Nostalgia #1: P.S. We Love You
Of course, when we say P.S., we mean Playstation. This June, E3 will have the Los Angeles Convention Center packed full of eager gamers very ready to watch the unveiling of everything new—but front and center is very likely to be the PS4, announced just three weeks ago. In anticipation, my first Nostalgia piece will take a look back at ten beloved games across all the Playstation platforms. [Start]
Spyro the Dragon
Now I know for a fact that it’s nearly impossible to select just ten games from across all the systems, so I do my best—but I think I’d be nuts to ignore this brilliant homage to platformers. Who’d have thought a little purple dragon that can’t fly (except for those challenge levels) and a dragonfly would be the next Mario, the next Sonic. I guess it’s no crazier than an Italian plumber or a hedgehog, though.
But here we stand today with Spyro gliding fondly across our hippocampus, whose homeworlds and originality would later inspire such unique platform games as Vexx for the Xbox. Spyro had groundbreaking graphics and proved the true potential of fully 3-D platforming gameplay, with fair difficulty increases that managed to never cross that invisible line of throw-your-controller impossible while maintaining a skill prerequisite.
Even Rayman was jealous, and I believe Spyro remains a trademark Playstation image, and as cozy and familiar as Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, Twisted Metal, and other series that deserve honorable mentions anytime one discusses this article’s titular system.
I can’t think of anyone who isn’t fascinated with or impressed by dinosaurs. Especially since the late and great Michael Crichton released his novel JurassicPark, and eventually helped adapt his work into the screenplay Steven Spielberg would evolve into Jurassic Park. One of the most memorable films of all time, it’s basically Jaws with dinos, but the incredible work of many artists created a legend.
Likewise, Resident Evil was a fantastic collaboration of artists, whose zombies and puzzles could arguably be considered to have spawned the entire survival horror genre still used today by strong releases such as Red Dead Redemption’s DLC Undead add-on.
These two trailblazers of aesthetic mediums contributed to the creation of Dino Crisis, which therefore is basically Resident Evil with dinos, and that is just incredibly addicting. True, this game follows after JP, Resident Evil, and Turok, but its flawlessly overlapping genre and plot situations—including multiple endings based on choices—sustains itself as a classic of its own right. Also, you can move while you aim your gun.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
I don’t know how many Street Fighter fans are really out there, or reading this, but this was the first game in the Alpha series to feel as truly memorable as the classic Street Fighter or SFII. With Isms, Guard Power Gauges, and World Tour Mode, this game included a fantastic roster of familiar characters, and simply played well.
The gameplay felt so much cleaner than previous renditions of the game, as if SF had finally reached the modern age of gaming, and who didn’t find it hilarious when you or your opponent got a “Cheap” win? Sure, the game is low on the best-selling list of Playstation games, but as far as the SF series goes, this was possibly the last gem.
Now I’m getting even more obscure. But if anyone else ever played this, you’d know that concept trumps graphics just about every time. There’s plenty of games with pretty explosions and jaw-dropping graphics today that can still be outdone by Primal Rage or Pac-Man. This racing game allowed you to punch people to punk rock while skateboarding, biking, rollerskating, or snowboarding all around the world.
To be honest, this mention was tied with Street Sk8er 2, whose soundtrack alone is worth a playthrough, and unlike 2Xtreme’s terrible graphics, this one had mediocre images and concepts. If anyone played this game too, they remember smashing boxes to Citizen King’s “Better Days (And the Bottom Drops Out)”.
Final Fantasy VII
What, you thought I forgot? I’ll bring the PS1 back home with one of the most popular games ever played on the system—Final Fantasy. The first of the series to use 3D, this was the seventh installment, but far ahead of its time either for Playstation or the video game world in general. Everything you want in a video game is here: plot, graphics, originality, function, score—well, not to be redundant, it’s what GameFan said. There’s hardly any reasoning needed here, and the game has often outshined even its sequels.
Here goes Square Enix again. At least, they were Square when they began. But they’ve been anything but an outcast these days. Oh, that’s right–I said I’d stop with my lame jokes. Anyways, Kingdom Hearts successfully convinced the gaming world, primarily guys, to have fun with Disney at just about any age. Characters from Final Fantasy actually showed up here, and though our protagonist Sora has seen six sequels, it all started here on Playstation 2.
