Thursday, February 21, 2013

My top #PlayStationMemories

There are rumors galore circulating about tonight's Sony announcement. Most believe it will center on a PlayStation 4 announcement, some think that some news about the Vita - including a price cut, while others think perhaps a handful of big titles will be announced. This seems like a good time to look back at the last three PlayStation consoles - and I have owned every one of them personally.

Matt wrote up a similar article here, which if this topic is of interest to you (and since you are reading this, I am hoping it is) makes for a very good read. We have some similar thoughts and memories, but obviously our experiences are different as well.

I have a lot of memories about the PlayStations from over the years. I had a day 1 PlayStation 1 - a buddy of mine went in 50/50 on the system so we could have it with like 3 games right off of the bat. Of course, my buddy couldn't come up with his half when the day arrived, so I plunked down for all of it and he just came over to visit a lot more often.

Battle Arena Toshinden got a lot of love right from both of us early on. He and I were big fighting fans, having played Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter plenty - this was another avenue for us to beat the tar out of one another. The series did spawn some sequels, though Tekken eventually became the big new 3D fighter when it came out, and completely overshadowed Battle Arena and wound up getting more play once it came out. Still, the two of us logged a ton of hours with this game first.

The Tekken theme would continue for years. Shortly after I was out of college, Tekken Tag Tournament came out and my roommate at the time had that and Madden as his first two games for his PlayStation (more on Madden below). We logged a ton of time with our friends playing Tekken Tag Tournament. The huge roster of characters made it a favorite with our friends as we would log hours beating up on one another.

RPGs are among my favorite gaming genres, and the PlayStation consoles have had some great RPG titles from over the years.

Final Fantasy VII - Matt touched on this in his article and I shared his sentiments in that Final Fantasy VII felt different than hits predecessors upon release. However, on a personal note, it was also the first time I had ever pre-ordered a video game - through Electronics Boutique. I even got a free T-shirt out of the deal.

Sticking to the Final Fantasy theme, Final Fantasy X became my favorite Final Fantasy game ever. I played it at a friend's house and my wife saw how much I immediately fell for it. Visuals, story and some of my favorite gaming music of all time - for whatever reason this release hit multiple high notes with me. Now why this short story sticks out so well for me is back then I was a college kid with a wife and two kids - I was pretty broke. This was probably the least amount of new video gaming I can remember, because I simply could not afford new games let alone new consoles over the span of a few years here.

The reason I mention this is because my wife, her aunt and my dad got together to buy me a PlayStation 2 and Final Fantasy X for Christmas that year - and I was beyond thrilled, believe me.

So... Madden. Probably my favorite sports franchise ever. I first played Madden on the Sega Genesis, but the series really came into its own for us during the PlayStation years. The ability to do a franchise mode, and not just a season mode, gave it some serious staying power for several of us back in college. We would each pick a team and start playing over the weekend. How my wife did not kill me back then for the constant company when they were over at our place is still a mystery to me.

Wings and pizza became our primary sources of sustenance as we would pound out games on the bigger TV every weekend, and we would set up a game system on a second smaller TV to keep people occupied. We would hand around memory cards between classes or before or after work as we would see one another so games could progress throughout the week. Landon would play his Packers, Bryan would play the Bucs, Randy would always take the Lions (my favorite team as well) - so I would wind up taking another squad like the Raverns - and we would just sink tons of time into competing with one another.

Another topic Matt touched on in his article was the Resident Evil series, which was certainly a huge win for Capcom and fans of horror. Still, for my money, no game series was ever creepier than Fatal Frame. My wife and I both love a good horror movie and while my wife is generally not a gamer, she got engrossed in all three games as well. We would get some food, settle down on our beanbags beside one another and spend long hours of the night playing through these incredibly creepy games. I know Silent Hill and Resident Evil got the most recognition, but Fatal Frame was the series that was spooky enough that my wife would always start playing, but before long hand me the controller and be content with spectating for hours on end.

Another is the way the handheld Sony devices really changed my perception of portable gaming. I had a Game Boy and an advance. My kids had DS Lites. But the PlayStation Portable was my kind of handheld system. The JRPG titles were a natural fit with my gaming tastes, and I just preferred the controls and button-based interface to the DS and stylus approach. That is not to say I do not like the DS - I have a 3DS and I think it is an awesome little handheld. But even with my affection for the 3DS, I am more impressed so far with my Vita. A single, clearer screen suits me better overall than the split screens, even if one of those screens sports a nice 3D effect. The way the Vita ties into the PSN and shares content with my PlayStation 3 has me very excited to see what interactions are in store for my Vita and the PlayStation 4.

Last but not least, the PlayStation 3 delivered on the promise that it would become a central hub for family entertainment - at least in my household. The Wii's resolution limitation and the Xbox 360's need to be Gold in order to use Hulu or Netflix hurt both with our family. Sure, the same basic options were there - but the PlayStation 3 provided this access for free, at high resolution and with a menu system that my wife certainly liked better than either the Wii or the 360.

We also began to purchase and build up a fairly sizable Blu-ray collection. It also helped that the PlayStation 3 was wireless right off of the bat, unlike the Xbox 360. It was easy to connect the PlayStation wirelessly to our computers around the house too, so we could stream images, music, video - anything of that nature we wanted to. The original PlayStation allowed me to play CD's, and the PlayStation 2 gave me access to DVD's but the PlayStation 3 really opened up a lot of other media possibilities for my entire family.
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