Review by fekkot

"It's- aiight.........."

Believe it or not, the Sony Playstation was originally a joint project between Sony and their now #1 competitor, Nintendo! Plans began waaaaaaaay back in the fall of 1991 (design plans didn't begin until late in 1992). Of course, we all know that Nintendo would NEVER successfully work with another company to make a system. Not with those egos. Nintendo decided to cancel the project and that they didn't need to rush a system to try to keep up with Sega's 1992 Sega CD. Mainly because it sucked anyway. So in 1993, Nintendo decided to begin production on Proje- wait, I'm supposed to be talking about Sony here. In 1994, Sony decided that they wanted to complete it since they started. So finally in the Summer of 1995, all the wait was over and the Sony Playstation was released in the states.

With the launch of a system, there are plenty of things to worry about. One thing is getting third-party company support. Many systems bombed very quickly due to the lack of them. But Sony didn't have to worry about such customarily significant propositions at all since they were already arguably the most successful and prestigious entrepreneur in electronics business. Mainly known for their radios and TVs..... But I knew them better as the company that wasted my hard-earned $5 allowance on rental after rental (and now purchase after purchase at Funcoland) of 16-bit abominations like Bram Stoker's Dracula and No Escape (though they were called Sony Imaginesoft at the time). There are other things that other companies had to worry about like having the cash and right designers to create a powerful system to keep up with the times. Sony also didn't really have to concern themselves with any of that because they were freakin' rich.

Despite all of that, they didn't start off with any very big-name companies like capcom. They started off with a few independent games like Twisted Metal and Battle Arena Toshinden, as well as some from fairly popular companies like Interplay (Loaded) and Williams/Acclaim (Mortal Kombat 3). About 6 months later, they finally started getting the big guys with them like Capcom on Street Fighter Alpha. But the ol' Sega Saturn was always a step ahead of them. When Sony got SF Alpha, Sega got SF Alpha 2. When Sony got Darkstalkers, Sega got Night Warriors. Things like this kept happening, but Sony still came out on top because of their riches and Sega's marketing impotence (as always). That resulted in Sega being pushed to the ve- doh! Sony! Sony SONY!

A couple of years later, Sony got in the very front of the system race. They had brilliant advertising and lots o' cash money and got the biggest developers like Squaresoft and Capcom to constantly make games for their system while Sega was holding up a sign saying ''hi, were's Sega. Come and do games for our system!'' and Nintendo was so over-indulged in themselves that they had the highest percentage of self-made games EVER. Not to mention the dwindling popularity of the Saturn and the ridiculous amount of N64 delays. Sega and Nintendo practically handed the gaming industry to Sony and their friends on a silver platter. Square was only getting bigger and bigger, the games of the PSX (Playstation-X is actually it's full name) started breaking records with popularity that was getting downright scary on games like Tomb Raider, Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy 7/8/9. Video games got more in the mainstream than EVER. Appearing in everything from hip-hop and rock magazines to tons of toy lines. They eventually even had about as many adult game players as pre-teens! They got the power, but did they use it? (Finally) on to the review.

OVERVIEW I

GRAPHICS: 7+

The system has a special R3000A (whatever it is) 32-bit RISC. As opposed to the Saturn's dual 32-bit RISCes (heh). It has 16.7 MILLION colors, which is the exact same amount that the 3DO had, the ability to have up to 4000 sprites on-screen at once, and a 33 Megahertz (sic) speed processor- higher than any system at the time. The system has games with graphics that are very great like Tenchu and Metal Gear Solid, but even with all of those colors, the games hardly ever reach true majesty (you know- something like Astal) like the Saturn, Dreamcast or PSX 2.

In every case (except speed), it was visually outdone by one of it's two main competitors. The Saturn versions of SF Alpha 2 and Night Warriors were far better and had far more animation frames than their Playstation versions/counterparts (mostly on 2D games). The N64 outdid it in the polygon department. But the system is VERY good on cut scenes and mini-movies. They aren't TOO good- you know, like the kind of ''good'' the Sega CD was at FMV? Well, I can't compare ANYTHING to that! Anyway, there are many cases where the PSX just couldn't take the heat that the new games were demanding at all like with the Capcom Vs. games where they couldn't accurately include the tagging features. Overall, the PSX has a pretty good balance of 2D and 3D visuals. But it's far from perfect at either.

