It is time for NES and SNES nostalgia to retire. The NES has had the longest nostalgia cycle – from the early 2000s until modern times – of any system we will likely ever see. Heck, I was a part of the problem. Today, every time I think we’ve reached “peak NES,” another NES book gets released or Nintendo doesn’t produce enough of the NES Classic, causing mass hysteria among middle-aged gamers.
The SNES hasn’t been overexposed like the NES has, but it has been consistently discussed for the better part of 25+ years. This is no doubt due to the high quality of the SNES’ games, but at some point, you’d think the retro gaming community would be tired of discussing the merits of Final Fantasy III/VI or debating whether Super Mario World is better than Super Mario Bros. 3. I love Nintendo and I love these consoles, but it’s enough.
Super Nintendo… no more.
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
It is time to reflect on different consoles, consoles like the PS1 and PS2 that have yet to be explored at length within most retro gaming circles. That word “retro” is important because, regardless of what some of us in our 30s and 40s would like to admit, that is exactly what the PS1 and PS2 are. The unrelenting march of time proclaims that the PS1 is nearly 25 years old. That’s a quarter century, con sarn it! While the PS2’s games have aged better than the PS1’s, at nearly 20 years old, Sony’s second console isn’t getting any younger either.
The PS1 and and PS2 are also two of the best-selling systems of all time, with 100+ million and 150+ million respectively. There were thousands of games released for these systems in North America alone and thousands more within Japan and Europe. And yet, outside of the occasional site like Hardcore Gaming 101, the PS1 and PS2’s game libraries have yet to see any significant exploration within the retro gaming populace.
“Pick us, we’re ever so much fun!”
For years, it felt like PS1 and PS2 games never truly went away. The PS1 debuted in 1995, but it saw new games release for it up until 2004. The PS2 similarly debuted in 2000, but the final game released for it was in 2013. When the PS2 released, it came with backwards compatibility for the PS1, ensuring that those who wanted to continue playing early janky 3D titles could do so. The PS3 continued the backwards compatibility trend with its earliest models, though Sony quickly axed the PS2 BC and began selling dozens of old PS1 and PS2 titles on its Playstation Network for surprisingly decent prices. Even with the PS3 dead in its grave, the PSN still has those titles available for the time being. Only in the last few years with the PS4 has Sony disabled backwards compatibility altogether in favor of… very little. There are a handful of PS2 titles available on PS4 and that’s it.
Also, because the PS1 and PS2 launched between the birth of gaming-centric websites and the continuing success of game magazines in the late 90s/early 00s, coverage of both consoles was more than ample, especially compared to earlier console generations. Log on to Gamespot or IGN or purchase the latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly in the year 2000, and you’d find more than enough reviews, previews, first looks, etc. of the latest PS1/PS2 games. Because of this information overload, it’s easy to feel like, well, maybe the PS1 and PS2 saw enough coverage during their own heyday. And considering sites like IGN have all their original PS2 articles and reviews still online, why go back now?
Because it’s time. At least for me. I’ve forgotten what many of these titles were like, and I’d like to experience them again (or in many cases, for the first time). Both libraries are so beautifully weird and diverse. For every Twisted Metal and Syphon Filter, there’s Aquanaut’s Holiday and Tail of the Sun. For every Metal Gear Solid 2 and God of War, there’s Chulip and Mister Mosquito. Sports games that sold millions of copies and now sell for five cents on eBay. The survival horror genre with tank controls that made the games even scarier. Stupid aggro late 90s action titles like Mass Destruction and Krazy Ivan. For better and for worse, the PS1 and PS2 have any type of game, any type of genre you can imagine.
… oh dear.
And so, Polygon Symphonies. I want to play PS1 and PS2 games. Lots of them! All of them? Let’s give it a shot.
I’m going to play these games in chronological-ish order, starting with the PS1 and PS2 launch titles. I want to see how 3D games evolved from this…
For the first time in my chrono-gaming career, I’m going to use original hardware to play these games. Also for the first time, I’ll be taking screenshots using an Elgato Game Capture HD. The possibilities are numerous!
So join me, won’t you, for a dive into the deep end of two of gaming’s finest console libraries. I can’t promise the water’s fine, but it’s there and that’s enough.
*thanks to Retro Gaming Australia, Technabob, Game Art HQ, Moby Games for the screenshots