If you’re anything like us, PlayStation will have been a part of your life for almost as long as you can remember. We have some great memories of Sony’s original grey box, and we figured it’d be fun to share those with you as the brand celebrates its 25th Anniversary this week. But this isn’t just about us: we want to hear your best PSone stories in the comments section below.
Sammy Barker, Editor
As a shy 7-year-old, I remember accompanying my father and brother to an event in Birmingham. I think it was in the upstairs area of an HMV, but it could have been an Electronics Boutique. This was the first time I saw a PSone in person, as lairy attendees whooped and hollered over a projected screen which I believe was running Ridge Racer.
I didn’t really understand the significance of the games on display that day; my mother and sister had split from us, and I knew they were going to Toys R Us to look at the Transformers figurines. I was hoping for Optimus Prime for my birthday, you see. I also somehow managed to spill one of the complimentary bottles of Pepsi on the carpet; I don’t think I’ve ever admitted to making that mess before. Sorry!
My brother would later purchase his own PSone, and we’d procure 50p CD-ROMS from one of my father’s work colleagues. Back then you had to put sticky tape on the disc tray to run the pirated software, which I became at whiz at. I obviously remember all of the classics like Crash Bandicoot and Metal Gear Solid, but in those early days Adidas Power Soccer was a favourite of my brother and I.
Designed to advertise the sports giant’s popular Predator boots, the arcade football title allowed you to perform special moves where you could kick the ball so hard it’d set on fire and literally push the goalkeeper over the line and into the net. I have fond memories of those early days, where gaming felt a little more like the Wild West, and you were never quite sure what you were getting.
Robert Ramsey, Deputy Editor
The PSone was the console that essentially introduced me to video games. As a kid, I had friends who enjoyed Nintendo and SEGA's offerings, but I never felt compelled to pick up a controller until I saw Tekken 2 running on my uncle's impressively large (at the time) TV. My cousin and her boyfriend had brought their PSone over to show it off, and I was immediately hooked.
That Christmas, I got a PSone of my own -- complete with Crash Bandicoot and, er, The Lost World: Jurassic Park because I was obsessed with dinosaurs. One of those games was a lot better than the other, but at that point there was simply no stopping my new favourite hobby.
Years later into the PSone's life, I'd go on to discover my love for role-playing games with Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. I can't actually remember which one of them I played first, but these titles showed me what storytelling could be in video games. Up until that point, I had been happy to mash buttons in Tekken and watch Crash jump and spin his way to victory. Suddenly, the medium seemed to offer so much more, and I was truly enthralled.
The PSone was a magical little console. Classics like Final Fantasy IX, Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, Crash Team Racing, and Tekken 3 all helped establish my expectations of games going forward, and looking back on them now, it's easy to see why I've stuck with PlayStation for so long.
Stephen Tailby, Associate Editor
My earliest memory of the original PlayStation is my cousin attempting to explain it to me. At the time, my family owned a SEGA Mega Drive, and I enjoyed playing the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Ristar, and Streets of Rage. I'm not sure if my cousin's explanation of Sony's flashy new console was poor, or if I simply didn't understand what he was saying, but I remember being confused about what a PlayStation was. Was it a place you go to? I recall it never crossing my mind that it was a games console.
Some time later, I returned home one day to see my Dad playing the Actua Golf demo on the machine's brilliant pack-in software, Demo 1. This is when it all started to click. He booted up the Crash Bandicoot demo, handed me this alien controller, and that was that. I've extremely fond memories of games like Spyro the Dragon, Driver 2, Tombi, and many more besides. I remember being flummoxed by WipEout's tough controls, swapping the controller with my sisters as we tackled Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, and honing my GunCon skills to a fine art in Time Crisis. We got a PSone a little later than launch and I missed out on some of the true classics, but I was fascinated by what I was playing nonetheless.
A feeling that I'll never get back from those early days is that of figuring out how much I liked video games. I knew I liked the Mega Drive, but the PSone was the machine to really kickstart my interest. Being in my formative years, playing these amazing titles and absorbing all the excitement surrounding this grey brick under the TV -- it was far too potent a combination. My fate was sealed.
Graham Banas, Reviewer
I got my start loving video games at a young age. For the first few years I only ever really played on a computer unless I was at a friend’s house. That’s when I started to notice there were a lot of games I really wanted to play on the PSone. So I proceeded to ceaselessly beg and plead with my Mum for one. For months. Eventually, she caved and we made the trip to GameStop to grab a used one as well as a few of the games I really wanted: MediEvil, Medal of Honor, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
What I didn’t know at the time, is that, while I liked PC gaming well enough, this magical little console would ignite a passion for gaming that burns hotter than a thousand suns and has no signs of slowing down. Ever since getting that banged up, used PSone, my love for games has never waned, and I’ve been nothing if not devoutly passionate about them for every moment of my life since then. So what if I’m the only person on the planet who never actually got a PS2. So what if my Mum totally kicked my ass at Mortal Kombat and to this day is better at fighting games than I am.
