It wasn’t until I met my husband that the PlayStation came in to my life. He was knee-deep in Sony territory when we met. Though I was knee-deep into Nintendo, we somehow still managed to make things work. Anyway, he had amassed a large collection of PS games, some of which he didn’t play very often. (These tended to be RPGs or platform games.) So while he was engrossed with the likes of Tony Hawk and SOCOM, I took the occasional chance on a few titles in his library that weren’t getting much attention. The same process kind of went for the PlayStation 2. Except by this time, I was paying more attention to gaming and game news, and I found a few PS2 titles that I wanted to explore on my own. Even so, I never spent an extensive time with either PS console, which is why I’ve combined them into one list. The nice thing is that with the PS 2 being backwards compatible with PS1 disks, I’ll only need to keep a PS2 on my island…and maybe a backup. The PS2’s were known for being notoriously finicky. Hmmm, and the five games I choose will need to have some staying power…a tough decision lies ahead…
When Sony entered the market with its CD-based console dubbed the “PlayStation” in 1994, gamers everywhere seemed to hold their breath in anticipation. The PS wasn’t the first CD-based gaming console, but it became the most successful. Following a range of mostly lukewarm responses to the likes of the Sega CD (a Genesis add-on), the 3DO, and the Sega Saturn, it seemed people weren’t ready to just throw their money at another “new age” system, particularly with some of the wonderful games, a la Rare for example, that were being released on the SNES at the time. However, the PlayStation was bolstered with a strong selection of games and multifunctionality – it could play both audio and video CDs as well as games. Here we are almost 20 years later facing the 4th PS incarnation, and the Sony train shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Final Fantasy VII
Sadly, I feel like FFVII will forever remain in my unfinished pile. Years ago I got really close to the end, and then I got stuck on a particularly hard boss. I tried and I tried and I tried to beat it, but I never managed to issue the final blow. Time passed and FFVII sat quietly on the shelf awaiting my return, which has yet to happen. At this point, I’ve been seriously considering picking up an old PS1 on eBay for the sole purpose of finishing this game. (Seems like a worthy investment of $15, no?) So is FFVII the best RPG of all time? Some say yes, some say no. All I know is that it’s a wonderful and fun game with an engrossing story and a very memorable cast of characters. It was my first FF game…and it just might be my last. Well…with the notion of “last” being relative on a deserted island.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
I can’t possibly imagine my PlayStation experience without Symphony of the Night. It was one of those lightly-played games in my better half’s library that immediately caught my attention. I had garnered a little Castlevania experience, so I was intrigued by the title to say the least. Nothing could have prepared me for the gorgeous, magical game that awaited. The story of protagonist Alucard and Dracula played out in the most beautiful set of pixels ever put together by a developer at that point. (Sorry Rare.) This 2D side-scroller played so well and told a great story besides. There’s no way it’s not getting a spot on my island. If anything, I’d need to keep up my vampire-hunting skills, because one never knows.
Capcom vs. SNK 2
Prior to playing Capcom vs. SNK 2, my fighting game experience had been mostly with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games. So playing something as encompassing as Capcom vs. SNK 2 was a breath of fresh air. As the title suggests, CvS2, like its predecessor (that I never played), brought together characters from Capcom games – mostly Street Fighter — and SNK games such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Art of Fighting. CvS2 was a fast, 2D, bright, and massively fun fighting game with plenty of in-game options – from the choice of characters to modes of play. It also introduced me to Morrigan, who remains one of my go-to fighters in any such games she’s appeared in since.
Oh Sora, my Sora, how do I love thee? Let me count…er…I mean…Kingdom Hearts, what a great game! At the risk of getting all sappy, I adored the heck out of Kingdom Hearts, and Sora was a fantastic protagonist to play. Combining Disney characters, new characters, and those from other games (Final Fantasy) was a genius move for Square Enix. It’s always interesting to see how others might make over a known universe, and the Kingdom Hearts version of Disney was one of the best re-imaginings I can think of. But the game wasn’t all Disney happy magic. There were plenty of darker and creepy moments that added necessary depth to the story. It never feels like a “Disney” game – KH holds a place all its own in gaming.
Really, me choosing compilations should not be a surprise by now. I simply could not, and will not, pass up the chance to include the Activision Anthology on my island. We’re talking over 45 games games on one disk! Though they aren’t all the most awesome games ever, still, that hundreds of hours of gameplay, even including the games that kinda stink. But beggars can’t be choosers on a deserted island, so I’ll take what I can get. And with Activision Anthology I have a huge selection of classic Atari 2600 games, from Pitfall! to Enduro to Commando. Along with games like Plaque Attack that, yes, involves toothpaste and teeth. Duh. This disk will keep me plenty busy with games I’ve never played (and probably should not be played by most sane people) and games that I once loved.
Well there you have it. A little platforming, a little RPGing, a little (or a lot of) retro. I should send a shout-out to Burnout 3: Takedown, which just missed being in my top five. It’s a brilliantly ridiculous racing game of sorts that’s great for letting out pent-up aggression. Man, the PS and PS2 really did offer some great games; and the same goes for the PS3, without a doubt. That’s up next in this series. Look for it in the coming weeks!