The original PlayStation launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, and in Europe and America about a year later. 25 years on, the PS4 rules the games world, and the PS2 remains the best-selling console of all time. The PS3... also came out, with its expensive launch price and initially weak software library.
The PlayStation changed games forever: it arguably made them mainstream and adult at the same time, and it had an extraordinarily large catalogue of titles.
So much love remains for the original PlayStation – it's why Final Fantasy 7 is being remade next year, and why Resident Evil 2's own remake launched to such fanfare this year. Below, the TechRadar team share their own treasured memories of the console.
At a time when the only names in the console business worth mentioning were Nintendo and Sega, Sony’s plans to launch its own console seemed crazy to me at the time – that was until I saw the T-Rex demo (I think it was included on a demo disc with the PS1 as well), which showed off the kinds of graphics effects we could expect with the new console. It blew my little mind at the time – I’d never seen graphics like it, and it was a real statement of intent from Sony, and a great showcase for its new console. That short little demo has become as iconic as some of its games.
Matt Hanson, Senior Editor: Computing
The birth of stealth games in Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid was arguably the first non-CD-ROM adventure game that felt truly cinematic, with high-quality voice acting (for the time, anyway), and a reasonably mature story about nuclear war. Its moody intro leads into the game's first room, a basement area where you can learn all this revolutionary stealth game's basics: don't step in a puddle, or enemies will hear you. You can punch an enemy and knock them out, but you can only kill them by grabbing them from behind. Did you get caught? Crawl under a surface and hide until the alarm goes away. These fundamentals of stealth gameplay would change games forever.
Samuel Roberts, Senior Entertainment Manager
Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII
Hey, Final Fantasy VII remains the most talked-about RPG on the PlayStation (and that console had a lot of good ones), hence why it's being remade right now in stunning fashion. But Final Fantasy VIII had arguably the best minigame of any game: Triple Triad was a really simple card game where you placed cards on a 3x3 grid, aiming to flip the cards of your opponents by placing more powerful monster cards next to theirs. It was a perfect time-waster in a game that already took tens of hours to finish.
Stealing a car in the first Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto was a game of playground legend: an 18-rated, incredibly violent top-down adventure where you could drive around an entire city (several, as a matter of fact). The first GTA, made by DMA Design in Dundee, was unlike anything else on PlayStation, and all the fundamentals that still shape the series (and other Rockstar games, like Red Dead Redemption 2) today are in there: how missions work, that you press triangle to steal a car, and the fact that the most fun always comes from the chaos you create yourself.
The PlayStation startup sound
Olivia Tambini, Staff writer, Home Entertainment
Iconic gaming mascots
It’s hard to think about PlayStation without the legendary gaming mascots that are so inherently linked to the brand springing to mind. Over 25 years PlayStation has brought us some iconic characters, including Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, Aloy, Kratos and many more. With many of the first-generation titles being remastered, some of these classic characters have been given a new lease of life, and they’re still integral to the brand. It goes to show that PlayStation truly has a knack for creating some of the most charismatic, relatable and memorable characters in gaming
Vic Hood, Gaming writer
A world without walkthroughs
We take it for granted now that, if you get stuck on a tricky level in a game, you can simply go online and find a walkthrough within seconds. Back on the original PlayStation, things were nowhere near as easy, and games felt considerably harder. Stuck on a Resident Evil puzzle? You would only succeed through pure perseverance, or you’d have to go to your local newsagent and pick up a gaming mag that (hopefully) had the answer. It was frustrating at the time, but nowadays we maybe take for granted the fact that we can swan through difficult levels at our leisure.
The PlayStation's use of the CD-ROM was significant for a few reasons. Using low-cost media allowed Sony to undercut the significant software prices of the Nintendo 64, and it also meant that demos of games were viable on consoles for the first time. Whether they came with the console or with Official PlayStation Magazine, it meant everyone got to play a lot more games than ever before – just not the whole game. Did anyone ever own Kula World, the platformer in which you play as a beach ball? I doubt it… but everyone played the demo of that game.
Micro Machines V3 with two multitaps and 8 controllers
Ah, multitaps. Remember them? The huge chunks of plastic, the forever tangled web of controller leads, and that one player who always sat just that bit too far from TV, resulting in the console being yanked onto the floor any time they gesticulated. Multitaps were ugly, inelegant solutions – especially compared to the wireless world of today – but they were the facilitators of some of the most epic gaming moments of PlayStation’s history.
