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Happy 20th birthday Playstation! Here are some of the moments that helped shape it

Feeling old yet?

Image: Wikimedia

IT’S HARD TO think what the videogame industry would be like if Sony wasn’t involved.

When it launched the Playstation this day twenty years ago, few could have predicted the effect it would have on the industry, both with games and their cultural influence.

While there are many many moments to choose from to mark the occasion, here are a few of the more memorable games and each console release that occurred during its lifetime.

Note: With the exception of 3rd December 1994, all dates provided are when each game or console arrived in Europe.

3rd December 1994 – It begins

Before the Playstation arrived, the biggest consoles were the Super Nintendo and the Sega Mega Drive. Both devices were reaching the end and their respective companies started working on next generation devices.

Sega tried prolonging the lifespan of the Mega Drive with two add-ons, the Sega CD and 32X, which were not only failures, but marked the beginning of the end for its console plans, while Nintendo started experimenting with Sony on a new CD add-on.

While that deal fell through, it helped paved the way for the original Playstation, which was first released in Japan this day 20 years ago before arriving in Europe and the US in September 1995.

Seven games were part of the launch including Ridge Racer and Wipeout, the latter boasting a soundtrack which included the likes of the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy and Manic Street Preachers.

Source: chaosruins/YouTube

1st November 1997 – Cementing a cultural icon

Lara Croft was already known from the original Tomb Raider, but it was the release of its sequel that cemented not only the series, but Lara Croft as an icon.

This marked the first time the series was only released on one console, the original game appearing on the Sega Saturn. Before the sequel arrived, Eidos Interactive signed a deal with Sony to make console releases for the Tomb Raider series exclusive to the Playstation. Through this partnership, three more games were released for the console.

Other series made themselves at home on the console including the Final Fantasy series, Tekken, and Resident Evil appearing on the console.

Source: ladycroft214/YouTube

3rd September 1998 – Games start becoming cinematic

When it came out, Metal Gear Solid was a breath of fresh air in a sea of generic action games.

The game was directed, produced and co-written by Hideo Kojima who already had experience telling stories through games like Snatcher, but Metal Gear Solid was one of the first games to expose a wider audience to such cinematic experiences.

With the combination of 3D graphics and voice acting, and the inclusion of stealth-based gameplay which added a degree of tension to the game, it was an instant hit and regarded as one of the most important games created. It would be much later until another game had the same effect.

Source: Jack Gordon/YouTube

1st September 2000 – Rhythm games get a new lease of life 

Rhythm-based games aren’t exactly an original concept, Parappa the Rapper came out a few years earlier, but Vib Ribbon managed to do something different with it. Since the game was loaded into the console’s RAM itself, players could put in their own music CDs and play levels based on those tracks.

The concept of playing tracks that everyone knew became a feature of future games like Guitar Hero and Rock Star, and even non-music games like the GTA series which included official soundtracks.

Source: CrocodileFunkee/YouTube

4th March 2000 – The PS2 arrives

The original Playstation did a great job in establishing Sony as a real competitor in the gaming space but the PS2 took this a step further.

At the time, it genuinely felt like a real jump in quality as it competed against Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube. It also ended Sega’s console days as it prevented its last console, the Dreamcast, from gaining any real traction.

640px-PS2-Versions Source: Wikimedia

22nd October 2001 – Grand Theft Auto gains an extra dimension 

The Grand Theft Auto was always a notorious series, despite having a well-realised and open-ended world, but until then, it operated within a top-down 2D viewpoint.

The third edition of the series brought the series into 3D and while it it was a solid effort in hindsight, it set things up for Vice City and San Andreas, two of the most iconic games to come from the series.

Source: AndromedaDude/YouTube

22nd March 2005 – It’s all about the set-pieces

If there was one term needed to describe God of War, it’s ‘set-pieces’. The game was full of them and it never gave you a breather until you reached the end. Within moments of starting, you’re up against a giant sea monster that fills the screen and from there, it would constantly up the ante again and again.

It also had a fantastic soundtrack too, which only added to each moment.

Source: temujin9000/YouTube

17th February 2006 – Games get better at storytelling

A sparse world, few cutscenes and even fewer enemies. It’s sounds like a recipe for disaster but Shadow of the Colossus packed an emotional punch.

The plot of resurrecting the one you love is clichéd, but the giant lumbering monsters you have to slay, the guilt you feel as you kill each one, and the subtle but important changes to your character were some of the reasons why it was so memorable.

Source: ToP ShoTTA/YouTube

23rd March 2007 – The PS3 arrives

After the major success of the original Playstation and the PS2, there was pressure to make the PS3 even better and more successful than ever.

This console faced greater pressure not only in the form of the Xbox 360, but it had to deal with Nintendo’s resurgence in the form of the Wii. It may not have experienced the same runaway success like its predecessors, but it still played host to some fantastic games and held its own.

640px-PS3Versions Source: Wikimedia

26th November 2008 – User-generated content takes a step forward

It had been a long search for a mascot despite the likes of Crash, Spyro and others appearing on the console, but it wasn’t until LittleBigPlanet that Sony found one in the form of Sackboy.

Beneath the sweet exterior lay a complex level editor that has resulted in millions of user-generated levels being created, many of them going past the game’s traditional platformer roots. The game’s success resulted in another two sequels being released, the latest one only arriving last month.

Source: DynamiteJack76/YouTube

24th February 2010 – Further experimenting with storytelling

Whether your opinion on quick-time events, Heavy Rain still managed to tell a great and compelling story and at the very least, should be commended on its attempt to make storytelling interactive. The inclusion of multiple endings meant that you could justify a second or third playthrough.

Source: MahaloVideoGames/YouTube

14th March 2012 – Games as an art form evolves

Similar to Shadow of the Colossus, Journey manages to cram so much into what can initially appear to be a sparse game. Your objective is to traverse the desert and make your way to a mountain in the distance, but how you get there, and meetings other players (but only being able to communicate to them via musical chimes, and the art direction makes this another emotional experience.

The game won several ‘game of the year’ awards and was even nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media in the 2013 Grammy Awards.

Source: SuperPowerBrosTV/YouTube

14th June 2013 – Cinematic gaming is redefined

Similar to what Metal Gear Solid did back in 1998, The Last of Us has set the standards for storytelling in a game, and it’s hard to see any story-focused game topping it any time soon.

Compelling lead characters and writing, and tight gameplay meant it was a memorable experience from start to finish, and stuck long in the memory after you completed it.

Source: PlayStation/YouTube

29th November 2013 – The PS4 arrives

It’s barely a year old, but it’s been a good debut for the PS4. It’s sold more than 10 million consoles worldwide, outselling the Xbox One and Wii U and is currently preparing itself for the Christmas season.

While some may have criticised its launch titles (and current lineup), its success so far suggests that Sony and gamers don’t seem to mind.

1280px-PS4-Console-wDS4 Source: Wikimedia

3rd December 2014 – Happy 20th birthday

To commemorate its birthday, Sony is releasing a limited edition PS4 using the same grey style from the original Playstation. This model will be limited to 12,300 units worldwide, which is supposed to reflect the launch date of the original Playstation.

Source: sonyplaystation/YouTube

Read: A brief history of the Sony Playstation >

Read: Happy birthday Nintendo! The gaming giant is 125 years old today >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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