warning: feel free to see my tag, it’s always true
many times, i’ve seen folks compare the PS1 & PS2 era to the NES/SNES era of 8-16 bit. this if foolish, and i wanted to point out why:
many of us recognized the early 80’s (as kids or otherwise) as a time when atari-era console games followed the earlier arcade model of essentially being circus games: it was about spectacle and high score, not finishing a title. 8-bit era wasn’t just classic pixelated graphics & games balanced to never finish them, i think design wise - especially taking arcade ports & limiting continues, or original games with brutal difficulty well before rental market was a huge factor - it was a different era, hands down. drastically from what came before, and graphically from what followed.
on the NES, SMS etc there were absolutely unique experiences, but a great deal of the classic/recognized-for-their-greatness games saw superior sequels in the 16-bit gen, aka the absolute peak of 2D design.
this isn’t, to me, as directly comparable as the 32-bit era & all the chances that were being taken in the first official 3D foray, not continuing prior trickery like Faceball 2000, StarFox, Virtua Racing etc - we literally never tried it before with these models.
which is to say, a few things really stood out to me about the 32-bit era, especially being of the age to see the gens before it:
- we left pixels for early polygons. which is to say: if you had to imagine a character looked like the amano (or phantasy star) artwork before in your faceless pixels, now you had to imagine the CG detail somehow applied to chunky awkward polygons.
don’t ever let anyone tell you CG didn’t matter in this era. i literally burned out a few PSX’s (and a VCR!) playing back taped cutscenes from FF VII, RE2 and others. shit was mindblowing at the time, fuck yo Crysis.
- a change in medium = drastic change in price - for those that don’t know, carts in the day with battery backup cost $70+. i literally paid almost $100 for Phantasy Star IV in early '95! shit was crazy.
so imagine mid gen when PSX games might cost you $40 new. imagine how many new titles you’d try out when you could buy 2 for what one used to cost you!
- likewise, lowered dev costs - i’ve been told sony pushing for C+ programming was a big deal here. this was, to me, the last easy gen on devs - PS2 was the most successful & hardest to program for that gen (as i understand it), and the next gen was HD development that literally wiped out numerous studios.
PSX was a gen where japanese devs could try something new & crazy and afford to bomb a few times before having to secure a safe license to keep the doors open.
so you got Um Jammer Lammy, Vib Ribbon, Incredible Crisis!, Symphony of the Night, Sega-CD Lunar remakes, a revival of Metal Gear, Tenchu, Devil Dice, Tekken 2, Twisted Metal, Herc’s Adventures, Einhander, Monster Rancher, and so much more.
this was literally a gen when Konami, Square & others were trying multiple genres outside their wheelwell and ranging from interesting mistakes to absolutely knocking it out of the park.
PS2 absolutely built on some of the chances taken & improved on them, both graphically & audio wise, no doubt. SH1 invented a genre, no one will argue 1 > 2. MGS was the series’ peak, FF XII & the SMT games are arguably more interesting than much of the at-the-time huge square RPGs the gen prior. there’s no arguing the refining the next gen did, but for taking risks?
i can play imports of pepsiman, the cooking game where you play as a chef who also chases down deadbeats, silent bomber, and so many others.
i loved the PS2 gen, but to this day i don’t think we’ve had a gen replicate the magic that the transition to 3D generation brought. i’d absolutely love to have a VR or other kind of transition surpass it one day.