18 years of fun: Happy Birthday PlayStation

"In addition to playing arcade games like Ridge Racer in the comfort of your own home – probably a favourite memory of many gamers, the games that stood out for me were Final Fantasy 7, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid and Medal of Honor," recalls Majesco Europe's Marketing Manager, John Merchant.


"It was also a real hotbed of creativity - from titles like Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid to cult favourites like Parappa The Rappa."

And let's not forget the game that really put PlayStation on the map (and on the cover of now defunct style bible The Face). Eidos' Tomb Raider created one of gaming's first major female heroines in Lara Croft and combined elements of 3D action, platforming and puzzle games in ways that many have copied but few have matched since.

So those were the games that we remember. And in terms of the hardware, it seems almost quaint now, but for many the simple fact of having a CD player for the first time was a massive added-value bonus with the first PlayStation console. Let's not forget, for those of us who were floating through our student days around that time, we were still listening to a lot of our music via cassettes and even those funny old vinyl disc things.

However, before we get too carried away, let's also not forget that there were also a few glitchy "lows" with the first PlayStation console. Most notably the annoying necessity of "having to turn the PlayStation upside down to make games run" as Alistair Hatch recalls.

The first PlayStation hardware also wasn't quite up to the task of delivering any truly great first person shooters. "Medal of Honor was nice – but it wasn't quite Goldeneye," as Majesco's John Merchant so eloquently puts it.

Though that of course was all soon to change with the arrival of PlayStation 2…

PlayStation 2

Sony PlayStation 2 / PS2 Slimline / PSX

  • Launched: Nov 2000 (UK) / September 2004 / December 2003 (Japan only)
  • Cost on release: £300 / £150 / Not available in UK
  • Spec: 64-bit 'Emotion Engine' CPU, 6th generation games console
  • Main competitors: Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Game Cube, Microsoft Xbox
  • Units sold: 138 million to date
  • Biggest title: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (over 17 million copies sold)
  • Lifespan: Sony to support through till 2012

Us Brits were a little bit late to the PS2 party. Fashionably late, we like to think. In retrospect, at least. This was all thanks to Sony mis-allocating its worldwide stocks of the console and thus being forced to put back the massively-hyped launch to November 24, 2000 in the UK.

Despite these launch hic-cups (something Sony seems good at!) and protestations from UK gamers at the time, the machine went on to become the best-selling games console in history.

As with all new Sony hardware, the PS2 was priced at the top end of the console market at a whopping £300. The same price as the original PlayStation at its early 1995 UK launch. Even so, the quality of the first-party and third-party games on offer soon after launch meant that Sony soon saw off Sega's Dreamcast to become the dominant sixth-generation games console.

Favourite games?

"This is a real difficult one to choose," says Bethesda's Alistair Hatch. "I was fortunate enough to be working in the industry at the peak of the PlayStation 2 lifecycle and sharing a house with others working in the industry as well. Consequently we ended up with a shared collection of what seemed like a million games, so picking one favourite is very tricky."

"I would say I was most excited about GTA: San Andreas coming out – their [Rockstar's] hype machine did a wonderful job. My most played games were Virtua Tennis 2 and Tiger Woods Golf. Most social was Eye Toy. But my favourite three were probably God of War, Burnout 2 and GTA: San Andreas."

Just as with the CD player feature with the original PlayStation, for many PS2 owners, the console also meant having a DVD player in the home for the first time, boosting sales of the DVD movie format considerably in the process.

Adam Hartley