Sony has spent the past year celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first PlayStation console in Japan, an event that took place all the way back on December 3, 1994. However, the wee grey console with the flip up lid didn’t make its way to New Zealand until… actually we don’t know exactly, and Sony doesn’t seem to either.
However, we do know that it launched in Australia on November 15, 1995 – 20 years ago this Sunday. So, in honour of that occasion, we are sharing our favourite memories of the first PlayStation. Happy 20th/21st birthday PlayStation. You’ve come a long way, baby.
As I was thoroughly addicted to the likes of Doom and Descent at the time (despite not having a computer good enough to run them), the first thing I thought when I saw the price of the first PlayStation at Noel Leeming was, “Who on earth would buy that over a PC?” The answer was: my best friend Darrell, who shelled out something like NZ$1300 on or near launch day for the privilege of playing… the demo disc. To be fair, we did jam a lot of Battle Arena Toshinden and we watched the T-Rex tech demo more than once, but it was mediocre gore shooter Loaded, side-scrolling adventure Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy that I first remember playing the absolute balls off of.
Of course, I soon had my own machine, and when we weren’t playing splitscreen Doom, Twisted Metal, WipEout, or Command & Conquer on ailing $60 tellys from the local pawn shop, I jammed a lot of horror adventure D, Flashback sequel Fade to Black, first-person platformer Jumping Flash!, and sneak-‘em-up Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. I was also very fond of Syphon Filter, Cool Boarders, Die Hard Trilogy, and Alien Trilogy. Man, there were so many great games on that system! I even remember the excitement when the Dual Analog controller arrived in 1997. That shit was revolutionary! Also: Gran Turismo was and is tedious, and no-one can convince me otherwise!
Before actually owning a PS1, I lusted after one hard. No money, though, so I had to make do with the occasional video store weekend rental. The most notable of these occasions was managing to grab the game that everyone said was a must-play, some Japanese thing called Resident Evil. We had a console, we had the game, but what we didn't have was a memory card, so no saving for us. My brothers and I took turns creeping Jill round the mansion for hours under threat of permadeath ("Stop! Don't open. That door!") as tension escalated unbearably. And ohhh, the panic and despair in that lounge as we made it outside and were torn to pieces by the first zombie dog.
A bit later friends banded together to buy me a PS1 for my 21st. It came with Tekken 2 (so many polygons!) This kicked off a years-long, several-game, see-sawing Tekken rivalry between my brother Josh and I. Alt characters came and went, but the main event was always Law vs Lei. Put a PS contoller in my hand and I'm pretty sure I could pull out one of Law's 10 hit combos from Tekken 3 for you right now just from muscle memory.
My first memories of the PS1 are of my cousin teaching me to play Crash Bandicoot when I was five, and of me being utter shit at it. I distinctly remember trying to pick up the wumpa fruit, lives and Aku Akus by SPINNING THEM AWAY, and then wondering why it wasn't working.
Despite that, I was instantly pulled into the world of video games, to the point that whenever I went over to her house, the first words out of my mouth would be “Can I play PlayStation?!” until I got my own PS1 a year later. To this day, I still haven't finished Crash Bandicoot, because I now know how to 100% complete it. If I start that game again then I will absolutely have to get 100%. I will have no choice in my mind, and I do not want to subject myself to that because I’m a filthy plebe.
It’s crazy to think that the very first PlayStation is 21 years old. I continually question how the time has gone so fast. I didn’t manage to get a PlayStation until the Xbox and PlayStation 2 had already come out. As my parents couldn’t afford the new consoles, they elected to get me a bunch of games and PlayStation’s first home console instead. Of course, I was only eight at this point in time, but I was genuinely delighted. The first game I played was Tarzan, which, if you were eight-years-old and into Disney, was pretty damn awesome. Over the course of two-to-three years (and before I got an Xbox), I played a plethora of PS1 games, of which the most memorable are PlayStation classics: Crash Bandicoot 1–3, Spyro the Dragon, and Resident Evil.