SOUND: 9+

They're very good in most cases. The punches are realistic and roaring in most of the fighting games, and the explosions, slashes and gunshots (which are about all you ever hear on the system) are equally satisfying. This voices are usually very good too. When they ported the 3DO game Gex to this system, they did some serious throat surgery and greatly improved Gex's voice. The voices in cut-scenes of games like Tomb Raider and Tenchu are very well-done. But I won't detract any points for cheesy dialogue.

MUSIC: 5+

Okay, while the music is extremely clear in most cases, I don't like the direction this system went every year after it's first. While every other 32/64-bit system is sticking to the basics, with the preponderance of music this system, they try to make it sound like ''real'' music. You most usually end up with techno and rock. In fact, some of them even have actual rock stars and such doing songs for the games (like Tony Hawk)! If I wanted any of that, I'd just put on my OWN CD! I don't exactly want to hear techno if I'm playing a shooter like Einhander either. I prefer the old-fashioned ''cosmic'' music. Other games have music that REALLY don't fit the games like the lite-jazz soundtrack on Street Fighter Ex Plus Alpha. But there are a chosen few with very good music like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Twisted Metal. By the way, this system can play music CD's too. It seems that no matter how perfect and stainless a CD looks (I tried a brand new one once), it STILL scratches on this system! Overall I think it's a pretty average system for music.

PERIPHERALS: 6

I'll give them credit for being the innovators of the cleaver little Memory Card accessory- a small card that stores 20 to 120+ saved games in it. That was a cool idea. As for the rest, there's nothing very interesting in it's collection except for maybe the steering wheel controller. The rest are pretty much just bigger controllers (which I'll get to later) and bigger Memory Cards. But my obvious favorite is the Pro Action Replay. It gives you lots of cool codes. But who cares? It can also- heheheheheheheheheheheh.....

OVERVIEW II

ACTION (2D): 5

Sony is quite skeptical about promoting 2D games and it shows. They pressured Konami and Capcom to take their star characters to the ''next level'' (3D). I'm glad it didn't work because then we wouldn't have seen the five best 32-bit 2D games of all time; Mega Man X4/5 and 8, Strider 2 and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. They all have their flaws, but they're still great efforts. There are a couple of other good (but to a lesser extent) 2D action games like Gex and Rayman. I'd definitely end up with 8 or less if I tried to name every good 2D action game on the system.

ACTION (3D): 7+

There are a lot of poor attempts at 3D action games on this system. Croc is a great example; he's a very uninteresting character in a sub-par Mario 64 rip-off. The Frogger games don't deliver too much either. But the Crash series is pretty good, albeit it's not really 3D, and it can be extremely monotonous. Of course, whenever I hear or say the word ''monotonous'' the first thing that ALWAYS comes to mind is Tomb Raider. I heard that a new one just came out this month. And another one's coming for the PS2! The first Tomb Raider is no doubt a classic, but I completely stopped caring halfway through the second one. And I'm not too crazy about those two Mega Man Legends games, but there is always Metal Gear Solid, and my favorite, Tenchu. Overall the 3D action selection on here is better than the 2D, but just a bit above average.

FIGHTING: 7+

Well. One thing for sure is that you don't have a shortage here. There are tons of Capcom fighting games for it- old and new. But there are problems with them all. As I've said before, they have less beauty and frames to them, and they have a tendency not to have slowdown or just not include the more action-packed things at all. The second thing is how I HATE the PSX controller on fighting games! First off because of the cheesy ''plus'' formation of the buttons (the SNES has them a lot more close together) that stops me from doing my favorite roundhouse-forward-Hadoken combo. The other thing I hate about the controller is that the actual joypad is the tightest piece of junk I've ever touched! Not one of the system's controllers are even acceptable to me on Capcom fighting games! And man, as if the control on SNK games weren't bad ENOUGH! But the controller is okay for the rest of the fighting games. Tekken 3 and Bushido Blade are both great and Soul Blade is okay, but that's as far as I go in 3D fighting for this system.

BEAT-EM-UPS: 1+!

