Via the PlayStation Blog, it was announced that Sony has sold over 500 million PlayStation consoles worldwide.
The official number is actually over 525.3 million, or two Wii Us over 500 million. It’s a truly incredible achievement and everyone who has contributed to the brand over the last few decades should be incredibly proud of their contribution to the gaming industry. Every gamer, no matter what console they play on, owes a debt of gratitude to Sony for their innovations over the years. Let’s celebrate by talking about the most important of these innovations. The games.
From first party to third party and beyond, there have been a ton of incredible experiences on PlayStation. This article is going to celebrate a handful of those titles, three per system. For context, I’m 24 and have owned every PlayStation console. However, I have not played every PlayStation game. If I miss something obvious or your favorite game, it’s not intentional, I most likely just never played it. I was a whopping 4 years old when Metal Gear Solid released for example, and to this day I still haven’t played it (I’m begging you Bluepoint and Konami, help me rectify this). If I do miss something obvious, be nice please and comment your suggestions! I might even update the list. I’ll be doing three per console, and even include the PSP and Vita for good measure.
PS1. PS. PSX. Exploding onto the video game scene to take on warring giants SEGA and Nintendo was Sony’s new disc based machine in 1994. The console went on to sell over 100 million units.
3. Crash Team Racing
I spent an unholy amount of time on CTR. It was ridiculous. It was the kind of game that I would play just for the sake of it, there would be 100 other options but I’d always choose the unwavering fun of CTR.
2. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
The 90’s really was the mascot era. Before Spyro became a corporate asset and the headliner of a line of plastic toys he was a champion of the golden age of platformers. Insomniac pioneered open ended levels with the Spyro series, the third entry was their best.
1. Final Fantasy VII
This is the topic of endless debate. Not because a Final Fantasy game shouldn’t top the list, but because there are several candidates. I chose VII because that’s the one I played first and was blown away by. Without it, I wouldn’t have given the rest a chance. I loved the characters of Cloud and Sephiroth. Whenever I think of a true villain the template is always based on this game’s main antagonist. It really did set a standard for 3D RPGs that engrossed me in a genre I love today.
The king of consoles. It released in 2002 and didn’t have to compete with anyone, it totally dominated the market and became a pop culture icon as well as a video game powerhouse. 155 million units sold tells its own story.
3. Sly Raccoon
With a nice, simple and explanatory name in Europe and an overly descriptive name elsewhere, Sucker Punch productions proved their talent with this charming 3D platformer. With an incredibly dark story, varied and fun characters and excellent gameplay which blended stealth and platforming Sly really was an adventure to remember.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
The sense of wonder when you played Shadow on the PS2 was overwhelming. On one hand, you had a huge, sprawling world to explore at your feet. On the other, you had the beautifully simple and yet personal and engaging story of protagonist Wander. This was one of the first games that ever showcased how scale could work in video games.
1. Jak 2
This was an odd proposition. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was such a fantastic platformer. With a plot darker than most other mascot titles combined with colorful charm and humor it managed to stay unique. It should come as no surprise that this series is a product of Naughty Dog. It should come as a surprise that the cute platformer was followed up with an open world third person shooter. It was incredibly original for its time. With excellent voice acting, an intriguing plot and characteristically fantastic gameplay Jak 2 leads the pack on PS2.
After seeing the success Nintendo achieved unrivaled in the handheld gaming market, Sony entered the fray with the PSP. The console was successful, over 80 million units were sold.
3. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
The best of the Monster Hunter PSP games. This is where the PSP became such a special console. You can still see the popularity of Monster Hunter on PSP in Japan, there are all cafes that exist just to allow people to organize, meet and play together. It is as much pop culture as a video game. Luckily it’s also a wonderful game. With addictive pick up play mechanics coupled with gameplay that was perfect for quick portable sessions, it’s no surprise that MHFU became such a phenomenon.