There’s no doubt about it that high concept games climb their way to the top, no matter what their influences were. Just like Dino Crisis, here we have another flawlessly overlapped genre—Disney and Final Fantasy—which became a phenomena all its own.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Racing games have a gigantic bane, and that is redundancy. With the exception of graphics, you have to be one smart game developer to actually set yourself apart from the crowd. There’s only so many cars, only so many tracks, only so many concepts to use—most of which have been exhausted by now. See what I did there? Alright, I’ll stop while I’m not ahead.
But here’s a prime example of what exactly to do. Being on the run from cops, however imbalanced their difficulties can be, what with the gargantuan chasm between easy and difficult they leap, has proven incredibly addictive. This kind of street racing atmosphere is more fun and entertaining than any Fast and Furious movies, which would be just fine if there weren’t any actors involved.
Gamers like fast cars, and allowing us the opportunity to outmaneuver cops is practically a dream come true, especially with the tactics they use which creates obstacles besides that one turn you hate. Most racing games are about knowing the track, and so long as you know it, you can beat just about anyone. This time around, skill goes beyond that, and insists that you really know how to drive, too.
Resident Evil 5
By the time we hit PS3, we’ve come a little to close to present to be very nostalgic. Most games by now are comprised of sequels, few staples that have their beginning here. I’m afraid I won’t be counting Red Dead Redemption, because despite a very interesting look and attitude, the plot is tired, the gameplay moves slowly, and I’m not a big fan of the combat slowing down for you to hit your targets.
So instead I’ll be mentioning Resident Evil 5, the best-selling game of the franchise. The racist controversy behind the game seemed mostly absurd to me, although the reasons didn’t go over my head. I’m just sure no one would be so obliviously stupid as to encourage racism in one of the most enduring game series of all Playstation.
Zombies aren’t really the enemies this time around again, which is again a loss, but I suppose allows for more original gameplay. Either way, it at the very least manages to revive better than any other sequel the original feel of the original, with graphics that extend far past the horizons of its predecessors.
So, in its own way, the video game is itself nostalgia enough for a series that’s made just as many films as games—and quite loyal fans, too.
Ah yes, here we are with the very last system. Guessing what games I’ll choose? You may be surprised.
Star Wars Battlefront II
So, the best ratings this thing ever received were on PS2, but what the hell do critics know anyways? Critics are pretty much professional haters. It’s what they do. Now, I’m fairly certain that most of us consider portable systems as something to outgrow, but Star Wars fans generally do not outgrow their love of star wars.
I look back kindly on this game the way Godzilla fans love Kaiju movies despite their terrible dubs, rubber suits, and toy tanks. Traversing familiar locales from the trilogy, the PSP version does an excellent job of functioning well with the restrictions of the system, especially for snipers. And no one gets tired of headshots. It feels so rewarding!
With a couple choices for single battles such as CTF—a wonderful staple for any shooter—and just a straight up game of war are actually quite dynamic, and the opportunity to suddenly play as a Jedi or even Darth Vader mid-game is a neat little touch. The story is completely absent, but as far as portable FPS games go, this is a nifty release that despite satisfactory gameplay never once felt redundant.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Here’s a sequel to God of War, which could just as easily have been mentioned under PS2 if not for my limit of Ten games. Here, we have one of the greatest PSP games ever made, everything 300: March to Glory ever wanted to be. I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek mythology, and this is a series that preemptively explored it—before the trend.
Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, 300, Immortals—all of these films followed the original God of War. Somehow the era just caught on, and we’ll be seeing sequels to both Percy Jackson and 300. Chains of Olympus released in 2008 for the PSP, and has been hailed nearly unanimously as not only the greatest action game for the system, but outstanding for any game of the PSP.
Hack-and-slash can become as numbing as your run-of-the-mill button smasher, and it’s no easy task to rely on the genre as the only foot your game stands on. It just doesn’t make the cut anymore. This game is strong in plot, authentic to many Greek mythological journeys in vein of Jason and the Argonauts, and even classic tales. And I’ll tell you this: a story with a great story is on its way to becoming as memorable as Chains of Olympus.
Whew! Now that was a long retrospective. But, does anyone else feel like setting up the old system just for one more run? Or are you too busy playing COD and Halo 4. It’s possible, no one would blame you. But thanks for joining me for the first Nostalgia piece, where I’ll be writing the series to remind us of games we used to love, and still do!