Editor's Note: This Article Was Originally Written Prior to the Launch of PS3, when the $600 price tag was confirmed.

Relive the PlayStation Launch Day!

If a $599.99 (Riiiiidge Racer!) PlayStation 3 price tag has you in the dumps, why not  go back to the glory days when a system only cost you $299.99 and actually gave you something besides the deck! Game-Rave proudly presents this walk through time and relives a day that truly redefined the video game industry forever...

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The PlayStation System Launch
September 9th, 1995 changed everything. It broke all the rules, crossed all the lines, and more importantly, sent the industry on a roller coaster ride that left everyone involved in a haze of confusion and excitement.

The result of a botched attempt at merging Sony’s CD-Rom technology with the Super Nintendo, the PlayStation is the reborn and re-invented all-in-one 32 Bit system that brought 3D graphics kicking and screaming into the mainstream. Although the then already out 3DO, Jaguar, and Saturn all featured some sort of 3D hardware, Sony was determined to make sure it was in the spotlight at all times. This was brought on by exclusive licensing deals with Namco, who brought arcade giants to the system, and Sony’s own internal developing studios.

So what did you get for $299.99 plus tax? You got a genuine PlayStation deck, which featured AV out, Standard AV, Power, I/O and Parallel Ports on the back, two controller ports on the front, as well as this wacky little 2 slot Memory Card reader. Granted, the Neo-Geo and Saturn both had Memory Cards, but the PlayStation was the first system to make the Memory Card personal. A user could save his personal stats and teams to his own card and then load up his team or character against a friend, rather then both be stuck playing an exhibition game. This little addition created quite the buzz in the gaming community, as people began mailing each other their Memory Cards to exchange save data and other findings. Of course, they were sold separately.

For the controller, it reached the industry's then maximum amount of buttons on a pack-in controller ever; 10 total input buttons plus the D-Pad. This would later be upped to 12, as the Dual Shock and Dual Analog controllers held an L3 and R3 button underneath their sticks housings. This 12 button total has been the standard through the PSX, PS2, Xbox, and now Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

There was also your standard Power Cord, as well as standard male-to-male AV Cords (RCA Jacks). Interestingly, the PlayStation would be the final home console to use the regular RCA jacks. Once they moved onto the proprietary jacks like the Saturn and Nintendo systems, no one looked back. On a side note, the very original Japanese model also included a standard S-Video jack on the back. The US Version would simply use the AV out port.

 

The Launch Games
A system isn’t anything without games (you hear that Mr. Sony European CEO?), so let’s get to the good stuff! There were approximately 10 games available at the system launch. Five of them were released a few days prior incrementally, with a 3DO game port ironically being the first to hit the scene. All 10 games retailed for a whopping $59.99 each, and came in the same style cases as Sega’s Saturn games. The rumor / legend goes that Sony was so afraid of not having enough standard cases available at launch that they simply purchased the already made stock from Sega. Where’s Myth Busters when you need them? Our fabled 10 games, which you can view individually by clicking on them are:

Not too shabby of a release bunch. There’s one older port, three arcade games, a good sports assortment, and of course, a 3D fighting game whose textures and Street Fighter-like moves sent Virtua Fighter’s flat shaded polygons to the mat.

Along with Toshinden, Ridge Racer, ESPN Extreme Games, and Rayman would all move on to become future Greatest Hits Titles, while Raiden Project would become one of the most sought after collectable ones.

The Launch Accessories
You can't do much without accessories in games, especially Memory Cards. While not all accessories were available at launch day, they were advertised on the box, so we'll run with that.

  • Sony Memory Card ($24.99)
  • Sony Mouse ($29.99)
  • Sony Multi-Tap ($49.99)
  • Sony RF Switch ($29.99)
  • Sony S-Video Cable ($29.99)
  • Sony Analog Flight Stick ($69.99)
  • Sony Controller ($24.99)
  • Sony Link Cable (19.99)

The most dominant here are the extra controller and Memory Card. The Multi-Tap was only compatible with NBA Jam TE at launch, so unless you just had to have that real 4-Player Arcade feel, there was no need for it. Both Rayman and Total Eclipse Turbo supported Password and Save Data, to help those who couldn't afford the Memory Card.

The Price Comparison
So, let's play time traveler. No, no...not the DVD game...the hypothetical kind!

You have $750 to spend on launch day. If we follow the pricing for the PlayStation 3's $600 uber-system, and the game prices found at Game Stop, that would get you the system, 2 games at $59.99 each, and a 2nd controller assuming it's $29.99.

Now, on the flip side, with the PlayStation at $299.99, that means you now have $450 to mess around with! Let's say you wanted the full arcade treatment and 3 of your best buddies over. Even after adding 3 more controllers ($74.97), the Multi-Tap ($49.99), and a Memory Card ($24.99) for yourself, you still have $300 to mess around with. That means we get to pick out 5 games!

So, to review:

PlayStation
  • System
  • Memory Card
  • Multi-Tap
  • Controller #1
  • Controller #2
  • Controller #3
  • Game #1
  • Game #2
  • Game #3
  • Game #4
  • Game #5
    • Equals $750
PlayStation 3
  • System
  • Controller #1
  • Game #1
  • Game #2
    • Equals $750

Now, to the PS3's defense, the Multi-Tap is built-in with the Wireless controllers, but the price of this will most likely be tossed into the controllers. Just look at the 360; it went from $30 Xbox controllers to the $50 wireless ones, so it all evens out...except, in reality you might be paying more!

There's also the disturbing fact that Sony has already announced that in order for the PS3 to read your PS1 and PS2 memory cards, you will need to buy a separate reader and attach it to the system. I can see most people just keeping their PS2s, but for those that literally trade up, that may be a hard purchase to swallow.

Closing Thoughts
It's no secret that I love the PlayStation; being crowned the Biggest PlayStation means something. For the longest time, I've said that if I had to, I'd pay the $300 for a PSX all over again (hopefully I won't have to, since I have over 30 of them), and to this day, just thinking about Ridge Racer and Raiden Project, and the incredible flood of quality games that hit the deck, I still stand by that theory.

I can't really share that sentiment with the PS2 however. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the games for it and I'm glad I can use the smoothing options on some of my PSX games, but it just didn't have the heart and soul like the original did.

Even worse, it is historically proven that no company can keep the #1 spot in the console wars their 3rd generation in. Not Sega, not Atari, not even Nintendo lasted. With the monstrous promises and almost daily issues that are surfacing with the next generation PlayStation, it only makes me more nostalgic for the good old days of Sony. When they weren't afraid to take chances (ArtDink games) and they supported 2D games passionately (SNK licenses, among others).

Sony once said you should never underestimate the power of the PlayStation.

I'm just beginning to question the future of the brand.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2000 - 2005 Jason Dvorak, Game Ravee