This week's Musings is going to be quick, as my
copy of Doom3 has arrived. The result is that this week and next week's
columns are going to be two parts, covering ten old Playstation titles
(yes, Playstation, not PS2) that everyone should at least think about
having in their collection.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Symphony of the Night is often regarded as the
pinnacle of Castlevania games, that perfect blend of RPG, storyline, and
2D action scroller that every Castlevania since has tried to live up to.
A lot of Castlevania titles since have been mediocre or worse, too; even
the PS2 release, as nice looking as it is, can't hold a candle to the
involving gameplay that Symphony of the Night brings to the gamer. Until
the second and third GBA installments, indeed, lovers of the Castlevania
line were starting to despair for another good title; we were all afraid
that the drought years of titles like Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
and Dracula X (SNES) had returned.
Thankfully, that's not the case - and a look
back at SotN will show you why. Rather than push the envelope of 3D as
so many games of the time did, Konami took the Playstation's graphical
abilities in 2D and stretched them to their limit. They also packed the
game with tons of extras and items to hunt down, a wonderful bonus for
Why you should own it: Because it is the
pinnacle of the Castlevania series.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssee or Abe's
by contrast to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, isn't about being the
pinnacle of a well-established style. Instead, Oddworld was about
breaking and remaking the 2D platformer into a fun, addictive
puzzle-solving game. What was so innovative? Mostly, it was the
gamespeak aspect - instead of simply running one character around,
players had to rescue and manipulate other characters in a spoken manner
reminiscent of playing Lemmings. Add in a decently fun storyline,
irreverent humor and fart jokes, and a self-deprecating "hero"
to the mix and it's again a game worth coming back to time and again.
While the third installment on the Xbox wasn't as much fun, word is that
may have been smoking something when they passed on distribution
rights to the fourth.
Why you should own them: Because good
genre-mixing games are hard to come by.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Yes, I know Street Fighter's been done, and
done, and done some more. But Alpha 3 is special - of the "old
school" Street Fighter titles, it's probably the most played. The
EX series petered out, hampered by an overreliance on super moves and by
the abortive disaster that was EX3's attempt to clone the Tekken Tag
formula. The Street Fighter III line has always been niche, the sort of
game that hardcore tournament players - and ONLY hardcore tournament
players - will ever come close to playing for fun. By contrast, Street
Fighter Alpha 3's a nice blend of everything. It's not too fast, not too
"hardcore", and a good game to sit down and play with friends.
It also has a plethora of "extra" modes for single player
training - boss-only mode, create-a-fighter, world tournament.
Why you should own it: Because for the
PSX it's hands-down the best 2D fighter available.
Sometimes the underdog titles are the best, and
Einhander's no exception. It's only one game and lacks the star power of
the R-Type franchise, but even so, it's a highly pretty and well worth
owning 2D shoot-em-up title. The trick to gameplay in Einhander is about
managing weapons - variant ships can carry one, two (but swappable and
dual-fire), or three (swappable) weapons along with the ship's standard
minigun, which varies in power depending on your choice. Weapons have to
be stolen from destroyed enemies, fall off the screen, and can even be
shot and destroyed if you're not careful.
Einhander was also one of the first games to
really try out the Playstation's 3D capabilities, which shows itself in
the amazingly huge and well-rendered (even by today's standards) boss
Why you should own it: It's just an
addictive 2D shoot-em-up.
Silent Hill, now on its fourth incarnation,
took the formula provided by Resident Evil and virtually perfected it -
where later RE games became resource management and gore-spewing
nightmares, the Silent Hill series has remained primarily about
atmospheric horror. The first Silent Hill puts gamers in control of
Harry Mason, exploring the deserted town of Silent Hill to try to
recover his daughter, who ran off after a car crash. Graphically, it may
be a bit dated these days (especially since the first RE got a major
makeover to start off the Gamecube re-release line), but that's okay;
the game provides plenty of atmosphere and opportunities to scare the
Why you should own it: It's the closest
thing there is to putting the player in the center of a horror movie.
I'll have five more next week - in the
meantime, if you've got suggestions, drop them my way!
Got Comments? Send 'em to
Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!