Following on from a discussion in Game Jolt, I thought I’d make a blog entry on my favourite PlayStation 1 games. Really fun system, I was just old enough to catch the “first ever *cool* game console!” wave which meant that forever after I just couldn’t enjoy Nintendo’s systems as much. I still do, but their games just don’t appeal to me half as much. That’s off-track though. PlayStation games!

Ape Escape – my favourite PS1 game. The first, and one of the very few, in which using an analogue controller instead of the stick-less digital pad was mandatory. As a result, it used a unique and intuitive control system – left stick to move Spike (the protagonist), face buttons to quick select between four items in the inventory (which could be customised in the pause menu), shoulder buttons to jump, crouch etc, and most importantly, the right stick to use the item. With the net, you could swing in any direction by moving the stick in that direction, or swing the net around in a circular motion to “scoop” up monkeys by turning it. Spinning attacks with the light-saberish weapon were possible by rotating the stick. The catapult worked by holding the stick in the opposite direction to the way you wanted to fire (as you’d expect – if you hold a catapult, you draw the ammo back so the elastic pings it forwards). Though the camera suffered a bit – L2/R2 and the right stick were all taken so your only camera command was “snap to back of Spike” – Ape Escape was an excellent game. It was followed up by two sequels (2 and 3) and numerous spinoffs, mainly on PSP, and is apparently coming to PS3 as Ape Escape 4. And yes, to end on a pun, if this is genuine, I will go apeshit.

Tombi – as fantastic as the demo I had years back suggested. Tombi mixes platform adventure with RPG to bring an original and genuinely brilliant fun game, which is loaded with content too. You can save up experience points, kill pigs with frontflip flings, learn languages, get high on mushrooms and have your weapon replaced with giggling fits that make poisonous mushrooms nearby start giggling too, making them vulnerable. It’s apparently coming to PSN – I can faithfully say that Tombi was worth the £65 it cost me to obtain, so it will sure as heck be worth the £5 or so you’d have to buy to play it on PS3 or PSP.

Spyro 2 & 3 – I wasn’t a big fan of Spyro 1, but its two PS1 sequels hit the nail on the head perfectly. Amazing soundtracks, a deeper-voiced Spyro, some of the most memorable levels I’ve ever seen (Cloud Spires! Zephyr! Okay, the names aren’t memorable but I can truly visualise at least 20 separate levels from each of the games). Infact, just thinking about these games, which I’ve already completed at least twice each and at least once each to 100%, makes me want to play them all over again.

Crash Bandicoot 2 & 3 – not including 1 just because I didn’t get a PlayStation until after its release, and didn’t really grow up with it. I owned 3, and my cousin owned 2 – both absolutely fantastic games. A little on the difficult side for me – I still struggle to get to 50% and am very hard pressed to ever see Cortex as a boss – but nonetheless some brilliant games that knew 3D was a new thing, so kept it nice and simple and used it well.

Crash Team Racing – maybe I’ll get lynched for this, given the game is basically Super Mario Kart with Crash characters and that I said up top that I find PS games generally more fun, but this is a near-perfect karting game (certainly my favourite in the genre), and I’d even go so far as to saying it’s my favourite Crash game. As well as being a lot less difficult than the platformers that proceeded it, CTR was an absolute blast in multiplayer (as well as single player!). Plenty of variety mean this game is still played by me and friends to this day.

Gran Turismo 2 – my age when I got this was actually very helpful. GT5 has less than wowed me if I’m being honest (I guess I should expect that when I try and put a Burnout-warped mind to a realistic sim racing game!), but back in 2000-2001, a brand new PS1 game was the only new PS1 game I was seeing for three months. I ended up getting hugely far in the game, built up a massive garage of cars and was completely in love with the game. One of my fondest silly moments was blowing my entire starting fund on a crap car. Instead of having the intelligence to just start again, I entered it into a 50-lap endurance race. I was lapped 30 or so times and it took around five hours to finish, but the last-place consolation prize was enough money to buy a better “first” car!

