Back in 1994, the PlayStation made its debut and changed gaming for the better. Before that, arcade games, 8-bit and 16-bit consoles were all seen as children’s playthings, and the PlayStation truly made video games a medium that could be enjoyed by all ages.
This was thanks to the PlayStation’s extensive use of 3D graphics, CD-based software, and being the first to introduce a 32-bit console to the market with an affordable price. While the hardware was amazing on its own, it is the blockbuster games that developers brought to the table that changed public perception on what video games are and what they could be in the future.
Pushing The Limits
With the storage space that CDs brought to gaming, video games could push their graphics to be even more realistic and have better audio capabilities for better music and voice acting. Full motion video was one major feature that most developers pushed for, especially through the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy VIII especially pushed the envelope, with the attack on Balamb Garden in particular being a standout moment in PlayStation history. As Squall and his friends engage in an all-out war, the whole scene plays out in a pre-rendered video while players are still able to control Squall throughout the scene and defeat enemies while flying through the air.
This new storage format also brought forth new genres; this includes 3D platformers like Crash Bandicoot, rhythm games like Parappa The Rapper and Dance Dance Revolution, and survival horror games like Resident Evil and Parasite Eve. The Resident Evil trilogy in particular made good use of the format to really hone in on the B-movie aesthetic that the developers wanted to pay homage to, while overcoming the limitations to make the games as scary as possible.
Stories To Tell
Video games were really starting to become a new way to tell more complex stories, not confined by the limitations of books and films. The perfect example of this would be Metal Gear Solid, a stealth-action game that at times could either feel like a Tom Clancy novel or a war movie à la The Hunt for Red October.
Hideo Kojima in particular pretty much single-handedly brought the majesty of film and weaved it into his game design. Metal Gear Solid even began with a title sequence, with each character and their voice actors scrolling through as Snake makes his way into Shadow Moses island.
Since the games’ developers were upping the ante, that also meant that the way games were marketed had to be changed as well. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was the perfect example of ‘90s counter culture, celebrity endorsement and a growing new sport coming together to become an iconic franchise, backed up by an era-appropriate soundtrack and advertisements all over TV and skateboarding magazines.
Road To Greatness
Since the first PlayStation, Sony made sure its consoles became the conduit for games that innovated the medium, particularly in storytelling and graphics. The successors of the PlayStation have kept up with this philosophy, with the PS4 being the home of enthralling stories like God of War and The Ghost of Tsushima, and it seems that the PS5 will be carrying on with this tradition as well.
Maybe without the PlayStation, we would still be playing shoot-em-ups and beat-em-ups, and never truly know what could have been done with the medium. Luckily, we all live in a world where the PlayStation paved the way for modern gaming as we know it today.