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20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Today, I am feeling a bit nostalgic. As this piece is being published, I’m likely headed to an airport in order to head to Sony’s PlayStation Experience event, and I can’t help but reflect on the past 20 years that this event is meant to be celebrating. This week marks the 20th anniversary for the PlayStation brand. In tribute to this, I got the Gaming Trend staff together to talk about our experiences with PlayStation, spanning 20 years, four consoles, two handhelds, and thousands of games.

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Kenneth Shepard

Having been a Nintendo kid all my life prior, I had no idea what a PlayStation was when I unwrapped my first one on Christmas day when I was five.

Along with some Namco Museum compilations, the game my family got with the system was Medievil. At my young age, the game scared me to the point where my father was the one who played it while I watched. It was funny to get the game’s remake nearly 14 years later on my Vita to find the game was actually humorous. As years went by, my brother and I would go rent a ton of games for the system on a weekly basis. However, none were more influential on me than Insomniac’s original Spyro trilogy.

When the PS2 generation came around, I had started off with a GameCube because my brother and I were in desperate need of Sonic Adventure 2. My sister eventually got her own PlayStation 2 for her birthday so she could watch DVDs. Here I played the very formative Final Fantasy X/X-2 and Kingdom Hearts, and my taste in games started to shift into story and character driven ones. After my sister moved out, my mother bought me my own PS2 for Christmas, and Sly 2: Band of Thieves. To this day, Final Fantasy X and Sly Cooper remain some of my most cherished game experiences, and if I hadn’t gained such a fondness for Sly Cooper in particular I may not have stayed a gamer. This is because after making the jump to Xbox 360 I found myself having all but abandoned the PlayStation brand for a large portion of that generation, much to the delight of my fanboy-war-enthused friends at the time.

Over time, my love of gaming waned because nothing on the 360 was meaningful to me for many years outside the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. But when Sony announced that it was reviving Sly Cooper with Thieves in Time on PlayStation 3, I knew I had to buy the system. In buying that system I played games like The Last of Us, Uncharted, and Infamous that gave me that same connection to games that I had with games like Sly Cooper, Final Fantasy X, and the original Spyro games. I found games that were not only fun for me to play but had stories and characters that stuck with me even after I hit the power button. I eventually got the Vita on launch day, and through that system I found Persona and Danganronpa, two of my favorite Japanese franchises that will likely stay with me forever. The release of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and seeing characters like Sly, Nathan Drake, and Sir Daniel Fortesque all coming together was a reminder of everything I’d nearly given up by neglecting the PlayStation brand for so many years. My love for games that was gone for so long came back.

Now, I love games again and frankly, I have PlayStation to thank for it. Because without it, I probably wouldn’t be playing games so passionately anymore.

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Niko DelValle

Well, you know me. PC Master Race (argh). But I have some pretty fond stories of my own. I used to be primarily a console gamer, and one of the first consoles I remember playing was the original PlayStation (also, the Dreamcast, but that’s a story for another day). The first game that really captured me on this new piece of hardware was a game entitled Medieval. It had a wacky main character, and a nifty little atmosphere that drew me in immediately. From that day forward, for the first time in years, my old Nintendo 64 that had kept me busy for years sat around gathering dust whenever I had the time to game as I explored the glorious splendor of games on the PSX.

Resident Evil Director’s Cut provided me with my first horror experience, and of course it scared me because I was little and impressionable and not disturbed by the awful voice acting and terrifying (in all the wrong ways) script. The original Tomb Raider games caught me, and I played them quite a bit. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a constant distraction. I even had my first love for an RPG in Saiyuki: Journey West.

There were more, and I become originally dedicated to a lot of long running franchises on this platform. I kept playing Resident Evil and Tomb Raider for instance, but I also got my initial taste of a series that would become one of my absolute favorites. Ace Combat. The series got me from the first time I picked up one of it’s game, with it’s arcade sensibilities making it the most fun I’d ever had flying around an advanced military fighter jet.

Years later, when I received the PS2 a few years after it’s release. One of the first games I played was called Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies. This was so far beyond my expectations. I’d expected another fun diversion flying around fighter jets that looked better on my new hardware, but the game was so much more than that. It was the first time I experienced the story of a video game rather than just saw it.

Even back then, I was an avid reader and I knew I loved storytelling. So this compelling and well-written tale really got to me, and it made me realize that games really had potential to be more than just fun distractions. Ace Combat 4 was a piece of art, and the following Ace Combat entries on the PS2 proved no different.

It wasn’t the only one that really proved this to me however. Sure, there were also PC games like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic that got this message to me as well. But so many of these experiences were PS2 games. Kingdom Hearts, Fahrenheit, Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid 2… There were also many examples of gameplay itself being intrinsically so interesting and fun that the other elements could’ve been awful and I still would’ve loved them like with Star Wars Battlefront II or Onimusha.

