Archive for the Sony Category

My Tribute to Sony’s wonderful Playstation 2.

Posted in 1990's, 2000's, Dreamcast (Long Live the...!), N64, PS2, PS3, Sony, Video Game with tags , on February 21, 2013 by Divide By Zero

What can I say about the Sony Playstation 2 (PS2)?  In my mind it’s the one of the greatest systems out there.  It had almost a 13 year run, and was sadly discontinued on January 7th of this year.  You can’t really say anything bad about a console that grew to the age of most 8th graders in a world where technology becomes obsolete in [right around] 6 months.

Although I do think it’s funny that all of the other discontinuation articles or blogs I’ve read say something to the affect of: “So long PS2!  Sony’s most popular console is officially off the market.”  Really?  Of course it’s the most popular console; it’s only been out for 13 years.  Before that was the Playstation 1 (PS1).  That wasn’t a terrible console, but it was up against some heavy competition from the two titans of the industry at the time.

Released in late 1995, the PS1 hit the scene.  Immediately it was in competition with the Super Nintendo until 1996, (when the Nintendo 64 came out) and the Sega Genesis.  A lot of parents were weary about buying their kids a PS1 for the same reason why they were skeptical about the original XBOX when it first came out.  It was a produced by a “new” company, with no established credibility in the video game industry.  I’m sure next to no one knew this back in 1995/96, but the only other console that Sony had ever produced was a CD based model actually financed by Nintendo.  It was a flop for a lot of reasons.  But more power to the people at Sony for taking what they learned from Nintendo and venturing out on their own to become one of Nintendo’s biggest competitors.  Who would have ever thought that would happen?

Anyways, back to the guts of what I was saying… Being right about 10 years old at the time, me and most of my friends had either a Genesis, or a SNES.  I didn’t get a PS1 until a few years later in 1999, around the same time the Sega Dreamcast came out.  I remember that Christmas!  I was actually more of a Sega fan during my youth, and needless to say, wanted a Dreamcast more than anything else in the world.  Looking back on it now, how could anyone NOT pick the Dreamcast over other systems?  Do you remember the commercials?

I guess I was more of a visually influenced person.  Or maybe I was just showing loyalty to the company that gave me my awesome Genesis.  Or maybe I was just a dumb kid.  Who knows?  But I was sucked in by the commercials, the posters that came in magazines or in the mail, and the displays they had in the stores.  What about the boxes the consoles came in?  Remember the boxes?  Give me a little color, please:

Nice and colorful.  Something kids would want, right?

Nice and colorful. Something kids would want, right?

Wrong.  Everyone took the "ninja-box" for granted.  Or a lot of us did.  Ok, maybe it was just me.

Wrong. Everyone took the “ninja-box” for granted. Or a lot of us did. Ok, maybe it was just me.

In either case, the PS2 ultimately won without even breaking a sweat.  The Dreamcast’s lifespan lasted a measly few years.  About 2 or 3.  I’m not even going to look it up—that’s how short it was.  While the PS2 continued its reign for that PLUS a decade.  And it’s still a console that begs to be played.  I still have mine sitting right next to my PS3, and honestly, lately, it’s been getting more use than the PS3.

Also, according to wikipedia and a few other articles, Sony has stated that there are 10,828 titles available for the PS2.  That is an enormous number, considering it took the entire lifespan of the NES to amass around 900 titles in its library.  But what else can you expect from the PS2, which is a system that brought about the success of companies like Rockstar Games and EA (Sports division) almost single-handedly.  It also made popular the Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero franchises.  To this day, I can’t go to a family gathering without there being a Guitar Hero competition, and I dare you to walk into an arcade –any good, respectable arcade– without there being at least 2 DDR platforms.