I always loved to play anything new, and I still vividly remember going into one of the local video stores to see what they had available to rent for PS1. Having spotted Spyro: Year of the Dragon, I was determined to grab it and take it home, until a family walked over and grabbed it. I was gutted, yet as they were in the line I overheard them talking about having a multiplayer game for the kids. Even at nine-years-old, I seized the opportunity presented and butted in, claiming Spyro was only a single-player game. My plan worked, as the family put the game back and went looking for a multiplayer game. In complete jubilation at my small victory, I waited for a moment before grabbing the case and taking it to the counter. I was so excited to play more Spyro, yet as I waited, tapping my fingers on the table, the lady who’d served me delivered the bad news: they couldn’t find the disc. Perhaps this is why video stores are being etched out by digital releases. Thanks for the memories, PlayStation 1!
My first memory of the PlayStation is intertwined with a combination of jealousy, wonder, and frustration. A Nintendo fanboy at the time, I was – of course – waiting for the Nintendo "Ultra" 64, which was due to launch after Sony's console. Poring over the latest magazines (think "websites" but you pay to read it and the information is old), I was impressed by what this thing could do but unable to contemplate owning one myself due to financial priorities (food and such like – I was a student!).
When I finally had a chance to play a PlayStation – rented from a video store (like "Netflix" but you had to wear pants while browsing the selection) – I remember being blown away by the 3D graphics of the boot sequence; let alone the games themselves. Time passed and I actually played PlayStation a lot, despite never owning one while it was a "current" console. To this day, I can remember nuanced detail about everything from random secrets in Tomb Raider to the exact sound a crate would make when Crash Bandicoot smashed it. To be sure, the PlayStation changed the state of the video gaming landscape, both for me personally and for the industry at large, and I'll never forget the great times I had playing one.
It was some time in 1996 or 1997, far into my passionate relationship with the Sega Mega Drive. I'd heard of Sony's PlayStation - from some rich kids at school probably – but never seen one in action. Then an older friend Vaughan returned from Australia and invited me and my brother over. He had a PlayStation, I played it, and it changed my life. It used a CD-ROM instead of cartridges, which seemed positively futuristic, and the graphics were just unbelievable. Vaughan had The Need for Speed, which thrilled us as the best car racing game we'd ever played. It even featured real video clips when you got busted! In a game! But what really blew my mind was the other game he had, Resident Evil.
It's hard to overestimate just how incredible that game was in its time. It was one of the greatest discoveries of my horror-loving teen years and I'll never forget how joyful it was. With no memory card, we couldn't save games, so death in what was a very challenging game at the time was permadeath. But I stuck at it. For hours. My brother left, Vaughan and his wife went to bed and still I played. When he emerged in the morning, he found me asleep on the lounge floor, controller in hand and game still running. Needless to say, my love for the Mega Drive waned as I yearned for another. As quick as I could I worked a shitload of hours at Pak'n Save to save up and score myself a PlayStation and then spent a ridiculous shitload jamming it.
First PlayStation experience? Well that would be my first experience with video games in general I think. My best mate from school had a PlayStation as I discovered, and many an afternoon or weekend his house would be invaded by yours truly, desperate for a chance to play. And I would lose at everything. It didn't matter which game I played – WWE, Need for Speed, The Lost World: Jurassic Park – I sucked at all of them.
Crash Bandicoot 2 was my jam though, getting the controller back from me once I'd got my little grippers on it was impossible when Crash was in the drive. And even though I was still abysmal and had the coordination of a drunk orangutan, I was actually able to beat the first level of the game (after a number of attempts so large that I will not mention it for fear of shame). To this day I've never forgotten the look of utter exasperation on my friend's face as I died yet again from jumping straight into a turtle rather than bouncing on top of it, haha!
My PS1 experience was entirely made up of jealously playing friends' systems for a few minutes at a time. Coming from a Nintendo-exclusive background, I got profoundly confused by what I believed at the time to be a needlessly complicated controller (despite the N64 pad arguably being even weirder). I died a lot in Tomb Raider trying to figure out how to attack things, and crashed a lot in Driver trying to work out where the hell to go amid the psychotic cops and navigation-stymieing pop-in. It was embarrassing, and I knew I could get better if I had time, but I also knew I would never get one of these machines. And sure enough, it'd take another twenty years before I'd own something with the phrase "PlayStation" printed on it.
Those are our memories – what do you remember about your time with the PlayStation One? Let us know below!