As you can imagine, by the time the PS3 swung around, I was absolutely enamored by the PlayStation brand for being the platform so many of my favorite games were on. It took two years to convince my mother to buy me one, but on Christmas 2008 I finally unwrapped the new device for the first time. A lot of the games my mother had bought were pretty awful to say the least, but the one game that salvaged it all for me was a gem called Valkyria Chronicles.

From there I played so many games that shook my perception of what games could be even further than those I had played in the PS2 days. I played the Uncharted series, something I swiped some money from my mother to buy (it was worth the yelling, I paid her back double). I played Assassin’s Creed II and Batman Arkham Asylum, Demon’s Souls and Dragon Age: Origins… among so many others. I had a blast.

By the time the Vita swung around, I was convinced that Sony couldn’t keep revolutionizing was games meant to me. Then I was first introduced to the Persona series through Persona 4 Golden and I figured out that there would never cease to be a new surprise in video games no matter how long I lived.

While I’m no longer one to get invested in brand names or the word delivered to me from many companies, the PlayStation brand will always hold a special place in my heart. It doesn’t matter how long I put off buying Sony’s newest hardware, eventually they will release something groundbreaking that will force me to step away from my PC and absorb myself in whatever they have created this time… and I will love every second of it.

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Matt Welsh

I grew up in a Nintendo household. As the oldest sibling, I was given an NES console for Christmas when I was just two years old and immediately took a liking to many of Nintendo’s early franchises. This trend continued as time went on and new consoles released. The Super NES, and later the Nintendo 64, defined most of the gamer that I am today.

When I first got to experience the original PlayStation at a friend’s house, I was a bit confused. This console was an altogether different experience than what I had previously grown accustomed to, and as a result, PlayStation just felt foreign to me. Sure, I played some fun games like PaRappa the Rapper, Final Fantasy VII, and Monster Rancher, but nothing managed to capture the same magic that I had experienced while playing a Super Mario or Legend of Zelda title.

As I transitioned into my teenage years, I decided to purchase an original Xbox shortly after its launch, to compliment my GameCube and make me a multi-console owner for the first time ever. I didn’t stop there, though; I soon decided that in order to properly appreciate gaming, I needed to make the PlayStation plunge and before long, I purchased a PlayStation 2. It was not much later that I finally grew to enjoy PlayStation. Most titles may not have had the childish charm of Nintendo, or testosterone-fueled action of Microsoft’s Halo, but there was something to enjoy about Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Kingdom Hearts. My gaming habits were still transitioning in Microsoft’s favor, but I finally appreciated the PlayStation brand.

As the transition to the next generation began, I unwaveringly chose to put my full attention towards Xbox 360. PlayStation 3’s early life was a rough one, to say the least, as the console launched with an enormous $600 price tag and very little to offer in terms of exclusives. I knew I would buy one eventually, but became too absorbed by my 360 (mostly achievement hunting) that it wasn’t until years later that I picked up a PS3. I was glad I did; PlayStation 3 may have lost a lot of market share, but in the second half of the last generation, Sony came out with some of the most memorable experiences of the last decade. The Last of Us, Uncharted, Little Big Planet, and Infamous were not only some of the best PlayStation games I’d ever played, they were some of the best games period.

By 2013, when the torch was being passed to the PlayStation 4, I decided to make it my go-to console. A year later, I now own all three major consoles of the generation, but still consider myself a PlayStation gamer first and foremost. It took me almost twenty years, but I have finally grown to the point where I not only enjoy the PlayStation brand, I cherish it. I may have missed out on many of the best PlayStation classics from generations passed, but I plan to make up for it when it comes to great exclusives this generation. Cheers to 20 more successful years!

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Stefan Alexander

I remember playing my dad’s Commodore 64 and collecting NES cartridges. My brothers and I used to take turns on the Super Nintendo playing Street Fighter 2 and looking for secret passages on Star Fox. But I think my real videogame addiction began with the PlayStation.

Around the time of the PS1 launch I was pretty big into PC gaming. Games like Duke Nukem 3D, Red Alert, and the original, top down Grand Theft Auto had the graphics and grownup subject matter that I was craving, and up to that point the PC was the only place I could get it. The PS changed all that. All of a sudden I was detonating my friends in Twisted Metal and gunning for Nazi head shots in Medal of Honor and I could do it all while slouching on the couch, far away from the sterile confines of my computer desk and chair.

The PlayStation was also my first introduction to emotional and cinematic gaming. I’ll never forget the shock I felt the first time I witnessed Aeris’ fate in Final Fantasy 7 and playing through Metal Gear Solid still remains one of the best film experiences I’ve ever had.

