Console Talk – PlayStation (Original)

The original PlayStation logo design.

You ask someone whether or not they play video games, most of the time they are either going to say PlayStation or Xbox, another sign of the long standing console debate. However, most of people started their love for a console with some of the earliest consoles in the brand. Many would think back to the original PlayStation as the catalyst for devotion towards one brand over another. Today I want to talk about the console that started it all for Sony in the games market and how it became one of the most widely known and used gaming consoles in the world. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the background to how this console was born.

An FMV sequence taken from Final Fantasy VII, notice the quality of this scene is much more detailed and shows the improved lighting, models, and art.

The PlayStation originally started life as an add on for the Super Nintendo, that would allow for the device to use disk-based storage and technology. Sony and Nintendo’s partnership had setup for Sony wanting to create it’s own home entertainment system that would play both SNES/Famicom Cartridges and CDs. However, Nintendo backed out of the deal and halted Sony from continuing any further with their use of Nintendo IP’s and formats. Sony, furious with this betrayal, was ready to cancel the project until Ken Kutaragi, the “Father of the PlayStation”, said that the project could be salvage and made unique in it’s own right. With this consideration in mind, a new direction was taken and the project launched in Japan in 1994 and the rest of the world in 1995. The device was considered to be the most powerful home console of it’s time. Not only was the system capable of playing video games, it was able to play audio CDs and specific models could video CDs. The use of CDs over cartridges allowed for greater storage, which means more games could hold lots of content and give the opportunity of creating longer gameplay. The CPU was outfitted with a MDEC, a motion decoder that allowed for higher quality playback of full motion video (FMV) sequences. The console was faster than other market consoles and the controller utilized a layout similar to the SNES, but featured the iconic X, Circle, Square, Triangle Button configuration and four directional buttons rather than the D-pad. This controller design would later evolve into the DualShock controller that most PlayStation fans recognize today. The console recieved huge praise for it’s design, software library, and the console sold over 100 million units over it’s lifetime. Not only that, but this console helped set the stage for the PlayStation 2, 3, and 4 for years to come.

The original PlayStation model (bottom) and the redesigned PSone model, which released in 2000. Several hardware and model revisions were released during the PlayStation’s lifetime.

The original PlayStation was a defining moment for Sony to really enter an emerging technology market and grab the reins quickly. The legacy that this console left behind has had a lasting impact on the game industry and made many companies successful through this medium. Sony really showed just how working with third party developer could provide equal or greater success in the titles released to the public, which shows different for Nintendo, who has been widely known for their first party titles. The console also paved the way for how CD-ROM technology is far superior to cartridges both for development and cost efficiency. Games that released for the console, such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro the Dragon, have been noted as some of the best game series ever created and established fan bases across the world. The console itself was also what really showed just how far video game technology was progressing and the advancements found in the PlayStation further proved this argument. Growing up, I was a PlayStation kid, my first experience was with the PlayStation 2, but I was able to play several PS1 titles during this time. All of the games that I played were lots of fun and never seemed outdated when I played through them, even now playing this titles I don’t try to compare them to graphics nowadays. I appreciate the aspects of gameplay, the origins of these franchises, and overall how much fun I have playing the game.

Crash Bandicoot has become one of the most widely recognized faces in all of gaming and is considered a mascot for the PlayStation brand.

With the release of the PlayStation 5 coming in the next few months, I am ready to see what Sony has been able to achieve since the humble beginning of the PS1. I hope the impact will resound throughout the industry and the hearts of fans, so that the brand will live on far into the future for the next generation.

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