It's strange to think of the gaming landscape without Sony's consoles around, but when the first PlayStation came out in 1995, Sony had a lot to prove. And boy, did it ever prove itself, leading to the powerful industry force the PlayStation brand has become. But it didn't get there on hardware alone. The PlayStation was on par with, if not slightly behind, Sega's Saturn console, and outpaced by the N64 from a purely hardware perspective. No, it the PlayStation's stellar library of games that led to its success—far too many amazing games to list, in fact, but that won't keep us from trying. We've compiled ten of the original PlayStation's most essential games that hold up in quality to this day.
Though Naughty Dog is now best known for the seminal Uncharted series, on the original PlayStation the company was hard at work creating one of the system's most beloved mascots. The platformer genre had a difficult time transitioning into 3D during the PlayStation era, and Crash Bandicoot was one of the rare gems to get it right. Crash 3 was the most polished of the bunch, adding entertaining vehicle segments for variety and introducing a slew of new moves to aid in hunting out the game's many secrets.
While Street Fighter dominated the 2D fighting game scene, the Tekken series was the PlayStation's claim to fame for ushering in 3D fighters. Tekken 3 was the last of the series on the original PlayStation, and it was certainly the best. With greater emphasis on 3D movement and an expanding (and increasingly bizarre) cast of characters, it refined the arcade fighter to new heights. It even added new characters and features over the arcade original with the introduction of the Tekken Force and Tekken Ball minigames. The definitive PlayStation fighter, Tekken 3 had it all.
It seems strange in retrospect, but at the time of the original PlayStation, Sony had its work cut out for it convincing gamers to invest in a second analog stick. And that's where Ape Escape came in. Taking the simple, yet gleefully silly, premise of catching monkeys with a butterfly net, Ape Escape's real claim to fame was how it controlled. Using the right stick, players could satisfyingly swing their net or use a variety of gadgets in their quest for monkey mastery. It's sad to now see the right analog stick used primarily in first-person shooters or for third-person camera control, when over a decade ago it gave birth to creative new gameplay mechanics.
Silent Hill was the master of atmosphere on the PSOne. Partially due to hardware limitations, the eerie town was made all the more foreboding by the thick fog everywhere. The shambling of creatures shrouded in the fog could be heard before they were seen, constantly adding to the tension. The game also took a more cerebral approach to survival horror than its Capcom-developed counterpart, with the horrors in Silent Hill embodying Harry Mason's deepest fears in the most grotesque and fitting ways.
Yeah, that's right, IX. Final Fantasy VII brought the iconic RPG series into the third dimension, and it deserves much notoriety for that. Then Final Fantasy VIII brought improved visuals and much stronger writing to the table. Both of those are top-notch games, so go ahead and play them too. But if we're looking for the best, it has to be Final Fantasy IX. Returning to the series' high fantasy roots, IX offered a diverse and interesting cast in arguably the best tale Square has told. And though it strayed from franchise staples with a less customizable job system, it meant that every character had a role to fill, not just in the story but in the gameplay as well. From Vivi's emotional journey to Steiner's pursuit for justice, each character became a star in their own right. While some PSOne-era games were good "for their time," Final Fantasy IX has aged like a fine wine.