Twenty years ago the Sony PlayStation forever changed the way I view videogames. It took something that I once thought of as mildly amusing entertainment and made it into what, I believe, is the ultimate form of delivering and receiving artistic expression. Over the years, I’ve shown my appreciation by camping outside, overnight in cold Best Buy parking lots, loyally choosing their consoles over cheaper or even more popular systems, and by continually pouring many countless hours into my unabashed videogame addiction. It’s been a long time, and a lots changed since then, but I still can’t wait to see what Sony does next with the PlayStation.

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Patrick Rost

Even though Nintendo was always my main squeeze, there was something mysterious and a little dangerous about other gaming systems. The original PlayStation was the most mysterious mistress of all for a young gaming gentleman such as I, and I approached it with caution. I never wanted to own a PlayStation, I just wanted to play other people’s and see what it was like.

I never played many of the big name titles for the system, but I played tons of small-time titles and childish nonsense games that were easily forgotten after a few plays. I truly wasted the time I had to enjoy with the PlayStation, missing out on all of the Final Fantasy titles, the original Metal Gear Solid, and many other great games that that little white beast had to offer. After years of seeing what I had missed and was missing on the PlayStation, I knew I couldn’t make the same mistake with the PlayStation 2. As Christmas approached, I demanded that we get a PlayStation 2.

I got my wish, but only for a fleeting month or so, when my father decided that he was more impressed with the Xbox and traded in my PlayStation 2 I had come to love for one. Again, I was stuck in a cycle of watching others enjoy what PlayStation 2 had and not getting to have it on my own. So, instead of moping around and being a total lame-o, I decided to buck up and get a PS2 on my own.

I saved and scrimped and got just enough to buy a used PS2 and a game called Phantom Brave. It was life affirming. I played Kingdom Hearts for the first time and was floored. I enjoyed Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, and the other games I had missed for the original PlayStation for the first time and was resolved. The games made me smile, and they made me cry. It was a spiritual moment in gaming history for me. It was, in a few small moments, gaming perfection.

While the PlayStation 3 is a special machine for me for professional reasons, that PlayStation 2 is really the most memorable and fun experience that I’ve ever had with any gaming system. There were a lot of terrible games for the PS2, but most of the one’s I enjoyed were instant classics. For a RPG lover such as myself, it was the perfect crossroads of old-style RPG gaming and updated graphical ability. I believe it will be the final machine to boast a high volume library of such games, and that will always be a bittersweet factoid for me.

Looking back and reflecting on how the largest majority of my life has been spent playing a PlayStation machine, it’s really amazing to consider the impact that Sony has had on my gaming experience. Many of my favorite games are Sony created, and many others in that list are available only on the PlayStation. This next-generation around, I finally got wise to what I like to play and didn’t mess around with another console from another company. I went straight for the PlayStation 4. So far, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way things are working. I hope that Sony and the PlayStation continue to grow and get better, and that I can write another blurb of praise for the pairing in another twenty years.

20 Years of Play: Gaming Trend Reflects on PlayStation

Eric Van Allen

My family has always been a gaming one; from our NES and Saturn up to the Wii, there’s always been some sort of gaming machine in the living room. The first machine I could call my own, though, was a Playstation.

At the time, I was actually a little miffed. Most of my friends had an N64, so I was a little surprised to see that Playstation come home. My dad had bought it on a recommendation from the guy at the store, and to this day, I thank him. We started it up and put in the first game we had, a lesser-known Squaresoft title called Chocobo Racing. Like Mario Kart but with Final Fantasy characters and less rubber-banding, Chocobo Racing was a staple for my group of friends.

As time went on, I delved deeper and deeper into the Playstation catalogue. Valkyrie Profiles, Lunar: Silver Star Story, Monster Rancher Battle Card Episode 2, Final Fantasy IX, Ape Escape… I mean, there’s too many to go on. These games were deeper than the Sonic and Mario I was used to, and filled with actual characters and stories!

Then came the Playstation 2. I stand by it to this day, the PS2 has the best overall catalogue of any gaming system. If I was going to trace back my roots and find where my current gaming tastes came from, the PS2 would be the most to blame. Final Fantasy X set me on the path to RPGs, Dynasty Warriors got me into character-action games, and Star Wars: Battlefront was, and still is, one of the best multiplayer shooter experiences I’ve had. Kingdom Hearts easily became one of my favorite series of all time, and I only have Sony to thank for that.

I skipped the PS3 in favor of 360, but having just recently picked up the PS4, I can say that Sony seems like they’re on the right path. It’s a shame some of the standards of the olden days have yet to make a strong appearance on Sony’s platforms. Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV have been brewing for a while, and Naughty Dog has yet to make their PS4 debut (besides Last of Us: Remastered).

Even two decades is a long time, in an industry where consoles rise and fall throughout the years. Outliving so much of their competition with a strong catalogue of games, I’d like to spend Sony’s 20th thanking them for making my formative years of gaming so wonderful. Here’s to another 20!

So what memories do you value the most from PlayStation? Let us know in the comments!

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