5. PlayStation’s hidden soundtrack
Back at a time when Easter Eggs and hidden gems were a big deal in many video games (mainly because without the internet to easily find them, a great deal of pride went into finally tracking them down or spotting them), it made us feel like the designers had slipped something into the game just for us to find. Almost like a private joke. And to show how much time was spent on making these great games, Sony pulled a genius move by releasing hidden soundtracks on many of their titles. In a move that is somewhat akin to playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon against Wizard of Oz or playing an album backwards to de-code some hidden messages, many games like Castlevania or Cool Boarders could be thrown into a CD-player, could be read, and then hidden tracks could be heard from the stereo. On a personal note, I tried this with Coolboarders 2 (the UK version with proper old-school jungle drum and bass as the soundtrack) and it made me feel like I was in Human Traffic.
4. The first PlayStation mascot was replaced
Before PlayStation was even released in the US, they had gone through a multitude of mascots in Japan. The one that they ended up settling on was the aptly named Polygon Man (pictured above): a head shape with purple polygons that endeavoured to showcase the PlayStation’s cutting edge graphics. Well, as it turned out, PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi hated the character when he saw it at E3 1995, and dropped the mascot as a result. That mascot was replaced by Crash Bandicoot, who had years of success as the PlayStations official mascot before disappearing into anonymity. Even then, Kutaragi hated Crash (he seems like a hard man to please), saying that he looked too ‘kid-friendly’, which Kutaragi was trying to avoid. He even confronted Naughty Dog developers saying that he thought their “game was crap! (sic)” Really? Really Ken? Eventually, Naughty Dog Studies was acquired by Sony in 2001.
3. Secret hidden demo games
Continuing on with hidden stuff, it’s no secret that many game demos were released with big-name releases in order to pre-publicise a separate game’s release. The modern equivalent would be buying a PS4 and buying one of the launch-games with it, and finding a demo for another game that is scheduled to come out in six months or so. For instance, Sony released many demos with its PlayStation magazine, while other games like Final Fantasy VII and Twisted Metal were first released as demos inside other games. That was common knowledge, as well as common practice. But what you may not have realised is that there are even more hidden gems that first came out for PS1. Gamers found that if you popped underneath the disk in the original VHS-shaped game box, where the game’s disk was stored, you could find other demos and cases below that disk. Even just the site of one of those old-school VHS-style boxes for the PlayStation 1 games feels like uncovering an ancient Roman sandal or something.
2. The PlayStation 2 design was borrowed from Atari
At approximately 155 million units, the PlayStation 2 is the best-selling games console of all time. Though many thought that the PS2 had a space-age, hyper-modern design (for 2001 at least) – with its vertical approach and black paint job – it was actually one of the more old-school designs out there. When designing the PS2, Sony heavily borrowed (aka pretty much stole) from Atari’s 1993 model of the Falcon030 Microbox, after they acquired Atari Inc. Okay, so you can’t exactly steal from yourself, but it’s ironic to think that one of the games consoles best features – which was its futuristic, cutting-edge design – was actually borrowed, almost inch by inch, from a much older model, which proves the old saying true: everything old is new again.
1. PlayStation started as a partnership with Nintendo
In the early 90s, there was a changing of the guard on the horizon. Cartridges were on the way out, and CD’s were set to replace them. At about the same time, Nintendo wanted to get in on the CD-quality video and audio aspects of the new emerging CD market – the power of which cartridges could not match. PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi, who helped design the SNES’s sound chip, helped create…get this…the Nintendo Play Station, the prototype of which is pictured above. The console would play SNES titles, and new SNES-CD games. Nintendo chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi wanted control of the licensing, and of course neither company could decide on how to split the market-profits for the games console, which led to the dissolution of the partnership. Nintendo announced their planned change at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in 1991 where the PlayStation was revealed, a slight which Sony would not soon forget, and which would serve as the catalyst for the biggest gaming rivalry in history, and as the old saying goes: hatred burns much deeper if it rises from the ashes of friendship and trust.