Before the Project Scorpios, the Nintendo Switches, the PS PROs and even the Ouya (don’t feel bad if you if you had no idea about that last one--it’s not important), there was one console that raised the bar for what gamers should expect out of their gaming experience. Bringing us from the struggle days of 2D graphics and blowing into cartridges just to make them work into an era of CD based gaming coupled with 3D aspects and, of course, blessing our homes with titles that would go on to stand the test of time in Final Fantasy. The PlayStation.
December 3rd, 1994 marked the date the gaming industry turned on its head as Sony, though placed in between a rock and a hard place due to a business deal gone south with leading gaming publisher Nintendo, decided to take a leap of faith and a chance at glory launching the original PlayStation. In quite possibly one of the most famous moments in gaming, Sony unveiled their big secret at E3 '95 with the “price heard around the world,” saying simply, “$299” like a boss. With records topping more than 100 million during its lifetime, the original PlayStation gave rise to the age of Sony.
The original PlayStation was, and still is, a spectacle to behold. However, who’s to say the basic plug and play is where the greatness that awaits stops? From accessories to hidden features, the PlayStation came equipped with more than just a FEW bells and whistles. So after some tireless digging and carpel tunnel inducing research (it was a lot), here are 15 cool things you had no idea your old PlayStation 1 could do.
15 The Ultimate Sound System
Sometimes great things come in small packages and this phrase isn’t lost on PlayStation. The gaming device, though unknown to some, doubled as a high-end sound system rivaling units costing thousands of dollars or more. Now this feature was unique to the SCPH-1001 version of the console, which was the only one known to sport an RCA input which has superb sound output, but regardless music audio performance enthusiasts, aka audiophiles, began to realize the power of the early models, while being available at bargain basement prices ($5-$35).
Diving further into the possibilities of this unlikely commodity, the audio community has made creative use of the old PlayStation 1 both externally, for visual appeal and unique CD player housing, and internally, tinkering with the inner workings for richer sound quality. The console has become an underground sensation in the Hi-Fi scene, further emphasizing all this old clunker can do
14 Create Your Own Indie Games
Titled as Net Yaroze, Sony released a new, more expensive and, above all else, colorful version of the original PlayStation in the late 90s. It also came with basic tools and instructions necessary that allowed everyday consumers the ability to program independent games and applications for the PlayStation without the need for a full developer suite. Some titles made by hobbyists using the console even transcended into mainstream attention including Blitter Boy – Operation: Monster Mall, which was later released for Xbox Live Arcade in 2011. However, it did lack many of the features suited for actual developer suites such as advanced hardware debugging, special software, certain libraries, etc. It was also limited by 2MB of total game space, but it still managed to go above and beyond its original intended purpose. Also with no region lockout, it was possible to play games from any territory.
13 Robot Maker
In one of the most bizarre moves in early gaming aesthetics, the original PlayStation’s robot making platform took the cake for thinking all the way outside of the box. As a part of Bandai’s ZXE-D: Legend of Plasmalite game set in 1996, Sony included an in-game function that allowed the user to build real-world models of robots using the supplied maker pieces in the game set, then using a special interface that would plug into the PlayStation’s memory slot, recognize the customized parts and bring to life the user’s mechanical fighting masterpiece on screen. What started as an everyday fighting game similar to your Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat or Tekken of future generations, became something vastly different, allowing a more interactive concept that would later give life to games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity.
12 Connect To Your Phone & The Internet
If someone told you that back in the good old 90s with gateway computers and games that barely knew more than two directions of movement, there was a gaming console capable of managing both your phone and the internet, you would probably slap them. Well, get those palms ready because I kid you not, the PlayStation did just that. In a move that was before its time, Sony released a dope add-on to the PlayStation in the form of a cable that could link both your controller and your mobile phone. After uploading the software on the PlayStation and, of course, a cell phone data plan, the user was then able to not only use their phone through the console, but also download and play a few online games as well as browse the Internet.
