm going to struggle to think of new things to say. It's pretty much universally agreed upon that Symphony of the Night is not only the best in the Castlevania series, but also one of the must have PlayStation titles. Some PlayStation games are hard to return to, but that's certainly not the case here. I actually didn't play SOTN until 2005, nearly a decade after it was released, and to this day is an all-time favorite of mine.
Symphony is one of those games that I find myself purchasing over and over again. Between the original PlayStation version, PSN, XBLA, the PSP's Dracula X Chronicles, and then again on PSN because I lost my original account (and because I wanted to be able to play it on the Vita), I've bought the game a handful of times.
It takes the best of the 2D Castlevania games, says "screw you" to the N64 titles, and brings us a massive castle so full of secrets that I've played the game at least a dozen times over the years and continue to find things I never had before on each successive playthrough. The replay value on Symphony is on levels unlike most other games, and the fun hasn't diminished at all in the past 17 years.
I had already owned a PlayStation for several years when Metal Gear Solid was released, but MGS renewed my love of videogames after I hit a lull in my favorite hobby. My friend David procured a copy of the Japanese demo, which only featured the opening dock and subsequent heliport sections of the game, and even though we couldn't understand a word that was being said, that small taste was more than enough to sell us on the game.
Metal Gear Solid was the first game I ever pre-ordered, and I had done chores and begged my mother for months to give me the extra money I needed to get the game on release day. I snatched up every magazine I could find that had MGS coverage. I had to see every screenshot and take in every piece of information I could get my hands on.
I had never played the original Metal Gear on NES, and I certainly didn't play Metal Gear 2, so to my knowledge, this was the beginning of the series. You can imagine how confused I was when Master Miller called me the first time or any time Outer Heaven was mentioned. I thought maybe those were things covered in the manual, but no, I was just in the dark about everything.
Metal Gear Solid began my love of stealth-action games. To this day, any time stealth is an option, that's the path I go for. In Far Cry 4, getting noticed during my attempts to liberate outposts results in me letting myself die immediately so I can try again at finishing it perfectly. My wood elf in Skyrim spent a lot of time crouching and shooting arrows from the shadows. Metal Gear Solid started it all for me. Never before had I played a game where I felt like I was outsmarting the enemy.
That first night with the game, I remember getting to floor B2 of the nuclear warhead storage facility. I came to an area with poisonous gas and an electrified floor and having no clue what to do. I called David, who had purchased the strategy guide, and asked him what to do. After destroying the fuse box to the floor, I came to one of the most gruesome cutscenes I had ever seen (at least, as gruesome as you could be with PSone technology). After seeing the cyber ninja literally dismantle a few genome soldiers, I was totally freaked out, and knew that was where I had to call it a day. I wasn't mentally ready to fight someone that hardcore.
I worked my way through the snow covered fields, the sterile laboratories, I figured out how to escape Snake's holding cell, and I conquered Metal Gear Rex. I thought that was the end, but little did I know that the best was yet to come (
There wasn't a moment in the game that I didn't love. I still play it on occasion, and I much prefer it over the "upgrade" they called Twin Snakes. I don't have anything against Twin Snakes, it was a noble effort, I just think it's inferior. Why try to improve upon perfection?
There you have it, my top 5 PlayStation games. I know there's going to be a lot of different opinions on a console that revolutionized gaming as much as this one did, but there's no denying it's impact on the hobby we're all so passionate about.
Thanks for reading.