All that parental fear of Sony went away with the release of the PS2.  I remember fondly when it came out.  Five days before Halloween in the year 2000.  The world was still talking about Y2K and people were still exclaiming about how “We (as a society) overcame the biggest could-be technological poop-storm in the world!” –To date, anyway.  Within 24 hours of the PS2’s release in Japan, it sold a million units.  It was the main reason why the Dreamcast’s release date was delayed 2 or 3 times (15 year old me got an ulcer every time I heard the date got pushed back).  AND it caused Nintendo to completely tear down and rewrite their policy considering 3rd party software developers.  Nintendo, pre-PS2, wanted to be the only company making software for its consoles, with a few exceptions.  Post-PS2 Nintendo actually encouraged 3rd party development and expanded its horizon farther than what it thought was possible.

For me, that was the turning point.  After the PS2 made itself known and told the world it wasn’t going anywhere; that was the point where Nintendo was dethroned as ruler of the world.  Remember those days?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6NhfRFSaFo

Yes, in those days, Nintendo controlled everything!

I could go on and on about the PS2.  I’m sad it’s gone, it had a good run.  Sony implemented a lot of innovations on the PS2 over the years (the games, the console itself, the controllers, networking capability) that it’s still using and improving on.  Look at a Dualshock 2 and a Dualshock 3 controller and tell me what the differences are.  OK, one is wireless, you got me.  Other than that?

In closing, thank you Sony for the Playstation 2.  It had a great run, and I look forward to playing it for years to come (plus now is the time to hit up the flea markets, yardsales, ebay, whatever because the price has gone way down on everything!).  Rest in Peace PS2.

I better cut it here before I keep, uh… whatever the writing equivalent of “rambling” is.  I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to let my fans and readers know that I am back from hiatus, and will be continuing to add to this site as often as I can.  Thank you for coming back to my blog, and I hope to have a lot of more good stuff out for you in the coming weeks.  Comment, share, subscribe, whatever… just keep reading!

–The Jester.

*All images were found by using Google Image Search and are property of their respective owners.*

*All videos were obtained through YouTube search and are property of their respective owners.*

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A Fallen Hero: The Playstation 1.

Posted in 1990's, Crash Bandicoot, Nerdy Monday, Playstation, Retro, Sony, Sophistication, Video Game on November 22, 2010 by Divide By Zero

How many of you out there had a Playstation 1?  Well, back then it was just called “The Playstation”.  I had one for a little while.  I had gotten one as a back-up Christmas present.  My father had gotten me a Dreamcast, brand new, when they were all the rage.  The only problem was, the box had a small tear in it, and some jackass had stolen the AV cable out of it, so I had no way of playing it.  I had to wait until the stores got more in, a few days after Christmas to go exchange the Dreamcast.  A few days, of not being able to play a new game system?  For a 13 year old, that was Hell.

My mom, seeing the box had a rip in it, came up with a back up plan.  She bought a Playstation from a neighbor kid for $50 or something like that.  It had 3 or 4 controllers, about 30 games, and all kinds of extras.  She figured if there was nothing wrong with the Dreamcast, she’d give the Playstation to me AND my brother to share.  Instead, I got it to keep me satisfied until the stores had more of what I wanted.

It was no Dreamcast, but I consider that a good thing… now.  A lot of people, myself included, like going back and playing on systems they liked growing up.  The most popular right now are the SNES, N64, and the Genesis.  Sometimes people get a Dreamcast because you can download and burn games for free, and it’s legal.  It’s legal because no one, not even Sega is making money off of the Dreamcast anymore.  I do it all the time.

But what about the playstation?  What was special about it?

I remember the very first time I picked up a Playstation controller.  I was used to having A, B, start, select, and maybe a C button.  Where did these shapes come from?  I mean, I know the SNES had A, B, X, Y, and R/L buttons.  THAT was too many in my mind.  TO confuse me even more this controller’s right hand button selections were *circle*, *square*, *triangle*, and an ‘X’.  Then it had, not one, but TWO ‘R’ buttons, AND TWO ‘L’ buttons!  I was in a store in Potomac Mills Mall.  I was probably 12?  I’m not sure, but I remember being in an electronics store (this was before game stop and other video game specialty stores had boomed) trying to figure that controller out.  I vividly remember thinking “This will never catch on, or last”.

