Last Wednesday was the anniversary of the first PlayStation, a console that helped change the video game industry. It’s CD support attracted several publishers to release exclusives for Sony while Nintendo was still using cartridges and it was more than a video game console since it could play music CDs. To celebrate the consoles anniversary this weekend ChompRetro, writer, Lamont Lindsey and I are sharing article about PlayStation’s history and his personal experience along with it.
The origins of the PlayStation go back to the mid 1980s, when Sony and Nintendo were attempting to collaborate on the creation of a compact disc-based gaming system. A dispute between the two companies led Nintendo to eventually partner with Phillips, leading to the release of Nintendo games on the Phillips’ ill-fated CD-i game console. Sony later tried to partner with Sega but was rebuffed, sparking Sony’s decision to make a gaming console on its own.
Originally called the “Play Station”, the space between the names would later be dropped before Sony released its new video game console in Japan during December of 1994. The following year, the PlayStation was released in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Part of the fifth generation of consoles, the PlayStation would see major competition from the Sega Saturn and the Nintendo 64.
During the 90s several companies were using mascots for representation to market their software/hardware. Mario with Nintendo, Sonic the Hedgehog with Sega and Mega Man with Capcom, Sony was lacking in this area. In 1996, Naughty Dog introduced us to the cartoon marsupial Crash Bandicoot. Originally, Crash was planned to be a game for all of the consoles at the time however before its release Naughty Dog’s co-creators (Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin) agreed to make the game exclusive to Sony based on Rubin’s observation, that Sony was new to the market and missing a mascot.
“I made the audacious decision that because Nintendo and Sega already had mascots, we would make our game for the Sony PlayStation.” GI International
Crash was an edgy character smothered with humor. He had an attitude like Sonic but his game was always compared to Mario 64 however Crash Bandicoot was more linear it had the difficulty and game design to rival the Italian plumber. Crash Bandicoot and its sequels became best-selling video games for PlayStation video games. Crash eventually came out with more competition outside of platforming, starring in his own party and racing games.
During its near 12-year tenure, the PlayStation (and all its incarnations, including the Dual Shock edition and redesigned PSOne) became one of the most successful systems in video game history, and effectively established Sony as a giant of the gaming industry. It is the first system to meet and exceed the 100 million unit mark with over 102 million units shipped, and has well over seven thousand games (from all regions) in its library.
After the success of the original PlayStation, Sony continued to make more gaming products under the PlayStation brand. To date, the company has released four more home PlayStation consoles (the PS2, the Japan-exclusive digital video recorder PSX, PS3, and most recently, the PS4), two portable systems (the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita), and even a phone, the Xperia Play. I perhaps should give the PocketStation a mention, which was a tiny handheld device that functioned as a memory card and was capable of playing mini-games. The PocketStation was released only on Japanese shores, but made a comeback as a free Vita app last year.
Thoughts from Lamont
I believe the first time I saw the PlayStation was on this GamePro magazine cover showcasing the then new wave of gaming machines. Upon reading the magazine’s cover article detailing the new systems, I was initially disinterested. The Walkman company making a video game system? No thank you.
Later on that year I started to see some of the advertisements for the system and I became intrigued. Sony ripped out all the stop signs for its marketing campaign, creating ads that ranged from boisterous (“It’s more powerful than God”) to bizarre mascots (Polygon Man). Ultimately what snared me were the “eNoS Lives” and “U R Not e” (You are not ready) lines which appeared in some of the ads here in the states. The latter was easy to figure out, but the former left many of us puzzled. I remember some of GamePro‘s readers wrote into the magazine with possible explanations for that one, the most memorable of which involved a space exploring chimpanzee.
Once the console debuted, I was impressed with its launch titles, particularly the original Tekken and Ridge Racer. A few years later I was given my first PlayStation, the Dual Shock edition, as a Christmas gift in 1999 was overjoyed. At the time it was the most powerful console I owned, and the first one that I was awestruck by its capabilities in graphics and sound.
Perhaps my fondest memories of gaming on the console was playing Street Fighter Alpha 3, Driver, and Die Hard Trilogy. I’m a huge fan of Street Fighter, and Alpha 3 was my favorite in the franchise save for Street Fighter II. Driver, with its 3-D graphics engine well-sized cities, was awesome to play,and one of my favorite driving games at the time. Die Hard Trilogy was a special case, though. Admittedly, that game perhaps took up too much of my time during the summer, but it was a blast. All of the original three Die Hard films adapted into one game? Yes, please.
I eventually sold my PlayStation a few years after I got it to get funds for a personal computer I was building (which later shorted out; silly me), a decision I still regret. However, my freshman year of college I bought a backwards-compatible PlayStation 2 to replay those PS1 classics.