Dragon Valor is definitely the best of them, but what use is there in a one-player beat-em-up? And they probably would've been better off not making anything at ALL rather than shoving out Fighting Farce,Batman sucks Forever/Beyond and Fantastic Bore.

RPGS: 8

This system definitely has more RPG's than ANY EVER, and the vast majority are from Squaresoft. But most of their RPGs on this system are for a very aquired taste. I like to play RPGs- not watch movies. It seems that I end up doing that every time I cast a damn spell. I've also noticed far more pointless dialogue and more frequent random monster attacks in these new ones. Not my style. FF7/8 is no FF6 (but 9's pretty good, and you can get 5 and 6 on the Anthology). Chrono Cross is no Chrono Trigger and Legend of Mana is no Secret of Mana. I'm not even going to get into the rest like Vagrant Story. And I'm absolutely disgusted with Square's commercials, but that's another story. However, Enix has been making some masterpieces lately. Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean 2 are some very good RPGs. The adventure/RPG games are almost non-existent. The only two I can think of are Herc's Adventure and Brave Fencer Musashi. And they're both very good games. If you play in your sleep, you'll have time to have fun with RPG Maker.

STRATEGY: 5

Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Vandal Hearts and Kartia are all okay, but you only need to play about two of them to get enough. They do have a slightly better version of the classic Ogre Battle. Their selection of non-RPG strategy games is quite poor. Romance of the Three Kingdoms 4 (already on the SNES) and 5 (which isn't much different) isn't enough. Worms: Armageddon is the only fast-paced strategy game you'll find on this system.

SHOOTERS: 6+

I've noticed a rule here: if Square makes it, it's automatically BETTER than everything else! That explains how Einhander got far more attention than the at least equal Thunder Force 5, G Darius and R-type Delta. They're all good 2D shooters although they're all full of total cheapness (especially Einhander). You can get R-types if you're very old-school. It only has about 4 overhead shooters for it (Raiden Project, Raystorm and Philosoma are all I can think of), and none of them go past okay. I would've loved to see any of the 1945 games on this (or any other 32-bit) system. But Capcom is too busy making Super Champion Street Fighter vs. Marvel Ex Plus Alpha Turbo 2: the Movie.

OTHER: 8

Most of their puzzle games are the exact same as 16-bit puzzlers, so they're no big deal. There are a few very innovative classics here, but some games took certain genres to the next level. Others just stole some like Crash Team Racing (and a ton of other go-cart games). Twisted Metal 2 proved that respectable car combat games could be made on consoles, and Parappa the Rapper, Bust-a-Grove and Um Jammer Lammy ceased the total ridicule of music games (don't touch Spice World!!!!!).

OVERVIEW III

YES!!!

*there are tons of games for this system
*the great sound quality
*the interesting Memory cards
*it created (and re-created) a couple of genres
*tons of RPGs and Fighters

NO!!!

*a total lack of two-player cooperative games (just G Darius, Herc's adv. and maybe Twisted Metal 2 are good)
*RPGs and fighters over-shadow everything else too much
*the graphics aren't up to par with every system that came at the same time of or after it
*the joypad is too tight (hard)
*you won't find many very challenging games for this (unless you're a total- beginner)

HISTORICAL VALUE: 3

This is the greatest selling system of all time and it got video games completely into the mainstream. But that's not a good thing at ALL. Due to half of the gamers now being more casual, that ruins many of things for ME. Games are getting a lot easier, no more cooperative games, I'm seeing the same couple of genres far too much and far more games depending solely on graphics (and busty girls) to impress (the scariest part is that they ARE impressing people enough to buy games)! And Sony's murdering poor Sega while Nintendo's just holding on (I'd suggest an alliance)! It's like hip-hop; everything was going just perfectly until clowns like Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Young MC started showing up and making it mainstream.

OVERALL: 6+

All theatrics and raves aside, this isn't that bad of a system. It has some BIG problems, but it has it's moments too. The Pro Action Replay can definitely help. It's extremely overrated. But I'm used to them, because they're here to stay.

FEKKAMENDATIONS:

1. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
2. Herc's Adventure
3. Twisted Metal 2
4. Tekken 3
5. Thunder Force 5
6. Star Ocean: the Second Story
7. Final Fantasy 9
8. Tomb Raider
9. Mega Man X4
10. Strider 2


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/01, Updated 01/03/01


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