The 8 Ball 10.30.12: Top 8 Playstation 1 Games
Welcome to another edition of The 8 Ball. In this week’s column, I plan on discussing the top Playstation 1 games. Bear in mind, this is *my* top games list. All you lemmings, who moan that Final Fantasy 7 isn’t on here, quit your complaining. This list will probably not entail a lot of the popular games that were on the system. But hey, like I said, it’s my column. I’m feeling a bit sick also, so this might be a bit shorter than usual, but enjoy:
8. Lunar: Star Silver Story Complete
This was one of the first games I really remember pre-ordering and owning. I’m not sure what drew me to it, but it got ahold of me, and I enjoyed it a lot. The story was solid, the anime cut scenes were beautiful, had superb music/voice acting, and a decent enough battle system. The game has been re-released a few times, and that’s because it largely holds up. The only negative thing I can say about it, is that Working Designs never made a PS1 version of Vay. THAT would have been one of the best things ever.
7. Metal Gear Solid
On a purely game/technical level, MGS was one of the best (if not the actual best) the PS1 hardware could hope to achieve. While everyone had basically no face, the world that Kojima created was fully immersive (at the time), and felt like a revelation. The reason it’s low on my list though is because of how I acquired it. I originally rented it from a Blockbuster back in the day, and played it dutifully. Up until the point where you have to contact Meryl on her Codec. The game kept hinting with “Check the back of the box” and my response was, “Uh….I don’t have the box.” I sat there for about 15 minutes going through every Codec frequency until I finally stumbled upon hers. It stuck with me, to this very day.
6. Vagrant Story
Vagrant Story came at the tail end of the Playstation 1 lifespan which is a bit of a shame. Square was at the top of their game when it was released after producing a nice strings of games like Parasite Eve 1 and 2, Einhander, Threads of Fate and so on. While I think Parasite Eve 1 (in particular) had better music and graphics, the gameplay was a bit dull. Vagrant Story made up in that particular department, by going completely overboard, with all of its game systems and everything going on. The weapon crafting system, alone, is so complex as to be overwhelming (even if you’re using a guide). I felt a *real* sense of accomplishment when I was finally able to finish the game, and it’s a testament that I can still remember the strategy of doing so (Use Reflect Damage when he uses the “Bloody Sin” Break Art), and he went down quickly.
5. Mega Man X4
Arguably the best representation of the Mega Man gameplay, X4 managed to distil everything great about the franchise into one core game. The (at the time) mature storyline, the cut-scenes, the upgrades and different mechanics all came into play. Having two selectable (at the start) characters that played fairly different, and had different storylines, gave you an impetus to play through each one. The best thing though is that the game isn’t embarrassing. X4 was the pinnacle of Mega Man. Mega Man 8 was a cartoonish mess that had Mega Man yelling constantly. For as laughable (now) as some of X4’s scenes are, it’s still light years ahead of that game. Or Mega Man Legends for that matter. YES I WENT THERE.
4. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
The next three games all fit into the “Metroidvania” moniker, but approach the genre in fairly different ways. Soul Reaver set out to create an expansive world for you to explore and figure out what is going on. As Raziel, you can jump, climb, and glide as you try and take down Kain for having killed Raziel 500 years ago. The biggest problem with the game (at the time) was that there was no map system, or real quest log. If you got knocked off track and didn’t know what you were doing, you were pretty much screwed. The world made up for it though by just being an interesting place to wander around in, going from the Spectral and Material realms at the touch of a button. The fact that the game had no load times is still an impressive feat of technical wizardry.
Tomba approaches the “Metroidvania” classification by having dozens, if not hundreds of things for you find out and accomplish. The crux of the game is that you (as Tomba) are trying to defeat the Evil Pigs who have stolen your Grandfather’s gold braclet from you. Along the way though, you’ll encounter a monkey named Charles, the Million Year Old Man, and a cast of other lovable characters throughout the game. Each character usually has a quest or two associated with them, with quests rolling into each other quite nicely. On top of that, the game is just pure fun, and still brings a smile to my face.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The last of the Metroidvania games on this list, and the highest up, for a good reason. SOTN was the Castlevania game that really broke the mold for the series. While the earlier games were enjoyable (in a masochistic sort of way), SOTN was the game that opened up Dracula’s castle for you to really explore and take the game at your own pace. Prior to SOTN, the Castlevania games were all level-based, full of pits of death and a frustrating experience to get through. SOTN gave you the Castle to explore, with a hero that didn’t play like any other in the series, and a reason to find every nook and cranny in the game. Pretty much every Castlevania game, since then, has aped this game’s structure and that’s because it still works.
1. Suikoden 2
As readers to the site may know, Suikoden 2 holds the highest distinction for me. The fact that most people haven’t played (or even heard) of this game is a goddamn travesty. It boils down everything you’d want in a RPG, an exciting battle system, great music, artistic graphics, one of the best stories ever, and a pathological drive to collect all 108 Stars of Destiny on your playthrough, just because every character you discover is distinct and important. The fact that Konami has had absolutely zero respect for this series makes me lose all respect for them. Were I the Konami president, I would immediately put the game up on PSN, and the 360 (I’d find a way!), along with instituting a HD remake, and finally start work on a Suikoden 6 game. I would also focus on not having Konami be entirely focused on Metal Gear. That’s a good series, but they’re driving it into the ground.
Well, that is my list. Feel free to comment below about what you think, or what your own Top 8 PS1 games would be. Regarding last week’s column, I did consider Deception (well, Kagero: Deception II), but I didn’t find it that weird. I know the first game is different from the others, but they all kind of fit into a trap-based game-style. Also, Sneak King is terrible.
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