What’s important is that PSone kindled a great passion in me, and while I did rejoin the PlayStation family in the late PS3 era, that early time was magical in such an impactful way I can’t even begin to describe its significance. Which is why -- fast-forwarding some 20 years -- getting those same feelings from things like the true rise of VR or emotionally resonant experiences like The Last of Us, every so often, brings a tear to my eye. It all started with the number one.
Jacob Hull, Reviewer
I was late to the party with PlayStation. I was still playing on my trusty old SEGA Mega Drive until 1997. We weren’t exactly a rich family, so it took a lot to get my parents to invest money into a games console. We eventually picked one up at the tail end of ’97, but it was probably more for my dad than for me.
With Final Fantasy VII recently on store shelves and Metal Gear Solid’s Western release just around the corner (it was already out in Japan and it was making waves on the pages of Official PlayStation Magazine), this was around the time my Dad first picked up games.
For months after we got the PSone, 7-year-old me, still stuck in his ways, continued with the Mega Drive. I had been scarred by the nightmares caused by those distant roars of the T-Rex in The Lost World game. PlayStation was the scary console, and I’d been sent scurrying back to warm embrace of Sonic the Hedgehog many times before I took to Sony’s console. I remember my Mum pointing out, “He doesn’t seem to like the PlayStation very much – what a waste of money!” My dad, of course, sipping on the joys of Resident Evil, put her mind at ease: “He’ll come around.”
And I did, eventually. It was V-Rally that first got me hooked – those 3D graphics were to die for. And even though the game felt impossible to play as a kid – those cars swinging about like Waltzers at the fair – I kept coming back for more. Cool Boarders the same.
I think one of the best things to have come out of this time and this console for me, however, was how it became a shared bonding experience for me and my dad. We would play through Tomb Raider together – one of us with the controller, the other with the Prima walkthrough, directing the other.
To this day, these are some of my favourite memories, and I’m very thankful for them.
Despite being on opposite ends of the country, my father and I still share this common hobby. We play mostly solo, but we speak often about the games we’ve been playing, what we like and what we don’t. My childhood simply wouldn’t have been the same without PlayStation.
Jamie O'Neill, Reviewer
Thinking back to Christmas 1995, and first playing a PlayStation console, I'm reminded of good times hanging out with friends. We'd been gaming together for years -- I remember competing in California Games on the Commodore 64 during the 1980s -- and we'd gathered at my mate's house for my first real experience of 32-bit gaming.
However, I'd played a shop demonstration 3DO console, and the year before in 1994 I'd spent too much money on the technically stunning new sit-down Ridge Racer arcade cabinet, with the same group of friends on holiday in Cornwall. I was also hyped about the forthcoming 32-bit era from reading magazines like EDGE and Ultimate Future Games, but during the 1995 festive season nothing could prepare me for playing Ridge Racer on my friend's swanky new PlayStation.
My expectations were high for SEGA's Saturn, but the new PlayStation seemed like an underdog in the early 32-bit era in my eyes. SEGA and Nintendo were the big names in console gaming, not Sony. Yet, I couldn't believe that one of the most technically impressive arcade racing games I'd experienced was now running on a console in my mate's living room, just a year after the coin-op released.
Compared to Virtua Racing on the Mega Drive or Stunt Race FX on the SNES, the technical leap to Ridge Racer on the original PlayStation made my jaw drop. As the PS4 passes the baton to PS5 in 2020, I doubt a generational leap as visually striking as the move from 2D to 3D graphics from the 16-bit to 32-bit era will happen again. Funnily enough, if you asked my friends about their memories of that time they'd probably reply with stories about playing multiplayer Worms, not Ridge Racer. There were so many memorable Worms showdowns with exploding sheep and banana bombs that Christmas.
John McCormick, Reviewer
Our school trip in 1995 was to Lightwater Valley, which is the best Theme Park in the North East of England by virtue of the fact that it's the only theme park in the North East of England. There's two things I recall vividly from that trip. First, I was convinced that I was going to fall out of the pirate ship and meet a grisly, albeit hilarious end impaled on the novelty jolly roger flag pole below. Second, after that very real brush with death I gave rides a miss and threw a handful of twenty pence pieces into an arcade cabinet that would change my life: Tekken.
I spent hours playing Tekken. I'd never played anything like it. And so when it came time for a family outing to our local video game emporium to pick up a new console, we ended up going with a PlayStation instead of a Saturn despite always having SEGA systems in the past. We picked up the console, two pads, Tekken, WWF Wrestlemania The Arcade Game, and of course, Demo 1. I would love to know how much time I spent messing around with that dinosaur thing in Demo 1. Probably days.
Anyway, I have so many fond memories of my time spent with the original PlayStation. Joining Avalanche and stopping Sephiroth. Searching for my daughter in Silent Hill. Solving the murder of an eldery French man and uncovering a global conspiracy in Broken Sword. Replaying the demo of Metal Gear Solid over and over again to see if there was anything I'd missed. Holding my finger down on the taser button until the baddies caught fire in Syphon Filter. Gran Turismo taking up all fifteen slots of your memory card when you wanted to save. All fifteen. Ludicrous.
