PlayStation Classic: 10 of the Sony console's greatest games, from Spyro to Tomb Raider II

Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy VII among many riches device had to offer

Joe Sommerlad,Jon Sharman
Friday 21 September 2018 07:48
Spyro the Dragon gameplay

Sony has announced it is bringing back its original PlayStation games console – to the joy of 30-something gamers everywhere.

The PlayStation Classic will be a miniature version of the company’s first generation model, which represented the next evolutionary step forwards from the 16-bit Sega MegaDrive and Nintendo SNES when it first went on sale in Japan in December 1994.

To celebrate, here’s a look back at the games that defined that joyous machine, the best thing to happen to the 1990s outside of “Kiss from a Rose” and Gladiators on ITV.

10. Gran Turismo (1998)

This racing simulator was admired for its sleek graphics and buffish attention to detail and became the best-selling game in PlayStation history, shifting 10.85m copies and setting up a series that is now deeply associated with Sony’s home consoles.

Precision was everything for players of this favourite. Gran Turismo​ allowed drivers to upgrade and tinker with almost every aspect of their vehicles before racing them on a string of original tracks (and their mirrored versions and extra sections) – once they had gained their racing licence.

Its sequel introduced real-world circuits and a host of new cars.

9. Final Fantasy VII (1997)

The first – and, for many, best – of three main-series Final Fantasy games on the PlayStation is regarded as a true classic whose grown-up story with a deeply emotional twist still resonates.

Despite its futuristic setting it maintains a traditional Final Fantasy ragtag-group-saves-the-world-from-catastrophe narrative, but its status as the first 3D instalment in the series made it iconic in the same way as Super Mario 64.

Final Fantasy VII

Whether the other two entries (the soap opera-esque Final Fantasy VIII with its innovative magic junctioning system and Final Fantasy IX which returned to more traditional swords-and-sorcery styling) will make the shortlist of 20 games on the Classic model remains to be seen.

Many gamers would undoubtedly love to see Final Fantasy Tactics‘ turn-based strategy represented as well.

8. Medal of Honor (1999)

A precursor to Activision’s all-conquering Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise, Medal of Honor appeared in the same year as Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan with a story written by the Hollywood director.

Like that film, the game cast you into the thick of the Second World War as Lieutenant Jimmy Patterson, completing objectives to secure territory and taking out Nazi strongholds.

Inadvertently giving the impression you could win a war on your own, the game was superbly entertaining, not least in its two-player death-match mode.

7. ​Spyro the Dragon (1998)

Insomniac Games’ plucky purple beastie found himself tasked with rescuing his fellow dragons from being turned to stone by Gnasty Gnorc, collecting lost treasure and power-ups as he roamed through candy-coloured kingdoms, charging his enemies and blasting them with scorching breath.

Spyro the Dragon

Hugely popular, Spyro sparked two sequels. A remastered version, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, is being released on PlayStation 4 and XBox One in November this year.

6. Crash Bandicoot (1996)

A truly zany take on the platform game, Naughty Dog’s deranged protagonist and his sworn enemy, Dr Neo Cortex, owed a considerable design debt to Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog but were huge fun anyway.

Spun off for multiple sequels, including the Crash Team Racing and Nitro Kart games, Crash tore through crates like Warner Brothers’ Tazmanian Devil, collecting Wumpa Fruit, flipping armadillos and leaping obstacles with the best of them.

Crash Bandicoot

A great advert for the PlayStation as an enabler of creativity: see also the Tim Burton-inspired Gothic hack-and-slashery of MediEvil (1998).

5. Tekken 3 (1998)

The PlayStation’s answer to Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat, this beat ‘em up series translated from the arcades wisely chose not to reinvent the wheel, taking the lesson of its precursors that character was all-important.

Bringing together fighters with different statures and skills from across the world, from King the Mexican luchador to the Bruce Lee-inspired Marshall Law, Tekken went from strength to strength and became something of a PlayStation stalwart.

Tekken 3 is generally thought to be be the highlight, selling a staggering 8.5m copies. Its side-scrolling “Tekken Force” mini game, in the vein of Streets of Rage, was a diverting addition that harked back to the 2D glory days.

4. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (2000)

The hugely successful follow-up to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – which convinced suburban kids everywhere they had a hope in hell of landing a kickflip – perfected the formula and was very much in the spirit of the times: Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerilla Radio” was its title track.

The sequel’s varied levels, trick-chaining, customisable riders and full complement of licensed skaters and songs made it easy to spend hours glued to your television. You could even create your own skate parks.

The hardcore would sink still more time into finding every gap, video tape and trinket to complete the game.

The series was long-running itself and also paved the way for some enjoyable imitators, including Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX and SSX Tricky.

3. Resident Evil (1996)

Capcom’s survival horror was another extraordinary seller, casting you into the nightmare world of Raccoon City, overrun by flesh-eating zombies.

The success of the series saw multiple sequels launched as well as some other ghoulishly atmospheric games, not least Konami’s flawed but unbelievably intense Silent Hill.

Just don’t mention the execrable film adaptations – or the game’s weird control scheme.

2. Tomb Raider II (1997)

Lara Croft was surely the PlayStation’s defining character and, arguably, the defining pop culture creation of the decade.

Trading in the same exotic MacGuffin-hunt adventuring as the Indiana Jones film series, the games sent their heroine to ancient ruins around the world in search of mystical artefacts needed to thwart apocalyptic calamity.

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider II

While the first instalment established Lara, the second improved the gameplay, design and puzzle logic, taking you from the Great Wall of China to the canals of Venice.

1. Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Perhaps the console’s most sophisticated and cinematic game, Hideo Kojima achieved the impossible and became a star game designer around the world for masterminding Metal Gear Solid, a gripping stealth espionage action thriller.

Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid

You play as Solid Snake, an elite soldier infiltrating an Alaskan nuclear weapons facility seized by a renegade special forces team holding influential hostages.

From its smooth gameplay to engrossing cutscenes, this was as close to playable blockbuster filmmaking as it got.

Honourable mention: Parappa the Rapper (1996)

Most people had never been taught to rap by an anthromorphic onion before playing this bizarre but lovable rhythm game.

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