Video games. Well-loved or thoroughly hated by all. Gaming has evolved into a bright, colorful world of adventure, dragons, and shooting.With every new console comes a renewed effort to make something bigger, better, and more expensive. But it wasn’t always this way, back in the days where kids sat in front of a TV mindlessly moving a frog across 4 lanes of traffic or running from a giant boulder about to roll down the hill and crush you. Yes, these were the games that started it all.
What better place to start than with this classic. And no, I’m not talking about the all too familiar arcade game that was prevalent during my childhood. I’m talking about the spinoff title of the famous arcade game that everyone knows and loves: PacMan World. Namco basically took everything great about the original and incorporated it into a full game. Rather than the usual 2-dimensional version, PacMan was reinvented to be a 3-D character, including arms and legs. Full length levels were designed, allowing gamers to discover worlds and experience gameplay like never before. Even the traditional PacMan maze was redesigned, creating more beautiful, visually-appealing levels.
Of course, if you’re a fan of the arcade PacMan, the developers put that version in the game too. Combine all this together along with the introduction of other great characters, a storyline, and enjoyable gameplay, and you’ve got one of the best PS1 titles ever made.
Even after all the games I’ve played, I still come back to this particular one time and time again. There’s nothing particularly challenging or special about it; it’s just a good old-fashioned, fun game that I love playing through. If you need me, I’ll be riding through space or hopping my way across floating carousels.
Twisted Metal III
Ah Twisted Metal…a game well-known for it’s heavy metal soundtracks, strange characters, and, well, metal that gets…twisted. It’s like an intense version of bumper cars, except every match is to the death. Your car versus (x) number of opponents, either in death match fights or in campaign mode. Your choice. Of course, if you want to survive, be sure to pick a vehicle with thick armor and strong firing power. Sweet Tooth is not a kind opponent. And for any of you who don’t know about him, he’s basically a sadistic clown with fire for hair. ‘Nuff said.
But what this game really comes down to is that it’s just plain fun. It was a game I played countless numbers of times and to this day it’s still one of my favorites. There’s something satisfying about blowing up anything in your path and getting a “reward” for your efforts. If you’ve played through campaign mode, you know what I mean by “reward.”
And how many of you still know the soundtrack? Don’t lie. You know who you are.
I was glad to get started with the third game in the series. It had reached the point that the graphics were looking good and the controls were smoother. The intricacies of the levels were both helpful and hindering, depending on your situation, like if you were about to die and you were waiting for the health item to respawn. Ah, the glory days….
Pong (The Next Level)
Pong: so bright and colorful, it just makes you want to step back and enjoy the colors, the sounds…. Wait, what? Yes, I’m talking about Pong, but not your original Pong. This is The Next Level, literally.
Instead of keeping to the basic black and white, the developers decided to completely redo the franchise, and it was awesome. Gamers were now looking at 3-dimensional “characters” in a variety of settings and levels. Overall, the game was really well thought out and was a great PS1 classic.
It was a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family, competing in jungle, arctic, and soccer field levels, to name a few. And to make things more interesting, each series of levels increased in difficulty, adding just one more caveat to an already unique game.
If you never got to play this during your childhood, you need to do it now.
A hard decision had to be made. Either highlight the original game, or highlight the entire franchise…. If you highlight the original game, some will complain that it’s not the best game of the series and that they preferred game x, y, or z. However, not focusing on the original game neglects the origins of TR, and how it all started. Forget it, I’m going with the original!
And how can I not? The original Tomb Raider laid the foundation for all the games (and movies) that followed. It was the original that introduced you to that now-all-too-familiar life of Lara Croft, the treasure-hunting, gun-toting protagonist we all love. In the first Tomb Raider, you are introduced to Lara Croft, an archaeologist who must solve puzzles, take on countless enemies, and probably save the world by the end of the game.
More recently gamers have seen a new side of Lara Croft, when Crystal Dynamics decided to revamp the franchise in 2013 and again in 2015.
But it was during the PlayStation 1 era of gaming that Tomb Raider was made into the classic it is today.
Spyro (Year of the Dragon)
If I mentioned great PlayStation 1 games and didn’t mention Spyro, there would be riots. And rightfully so. I mean, Spyro has been around long enough, and for many, he was one of their first games. I’m going to highlight Year of the Dragon because that was the game I played.
But for many, the choice is controversial. So many people still fondly remember playing through the original game and felt that it was the best one of the series. For me, I enjoyed YOTD because it felt fleshed out. Each level had a good length and the gameplay had sufficient dynamics. The characters had satisfying diversity and the storyline helped carry the plot. Looking back at this game, I realized just how diverse and unique the characters are.
You either love or hate Spyro, but I’ll always consider this to be a PS1 classic. The gameplay in this particular title was exceptionally fun. While you do play as Spyro for the majority of the game, certain levels require you to play as secondary characters, such as Sparx and Sheila. And with each character came their own set of abilities and limitations, either making your life harder or easier.
One of the key advantages of playing Year of the Dragon is the controls. By this point, everything handled smoothly and was easy to use. If you play the earlier games, some of the precision is absent. Another great feature of the YOTD controls is the expansion of functions. Thankfully, the developers decided to give Spyro more abilities by this point, allowing him to glide, charge, and breathe fire to name the most common ones. So in case you’ve forgotten just how fun this title is, go back and play it again.
Legend of Dragoon
Yes, I had to save my favorite for last…because I’m biased that way. Possibly one of the most epic games on the PlayStation 1 console, Legend of Dragoon boasts 4 discs and dozens of hours of gameplay. People either love LOD, or they hate it. There is no middle ground. Those that hate LOD view it as little more than a poorly-made version of Final Fantasy. But for those who love it. it’s one of the best games ever made. Ever.
If you survived the entire game, you probably have the theme music playing in your head right now. Because there is no “fast” way to complete Legend of Dragoon, you will be playing for several hours, days, weeks, and possibly months. You’ll learn how to get that addition just right, every time. You’ll have the music memorized and the list of items ingrained in your brain.
The graphics were, and really, still are, stunning. Yes, it was mostly in the cut scenes that you got to view the lovely digital art moving across your small television screen, but it was still worth it. Really, even the gameplay graphics were beautiful during the PS1 era and created a magical experience.
The gameplay was truly a remarkable feat and was well worth the effort put into it. Each battle, each boss fight, was unique and challenging in its own way. Speaking of challenging, that is one of the most memorable aspects of this game. For many, this game was downright brutal and could easily take you several tries to beat one boss, losing your sanity in the process.
Of course, being young during my first play-through helped none whatsoever. Stumbling your way through fight after fight would only get you so far before you became inevitably stuck. LOD takes a certain amount of strategy and planning. It especially helps if you’ve played through this game before and know what to prepare for. Choose your players, items, and weapons wisely and you may just make it to the end of the game. And trust me, that’s an accomplishment.
With so many great games, you’ll wonder why you ever got rid of your PS1. So if you’re desperate like me, try downloading an emulator or track down some surviving consoles. Do what you need to, because these 6 classic games will make you wish you had a PlayStation 1.
(Have a favorite PlayStation 1 title not mentioned in the list above? Put your favorite game in the comments below.)