That was about half my lifetime ago, and now I believe the Playstation 1 is the most underrated retro system out there right now.  No one wants it, you can buy them for like five dollars.  No lie.  I bought 30 of them for $40.  That’s a dollar and 33 cents each.  Games usually run between $1 and $5.  At prices like that, why wouldn’t you have a few of them lying around?

The design…

Arguably the PS3, especially the “Slim” version is the sexiest console out right now.  The original XBox, not that good looking.  It was built more to showcase what Microsoft could do. It was built for utility, and for function.  Going back a little further, the PS2 was pretty cool, I liked the vertical stand that was blue against the black ninja-esque look it had, it was sleek.  The Playstation 1 was simple.  Two controller ports on the front, the other hook ups in the back, an ‘Open’ button, a ‘Reset’ button, and a ‘Power’ button.  Why do you think the Ps1 is different looking than the PS2 & PS3?  If the same company made all 3 systems they’d have to be similar, right?

That’s absolutely right, if the PS 1, 2, and 3 were all made by Sony, they would all be kind of similar looking.  Too bad Nintendo and Phillips were commissioned by Sony to come up with a video game console exclusively for Sony.  That’s right, Nintendo, a rival video game company, and Phillips, a pioneer in CD/DVD player technology teamed up to come up with a CD based console for Sony.  Gosh, I miss the 90’s.  The 90’s was when crap like this would fly:

None of that stuff would make sense today!  But in the 90’s, nothing else made any sense.

Was it the first top loading system?  No.  The Atari 2600 I guess could be classified as a top-loader, and it was released in 1977.

The Crazy Old Uncle of the video game family. You know of him, but don't spend too much time with him.

Shortly after that, in “Modern Times” I guess you could say, Nintendo had the first top-loading system when they released the Nintendo Entertainment System Model 2.  You probably haven’t seen this one around too much either…

Officially: "NES-101 Model", Unofficially: "The Top Loader"

No one really had this one, and some consider it a flop, because it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.  I think it’s cool.  I couldn’t find a specific release date, but I’m pretty sure this one had at least 3 to 4 years on the Playstation 1.

Was it the first CD based system?  Of course not, the Sega CD was!  Remember that pile of puke?

Pictured: The Genesis' deformed, conjoined brother.

To be fair though, the Sega CD, along with the 32x were designed to prolong the lifespan of the Genesis, so the Sega CD was not a stand-alone system.

So the Playstation 1 was the first stand-alone CD based, top loading system, right?

GTFO, the Sega Saturn claims that title.  I can’t even believe I’m bringing this up, this was a horrible system, and the 2nd mistake (out of the 3 big ones) that turned Sega into a main competitor in the video game industry, into Nintendo’s little errand boy/lap dog.

The cartridge slot isn't for games, it's for expansion cartridges that allow you to play Japanese games.

Where is this system now?  Collectors don’t even really want it.  The only reason I have one is because I stumbled across it on eBay for 99 cents with a minute left, AND it had free shipping.  That’s right, I got a Sega Saturn, a game, a controller, and hook ups, for less than a dollar, and it was shipped to my front door.  This system defines the word “flop”.

The only thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the Playstation 1 is the first successful, top-loading, CD based, stand-alone system.  It’s a mouthful, but it is what it is.  Whether you love it, hate it, or have just fooled around with it a few times and never called it again, I’m sure you have fond memories.  I will always know it as The Playstation, there will only be one in my mind.

Simple, and badass in its own right.

Another thing to mention about the development of the Playstation 1 is that Phillips actually ended up creating its own CD based gaming console to try and get in the game with the big dogs.  It was called the Phillips CD-i, and it was a god-awful abomination to video gaming.  I know you’ve never even heard about it.  You can find out more about that in The AVGN’s 3 part episode:

James Rolfe is the man, and is able to explain it way better than I can.

All of this brings me to the question: Just how underrated is the Playstation 1?

