Yesterday Sony surprised us announcing the PlayStation Classic, a mini version of the PS1. Following in the footsteps of the Nintendo mini consoles, the Classic will come with 20 beloved retro games from the PS1 era, such as Final Fantasy 7 and Tekken 3.
This news has me reflecting on the PS1 games I loved. While I adored the obvious choices like Tomb Raider, Spyro, Tekken and Gran Turismo, there were some obscure games that I was equally attached to. Possibly even bad ones.
Cool Boarders 2
I may have played this game more than any other in my PS1 collection. Let's take a moment to put that comment into perspective. The original Tomb Raider made me truly fall in love with video games and want to be involved in the industry. And yet ... I played more Cool Boarders 2.
As the name suggests, it's a snowboarding game. And while that may not sound particularly interesting I loved that the comps were comprised of both races and trick jumps — and that ere mercilessly difficult. I had to play over and over again to master some of them, and it was damns satisying when I eventually did.
I was also extremely into the customisations that were available for the outfits and boards.
I've heard from mates that the original Cool Boarders game was excellent, and I'm sad that I never got to experienc it.
I was insanely addicted to this gratuitous Mario Kart rip off. I didn't have a N64 or GameCube at the time, so I took what I could get.
Like its Nintendo counterpart, you raced as quasi cute characters who could pick up items along the track to mess with your opponents.
Because nobody else I knew had this game (they all had the real Mario Kart), I was that jerk who knew all the secrets and shortcuts and used them to pummel my friends.
I'm not proud.
This was a super early PS1 game that came out in 1995. It was also incredibly violent.
The basic premise is that you play one of six anti-heroes who needs to stop an intergalactic supervillain from taking over the universe.
I honestly can't remember a whole lot about the plot, and that's probably because I mostly played the first few levels repeatedly. I was hard and I was bad at it. But I kept coming back because I loved the ultra-violence of it all.
Even as a top-down shooter, there was a huge almost-comical blood spray. The first level also involved escaping from an asylum, which added an extra layer of creepiness and interest for me personally. Thinking back, the idea of it is somewhat reminiscent of Suicide Squad, which debuted less than a decade earlier. Apparently the game also has some origins in DC and Vertigo comics, which I found interesting.
In retrospect, I was way too young to be playing something like this. I don't even know where I got it from.
In this game you're literally a beach ball. And it's awesome.
I first came across this on a demo disc and was immediately hooked. I'm usually quite garbage at puzzlers, but I enjoyed this a lot. The aim is to guide the ball through 3D platform levels, collecting keys, gems and coins so you can get to the next stage. Simple, but elegant.
Physics and gravity were central to the gameplay so it could take quite a bit of trial and error to defeat the harder levels.
I might need to revisit this one as I remember it demanding all of my attention. I find those kinds of games relaxing as it forces me to be present and not dual screen in order to check emails, work, etc. Cook, Serve, Delicious is good for that, too.
Harvest Moon: Back To Nature
Harvest Moon certainly isn't weird or obscure — there are a tonne of games in the series spanning multiple consoles. And with the release of Stardew Valley, the cute farming sim genre is as popular as ever.
But what was interesting about Back To Nature is that it was quite difficult to find on PS1 in Australia. Of course, I didn't didn't know this when I scooped up a single copy at my local target for $7.50. Checking eBay a few years later, some copies were going for over $100. The regret was real.
Anyway, it was a bloody fun and charming game that had beautiful graphics for the time.
Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi
There have been a hell of a lot of Star Wars games over the years, but this one sure isn't remembered fondly. Some even refer to it as the worst Star Wars game ever made.
Part of the problem may lie in the fact that the name doesn't have a great deal of commercial appeal beyond whacking "Star Wars" onm it. Not everyone knows that Teräs Käsi is a term for combat that's used to counter the Jedi.
But more importantly, the gameplay is often referred to as sluggish, boring and generally not-great — which is not what you want for a fighting game.
And look, all of that is probably accurate. But I was a Star Wars obsessed kid who grew up on Mortal Kombat. I was determined to love it.
Part of the appeal for me was the inclusion of Mara Jade. I knew who she was when a lot of my friends didn't, and that made me feel cool. Plus, it meant that Leia wasn't the only playable female character and that nice.
Anyway, I don't care that it was most likely absolute garbage — remaster it, you cowards!