Tagged "PlayStation"

original
Nov 29

Back in the early ‘90s CVG magazine ran a short article taking a look at the copious amount of then upcoming consoles. Whoever wrote it claimed that the “Play Station” (as it was then known) was likely to be pushed to the wayside by the consoles Atari, Nintendo and Sega were working on. In hindsight, it’s a claim that’s somewhat comical.

ps1

At the time though it was a justifiable thing to have said. The only experience Sony had with videogames was via their publishing label Sony Imagesoft, whose arguably biggest hit was Mickey Mania for Mega Drive and SNES.

The fact that the PlayStation only came about due to an aborted partnership with Nintendo to create a CD add-on for the SNES also hinted at some sour grapes on Sony’s behalf. It was almost as if Sony were planning to go at it alone simply as payback for Nintendo cutting their potential fortunes short.

Cheap and easy to develop for, the PlayStation did of course eventually go on to outsell both the Saturn and N64 while becoming a household name in the process.

Sony’s marketing campaigns played a large part in the system’s immense popularity – putting demo pods running WipEout in UK nightclubs was a genius move, not to mention one that helped videogames as a whole appeal to a far larger audience.

Those who shelled out £299 on launch day were treated to a stellar line-up that knocked the Saturn’s launch games for six. Ridge Racer may have only featured one track, but it looked far greater than Sega’s rushed out conversion of Daytona USA. It was, in short, a system seller.

wipeout

WipEout was an altogether different kind of racer – far edgier, without a single pair of wheels in sight. It may have been soon bettered by WipEout 2097, which featured vastly improved handling, but the original was still a very important game for Sony that showed off what the system could do.

The soundtrack too turned heads, featuring licensed tracks from Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and Orbital. The now sadly defunct Psygnosis provided quite a few of the PlayStation’s line-up in fact, with two more titles – Destruction Derby and 3D Lemmings – arriving just a couple of weeks after the console itself.

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ps4hipster_top
Jun 11

There are high expectations for this year’s E3 conferences. Microsoft filled in the blanks surrounding the Xbox One, and now it’s Sony’s turn to elaborate on the PlayStation 4. Specifically, what will it actually look like, and how excited should we really be?

You can watch the video stream of Sony’s E3 conference below, which goes live at 2AM GMT. Below that may be some words if we stay interested and awake enough to liveblog it all.


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DualShock 4
Feb 22

As you may have noticed from the flood of coverage online this week, Sony have unveiled the PlayStation 4. Or haven’t, in that we didn’t get to see the box itself. But we could argue over semantics all day. (We won’t.) They did show the new DualShock 4 controller, so let’s focus on that.

I wrote a piece nine years ago entitled ‘Sony, Change Your Pad’. The thrust of it was this: the DualShock concept is fundamentally flawed, because it evolved from the original PlayStation pad, but didn’t keep evolving. Amazingly, that’s still the case. What do I mean? Let’s take a closer look at that evolution.

PlayStation

PlayStation Controller
PlayStation Controller
Dual Analog Controller
Dual Analog Controller
DualShock
DualShock

The original PlayStation launched in 1994/95 with the standard digital-only PlayStation Controller. The position of the d-pad was, presumably, optimised for comfort. The short-lived Dual Analog Controller was introduced in 1997, adding the titular sticks in the controller’s armpits – and rumble, but only in Japan.

The DualShock launched in 1997/98, rendering obsolete the Dual Analog, which was discontinued in 1998. There were a few changes in addition to the vibration feedback, most obviously shorter arms, and a move from smooth concave thumb sticks to textured and convex. With the majority of the PlayStation catalogue at this point not using the analogue sticks, the d-pad was understandably left in its original optimum position.

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ps4_launchmeeting_top
Feb 20

Tonight at 11pm GMT Sony is holding a conference in New York, where everyone is expecting the unveiling of the PlayStation 4. The live video stream of the event followed by our live blog is below.

Update: They did in fact announce the PlayStation 4, due for release this Christmas, as well as a bunch of new games. Full details in the following live blog.

Read The Live Blog

Aug 24

Farewell, Psygnosis

That image – beautiful, but also crushingly sad – was the last offering from @wipEout2048 on Wednesday, following the news that Sony are closing SCE Studio Liverpool – or Psygnosis, if you prefer. Which I do.

Look back at the original PlayStation launch titles. No, really, look:

  • Ridge Racer
  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Jumping Flash!
  • Rapid Reload
  • 3D Lemmings
  • Wipeout
  • Novastorm
  • Kileak: The Blood

Though it’s not hard to see from that, it’s important not to understate the fact: without Wipeout, the PlayStation would have been a fundamentally different beast.

