Even as the war between the SNES and the Genesis continued to rage on, the companies sought means of expansion. While Sega was focusing on development for the Sega CD, an add-on for the Genesis that used CDs as its storage medium, Nintendo formed an alliance with Sony to make their own CD add-on for the SNES. Negotiations went sour, however, and the deal was cut, with Sony still maintaining a thirst for the video game industry. Sony went on to release the PlayStation in 1995, their own CD-based console with a different demographic focus and gaming philosophy. While I was never actually an avid PlayStation gamer, it’s impossible to say that the system did not have some great games, so here are the ones I think are truly worthwhile.
5. Final Fantasy VIII
I had to stick a Final Fantasy game on here. “Final Fantasy VIII” is the epic tale of Squall, a soldier in training who gets thrust in the middle of a full-scale war crafted by a powerful sorceress. With the help of the friends he meets along the way, Squall is charged with the task of defeating the sorceress and uncovering the hidden truth of what is occurring in the world. Like standard fare for the Final Fantasy series, “Final Fantasy VIII” is a turn-based RPG, but makes vast changes to the battle systems of prior games. Though confusing at first, these changes prove to offer even more variety in battle than ever, making for an overall better experience. Additionally, “Final Fantasy VIII’s” massive graphical overhaul coupled with a story that pulls you in makes this the perfect successor to the acclaimed hit that was “Final Fantasy VII.” Also, Squall’s sword is able to function as a gun – how cool is that?
4. Theme Park
A classic that probably flew under most everyone’s radar, “Theme Park” is “Roller Coaster Tycoon” before “Roller Coaster Tycoon” even existed. In the game, you assume the role of the manager/owner of an amusement park, and you have but one ultimate goal: profit. “Theme Park” puts full control in your hands as you strategically plan out pathways, build roller coasters and attractions, adjust prices, hire employees and make negotiations. “Theme Park’s” gameplay offers just the right kind of addictiveness that will have you coming back for more and more until you build the perfect amusement park.
Much like “Grand Theft Auto 4,” the main focus of the Driver series is on sandbox gameplay centered around driving cars. The game puts you in the shoes of Tanner, an undercover cop that utilizes his driving skills to become a wheelman for a large crime syndicate, doing missions as he makes his way to the crime lord in order to put him behind bars. The game has a very cinematic feel, and the developers banked on this fact by including a “Director’s Mode,” where you can play around with the cameras on a previous run-through. “Driver” keeps things fresh with a good amount of variation in mission design, and the controls make the game more than playable. Be warned, though, as some missions will definitely make you want to pull your hair out. But hey, you could use a good challenge.
2. Mega Man Legends 2
With the “Mega Man Legends” series, Capcom took quite a few liberties in making a completely different Mega Man game. For one, the series has a much larger focus on storyline, weaving fully voice-acted cutscenes in between gameplay. The series also feels much slower as opposed to the “Mega Man X” series, which has a main focus on speed. As opposed to the traditional level selection, “Mega Man Legends” and its sequel, “Mega Man Legends 2,” contain an open-ended world that you could freely explore. The last major change is in how the game plays – no longer a 2D side-scroller, the “Mega Man Legends” series contains a behind-the-back view of Mega Man, effectively turning the series into a 3rd-person shooter of sorts. Though being a long stretch from the standard fare, “Mega Man Legends 2” (and its prequel) offers a surprisingly enjoyable change of pace for the Mega Man fan with an interest in story and exploration.
1. Metal Gear Solid
How can I explain “Metal Gear Solid” in a way that won’t make it sound absolutely ridiculous? The truth is, I can’t. This is one of those games that you just have to play for yourself to see what all the hype is about. A spiritual sequel of sorts to “Metal Gear” for the NES and “Metal Gear 2” on the MSX2, “Metal Gear Solid” served as the basis for stealth gameplay in the industry today. Like its predecessors, “Metal Gear Solid’s” intended method of gameplay is to make your way through an enemy facility while trying your best not to get caught – the less combat, the better. That isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to go gung-ho, but the game’s mechanics all focus around diversion and stealth. Factor in an absolutely brilliant story with more twists and turns than Lombard Street and you’ve got an instant classic. “Splinter Cell,” eat your heart out.
Next week we’ll be taking you to the console cartridge’s last stand (and one of my favorite consoles), the Nintendo 64!