It has been 25 glorious years since Sony released its first home console, and what a ride it has been since then. Here's a quick look back at two-and-a-half decades of PlayStation.
1994 - The PlayStation Arrives - On December 3, 1994, Sony's first console, the PlayStation, launched in Japan. After a failed attempt at collaborating with Nintendo, Sony released its debut home console on an unsuspecting world, and the rest is, as they say, history.
1995 - Wipeout & Destruction Derby - While technically the PlayStation landed in 1994, we didn't see games releasing over here in the UK until 1995. But when they came, they were great. Two of the highlights of the year were Wipeout and Destruction Derby. Racing games made for great 3D and the PlayStation was part of the first generation of home consoles to really push the envelope when it came to 3D graphics. Wipeout was, of course, notable because not only was the racing breathlessly fast, but it came with a pumping soundtrack that tapped into the rave culture of the '90s, helping the PSOne distance itself from claims that consoles were for kids. Destruction Derby, on the other hand, was simple yet brilliantly addictive fun, and even to this day we like to boot up The Bowl and see how many cars we can send into a spin.
1996 - Resident Evil and Crash Bandicoot - Another franchise-starter, Resident Evil kicked off in the haunted mansion of the first game, introducing us to its mix of horror and storytelling techniques, relying on exaggerated characters and villains. Its tank controls and obtuse puzzles also set this apart from other horror games, as Capcom put the emphasis on the survival part of "survival horror", giving you limited resources to deal with. Crash Bandicoot, on the other hand, is nothing short of a console mascot for Sony, and this crazy marsupial has ended up being a huge hero for a whole generation of players who grew up dodging obstacles and taking on the evil Doctor Neo Cortex. Not only has Crash provided the PlayStation community with some of the best platforming over the years, but the series was also started by a studio that would go on to do great things in the future: Naughty Dog.
1997 - Final Fantasy VII - The Final Fantasy series was already well-established by the time that the first PlayStation came along, but of all the games that have appeared in the storied series, VII is possibly the one that is held in the highest regard by fans. Final Fantasy VII was so well-liked, in fact, that it is currently being completely overhauled and reworked. But what was the secret that made it such a success? The story was captivating, the cutscenes jaw-dropping, and there was an excellent balance of ingredients that kept players engaged for untold hours. An all-time classic.
1998 - Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo - Metal Gear Solid is one of the most iconic franchises of all time, and Hideo Kojima's unique and bizarre series started life on the original PlayStation, introducing us to a tangled web of politics, international tensions, and stealth-driven gameplay. Solid Snake's outing in Metal Gear Solid paved the way for things to come, and despite the fact it doesn't look all that great these days, it was certainly an innovative game that pushed the boundaries of the time. 1998 also saw the release of Gran Turismo, kickstarting a racing series that endures to this day.
1999 - Gran Turismo 2 - Gran Turismo might have been there first, but its sequel upped the ante with improved physics and a hugely expanded roster of cars. With GT2, Polyphony Digital expanded on the first with more of everything, and even after all these years later and we still remember getting our first licenses.
2000 - The PS2 Arrives and Spyro: Year of the Dragon - After the success of the PS1, a successor was inevitable, and what a success it turned out to be, with more than 155 million sales at the last count. A great console needs great games, of course, and this year we got our hands on a certain purple dragon. As the Reignited Trilogy from last year has proved, there's a lasting appeal around Spyro. When the lovable critter first emerged on the PlayStation over two decades ago, it was a very good adventure, however, the formula was perfected across two sequels, culminating with Year of the Dragon, which brought in even more inventive worlds, extra playable characters, and the same iconic gameplay which had made the first so great. Year of the Dragon was a great way to round off the trilogy, and one of the best 3D platformers around full stop.
2001 - Ico - Ico put down the foundations for The Shadow of the Colossus and, eventually, The Last Guardian (which took an age to develop, but that's a different story for a different article). Team Ico made its name (literally in this case) with an atmospheric adventure that introduced us to the minimalist design that would go on to define the studio's subsequent work.
2002 - Kingdom Hearts - Square Enix and Disney might seem very different in essence, but Kingdom Hearts does a good job of merging their ideas into a notoriously hard-to-follow storyline. Essentially, Kingdom Hearts sees Sora team up with Disney legends like Donald Duck, Goofy, and more, throwing us into a JRPG adventure with plenty of recognisable settings and characters from Disney's portfolio - a lasting concept that culminated with another great game this year.
2003 - Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando - 2003 wasn't the strongest year when it comes to exclusives and Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is probably the best we can do, all things considered. Still, you can't win 'em all.
2004 - Killzone - Before the times of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games was known for the Killzone franchise, which started life on the PlayStation 2 all those years ago. The first Killzone was the first in a long line of shooters, taking us into a future where Earth is no longer habitable and Helghast armies threaten the remnants of humanity. In an era where there were an awful lot of shooters, Killzone did well to stand out from the crowd.
2005 - Shadow of the Colossus and the PSP - There are some stellar games in this little list, but one of the very best is undoubtedly Shadow of the Colossus, a game so good that Sony keeps bringing it back to subsequent consoles. The remade PS4 version plays like a dream even to this day, but the original stands as perhaps the crowning achievement of the PS2-era. And that ending - they don't come much better. 2005 also marked the release of Sony's first proper foray into the world of portable gaming in the form of the PSP.
2006 - Okami, Resistance: Fall of Man and PS3 - Okami is another classic game, albeit it's one that has since found its way onto other platforms in the years that have followed. Okami still stands as one of the finest action-adventure games ever made, thanks to its fusion of elegant design, Japanese mythology and timeless gameplay. Another Insomniac game landed during the same year in the form PS3-launch title Resistance: Fall of Man, which landed alongside the release of the console in North America and Japan, before following to Europe the next year.
