HISTORY OF SONY
Like Nintendo and Sega before it, Sony was a Japanese based entertainment company before it began the journey into video gaming. It was created back in 1946 and was a simple electronics shop called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, with only eight employees. They changed their name to Sony when wanting to enter the global market after inventing Japan’s first tape recorder and a quality transistor radio. Over the next few decades Sony expanded massively, branching into life insurance, movies and music. Its video gaming subsidiary, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc (SCEI),wasn’t created until 1993.
Just a year after SCEI’s creation Sony launched the Sony Playstation in Japan. Playstation is actually a product of technology that almost went to Nintendo. In the late 80s Sony and Nintendo were working together to create a CD-ROM based format to be used as an add-on to the SNES. Nintendo eventually cancelled the idea and partnership after many internal disputes and back-stabs between the two companies, after which Sony decided to create SCEI and make their own console using similar CD-ROM technology. If you are interested in the details of the disputes I suggest visiting the Sony and Nintendo pages on Wikipedia. There’s a very detailed, interesting and crazy history. Like the Saturn, the Playstation uses 3D models and polygon graphics. The Playstation’s controller was very different than any before it. While the four button layout was similar to the SNES’s, the Playstation’s controller used four-way directional buttons (slightly different from your standard “d-pad”) and had optional dual analog sticks that give the player more feel of 3D motion. Playstation also was one of the first consoles to require a memory card, utilizing Sony’s own “Magic Gate” proprietary card.
The Playstation wouldn’t see North American shores until 1995, at a launch price of $299 ($469.78 today adjusted for inflation), an entire $100 cheaper than the Sega Saturn, its competitor at the time. The launch library was one of the best ever, with Rayman, Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Philosoma and Air Combat. Ridge Racer and Rayman were very popular and have become successful ongoing franchises over the years. The Playstation outsold and outperformed the Saturn every step of the way, leading the video game market until its first real competition, the N64, launched a year later. Sales for the Playstation were very high, selling over 102 million units before its eventual discontinuation in 2006. Its lifespan of 12 years is one of the longest in gaming history.
PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE PLAYSTATION
Growing up I never owned a Playstation. I went from a SNES to an N64. But like my experience with visiting my grandmas to play the Saturn, I had places I visited regularly that had a Playstation. Most of my friends had them, including my best friend who I stayed with at least once a month. I have fond memories of multiplayer with him on Twisted Metal 2 and Tekken 3. He also had Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot and Driver, all fantastic games at the time. My uncle also had a Playstation and he had all the shooters that my friend’s mom wouldn’t let him have. I experienced Metal Gear Solid, Duke Nukem, Doom and Resident Evil for the first time at his house. That was when shooters really became popular with gamers. Those games along with Saturn’s Virtua Cop were what initially hooked me on shooters. I remember really liking the controller’s analog sticks and two rows of shoulder buttons. The Dualshock was definitely my favorite controller at the time.
COLLECTING FOR THE PLAYSTATION
The original Playstation is kind of average in price and difficulty to collect. The system itself and most of its hit games aren’t too difficult to find at decent prices. The Playstation can be found under $50 and the average game is around $15-20. But a few of the games most people would deem as “must-owns” are over $25, like Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII, Parappa the Rapper and Silent Hill. Prices also are higher if you are an OCD collector who only wants “black-label” versions of the games. Black-labels are on Playstation 1 and 2 games when they originally release. If they are re-released years later as a “Greatest Hit” or something like that then they have green or red labels respectively. So if you’re someone who insists every case on the shelf line-up exactly and be the exact same color then you can expect to pay a few bucks more. As far as the system you can save a few bucks by buying the later model Playstation Slim if you aren’t worried about whether you own the original version of a console or not. The Slim model also tends to run much better and is less likely to have been damaged over time.