Feature: Celebrating the 18th Anniversary of the PSone
Posted by Jamie O'Neill
Happy Birthday, PAL
Hip-hip-hooray, because today is the 18th anniversary of the original PlayStation console, as it was released on the 29th September 1995 in Europe, just twenty days after it was made available in North America. Therefore in the UK, at the age of eighteen, the PAL PSone can legally participate in a champagne tipple, so we raise our glass in celebration of PlayStation’s landmark birthday.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing. It enables us to revel in Yoda-like glory from our expertise, as we reflect upon Sony’s achievements based upon almost two decades of knowledge and experience. However, it’s worth remembering that in 1995 Sony weren't guaranteed success, because SEGA still possessed potential with the Saturn and Nintendo was a relatively unknown quantity as a rival, with the delay of the Ultra 64. Push Square has covered in detail how Sony clambered over significant stumbling blocks on PlayStation’s road from concept to 32-bit powerhouse, in our feature that explored and investigated The Making of the Sony PlayStation.
As early as August 1994, issue 11 of EDGE magazine included PlayStation as part of its cover feature, back when it was still referred to as the PSX based upon its project title. The magazine was already optimistic about Sony’s first foray into console development, and there was a sense of clarity in their crystal ball as they forecast that “with a Japanese launch less than six months away, and a hardware spec turning the heads of the world’s best software developers, EDGE wonders if this could be the start of something really big".
Considering that it was only fifty pounds cheaper than the hotly anticipated PlayStation 4, and allowing for inflation, 1995 wasn't the cheapest time to purchase a swanky new console. A shop called Gameplay in Yorkshire advertised PlayStation in the November 1995 issue of CVG as “The world’s most powerful console”, selling it with a competitive price tag of £279.99. Just two months after the September launch this marked a prevailing price reduction, by twenty pounds in magazine adverts, as retailers competed to reduce the £299.99 price to a more attractive £280.
The graphical presentation of the original PlayStation may appear visually antiquated, as Sony demonstrated in a video highlighting the technical progression from PSone to PlayStation 4, but we shouldn't forget that PSone was flexing serious muscle for a console in September 1995. For gamers who had raced away their summer in the arcades, it was an impressive conversion of Ridge Racer that represented a striking technological leap forward from the 16-bit era. Namco's port stood out even when compared to a Super FX chip enhanced SNES racer like Stunt Race FX, or the 32X conversion of Virtua Racing Deluxe, both released in 1994.
Ridge Racer sat at the podium alongside WipEout in a PSone launch line-up that included first-person platform game Jumping Flash!, a new polygon presented depiction of 3D Lemmings and a one-on-one weapons fighter, called Battle Arena Toshinden. Perhaps most interesting of all, from a retro gamer’s perspective, was a 2D run-and-gun game called Rapid Reload. This launch title took inspiration from games like Contra and preceded Metal Slug. However, it was relatively under-appreciated as sprites were flickering out of fashion, so it has not yet been re-released on Europe’s PlayStation Store.
Pleasingly, it wasn't just the launch day titles that made the PSone a tempting purchase, but a steady flow of games unleashed before Christmas 1995 ensured that the console had a strong early library. Namco was particularly active, with Tekken beating Battle Arena Toshinden to a pulp just two months later, which sold well alongside its release of Air Combat at the end of 1995 (Ace Combat in Japan). In December 1995 Ubisoft's colourful, stylish and challenging platformer Rayman proved that 2D games could still garner praise and attention, in a gaming landscape increasingly obsessed with polygons.
It didn't escape our attention that Push Square’s readers possess nostalgia for the original PlayStation console, especially as you voted it as having your favourite PlayStation startup sequence. Push Square will continue to celebrate the eighteen year anniversary of PSone between now and Christmas, by providing PSone reviews of a number of key releases, with a focus on games that are available on the PlayStation Network. Each weekend we will shine our retro spotlight on a new review, starting with launch titles like Jumping Flash!, WipEout and Rayman. We’ll also tiptoe and shiver our way through a selection of spooky PSone game reviews, so prepare to tremble at 32-bit depictions of terror, later in October.
What are your most cherished memories of the PSone launch? Are you surprised that the £349.99 PlayStation 4 launch price is only fifty pounds more than the £299.99 price tag of the original PlayStation? How do you think that the PSone’s launch line-up compares in diversity and quality to the PlayStation 4’s initial games? Let us know in the comments section below.
Did you purchase an original PlayStation in September 1995? (38 votes)
Duh, of course I did
I purchased the console later in its life
I never owned a PSone
Please login to vote in this poll.