As you might have guessed from the title, I’ve been thinking a lot about the PlayStation One recently. Rather than type out a long-winded, boring introduction to the console, I’ll get right to the point and start on banging on about my long-winded, boring memories of the console itself.
Oh, fine. The PlayStation One, or the PS1, as I will now be referring to it as, hit the shops in Japan on the 3rd of December in 1994. Nearly a year later in September 1995, it hit America and Europe like a ton of bloody bricks. I can’t remember any of the hype for it, because I was only four years old, mind, but trust me, there was hype, alright? It was the world’s first proper console introduction to three dimensional graphics, so people were bound to be talking about it.
To veer off onto a brief side note, yes, I know that consoles and home computers were capable of producing 3D graphics before the advent of the PS1, but there’s a vast difference between 3D Monster Maze and something like Spyro the Dragon.
Since I can’t speak from memory, and this article is all about memories, I won’t talk about the launch period of the console itself. Instead, let’s fast forward to when I was first exposed to it. I can’t remember the exact date, because my ape brain was still developing, but it was somewhere in the summer of 1999, where eight year old me was bored shitless.
Now, bear in mind, I’d already played on a Nintendo 64. That great black brick was hoisted off onto me by one of my older brothers. I’d played Super Mario 64, so seeing three dimensional graphics on a television screen was not a huge deal. The advanced graphical capabilities were not the drawcard for me. Instead, it was the simple fact that I’d been a Nintendo gamer my entire life, and my young mind wanted to see what life was like on the other side. Cue my Dad, who must have been feeling especially generous, buying a PS1 to keep me off the streets for the summer holidays, or, as you call it in the US, the summer ‘vac-ay’. It came with a copy of Medieval, and a new fangled DualShock controller. New fangled because, yes, in their infinite wisdom, Sony thought that it would be a good idea to release a console that could run 3D games with a controller that only offered eight directional movement. Fortunately, they remedied that one pretty quickly.
One thing that it didn’t come with, however, was a memory card. The fact that you even needed one of those blindsided me. And, you know what? For absolutely ages, I made it work without one. Sure, it meant that I played the first few levels of Medieval to death, but somehow, I still managed to have fun. Medieval is just a good game, you know? I have the opening cutscene where Daniel Fortesque clambers out of his damn tomb burned onto my cerebellum. I don’t know why I didn’t complain about it, frankly. Memory cards weren’t enormously expensive, or anything like that. I think I was probably just grateful for the console itself.
I can’t remember every title that I played without being able to save my game. Crash Bandicoot was one, though, as I recall, that had a password system. Not that I could get very far in it, anyway. I wasn’t the most patient youth. I think that’s part of why I didn’t really care. Young me would rather play the beginning levels because they were easy and young me could easily do them, which gave me a nice sense of accomplishment.
One game did come along and make me yearn for a memory card, however. That game was Final Fantasy VII.
I don’t really have a strong memory of buying many games, but I remember the day that I acquired Final Fantasy VII very well. I’d had the PS1 for a few months at this point, and I’d played Medieval’s opening hours more times than any young boy should. I remember walking into the local game store with my Pa in tow. I remember exactly why I picked it up off the shelf. It had three bloody discs, that’s why. That was an absolute marvel to me, it surely must have meant that I was buying three games for the price of one. As my Dad took it to the register to buy it, the bloke behind the counter warned my father that the game had some bad language in it. My Dad, bless him, could not give two shits. He bought it for me anyway.
And thank fuck he did, because I’d say that this was the game that shaped me into the gamer that I am today. Final Fantasy VII was different than the other games that I’d played before. Not only did it have a touch of bad language in it thanks to Barrett, but it was gritty, it was adult, it had a plot line beyond ‘these dudes need to die, cheers.’ It had characters that you could name yourself, it had a combat system that relied on steady thought and tactics rather than reflex, and it had three whole bloody discs.
Despite that, of course, I was still crap at it. But my older brother was marginally less crappy than me. And my older brother had a job. Both me and him played through the opening hours of the game about half a dozen times before he came home one day with the accessory that the RPG demanded. He came home with a memory card. This, obviously, was an incredibly exciting moment. Finally, we could make it past Don Corneo and bust out of Midgar.
Since this article is called ‘Thinking About the PlayStation One’ and not ‘Thinking about Final Fantasy VII’, I’m not going to go into massive detail about how far I made it through the game. As a kid, I don’t think I ever got much further than the Red Dragon boss in the Ancient’s Temple. As a teen, of course, I’ve been back and finished it, and I’ve finished it again a year or two back as well. My brother finished it, though. I remember watching him beat the final boss and then, he immediately kicked me out of the room because I didn’t deserve to watch the ending. What a dick.
From there on, I recieved Final Fantasy VIII and IX as birthday or Christmas gifts. I can’t remember exactly when I recieved them, but I know that I had them and played the shit out of them. Neither was beaten by me as a youth. As a matter of fact, to this day, I still haven’t beaten VIII, and that’s not out of any kind of spite for the game. I just haven’t gotten around to it. One of these days, I will. Out of all of them, though? Final Fantasy IX is my favorite in the whole series. Again, due to the nature of the article, I won’t justify that statement. Not yet, at least.
There were other games that I played on the PS1. Ape Escape immediately jumps to mind. I had a great amount of fun with that game. Surprise, though, I didn’t beat it. I can say that for quite a few games, actually. I never beat Gex, I never beat whatever that game was with the green dinosaur creature in it, I didn’t beat the Rugrats game, I didn’t beat Simpsons Wrestling, though for that one, you can’t really blame me.
Seriously, though, what was that game called with the green dinosaur in it?
As a matter of fact, I’m trying to remember what games I actually did finish before I was a teenager. I’m drawing a complete blank here. But other than the odd rental title here and there, I was never really privy to the other ‘greats’ of the PS1. The thing turned into a Final Fantasy machine, for the most part, except for when friends were over. At that point, we’d play Mortal Kombat Trilogy very badly. A friend of mine knew all the inputs for the fatalities and whatnot, though, so that was cool.
I never played any of the other games that are considered classics, at least, not in my youth. I didn’t play Metal Gear Solid until I was a teenager and I decided to play through the entire series to see what it was all about. I never played a minute of any of the Spyro the Dragon games, even though they were easily rentable at the time, and, to this day, I still haven’t played them.
So, bringing an abrupt end to this article, those are my PlayStation 1 memories. I had a good time with the console. It’s not the defacto console from my youth, but it certainly was one of them, and I’m glad I had access to it.
Croc. That was it. I never beat fucking Croc, and that game was practically designed for a ten year old to be able to beat it.