Sony have unveiled the PlayStation Classic, a barely disguised attempt to cash in on Nintendo’s success with the NES Mini and SNES Mini. My immediate impression was that although the console looks lovely, the games from that era don’t hold up as well as those from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Chunky polygons are nowhere near as elegant as beautiful pixel art.
Nevertheless, there were some stonking titles on the original PlayStation. Sony have already announced five of the 20 games the console will ship with: Jumping Flash (which we nominated as one of the most underrated launch games of all time), Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms, Tekken 3 and Ridge Racer Type 4. All brilliant games, but here are the 15 titles I’d like to see round out the roster.
You’ve got to have a WipeOut game on there. The first game defined the PlayStation with its designer good looks and Chemical Brothers soundtrack. “Hey,” it said, “games are cool now, and adults can play them. Look, we got the Designer’s Republic to do the branding!”
But yeah, 2097 was a better game all round.
WipeOut 3 would also be acceptable here, there’s not much to choose between them.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The game that helped to define the Metroidvania genre. It didn’t sell too well on its release, as 2D gaming was deemed old hat by then – famously, the UK Official PlayStation Magazine criticised its ‘outdated’ visuals and awarded it 7/10. Ah, the benefit of hindsight.
The game goes for ludicrous sums on eBay now, and it’s only been ported a handful of times, so it would be amazing to see it on the PlayStation Classic.
From the same team that made Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story was a fondly remembered action RPG that seemingly appeared out of nowhere, wowed the few people who played it, and then disappeared into obscurity. Surely this has to be one of the most sought-after PS1 games.
As far as I’m aware, it’s never been rereleased, so what a boon it would be if this joined the PlayStation Classic line-up.
I reminisced about this crazily obscure Japanese game in a feature for Kotaku UK not long ago. It seemed to sink without trace at retail – even a crass marketing campaign featuring Jordan couldn’t save it – but it’s a unique and wonderful action game with a neat USP.
It basically takes the bombs from Bomberman but uses them in a sci-fi story set on a spaceship that can be teeth-clenchingly hard in places. The final boss fight is also utterly bonkers.
Gran Turismo 2
It would be unthinkable if Sony didn’t include a Gran Turismo game on the PlayStation Classic. The second game is basically like the first one but with more, more, MORE, so naturally that’s the one to pick.
But I actually spent more hours playing the first one back in the day – gradually tweaking my car to make it more and more powerful was addictive, and such a departure from the embarrassingly basic racing games that had come before it.
Resident Evil 2
Man, you HAVE to have a Resident Evil title on there, you just HAVE to. The series debuted on the PlayStation, which arguably remains its spiritual home. We’d seen nothing like it before, and although you could argue that Resident Evil wasn’t the first survival horror game, it was certainly the one that popularized the genre and spawned countless imitators.
Of the three games in the series that appeared on the PlayStation 1, Resident Evil 2 was without doubt the finest, so it’s a no brainer to include this one (pun intended). And seeing as there’s a remake of RE2 arriving soon, it would be a fine time to replay the original version.
By the way, I did a podcast about this game AAAAAAAGES ago – check it out here.
This highly regarded JRPG from Konami is now stupidly hard to get hold of, and its myth has only grown over time. People talk about it in hushed tones. “What? You had Suikoden II? What was it like? TELL ME GODDAMMIT!” The initial printing run was tiny, and sales of the game outside Japan were slow, so now original PAL copies are like gold dust.
The big draw is that you can recruit around 100 characters in the game, an utterly ludicrous number. Status: MUST PLAY.
Argh, the ghost babies. AAARGH. Silent Hill was genuinely nerve jangling and insanely creepy. The radio static that signalled the arrival of monsters always set my neck hairs standing on end, and the baddies were horrific. I mean, those nurses. And the ghost children. Don’t talk to me about the ghost children.
Even looking at the box art is making me nervous.
Parasite Eve 2
I never actually played Parasite Eve 2 at the time, but its reputation has grown steadily in the years since its release, and now it’s tricky to get hold of. It’s essentially Resident Evil but with RPG mechanics, which is an utterly delicious combination.
What a treat it would be to release this game to a wider audience.