Pretty underrated.  There are so many good games on this system.  007 Racing has got to be in my top 10 favorite games of all time.  The Need for Speed franchise was born on the Playstation 1 for crying out loud.  Hot Pursuit, High Stakes, Carbon, Underground/Underground 2?  They wouldn’t be around and rocking your face off today without the Playstation 1.  And I don’t think you can talk about the Playstation 1 without talking about Crash Bandicoot.  I did a whole write up about him, that’s how much those games rocked.  As I said in that articel, Crash Bandicoot was designed by Sony to become the face of the Playstation.  Much like Mario was and is for Nintendo, and Sonic was for Sega.  And I can’t think of the original Playstation without thinking about Crash Bandicoot.

Sony did much of its own work after it got the console and rights from Nintendo and Phillips.  It was innovative, it was on the edge, and it helped shape the video game market.  Remember the multi-tap?  It made 4 players on one console possible.  Only a few games supported it sure, but it was a step in the right direction.. soon after the Playstation, the Dreamcast was released with 4 player capability right on the console.  Microsoft followed in those footsteps with the first XBox.  Four controller ports?!  Now, if I only had 3 friends who were willing to come over and play something with me 😦 .  Microsoft then took it a step further when people started becoming addicted to the internet, and cornered the market with XBox live.  Playing your favorite game with millions of people across the globe?  In my mind, the Playstation made it possible.

Also, the Playstation 1 was the first console to come out with Dual Analog controllers.  Remember back in the day when they didn’t have them?

Old School.

Yeah!  Most people, and definitely most of the kids younger than 20 wouldn’t recognize this controller.  When the Playstation was in its hay day, they introduced something new in controller design.

Gives "Back to the Sticks" a whole different meaning.

So simple.  So comfortable.  So easy, why did no one else think of this?  Nintendo didn’t come out with something close to this until 2 years after the Playstation came out, with the N64.  And even then, it was just a joystick, not an analog stick.  And the 64 only had one, not TWO!!!  Question!  When the Game Cube came out, guess which design they adopted for their controller?

Answer: Dual Analog Style.

This was so badass, when it was brand new.  A whole different way to control your video game characters with sleek precision.  It took a little getting used to, but the payoff was well worth the effort.  Who else had that at the time?  Nobody.  Who else made them popular?  Let’s check out my little evolution of the Dual Analog Controllers…

I have a controller timeline. Your point is invalid.

XBox 360, original XBox, Game Cube, PS2 (obviously) and the PS1… the originator… all with Dual Analog.  Everyone who likes playing call of duty, or the halo fans out there like myself who got used to the 2-stick controls, better give a big Thank You to Sony for making it so easy and comfortable to play.  If the XBox controllers were anymore blatantly copied from the Playstation controllers, we’d have ourselves…

Only it would say "Microsoft".

The only thing I didn’t get about the Playstation is that the games had black data sides.  What was that all about?  Looking back on it now, the 1990’s birthed the popularity of the internet, when all information became easier to obtain.  Piracy was a big problem, remember Napster?  I’m sure people were trying to burn Platstation 1 games, so Sony said “Screw it, make the CD’s next to impossible to find!”

FYI ... We still found them.

Everything else being equal, greater than, or less than/equal to, the Playstation still has a place in my heart for being one of the best consoles of the 1990’s.  I don’t get around to playing it too often, because I don’t have a library of games that makes me want to play it.  Not that any of the games are hard to find.  I bought 3 Playstation 1 games from a church yard sale for a quarter.  All 3.  For a quarter.

So if you’re a retro gamer like me, you need to have a Playstation in your collection.  It was the father of many other concepts that we have come to expect when we buy games brand new.  It was on the frontier of gaming.  I think the reason people take it for granted, or it takes a back seat to other consoles, or whatever you want to say, is that it came a little too early for all that it had to offer.  Pick one up, test it out, and enjoy.

Happy Gaming,

The Jester.

*All images are the property of their respective owners and may be under copy write protection.  Most images obtained through Google Image Search*