However, as I’m sure you know, smartphones weren’t a thing at the time, so the Internet accessibility wasn’t the best in the world, but it was still cool. Unfortunately, the service never made it to the States, but the proper tools can still be found for gamers and collectors that want to get their hands on it.
11 Store Your Games Externally
Gaming on the PlayStation 1 compared to the PlayStation 4 of today is like comparing apples to oranges. But one plus the PlayStation of old possessed was the small amount of game storage needed, as compared to the PS4 with games like GTA V needing 65GB just to sit on the console with no save data attached. However, even with that fact, there were times gamers needed just a little extra space to support their habits in the long run. Enter third party developer Datel, who released the Memory Drive, a floppy disk drive (style points to reader who remember those things) which plugged into the PlayStation 1’s memory card slot, letting users store game saves on cheap and plentiful 3.5-inch floppy disks.
Now considering that Sony recently just released a patch allowing the PlayStation 4 to save data externally, it’s amazing to note that a console almost 20 years its senior saw the value in its use ahead of time and that many gamers never knew it existed.
10 Gripping The Competition With The Reality Glove
A very rare and innovative add-on to the original PlayStation, the Reality Quest Glove gave a lot of love to gamers looking for that competitive edge. Designed by the company of the same name, the Reality Quest is anything but a typical controller, as it fits on the player’s right hand and is held down by Velcro straps. The user could then control up, down, left and right movements all at the “flicka da wrist.” The four main buttons x, square, circle and triangle are located under the index, middle and ring fingers, with the L1 and R1 buttons on the side. The thumb rest up top sports a duplicate set of L1 and R1 buttons with the shoulder buttons L2 and R2.
The biggest feature of the controller is its simulated analog function. This is a killer for certain PlayStation games that don’t allow the use of analog controllers, but still demand precision to win, as the glove bridges that gap allowing for smoother gameplay. The controller is a great pick up for most games especially fighting and racing games. So if you are in a retro gaming mood and want to give that left hand a break this could come in the clutch... Literally!
9 Play Game Boy On The Big Screen
Another dope function unique to the earlier iterations of the PlayStation is its parallel I\O port. This port, though absent in later versions due to no official add-on ever being released for it, opened the door to virtually unlimited possibilities; including bringing together a bond that could have been, but fell short (thanks Nintendo). Thanks to the efforts of dedicated gaming tech hobbyists and the I\O port, you can play Game Boy games on your PlayStation 1. Made by third party developer Innovation, the Super GB Booster allows the user the ability to play their favorite Game Boy and Game Boy color games directly from the PlayStation on their TV set. The device also features a border and pallet editor, so the user can pick one that's color pleasing to the eye to make those Game Boy games pop just right.
8 Power A Space Probe
Yes, you read that title right. Though compared to today’s standards the technology that gave life to the original PlayStation 1 could be considered primitive, but that same technology believe it or not was responsible for guiding a space probe flyby of Pluto (we miss you Pluto). Though unimaginable and downright absurd, the same console that characterized our childhood giving us timeless classics like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear was re-purposed by NASA in 2006 to “fire thrusters, monitor sensors, and transmit data” from the New Horizons space probe.
Now, of course, NASA had to make some adjustments and fine tuning to ensure the probes survival from radiation and other unknown temperaments in space. However, for nine years, moving at a speed of over 36,000 miles per hour, the same MIPS R3000 CPU that graced our living rooms is displaying that it lasted the test of imagination and literally lasted the test of time.
7 Play Video CDs
A hidden feature largely unknown to many regarding the original PlayStation is its ability to play video compact discs or VCDs. These are disc formats based on CD-ROM XA that are specifically designed to hold MPEG-1 video data with interactive capabilities.
Now this feature was originally an exclusive for the SCPH-5903 model of the PlayStation, but, as we all know, modders can make the impossible possible. VCD converters can be found with enough reach, but buyers beware as these converters have been known to enhance the capabilities of the PlayStation allowing for VCD playing, but will malfunction the reading of games. A neat add-on, but unfortunately you won't be able to have your cake and eat it too.
