For those of us who were unsentimental enough to throw away our PlayStations in the early noughties, Sony have given us a second chance. Well; almost a second chance. The new PlayStation Classic is a dedicated console; it comes with twenty games already installed, and that’s your lot.
It’s a novelty release based primarily on nostalgia (because we haven’t had enough of that lately), and yet it should be fun to re-play some gems. But there are only twenty of said gems on the box. For those of us who grew up with Sony’s first foray into games consoles, there’s a big chunk missing. The following list comprises of ten games that tragically didn’t make the cut.
10. Tekken 2
They’ve included the third installment of Namco’s fighting simulator, and rightly so. Its graphics pushed the PlayStation to its limits, there were more visually crazy fighters than ever to choose from (True Ogre comes to mind) and the music and cutscenes were slick and action-packed.
Yet for some of us, it’s Tekken 2 that brings back the warmest memories of button-mashing to victory. Heihachi wants revenge against his son, the Nina-Anna sister rivalry continued, and other competitors want money. Plus, you got to play as a demon. The madness of Tekken began here.
9. Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions
Known as VR Missions in the US, this expansion pack to the cinematic masterpiece Metal Gear Solid was essential – not only to fans of the original game, but to PlayStation owners in general. Unlike the main game – a deeply philosophical narrative about war, violence, and genetic engineering – this companion pack had all the gameplay... minus the story. It’s an arcade stealth simulator with sneaking stages – timed and untimed – along with all sorts of weapon trials, and even a chance to have a go as Gray Fox; MGS’s ninja. It was a party game with a cerebral twist; when Crash Team Racing became dull, it made for a change to gather 'round the screen and strategize how to stealthily take out four enemies with one C4 explosive.
8. Silent Bomber
After Bomber Man, there weren’t many games in the “bombing” genre. Unlike the RPG, beat ‘em up, and first-person-shooters, it never really became a staple part of everyday gaming. But there is one stand-out release for the PlayStation that, unfortunately, slid under the radar. Silent Bomber was released in 1999, and it made full use of the PlayStation’s graphical endurance; for the number of explosions on the screen at one time, it’s a miracle the game didn’t lag every three seconds. Like Metal Gear Solid did the year before, its story explored genetic engineering. But the gameplay is the absolute antithesis of MGS; in place of stealth is blowing stuff up. And with different types of bombs and customisable RPG elements, it’s a crying shame this game isn’t more well known.
7. Final Fantasy IX
Of course, Final Fantasy VII is included in the PlayStation Classic package; it’s the most popular in the series. It spawned a third-person shooter sequel, a PSP prequel, a feature-length CGI film, an anime, a mobile game, and a remake that’s been in the works for what seems like a lifetime. Cloud’s story has left a hell of a legacy. But the more light-hearted ninth installment shouldn’t be sneered at for its cartoony aesthetic. It went back to Final Fantasy’s roots, taking place in a Tolkienesque swords’n’sorcery realm, and the graphics look outstanding even today. With the revived class system, and an easy-to-use upgrade system, it remains a joy to play.
6. Resident Evil 2
Seeing as the PlayStation Classic list includes a multitude of sequels (Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Cool Boarders 2), it’s surprising that the original Resident Evil was chosen, rather than its sequel, to represent the iconic horror franchise’s time on the first console. In the first game, the player explores a creepy mansion, but the sequel introduced us to the iconic Raccoon City – and the “zapping system”, which gave us two protagonists, and made one character’s actions affect the storyline of the other. Not to mention the fact that this game introduced Leon Kennedy – the protagonist of Resident Evil 4 (still the best horror game in history).
5. Kula World
With quirky little indie games growing in popularity, it’s worth remembering that the abstract puzzle game isn’t a new concept. Released in 1998, Kula World is a game in which the player takes control of a beach ball and guides it through various mazes and puzzles. There are many obstacles, such as spikes, drops into the abyss, and gravity occasionally changes direction. This makes it teeth-grindingly frustrating at times. But this kooky game is a masterpiece of light-hearted brain teasers, and rolling a beach ball around floating platforms in the sky is a nice escape from the usual generic action.
4. Ape Escape
Another light-hearted adventure, this wacky platformer put us in the role of Spike – a boy tasked with the arduous task of preventing super intelligent monkeys from rewriting history. The time-traveling story and the madcap gameplay – which involves sending the monkeys back to the present-day using stun clubs and other gadgets – make this another wacky adventure for all ages. It’s been a bit overshadowed by other PlayStation 3D platforming yarns like Spyro and Crash, but it’s really worth revisiting this one.
3. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
This dark and trippy sequel took the Legacy of Kain series into the three-dimensional realm, and its gory hack‘n’slash formula – in a brutal and gothic world – set the standard for future series like Devil May Cry and God of War. Players take control of Raziel, a vampire in the fictional world of Nosgoth, who seeks revenge against Kain – who casts him to his death in the game’s opening cutscene. Raziel gains a new ability after each boss fight; a feature that’s prominent in recent games – the latest DMC, for example. The dark cutscenes and gloomy music add to the atmospheric experience too, so this early grown-up platformer is a must for understanding how we’ve got to where we are.
Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro were the Arkham games for the fifth generation of games. Comic books have been a massive focus for video games since their inception, and more often than not comic-book licenses are stinkers: Fantastic Four on the PS2 comes to mind. But Spider-Man and its sequel made fighting crime a real pleasure. Swinging from building to building never got boring, and who can forget that last chase scene?
1. Silent Hill
What made Silent Hill so terrifying was the decision to use an everyman as a protagonist. We weren’t taking control of a superhero or a soldier, but a normal guy looking for his missing adopted daughter in the creepiest town imaginable. His aim is unsteady, and he can’t take much damage. We really don’t feel safe with Harry Mason, but that’s the whole point. It’s a Wicker Man story mixed with the gore of Resident Evil and its own brand of disturbingness that has spawned numerous sequels, and two live-action films starring Sean Bean.