Recently a remastered version of Lumines was released on PS4. I scored it incredibly high in my review. The original Lumines on PSP was part of the reason why. This is one of the most addictive games of all time, an iteration of Tetris which managed to keep the intensity while being different enough to stand alone. Carrying this everywhere you went on PSP was amazing.
Before taking on the VR market and making The Order 1886, (a game which should be nowhere near this list) Ready At Dawn made Daxter. Featuring Naughty Dog’s mascot from the Jak & Daxter platformer PS2 series in a spin-off adventure that bridged the gap between the first two games, Daxter was unique. The game was absolutely beautiful, (like The Order) and showed what portable gaming could be. The game oozes charm and hits the humor nail right on the head. Throw in fantastic gameplay, a fun multiplayer add on and brilliant boss fights and you had a true console experience in the palm of your hands.
The failure. The one that sold 3 million units.
I jest, despite a horror show of a reveal and beginning the PS3 righted its course and went on to be another huge Sony success story with an extra 80 million units on top of the originally quoted 3 million sold. The PS3 also marked a new era for Sony and the gaming industry. The era of Naughty Dog.
3. Infamous 2
Sucker Punch continues their streak. After three successful Sly Raccoon titles on PS2, they made the jump to PS3 with Infamous, a superhero title featuring similar platforming traversal. The sequel was a brilliant experience that bettered the original in every way. The story was more engaging and personal with choices that had consequences. The powers on offer were more varied and everything was on a grander scale in a new, more colorful and exciting environment. Dear Sony, send these games to Bluepoint ASAP.
2. The Last of Us
Unsharpen your pitchforks. The Last of Us is an iconic title. It’s a work of art. A masterpiece. A beautiful example of what video games can be and how powerful they are. Your journey with Joel and Ellie will be genuinely personal, you’ll bond with characters and care about every step you take. Throw in brilliant stealth and action, industry leading graphics and a really fun multiplayer mode and you have a truly special package here. A game that would be fitting to top any list. Unfortunately, one game tops it…
Only kidding. But seriously, how did Factor 5 manage to make dragon riding not be incredibly cool, exciting or fun?
1. Uncharted 2
Naughty Dog beat themselves. Uncharted 2 is the best game on PS3. It’s an incredibly close call between this and The Last of Us, but for me, UC2 edges it because it’s simply more fun. It’s an over the top action movie from start to finish. It hurtles along and throws all sorts at you, from tanks destroying small eastern villages to jeeps chasing you through cities to the amazing, intense train sequence, UC2 only stops to throw a couple of jokes at you. This was the moment Naughty Dog arrived. Crash Bandicoot was brilliant. Jak & Daxter was amazing. Uncharted was excellent. Uncharted 2 was special. Uncharted 3 was too but just fell short of its predecessor. The Last of Us continued the special trend. Naughty Dog went from consistent greatness to an industry leader on October 13th, 2009.
The PlayStation Vita. The console that Sony tried to murder in its sleep and sweep under the rug. It truly was a special machine, with a beautiful OLED screen and dual analogs on a portable system for the first time. Despite a whopping estimate 15 million units sold (sarcasm) the Vita still got some excellent titles and really is a wonderful system with an impressive library. You can play MGS3 on it. Anywhere.
3. Wipeout 2048
Wipeout is a staple PlayStation franchise. The high octane racing games have always looked beautiful, the Vita title is no exception. This really showed what the handheld could do and looked better than a lot of console games when it released. Throw in portable online multiplayer and you had the perfect anti gravity racing experience in your pocket.
2. Soul Sacrifice
What an odd game Soul Sacrifice was. You would stroke a book using the touchscreen to select quests. You could rip out your own spine and beat really fat cats that spit acid to death with it. This action RPG has fantastic combat and utilized a Monster Hunter style mission system in order to get the best out of handheld gameplay. It looks great and had wonderfully grotesque enemy design and in depth lore. The multiplayer options allowed for local or online co-op meaning you could team up to take on missions and bosses together. The story was incredibly interesting and unfolded through discovering the pages of a book on the touchscreen was ingenious design.