6 Game In HD
Yes, gaming on your old PlayStation in HD is possible! Though HDTVs weren't much beyond an idea on the board room table at the time, the original PlayStation manages to do the job somewhat. To do this, all you would need is either an S-Video cable or composite cable (S-Video cable would provide better quality), plug it into the video port on the back go the PlayStation as usual and into the television. You can also output in RGB (which it typically most common these days) using SCART cables, but you will also need to purchase a converter box to change component signals.
Word to the wise, given that fact that HDTVs weren't designed with the original PlayStation in mind and vice versa, so if you are looking for 60 frames per second, with 4K resolution and god-tier high definition sound, I don't know what to tell you. But if getting that dose of nostalgia from popping in some of your favorite games from back in the day is what you desire, this could be useful.
5 Link Up Your PC/Laptop
The PlayStation 1 is one of those untapped machines that is capable of a lot more than it was expected to be, even gaming in HD. However, to quote Matthew Lillard from the movie scream, “BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!” The original PlayStation can also link to your laptop or PC.
To connect the two systems, you will the help of a TV tuner card and an ariel input cable, both of which can be found for the “low low” on Amazon. These two items, coupled with the latest WinTV software, will ensure a fresh transmission of gaming bliss from master console to the other. Now there are PlayStation emulators scattered across the net for PC. So, of course, you could always just use one of those to get your quick gaming fix, but where would the fun be in that?
4 Sport Your Own Digital Assistant
Christened as “a combination of a Memory Card and a miniature personal digital assistant,” the Pocket Station, resembling the look of a Tamagotchi pet, released for the PlayStation 1 in Japan. The device features an LCD screen, infrared communication, built-in flash memory and a clock because time flies when you’re having fun right? (Okay, my bad, no more jokes). The Pocket Station plugs into the PlayStation via the memory port, enhancing the games with added features.
Sony later brought the Pocket Station back from the dead for the PS Vita, but instead of a physical Tamagotchi-like device, this iteration was app based, However, after all of these years, it still speaks volumes to how much potential the company saw in this little accessory.
3 Play On The Go
Unique only to the latest addition in the PlayStation’s life-span, with a much smaller and thinner design, the PS One was released. It made its debut just before the rise of the PlayStation 2, which would later go on to dominate the industry (that’s for another time). In an effort to experiment with gaming on the go and make a move to appease those still hungry for more of the original PlayStation support, Sony unveiled a neat accessory that would take console gaming even further with the LCD screen attachment.
Mirroring the design of a CD try, the LCD screen attachment allows the user to plug their PS One directly into the monitor, making road trips and travel much more enjoyable. The Wii U and Nintendo Switch may be running the portable console market today, but it’s arguable that the original PlayStation was a part of that movement.
2 Play MP3s And "Backup" Games
The saving grace for PlayStation 1, gamers, hobbyists, modders and hackers alike. The GAMAR Movie Card, coupled with the power of the PlayStation, makes it possible to not only play VCDs seamlessly, but also MP3s, MPEG-1 video files, and with the help of a built in GameShark, the PlayStation will play “back-up” video games. Now obviously we here at TheGamer do not support pirating in any shape or form, but for those that may have scratched their games beyond repair or whose friends stole their games, this is a blessing!
It’s compatible with all versions of the original PlayStation (there are many) and sports an On-Screen manual with quick play functionality to get you playing faster.
1 Tell Time
When all else fails, occasionally it's best just to think practically.
Sometimes the most simple of functions are the most appreciated and one thing the PlayStation is not is simple, but that doesn’t stop our churning thoughts of imagination from taking over and turning lemons into some bomb-ass lemonade. In the likely case that the old PlayStation in the back of your closet is down for the count, in which the entire list basically means squat, why not make the most use with the least amount of effort.
As another awesome thing the PlayStation can do, it can double as a clock (you can watch the 'how to' video here). Using aftermarket clock hands and the buttons on the controller for time, the PlayStation can complete the “feng shui” of any game room. It’s also a neat timepiece to show off to family and friends, as well as something to keep around when reminiscing to future generations about one of the most unique consoles in history. Also it’s a great way never forget that, 6 p.m. is PlayStation Time!