1995? Has it really been that long?

My situation in getting into the “Magical World of Playstation” was different for me from the current days of going into the old store or staying out overnight in the cold to fight eBay scalpers. I was still a few months into the gaming industry, fresh-faced and far less world savvy (wearied?) than I am now. I played on the blue and green dev units, and my first games were Mortal Kombat 3 and Doom. This was back before Williams became Midway, and many years before Midway became extinct.

I was used to CD-based gaming before (read: The Sega CD), but not with some many colors, or arcade and PC comparable accuracy. I was playing Playstation four months before its retail debut, but I went to my hometown’s local Wal-Mart, bought a copy of MK3 (we developed it, but didn’t publish it), and later Twisted Metal. My roommates and I also ended up with a copy of Tekken and Wipeout, and there were many tournaments.

It was different from the Super Nintendo and Genesis, Donkey Kong Country, and Phantasy Star 4. Yet as cutting edge as it was, the next game I worked on was Arcade’s Greatest Hits, which featured games like Defender and Robotron: 2084. But these were great emulations, something 16-bit never could (or never wanted to) pull off.

Playstation became home to a list of experiences I never could play on a Nintendo or Sega system. Other Tekken games, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Alien Trilogy, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider…. While Sony generally shied away (initially) from new 2D gaming experiences, it was the best way to get classic gaming compilations. And then titles like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night came out, and Final Fantasy VII. And even unusual niche games like Parappa the Rapper.

I grew to love the Playstation for its RPGs, since Squaresoft had exclusively migrated to Sony. But there were also titles like Metal Gear Solid, Spider-Man, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Die Hard Trilogy, Pac-Man World, and via dance pad, an arcade accurate Dance Dance Revolution.

It’s the system that brought me full-motion videos, 3D fighters, epic RPGs, and memory cards. Nintendo had Super Mario 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but Sony’s library benefitted from deeper gaming experiences (thanks to the CD space), as well as a ton of new IPs, franchises and characters that hadn’t been as good since the NES days. And after the Nintendo 64’s advances, there were the addition of analog sticks and rumble features.

Like any good system, all things much come to an end. Playstation was streamlined and eventually replaced by Playstation 2. The PSP allowed for PS Classics to be played on the go, as well as portable updates of all the regular franchise staples. I’ve still yet to buy a PS3.

It’s funny that with all of the online hype of the original system’s anniversary, my first memories aren’t of the games, but of the place in my life where it fit. Times of just starting in the industry, and getting my early birthday present thanks to my Dad. And I was there for every major E3, to see the games hyped by all the publishers. But there were certainly the games.

My Playstation gaming is more linked to my PSP these days, with digital comics and the next Square-Enix RPG, or some obscure, quirky title that comes out. But it’s hard to deny the pure fun that came from that era in gaming.

Happy birthday, Playstation. You certainly shook up the gaming world back then.

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