1. Killzone Mercenary
I really wanted Severed to be number one. But technically that exact game has been ported to other platforms and therefore killed its chances. As did Guacamelee. For shame Drinkbox studios for being so pro consumer. Now that we’ve given some shout outs, let’s talk about Killzone. The shooter franchise was never seen as anything special, Mercenary changed that. With genuinely unbelievable graphics on a handheld, combined with wonderful twin analog controls it was the first time an amazing FPS title released portably. The gameplay emphasized pick up and play as well as replayability.
Now we reach this generation. The tipping point of the 500 million marker. With over 80 million consoles sold so far as well as a huge software library that grows monthly, the PS4 is an incredible platform. I honestly thought it would be easy to choose three from this generation. It wasn’t. Games that deserve recognition like Ratchet and Clank, Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5 were sadly cut from the list. So what did make it?
3. Uncharted 4
Naughty Dog’s A Thieves End. The send off to Nathan Drake. A beautiful, globe trotting adventure with a heartfelt story, satisfying ending, exciting action and immense set pieces. For franchise fans, this was an unforgettable experience. For new players, this is still a gaming masterpiece. There are areas in this game that are more memorable than most entire games. When you finally reach Libertalia you’ll be in awe. Driving around Madagascar is epic. The belltower and ensuing car chase is a true achievement of game development.
Welcome From Software to the list. Demon’s Souls just narrowly missed out on the PS3 section, Bloodborne walks into the PS4 list though. Luckily it was free through PS Plus which gave millions of people access to the Gothic Horror Action RPG. There’s so much that can be said about Bloodborne and yet, it’s a game that deserves to be left a mystery. The experience of uncovering and overcoming each challenge one at a time is what makes it so special. The sense of pride, progress, and accomplishment the game gives you are second to none. The beautiful graphics, intense aesthetic and intriguing cast are just bonuses the wonderful boss battles.
1. God of War
The God of War franchise was always brilliant. The vast majority of games exceed 90 on Metacritic. They sell millions of copies. This most recent entry set new sales records. It walked into the mid 90s on Metacritic. It set the gaming world ablaze. It was a truly godly experience with a shake up to the hack and slash gameplay. The game became an action RPG. Everything slowed down, actions were more tactical instead of button mashing. But it was still chaotic. It was still fun. Kratos was very much the powerful warrior you remember. Now he had character. Now you cared about this bald hulking man mountain. Why? Because he had something to care about. The introduction of Atreus and the chronicling of the father and son adventure really helped God of War advance the franchise and developer Sony Santa Monica to take the next step forward to legendary status. The game set a new industry standard for performance. Not only is every scene stunning, every face animated to perfection and every environment beautiful, the game is captured in one camera shot. No loading from start to finish. You are totally immersed, totally connected every step of the way. Bravo Cory Barlog. Bravo Sony Santa Monica. Bring on whatever comes next.
The game could look terrible. Have no dialogue. Have no story. As long as this was in, it would still be number one.
PlayStation has been the home of a ton of massive, wonderful franchises that couldn’t be included in the list. I’ll give some a shout out right here:
- Metal Gear Solid (sorry)
- Crash Bandicoot 1-3
- Suikoden II
- Vagrant Story
- Ratchet and Clank 1-3 (which I feel were mistreated by me here)
- God of War 1-3
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – this originally topped the PS2 section but as it received a 360 release (which is backward compatible!) and is essentially identical then it was excluded. Peace Walker also falls into this cruel category.
- Kingdom Hearts
- Gran Turismo 4
- Demon’s Souls
- Journey (again I’m so sorry)
- Metal Gear Solid 4
- Freedom Wars
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Until Dawn
The fun is just beginning…
With Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding and so much more exclusively headed to PlayStation 4 this list will only get bigger. Especially where Naughty Dog is involved. Here’s to the next 500 million PlayStation, never stop bringing what matters most:
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