Grand Theft Auto 1 & 2 – more 2 to be honest. As a 9, 10 year old kid, a freeform game in which you got to go around running people over with stolen cars was essentially naughty heaven. GTA1 is included as it was the first one I owned (which was after GTA2 was released – I remember getting it because a friend showed me 2). A couple of years later though I got 2 and the memories from that one stuck with me far more. I actually nabbed both of their soundtracks from the discs – I love them. (I think “Sterlin – Standing On My Own” is the name of my favourite song.)

Hogs of War – along with Crash Team Racing, Hogs of War was a multiplayer-is-best game that is still often played between me and friends. Infact, me, a friend, his girlfriend and his sister played it for a couple of hours at the end of December last year! It’s essentially a 3D version of Worms that is far superior to the actual Worms 3D that came out in 2003 or so. Brilliant game and very funny (mainly thanks to the voiceovers provided by the hilarious Rik Mayall), damn shame it never got a sequel or rerelease.

Worms – these days it’s easy to make a level. Throw LittleBigPlanet 2 at the level and start Popit-ing things like nobody’s business. 12 or so years ago, I was doing it by setting the turn time limit in Worms to infinite, allowing infinite uses of both the ninja rope and girders, and going around making girder forts. The game largely fell out of multiplayer favour thanks to Hogs of War, and Worms Armageddon/World Party (more fun, but lacking the ability to set turn time to infinite, making creation more of a chore).

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – fond memories like no other. For a large chunk of my childhood I had a “girlfriend” – we played THPS2 to the death. I haven’t properly played it in years and I can still mentally map out the vast majority of the maps, even the secret ones like the in-space level. It’s taken Skate 2/3, released ten years after, to finally bring a skateboarding game I’ve been able to play as much as Pro Skater 2.

Rugrats: Search for Reptar – okay, now you’re getting silly. Or am I? While an absolutely poor game, even in its time, there’s a weak nostalgia with R:SfR. But added to that, there is the fact that I’ve actually completed it about ten times. Why? It only takes 30 minutes to do! Half an hour of nostalgia and a game completed 100%? Oh, go on then!

V Rally – on the opposite end of the spectrum to Gran Turismo 2 comes strictly-arcade V Rally. Played this an absolute ton. If I’d had my current mentality on racers back when PS1 was a current console, I have no doubt this would be my favourite racer.

Vib Ribbon – I always feel I have to justify how much I like Vib Ribbon. But it’s great – stylish, odd, and so simple it can store the entire game in the PS1’s RAM and generate a level for absolutely any piece of music on any music CD you own. Replayability to the absolute extreme.

Bishi Bashi Special – the worst thing about Bishi Bashi Special is that none of my friends loved it as much as I did. When it’s predominantly made for multiplayer play, it’s not great. But I’m still very, very fond of the game, have sunk tens of hours into it just by myself, and recently it saw a new bit of life when I bought it on PSN and was able to play it anywhere on PSP. If you’re unfamiliar with BBS, take WarioWare. Increase the length of the microgames to around 20 seconds each, include a little video introduction, and pump the game full of Japan-isms.

Overboard – one of the first games I played on PS1. Simple, but very fun – topdown-ish pirate ship shooting game that somehow mixes puzzling and strategy into itself. Very original

There are so many others that deserve honourable mentions. As a kid, having a game like “Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus” with its own button for letting rip was always going to be a winner. Was also one of three first games I *owned* for the console, along with the slightly crap “B-Movie” and the slightly crapper “Sensible Soccer”. Speaking of football, “Soccer 97” was one game I did enjoy. A game I’m just buying on eBay now, that I haven’t seen in over a decade, is “Star Gladiator Episode I: The Final Crusade”, a very fun and very Street Fighterish beat em up in 3D (better 3D than Virtua Fighter). “MoHo” was original and funky, as were the two “MediEvil” games. “Devil Dice” was an amazing demo. Never saw a copy of the game anywhere sadly. Same with Kula World, though that’s out on PSN. And also same with Bugs Bunny’s Lost In Time – another fun demo, but the game? Where are you?!

Oh, who am I kidding? The PS1 had so many noteworthy games it’s not even funny. Next time, I’ll either cover SNES or PS2. PS2 will be a danger zone. I have tons of favourites. Eep!

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