2007 - The PS3 Lands in Europe - 2007 was the first year that we Europeans could get their hands on the PlayStation 3, but it wasn't the best when it came to exclusives. It was a strong year for shooters, with Bioshock and the first Modern Warfare making waves on Sony's console, however, the best first-party offerings of the year were probably God of War 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was another solid offering on PlayStation 3, although the best was yet to come from Nathan Drake and friends.
2008 - LittleBigPlanet - Media Molecule might not be in charge of the LittleBigPlanet universe anymore, but the creatively-inclined studio most certainly got the ball rolling back in 2008 when the series was launched. LBP not only spawned yet another PS-mascot in the form of Sackboy, but it also encouraged creativity from its players. It was an intoxicating blend of ingredients and it remains popular to this day, with the studio currently helping us turn our Dreams into reality.
2009 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - It might not be the first game in the series, but Uncharted 2 is probably the game where Nathan Drake comes of edge, becoming a true PlayStation mascot in the process. Don't get us wrong, the first was decent enough, but with Among Thieves, Naughty Dog really turned things up to 11 and delivered an outstanding action-adventure game full of witty dialogue, pulsating gun battles, and a well-spun yarn that had us on the edge of our seats throughout.
2010 - God of War 3 - Kratos has come a long way over the years, but 2010's God of War 3 certainly stands as one of the high points of the series. Santa Monica Studio's third core entry had a little bit of everything, but right at the top of the list is a succession of epic battles with some ruthlessly challenging enemies. It's also fair to say that God of War 3 pushed the PS3 pretty hard when it came to visuals - there were some spectacular moments to savour.
2011 - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and the PS Vita - There's a lot of Uncharted in this retrospective and that speaks to two things. On the one hand, it shows Naughty Dog at the peak of its powers, putting out blockbuster hits, one after the next. On the other hand, it shows just how much weight Nathan Drake has been carrying on his shoulders for the past 25 years. 2011 was also the year that Sony released the PS Vita, in Japan at least. The handheld, which for a while enjoyed support and tremendous roster of indies, released in Europe in early 2012.
2012 - Journey - Thatgamecompany has always made thoughtful, some might say understated games, and Journey was no different, at least at first glance. Unlike those earlier games, however, Journey contained beautiful moments defined by anonymous online encounters with other players. Like you, these players were on their own spiritual adventure, and your fleeting moments together only served to enrich those deeply personal experiences.
2013 - The Last of Us and the Launch of the PS4 - The release window around the PlayStation 4 was actually pretty light, but the year wasn't a total bust. Naughty Dog had made its name on Crash and Uncharted, however, many consider The Last of Us to be the studio's masterpiece. While Uncharted 4 would later challenge that notion, at the time people were raving about Joel and Ellie's first outing, and we can't blame them. From the gut-wrenching opener through to the thought-provoking conclusion, The Last of Us took us on one of the most powerful and impactful adventures ever made.
2014 - Infamous Second Son - The first full year of the PS4 was slim pickings when it comes to stellar exclusives, and the best we can muster is Infamous: Second Son - a perfectly enjoyable open-world action-adventure complete with fully-charged supernatural abilities and a quirky aesthetic style. Other than that, the most enjoyable PS4-exclusive of the year was probably the remaster of The Last of Us. At least things got better the next year.
2015 - Bloodborne - FromSoftware is no doubt famous for the Dark Souls trilogy of games, but many hold Bloodborne at a higher level than those games. With a shifted emphasis on parrying rather than blocking, and by throwing shields out in favour of guns, Bloodborne reinvented the Soulslike action formula with some subtle tweaks, while also giving us a Gothic-inspired world that was full of intrigue and monstrosities.
2016 - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and PSVR - Nolan North's Nathan Drake had been on many an adventure by the time 2016 rolled around, but with the fourth we were shown a hero that was done with all of that, and who was only forced on another daring quest because of circumstances we won't spoil. It's not easy growing old and leaving your exciting life behind, and that's something that set Uncharted 4 out from the rest of the series (it helps that it looks damn good visually as well). The other major talking point of 2016 for PlayStation fans was the release of PSVR, Sony's first moves in the world of virtual reality.
2017 - Horizon: Zero Dawn - Guerrilla Games' transition from shooting stuff in Killzone to open-world RPGs with Horizon: Zero Dawn was a smooth one indeed, as they delivered a visually spectacular and incredibly exciting adventure in 2017, putting us in the shoes of Aloy as she explored a world in which modern technology mixed with more prehistoric traditions. Fans have been clamouring for a sequel ever since, which just goes to show how popular this was.
2018 - God of War - With God of War absent for a few years, people were wondering in what state Kratos would return now that he's a father, however, Sony managed to do the legacy of the series justice with a game that both kept the Kratos we knew and loved while also slapping a beard on him and showing a new side to his personality, as he navigated the trials and tribulations of fatherhood as well some devilishly difficult boss battles. It's a touching tale but with the same brutal combat for long-time fans.
2019 - Death Stranding - We mentioned Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid earlier on in this list, and his first title with new studio Kojima Productions was this year's Death Stranding, which throws us into a totally new world with a star-studded cast that includes Troy Baker, Mads Mikkelson, and Norman Reedus. It was an original concept that got us thinking, and for all its faults it's certainly unlike anything else we've experienced on PlayStation consoles.
That's all we've got time for. Drop your favourite PlayStation memories in comments below.
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