We were not ready: the PlayStation turns 15

Sony logoThere was a time when Sony's entry into the world of gaming was far from assured. When the PlayStation One was announced many claimed it was a fool's errand, and that only Nintendo and Sega could do well with gaming hardware.

1995, it stands to point out, was a very different world.

After saving for almost a year I finally had enough for the PlayStation and a few games, along with one of these new-fangled memory cards. The PlayStation games would come on discs, you see, so you couldn't save your game directly to the cart. Despite my friends' laughter at the purchase, I felt like we were looking at the future. Looking back, we certainly were. The PlayStation was one of the most popular systems of all time, and helped usher in modern gaming. Happy Birthday.

Sony PlayStation

This was supposed to be an SNES accessory

The Play Station (as it was originally called) started out as a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo, until the deal was broken in a very public way and Philips entered into a similar partnership with Nintendo. The Philips and Nintendo combination ended with some terrible licensed games on the CD-i platform and nothing else. Sadly for Nintendo, Sony was infuriated by the double-cross and vowed to enter the gaming market. Rarely has revenge tasted so sweet.

Sony made all the right moves. The system was powerful, and did 3D very well. It was simple to code for. The CD media was inexpensive to mass produce, a stark contrast to Nintendo's cart-based Super Nintendo and later Nintendo 64. It came in at a lower price point than its immediate rival, the Sega Saturn, which featured a tricky dual-processor design that made it difficult to program for. Sony was often accused of dissuading publishers from releasing 2D games in order to push the 3D aspects of the system. These restrictions were loosened over time, but the company made its point: the PlayStation became known for 3D games, and looked more advanced than its competitors

Sony began hyping the system with a brash, striking set of TV ads that ended with the now infamous "You are not [e]" tagline, with the "e" written in red. When you preordered your console you were given a disc filled with music. When the PlayStation One was released on September 9, 1995, you could insert said disc into the system to view a number of videos, including the legendary T-Rex. This was mind-blowing stuff back in the day.

Who could forget the rest of the tricks? After you loaded up Ridge Racer you could remove the disc and put in your own audio CD to race along to your own music. If you swapped out discs while using a pencil eraser to fool the system into thinking it wasn't open, you could play imported games. Audio CDs could be played with an interesting visual program running in the background, and many audiophiles still believe the PlayStation is one of the best CD-players available.

The tide turned, and the medium helped become the message

Final Fantasy VII development began on the Nintendo 64, and there were even some screenshots and video available, but Square ended up taking the title to Sony to take advantage of the extra space the PlayStation's CD-ROM drive gave developers. This was a major blow to Nintendo, especially when the gorgeous two-page print ads mocking cartridge-based systems began showing up in the gaming magazines. Final Fantasy VII was a massive hit, and helped to sell the gaming public on the PlayStation. Owning Sony's hardware was no longer optional; these were the games to play.

What other games defined the PlayStation era? Too many to list, but some of our favorites were Jumping Flash, Parappa the Rapper, Einhander, Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Symphony of the Night, Soul Blade, Bushido Blade, Suikoden, Intelligent Qube, Gran Turismo... dear God, I'm going to go spelunking into my collection this afternoon to play these again.

The PlayStation One was the first console to ship over 100 million systems. It was redesigned with a smaller case later in its life. The fact its games could be played on the PlayStation 2 was a major selling point, giving Sony's successor system a major boost. The secondary market for PlayStation games and hardware is still strong, with many collectible games.

The PlayStation One was an incredible system filled with wonderful games, and we invite you to share your own memories of the hardware and software in the comments. Happy Birthday, PlayStation One, PSOne, PS-X, or whatever you want to call it. We still love you.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Sony

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