The original PlayStation and brand celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. Which is quite an achievement. Sony has kept the brand going, maintained a reputation and level of quality, and kept a consistent library. What’s interesting is how, even now, we can see how the early years helped set it apart, build a foundation, and establish trends that remain today.
Consider the PlayStation and how much it did. While it wasn’t the first or only system getting into optical discs instead of cartridges, it was the one to become the real success. It had the fortune of having the right sort of library at the right time to captivate the world. This was the system that gave us Ape Escape, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Parappa the Rapper, Silent Hill, and Twisted Metal. It was a perfect storm of giving people the sorts of games they would want, ones that would show what 3D could do. It even moved away from FMV, which wasn’t always a perfect way of depicting events, to better sorts of cutscenes.
The PlayStation also solidified Sony’s dedication to experimentation. This initial console had so many options. There was the PocketStation in Japan, a memory card that could play virtual games for titles like Dokodemo Issho, Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Mana, and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. There were light guns, like the GunCon and Justifier. Dance pads took off, making exercising fun. It let people have eight people playing together. Sony even had an LCD screen that could attach to the smaller PS One. The company was taking all of these chances.
This kind of risk taking has still appeared with systems, though even when Sony occasionally falls short of continuing support and following through. You know that PlayStation Camera needed to ensure a PlayStation VR works right? It got its start with the PlayStation 2 EyeToy controller. While the Xbox needed a DVD playback kit, the PlayStation 2 set the standard in letting consoles act as more than a means of playing games. It let them play video DVDs too, a media playing trend that remains. Even though its backwards compatibility support has sometimes been spotty, it kicked off the idea on consoles by ensuring the PS2 supported the original PlayStation.
What has also been great about Sony systems are their constant support of quality single-player experiences. The systems have been a haven for solo adventures. There are RPGs like Final Fantasy, The Legend of Dragoon, and Suikoden. It has been the home of God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Infamous, The Last of Us, and Uncharted. There are games that dare to be just plain different, like Flower, Journey, Gravity Rush, Concrete Genie, Tearaway Unfolded, Until Dawn, and Death Stranding. There is so much there and, while it is a good place for multiplayer antics, it is one of the best places to go for these hallmarks that you point to as some of the most notable games ever.
Sony has accomplished so much over the years. It can easy to nitpick when it does something wrong. “We need better PlayStation Plus games each month!” “Why was The Last of Us: Part II delayed?” “The Vita deserved better!” (Okay, that last one is valid.) But the company has built a legacy. It’s one that started with the PlayStation and will continue to the PlayStation 5 and beyond. We should celebrate that.