PlayStation and Me: Memories of Sony’s Killer Home Consoles

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Out today, the latest limited edition PS4 Pro celebrates the sale of over 500 million PlayStation consoles.

You can’t buy one anymore – they’re all sold out. Only 50,000 of the 500 Million Limited Edition Translucent Blue PS4 Pro consoles were available across the world. If you really do want one, you’ll now have to pay extortionate prices on the likes of eBay, or win one. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to snag one, though I do have one of those lovely limited edition controllers released alongside it. There’s a headset available to preorder, too.

The release of the 500 Million Limited Edition PS4 Pro console got me thinking about my history with the PlayStation brand though. Now over 20 years old, I’ve many fond memories attached to PlayStation products new and old. While my gaming habit was born with an Acorn Electron before being further developed by numerous SEGA consoles, it was the original Sony PlayStation that cemented my preoccupation with video games for probably a lifetime.

I remember playing a PlayStation for the first time and being blown away by it. It was at my sister’s house; her boyfriend had just bought a PlayStation, and so we sat taking it in turns to play WipEout, Tunnel B1 and Actua Golf. At the time, I still had a SEGA Mega Drive. I had a huge collection of games for it. All the Sonics, the Streets of Rage trilogy, Primal Rage, Cool Spot, Zool; you name it, I probably had it. Once I’d had a taste of the Sony PlayStation though, there was no going back.

At that time, I knew a guy who had a video game shop. I used to trade in games to get another one of the same value for a measly £3. It was great. Keen to get a PlayStation, I made a call and agreed to trade in my Mega Drive and all of my games for one. The deal was done. From what I remember, my Mega Drive collection enabled me to get a PlayStation and at least ten games, including Resident Evil, Ridge Racer, Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider. I was over the moon.

Suikoden, one of my all-time favourites

It took me a while to get used to the PlayStation’s controller. Having access to so many buttons was weird at first. I also remember not being able to play Resident Evil because it was too scary. In time, however, I came around to both, and Resident Evil became one of my favourite games. It gave me a passion for the horror genre that was further developed by the terrifying Silent Hill; well, it was terrifying at the time, anyway.

The original PlayStation was where my love of JRPGs was nurtured too, thanks to an obscene number of hours spent with games such as Suikoden, Final Fantasy 7, Wild Arms and Vandal Hearts. The PlayStation was heaven for fans of JRPGs, and so too the PlayStation 2, something I’d discover years later. With the likes of Metal Gear Solid though, which I believe I completed in two sittings, I truly believe that the PlayStation era redefined gaming. It made it mainstream, and demonstrated that games could be about more than just high scores. They could be cinematic.

When the PlayStation 2 rolled around, it didn’t make quite the same impact on me that the original PlayStation did, but I loved it nonetheless. Ushering in an era of cinematic 3D games with more complex game mechanics, I found my taste in games changing as the years went by. On PlayStation 2, horror games really rose to prominence. There was a trio of brilliant Silent Hill titles, and Capcom delivered gems like Resident Evil Code Veronica and Haunting Grounds. Action games also became more enticing, with the Devil May Cry series quickly becoming one of my obsessions. I still found time for some JRPG goodness though; Final Fantasy X and Ephemeral Fantasia being a couple of standout titles.

I spent hundreds of hours with Final Fantasy 7

While the likes of Halo started drawing me towards Xbox many years into the PlayStation 2’s lifecycle, it remained my system of choice. That would change in 2005 with the release of the Xbox 360, however. With a generation between them, the Xbox 360 quickly had me leaving my PlayStation 2 to gather dust. Sony had lost me, and it would be nearly a year until the release of the PlayStation 3 that I would hold an iconic PlayStation controller in my hands again. Despite buying a PlayStation 3 at launch though, it took years for it to drag me away from my Xbox 360.

The PlayStation 3’s early years were dire. Most games didn’t look or perform as good as their Xbox 360 equivalents, the operating system wasn’t attractive, and the console itself was just too expensive. In an effort to get blu-ray players into homes, Sony had dropped the ball, and Microsoft ran with it. While games like Ridge Racer 7 and Uncharted had me playing on the PlayStation 3 for a while, I always found myself returning to the Xbox 360 to do the majority of my gaming. Plus, I had become somewhat of an Achievement whore. That would only change late into the PlayStation 3’s lifecycle.

Fond of quirky Japanese games, as they started to appear less on the Xbox 360 and more on the PlayStation 3, my gaming habits started to change. Then I got drawn in by the pursuit of platinum trophies. I found myself buying multiple copies of games such as No More Heroes, not only because I loved playing them, but also because their trophies would stack. Gran Turismo 5 was also a big reason why the PlayStation 3 eventually won me over. I had been a fan of the Gran Turismo series ever since the first title, but I probably spent more time playing Gran Turismo 5 than any other. It helped that me and my work colleagues had weekly competitions.

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The brilliant God of War

Gran Turismo 6 would arrive just after the launch of the PlayStation 4. It was perhaps a silly move by Sony. I spent a little time with Gran Turismo 6; I wanted to play games on my shiny new PlayStation 4, and so I quickly abandoned it. Plus, the PlayStation 3’s operating system is even harder to bear once you’re accustomed to the PlayStation 4’s.

Largely due to Microsoft botching the release of its Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 has gone from strength to strength, with only a few hurdles along the way. Its initial lineup of exclusives wasn’t all that impressive; titles like Killzone Shadowfall looked nice, sure, but they aren’t going to be remembered as classics. It’s the titles released since then that have really impressed though, like BloodborneHorizon Zero Dawn and God of War. And the power of the PlayStation 4 Pro has enabled developers to make them even more spectacular.

Now nearly five years old, the PlayStation 4 isn’t done yet though. Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man is less than a few weeks away, and nearly everyone is excited for The Last of Us 2. Toss other promising titles into the mix like Ghosts of Tsushima and Dreams, and you’ll see that the future of the PlayStation 4 is bright, even with the announcement of the PlayStation 5, or whatever Sony chooses to call its next console, looming. The PlayStation brand is here to stay. Long live PlayStation.