Hats off to the PlayStation; undoubtedly, one of the finest consoles of all time. Oh, and PSone classics on PS5 with Trophies, yeah? Do it you cowards.
Ken Talbot, Reviewer
Late 1996, my mother is kind enough to ask what I want from Santa. We didn't have a lot of money and we both knew if I asked for what i was definitely going to ask for, I probably wouldn't get it. I asked anyway. The contents of that month's games magazine was my secret weapon, which contained a detailed breakdown of an exciting new horror game called Resident Evil. I assured my mother that having the console with that particular game would teach me "lateral thinking" as it contained taxing puzzles and logic conundrums. I didn't know what lateral thinking was, I just loved video games and horror. She caved and made a significant financial sacrifice I'll forever be grateful for.
Scraping together pocket money and trading in all my cartridge based games, I'd go on to play all the biggest PSone titles. The console started my lifelong love affair with cinematic storytelling (Metal Gear Solid), JRPGs (Final Fantasy VII, VII & IX), simulation racing (Gran Turismo), and offbeat puzzle games (Kurushi, Kula World). The original PlayStation is a grey box full of happy memories and I cannot wait for number five.
Lloyd Coombes, Reviewer
I remember going to a school friend's house (around 1997), and him turning on the PlayStation. I'd seen the SEGA Mega Drive, but this little grey box had so much mystique -- where did the cartridge go? What were those shapes on the buttons for? Who is Sony?
We played Crash Bandicoot 2 for a while, and with every slapstick death animation, with every close encounter with an enemy, and with every Wumpa fruit claimed, I fell just a little bit more in love with the game -- and, by extension, the console.
That Christmas, this peculiar little box was top of my Christmas list, but it never came. Thankfully, on Boxing Day my parents and Grandparents revealed that they'd been saving for it. It came with Batman & Robin (based on the Clooney movie), and whichever F1 was current that year, but I spent two weeks playing the demo for Disney's Hercules instead. Finally, when my birthday rolled around just two weeks later, I unwrapped the first Crash Bandicoot -- kicking off my deep love of all things PlayStation and all things Naughty Dog.
Nat Eker, Reviewer
The first time I can recall playing a PlayStation was at my cousin's house, when we were around nine. Our only consoles were our archaic Game Boy Colors, so seeing this monster in action, with its 3D graphics and revolutionary voice acting, was mind-blowing.
It was actually my Uncle's system, and was therefore strictly off limits. So one night, we tempted fate. While the grown ups had their dinner, we snuck into the lounge, carefully disconnected the beautiful grey box, and connected it to my cousin's tiny television. We'd never heard of the game that was in the disc drive: Resident Evil. Huh. We assumed it had to be some exciting, adults-only game, so you can bet we booted it up.
The pitch black room was illuminated by a wave of red, followed by some truly unsettling music. I took control of Chris Redfield, and having zero idea what to do, wandered aimlessly around the mansion. Then, we saw it. That decaying, grey head, and those sunken eyes, turning towards us. He was eating something. We screamed, horrified by the sight of our first zombie. In a flurry of panic, we smashed every button, snatching the controller back and forth, and failing to fight back in any way. We could only watch helplessly, as our character was devoured by the living dead.
Though the first Resident Evil is now regarded as a campy pastiche of cheesy 70s horror films, then and there it was the scariest thing in the world. The only thing that we knew? We had to have a PlayStation.
Nicole Hall, Reviewer
I’ll never forget the day my Mum first sat me down in front of the tiny box TV in her bedroom and thrusted the PSone pad into my even tinier 8-year-old hands. After watching both her and my Dad dig into a steady stream of video games over the years it felt quite the undertaking to finally take up the reigns for myself. I was scared -- excited. I promptly found myself washed up on N.Sanity Beach and with a quick rundown of the controls I was off.
A great deal of gamers began their video game antics with Crash Bandicoot and my younger self was no exception and I’ll forever be grateful for the title that paved the way into my life of gaming. That said, although Crash may serve as the cornerstone of my love for the platforming genre, my fondest of PSone moments reside in memories of evenings spent nestled under a blanket with my Mum, teaming up against Baron Dante in Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.
It was the first time I remember truly connecting with a game. I was enamoured with the colourful level design, the comical enemies, and the cutesy little Gobbos (naturally). Even the soundtrack gave me chills and I vividly recall humming the charming tunes in the playground at school. I replayed the same levels over and over hunting for secrets I’d missed in hope of finding ways to savour the experience even more.
Looking back with a more mature pair of eyes that have sampled many a game since, it’s all too easy to pick at its questionable camera workings and general clumsiness. However, I'll forever be fond of the charm and sincerity it practically oozed and I fell head over heels in love with it.
These are our favourite PSone memories, but we want to hear yours in the comments section below. When did you first get your hands on Sony's magical grey box? What was your favourite game in those days? Let us know in the comments section below.