Ridge Racer was, as Matt pointed out recently, all good and well. But it wouldn’t have got the console into nightclubs. It wouldn’t have marked PlayStation out as different to other gaming. The music, the design – yes, Wipeout was cool.

And a good game, for that matter. But by no means the only significant contribution made by Psygnosis (founded in 1984, which I wish I could say is before I was born) and SCE Studio Liverpool (which it became in 2001).

Back when the company was a publisher and not just a developer, they brought Lemmings to the world. Lemmings, for God’s sake! They also published Rollcage, which I bloody loved. And plenty more besides: their softography is chock-full of quality items.

Few games companies lasted so long, or had such an impact. Farewell, Psygnosis. May you rest in peace, and many good things rise from your ashes.

Aug 14

None of the characters below are starring in the upcoming PlayStation All-Stars, but by our reckoning Sony still has the rights (or could easily access the rights) to at least five of them. Whether gamers would want to play as a cartoon mouse or a medieval jester over Nathan Drake or Cole MacGrath is another thing entirely.

Robbit

Jumping Flash! was the PSone’s first platformer, launching alongside the machine, and was praised for being highly original. A first-person platformer was something nobody had ever seen before. That’s unless you had the chance to play the developer’s previous game Geograph Seal for the Sharp X68000, which was highly similar.

Robbit – so called because he’s a robot rabbit – went on to star in Jumping Flash! 2 and Robbit Mon Dieu which contained an assortment of PocketStation mini-games. As the PocketStation was never released outside of Japan, Robbit Mon Dieu remained in its homeland.

Cheesy

Ocean Software were big players back in the ‘80s but failed to adapt to 32-bit markets, with their final game being the PSone version of Mission: Impossible. Cheesy could been seen as sign that they were losing their way – even in the ’90s a bright yellow mouse wearing green shorts was perhaps the least trendy video game character ever to be designed.

Although reviews weren’t bad, it was only ever released in Europe and Japan. Cheesy received a slight makeover for his Japanese début, making him a little bit more tolerable on the eyeballs.

Firo & Klawd

If Kane & Lynch were ever transformed into cartoon characters then they’d probably look a bit like Firo & Klawd. Gun totting ape Firo was the muscle while Klawd was an alley cat with street smarts.

Another 2D or possibly 3D platformer? Nope – this was an isometric affair, with a plot involving stopping a counterfeit money ring. It was a game that vanished without trace upon release but the characters must have had some appeal – we seem to remember that they were often in CVG’s ‘drawings what you done’ pages.

Jersey Devil

Another offering from Ocean, but this one was way more ambitious than Cheesy and had a lot more press attention. After seeing much promise, SECA picked it up for the US market while Konami bagged publishing duties for Japan. Then the reviews came in… and they weren’t too kind.

IGN’s review is still up – they gave it a 5.0. “If I had to recommend Jersey Devil or Gex: Enter the Gecko, it easily would be the latter.”

Now that’s saying something.

Jinx

We’ve mentioned Jinx before on Games Asylum as there’s an odd titbit of information about it. The purple-clad jester first made his appearance on a demo disk which was given away with McDonald’s ‘extra value’ meals. About a month later the Official PlayStation magazine – which was long in the tooth at the time – announced the game in their news section giving it just a small paragraph of text and reporting that not much was known about it, even though a playable demo was available.

The next month, again, it was only given a small preview and treated in a mysterious manner. It was almost like the writers had been told to only drip-feed information about it. Jinx did eventually appear on the cover though, as did the demo. It wasn’t a bad little game but it didn’t offer much for experienced gamers.

UmJammer Lammy

Parappa the Rapper is starring in PlayStation All-Stars but UmJammer Lammy is not. This is kind of understandable – two floppy 2D character may make the whole thing a little too nonsensical. Not that Nathan Drake smacking Fat Princess around the chops makes any sense at all.

For the uninformed, UmJammer Lammy was sort of sequel to Parappa the Rapper, featuring similar gameplay and even a few character cameo appearances.

If PlayStation All-Stars does well, and Sony look at bolstering the roster with new characters, Lammy has a much better chance of making the cut than any other character in this article.

Tombi

Tombi (aka Tomba) is another game we’ve mentioned lots of times in the past, often receiving a shout out during our eBay round-ups. It routinely sell for £50, as can the sequel.