Surely Tomb Raider is a shoo-in for the PlayStation Classic line-up – there are few other games that are quite as influential from that era. The only tricky part is deciding which of the five games released on the PS1 to include. Tomb Raider III was generally a bit rubbish compared with the others, although still playable, and Tomb Raider Chronicles was poorly received at the time (although that’s the only one of the five I haven’t played). Tomb Raider II didn’t quite hit the highs of the original for me, mostly because the settings weren’t as interesting (even though it had that cool speedboat bit).
That leaves the original game and number 4, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. TLR was an amazing return to form after the disappointing third entry, and the decision to set the whole game in just one enormous tomb was a brilliant one. But in the end I have to go with the original Tomb Raider because of this thing: DINOSAURS.
Here’s an old review where I discuss what made the first Tomb Raider so good. (Hint: it begins with D.)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Oh my god, the hours I spent playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 just trying to beat my friends’ high scores. We’d pass the controller after each run, gloating about particular insane tricks we’d pulled off, then watch rapt as a friend pulled off an even better set of stunts.
And it had a brilliant sense of humour, too – I loved that Spider-Man was a hidden character. And the music! It was so, so good. I would play this again in a heartbeat.
I reminisced about those fun times with THPS2 back on my old blog – oh, the banter!
Dino Crisis was criticised at the time for essentially being a reskin of Resident Evil – which, to be fair, it was. But what lovely, lovely skin. And there’s nothing quite as panic-inducing as being chased down a corridor by a velociraptor. OK, the plot made no sense, but hey, DINOSAURS.
I’d love to see a modern remake of Dino Crisis, or even a sequel, although it would be best if they ignored the frankly bizarre third game (dinosaurs in space? wut?). But until that happens, I’d happily play through the original again.
I never played G-Police at the time, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. The fact that it’s got a cyberpunk setting makes it perfect for a re-release right now, what with all the hoo-hah about Cyperpunk 2077.
In the game you pilot a jet helicopter in 2097 as part of a corporation’s private band of enforcers (corporations have taken over the police, all very cyberpunk, eh?), and for the time it looked absolutely stunning, really pushing the PlayStation to its limits.
There was a sequel, too – G-Police: Weapons of Justice – and I’d really love to try both of them.
OK, confession time. I don’t like Metal Gear Solid. I tried it, hated it, and I’ve never been back. Basically I’m not a fan of stealth games – I find them boring and annoying, which is why my playthroughs of Dishonored generally involved absolutely everyone meeting a grisly death while alarms blared in the background.
But there’s another Hideo Kojima game that I’m really interested in playing. Policenauts is a point and click adventure in the same style as Kojima’s Snatcher for the Mega CD, and as far as I’m aware, it’s never been released outside Japan. But what a coup it would be if it appeared on the PlayStation Classic! Imagine that!
Yeah, it’s never going to happen, is it.
Um Jammer Lammy
Chop Chop Master Onion may be one of the greatest characters ever etched onto silicon (“Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind! Now KICK!”), but the guitar playing in Um Jammer Lammy just has the edge over rapping in terms of fun factor. Also, Um Jammer Lammy is really fun to say. Umjammerlammy umjammerlammy umjammerlammy umjammerlammy umjammerlammy…
It was really tough deciding on these 15 games. Here are a few that almost made it:
- Bushido Blade – super-duper samurai simulator where one hit can kill if you’re not careful. Read about why it’s so good here.
- Colony Wars – amazing space shooter that spawned two excellent sequels and very few imitators. Follow the link for more thoughts on its greatness by my old mucker Ian.
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver – I actually played this on the Dreamcast, but until SEGA get their act together and release a Dreamcast Mini, I’ll leave it here. Utterly amazing game, MAKE A SEQUEL NOW. SOMEONE. PLEASE?
- Syphon Filter – keep your Metal Gear Solid, this is where the action’s at. Be a cool spy with a naff name. (Gabe Logan? Really?)
- Fear Effect – utterly class game that told an enjoyably complicated story.
- DOOM – DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! This was such a massive deal at the time, but it would only work on the PlayStation Classic if you could link two of them together for a bit of deathmatching, lik’ wat we used to do in de olden days.
OK, those are my picks, what about yours? Let me know in the comments!
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