Tuesday 29 September 2020

25 years of PlayStation

25 years ago today, the original PlayStation went on sale in the UK. I wouldn't own Sony's upstart console with a copy of Tomb Raider until 1996. However, I first played a friend's Japanese import PlayStation and then commandeered a university housemate's for a daily dose of Destruction Derby, Ridge Racer and WipEout when I should have been writing my third-year dissertation. Because reasons.

I'd taken my 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) to university where it played genial host to Super Mario Kart tournaments, with housemates and friends, until the PlayStation was launched in 1995 at the peak of the console wars between Nintendo and Sega. Incidentally, the console wars will be explored in an upcoming documentary on Netflix.

Without the SNES, there would be no PlayStation. Sony's 32-bit console began life as an aborted SNES CD-ROM add-on in 1988. However, Nintendo shunned Sony at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and partnered with Philips in 1991. The rest is gaming history.

PlayStation 5 (PS5) (affiliate link) launches this November, and it's all too easy to overlook the disruptive impact the brand has had on popular culture for almost 3 decades. The PlayStation popularised 3D visuals with landmark titles such as Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. Capcom's survival horror was nightmarish played in broad daylight at a friend's sadly defunct independent video game store.

Tomb Raider, originally released on the ill-fated Sega Saturn, became synonymous with PlayStation in the mid-nineties, and I feverishly followed the franchise for several years, collecting all manner of merchandise in the process. Lara Croft was a female protagonist possessing the chutzpah of Indiana Jones.

In the mid-to-late nineties it was fashionably cool to say you owned a PlayStation during water cooler conversations at work (in my case as an online journalist at Reuters) and the console was featured on newsstands everywhere, from Edge to FHM, nudging Nintendo and Sega off the top spots forever.

What are your favourite PlayStation memories? Let me know in the comments below.

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