Tombi – a caveman with a fearsome set of gnashers and hair of outrageous pink hair – was a likeable character, and both Tombi and its sequel reviewed well. But sales were mediocre, forcing developer Whoopie Camp to shut down. We can’t say “whoopie” about that.

Spider

We’ve kept track of every giant spider we’ve killed when playing a video game and the grand total comes to 1,754. Rather than kill spiders though, Spider: The Video Game (eh?) let you play as one.

The star of Spider wasn’t any old household spider though – this was a cybernetic insect, being controlled by the thoughts of a scientist. Not wanting to stereotype, but we can’t imagine this game being too popular with female gamers.

Kingsley

The star of Kingsley’s Adventure had to save a place called the Fruit Kingdom from an evil warlock called Bad Custard. It almost sounds like the plot of an episode of Adventure Time. Although published by Sony, Kingsley’s Adventure was quietly slipped out of the door with little fanfare.

Just think: if it had done well we may be playing Skylanders: Kingsley’s Adventure right now.

Wex Major

Wild 9 was a victim of its own hype. After appearing on the front of magazines and being billed as ‘Earthworm Jim for the next generation’ due to being from the mind of Dave Perry, it ended up being repeatedly delayed while the Sega Saturn version was canned. By the time it did arrive reviewers could muster little enthusiasm for it.

The cast of characters was pretty strong with Wex himself able to attack enemies using a weapon called The Rig – a backpack with the ability to pick up and throw objects. If you ever see it cheap then it’s worth a try, especially if you’re a fan of Earthworm Jim. It’s quite groovy.

Next week: The forgotten heroes of Xbox

Jun 14

The web made a step towards being a whole lot bigger yesterday, when ICANN revealed the full list of potential new generic top-level domains – because .com is terribly 1985.

Sony have gone for .playstation, .xperia and .sony. Microsoft are after a handful, including .microsoft, .xbox and .live – giving them the option of both xbox.live and live.xbox. Another Microsoft application is for .bing, which opens up the delightful possibility of badda.bing.

It’s presumably all a bit too online for Nintendo, so there’s no .wii or .virtualboy on the cards. But they’re in good company – Twitter, Facebook and eBay were among the other companies conspicuous by their absense.

At the other end of the scale, Google and Amazon have gone after 101 and 76 new gTLDs respectively. They’re both among the five companies interested in .game, but Google is one of only two parties interested in .dot – and I would have thought that dot.dot alone would hold more allure than that. But with just the application process costing $185,000, that’s a lot to pay for basically one novelty domain name.

The only other games company that jumps out of the list is Konami, but they’re only after .konami, which isn’t terribly interesting. Nothing from the likes of EA and Activision, for example.

There are some oddities in the list – which is worth a look if you’ve got half an hour to scan the 1,930 applications – but also some inspired choices. Who wouldn’t want a .ninja domain? Or what about .ooo – gamesasylum.ooo has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

No sign of .cotton though, sadly.

Jun 05

Sony E3 conference

Sony’s E3 2012 press conference came and went, much as expected, and a little light on dramatic unveilings. Whilst the big hitters such as The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension oozed quality, the biggest surprise of the night was arguably Wonderbook, an augmented reality… book. In its favour, the first Wonderbook title, The Book of Spells, is a creation of Harry Potter’s J. K. Rowling.

Wonderbook

Sony’s show was also heavy of the Ellen Page. In addition to The Last of Us featuring Ellen’s doppleganger, Quantic Dream’s new title Beyond actually stars Ellen Page, with the actress providing the voice and motion capture for the game’s main character. It’s a game about telekinesis and the after life, so hopefully it should be as good as Quantic Dream’s last game, Heavy Rain.

Beyond

PS Vita titles were a little thin on the ground – the main news being an exclusive version of Assassin’s Creed III for the Vita and the ability to use the Vita as an additional super control pad in various games, such as Little Big Planet and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Speaking of the All-Stars… Super Smash Bros wants its game concept back.

The Last of UsFittingly, the show was played out with The Last of Us, which reinforces Naughty Dog’s position as possibly the best developers around right now and easily producing the most impressive titles on Sony’s system since the first Uncharted.

As always, an E3 without a new system unveiling can be a little quiet, and Sony didn’t really throw out any big surprises to set the world alight, but there was nothing particularly wrong and they’ve shown that there’s some life left in the old dog.

Should you want to sit through the whole conference yourself, Sony livestreamed the event online, and you can catch it on Youtube below.

You might want to skip to the 30 minute mark.

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