John McCann, Deputy Editor
FIFA 98: Road to World Cup
For gamers of a certain age with a penchant for football titles, Song 2 by Blur will forever hold a very special place in their hearts. The song was the soundtrack to EA’s perennial soccer hit back in 1997/98, and whenever it’s played, those in the know are instantly transported back to the digital representations of the 16 French World Cup stadiums, graced by David Beckham, David Ginola, Paolo Maldini and co.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Sometimes in life you get a perfect confluence of events, and for me that happened when I broke my leg at university and bought Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3. It’s hard to think of a better game to play while completely sofa-bound, and I developed a full-blown addiction to grinding, kickflipping and beanplanting anything that moved in the game’s brilliantly designed levels, from Suburbia to the Cruise Ship. An extra adrenaline rush was supplied by the superb soundtrack, which saw The Ramones merge into Motorhead as I attempted to unlock secret characters like Darth Maul. This was my gateway drug to the equally addictive SSX snowboarding series, and both set a high watermark for pure PlayStation fun that remained unmatched until MotorStorm swerved onto the scene in 2007.
Mark Wilson, Cameras Editor
Fighting games, growing up, and Tekken 2
Having mainly been exposed to Nintendo consoles as a young’un, getting the Sony PlayStation really changed the game for my sisters and me. For one thing, it finally introduced us to the world of fighting games, with Tekken 2’s polygonal brutality of choke-holds and face-kicks feeling a long way from the cutesy battling of Pokemon Silver or the N64’s Diddy Kong Racing. Sure, it was no Mortal Kombat when it came to gore, but the PS1 showed me that the world of games was a lot harder-hitting than I’d first thought – even if my main fighting strategy wasn’t any more complicated than hitting the square button in quick succession.
Henry St Leger, Staff writer, Home Entertainment
Finally completing Crash Bandicoot
When we finally got a PlayStation, we answered a local newspaper ad from a woman who wanted to get rid of some of her son’s old games. We paid £10 for around five games, and among them was Crash Bandicoot (or in other words, one of the finest, and most challenging games to grace the planet). Many an hour was spent after school, sat cross-legged in front of the TV, repeatedly plunging to my death in The High Road, or being crushed by boulders in Jungle Rollers. In the years I spent playing that game, I never did manage to complete it, but it never put me off playing – it was just too much fun.
Skip forward around 15 years, and the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy was released – a remaster of the first three games. Inevitably, I was hooked, and at the ripe old age of 25 I finally completed Crash Bandicoot. My work was done – thank you, PlayStation, for many years of fun and frustration.
Tomb Raider and the female protagonist
Original Lara Croft (or Laura as she was going to be called) may have been a poorly proportioned, and controversial, character when it comes to being a good role model, but there’s no denying that she was the face of PlayStation for a long time. Sure, Lara came with issues – primarily that she was being flaunted as a sex symbol with pixelated breasts – but she was still a badass.
Intelligent, adventurous and probably one of the most significant characters in gaming, Lara led the way for strong PlayStation female protagonists such as Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy and Ellie in The Last of Us – even if it did take a bit longer to get to less scantily-clad females. Original Lara may be the version that’s burned into our memories, but the Tomb Raider reboot brought us a more realistic, relatable version, proving that while the character may have her flaws, she's still as iconic as she was in the ‘90s.
The height of Disney games
“What about Aladdin on SNES?,” we hear you scream. Well, apologies to those people, but PlayStation Disney games were the absolute best. Hercules, Tarzan, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, The Emperor’s New Groove… the list goes on and on. They weren’t all winners, but there was nothing like watching the latest Disney film and then picking up the game to play straight after – where you essentially just rewatched clips of the film but with some gameplay thrown in.
The advent of survival horror
“You were almost a Jill sandwich!” Okay, so Barry Burton’s words to Jill ‘the Master of Unlocking’ Valentine weren’t necessarily the most auspicious start to a franchise – and, indeed, genre – that would dominate consoles for the next couple of decades. But the sheer tension and terror that Resident Evil brought to the PS1 certainly was.
The zombies; the fiendish puzzles (I’ve never had to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano before or since to unlock a secret room); the crows that pecked poor old Forest Speyer to death; the genuinely sleepless nights; the having to live it all again in Silent Hill, Outlast and countless sequels and reboots. Thanks, Resident Evil… I guess.
Adam Marshall, Editor, Subscriptions and Services