Five of My Most-Essential PlayStation Games

By @SpeedontheBeat

Alright, this isn't going to be an exhaustive list of the best PlayStation (PSone) games (or all of my favorites). If it were, I'd probably be here for hours and hours. However, as part of DAR Gaming Week, I've been tasked with speaking a bit on Sony's first successful foray into the console market ("successful" in italics to give a nod, of course, to the failed SNES-CD/Nintendo Play Station) and five of its most-essential games Released in 1994 in Japan, the PlayStation set the stage for one of the most successful series of consoles while breaking new ground by bringing disc-based gaming to the mainstream (and effectively led to the death of cartridge-based games). While technically not as powerful as the N64 or Dreamcast, two of the console's main competitors (the Sega Saturn was never really a threat, especially in the states), the little grey box cemented Sony's place among gaming juggernauts, especially because its extensive Japanese RPG (JRPG) library and accessibility.

So, with that backstory out the way, let's get into the list, which is presented in no order.

Honorable Mentions - Wild Arms: Even without my biases towards the series, you've got to give it to Sony and Media.Vision for creating a JRPG which contended with the Final Fantasy series--and SquareSoft as a whole, even giving it, in some ways, competition for fifth-generation JRPG supremacy. Was it flawless? Hell, no. The graphics were pretty bad, even by PSone standards, and the story was...basic. However, it was that little flawed engine that could which made other developers step their game up. And this game helped spark a pretty respectable ten-year-run in Japan (and elsewhere) through six games.

Syphon Filter: A game that's just as much a predecessor of games such as Splinter Cell as Metal Gear Solid and GoldenEye 007, this 989 Studios-published release was one of the first games of its kind. Blending traditional "spy" elements with Jack Bauer-esque baddassery, puzzle solving, and "out-in-the-open" stealth, the game opened up a world usually reserved for the movies. Plus, the story is Clancy-esque--without all the Clancy tropes people usually run from in his later stories.

1. Final Fantasy VII: Now, I know I've given this title its fair share of guff (most of it's warranted). But, you can't spell PlayStation without Cloud Strife. 1997's landmark JRPG was massive even by 2015 standards. Featuring a wide cast of characters and a pretty in-depth story, this was one of the games that helped sell PlayStation in its early days. Plus, "One-Winged Angel" is possibly one of the greatest video game songs of all-time.

2. Metal Gear Solid: Part-spoof of spy dramas and war games, part-all-the-way-serious look at war, peace, tactical sneaking, and all, MGS was a game that tested your knowledge and your patience. However, it rewarded gamers with a great, decades-spanning story line that is still being expanded on today. Additionally, Solid Snake (and his know what, just play the game and its sequels. No spoilers, dammit) is 

3. Madden NFL '99: Oh, you thought we were gonna talk video games without talking Madden?! For shame. Yes, for all the flak the series gets nowadays, there was a point in time where nothing--and I mean nothing--could top it, simulation-wise (and yes, that even includes its PSone rival NFL GameDay). When the series finally went full 3D with the '98 edition, it was a great moment. For the first time, players looked like people, not just sprites or blobs of polygons. While GameDay went 3D a year earlier, as I said, Madden was still king. It also featured a mode that's become standard in sports games the world over, Franchise Mode.

4. Resident Evil: The game that spawned, in some ways, the "survival horror" genre--and helped prove that M-Rated games that weren't Mortal Kombat could sell. It was as ingenious as it was frustrating, I'll say that much. But, it was a game that could straight-up scare the crap out of people while still giving a (pretty good) story. RE's success helped to bring about games such as Silent Hill, so the success of RE, even with its crappy parts, can't be overlooked. Its sequels tend to do more things right, but given that this game was released in 1996 and many elements of it not only hold up today, they're still being used today, that's saying a lot.

5. Crash Bandicoot. While there are a lot of platformers on PSone (such as the criminally-underrated Klonoa and the Spyro series), none reached the heights that Sony's Mario/Sonic-Killer did. It took all the things that "mascot games" tend to do wrong (I'm looking at you, Busby) and wiped the slate clean. Was it basic in some ways? Yeah, kind of. But, it was one of the games that helped establish Naughty Dog as a non-educational game (and crappy game--sorry, guys) developer, partly due to its attitude (without the "attitude"). It was fun and quirky without being overbearing and took itself just seriously enough. Plus, Without Crash, there'd be no Uncharted, no The Last of Us, and Hollywood wouldn't try to make lots of loot off Ratchet & Clank (seriously, Hollywood. Don't screw that one up!)


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