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PlayStation: Twenty-Five Years Later

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For Christmas of 1996, I knew what I wanted - a Nintendo 64. I had been fed a steady diet of Nintendo Power magazines, which led me to believe that the 64 was the bright future of gaming, and anything else was just an imposter. And I got it! But soon, I had friends telling me about Final Fantasy VII, and Tomb Raider, and tons of other games that appealed to me a great deal. I needed to get a PlayStation.

PlayStation wasn’t the first game console with a CD drive, but it might have been the first to use it as more than just a gimmick. Nintendo 64 cartridges had up to 64 megabytes of memory, and cost as much as $30 to manufacture. A PlayStation CD, on the other hand, held 10 times as much data, and cost pennies to make. This resulted in less expensive games, and I think allowed publishers to be able to afford to take on more weird games that might not sell as many copies.

One of these weird games is one of my favorites on the system - PaRappa the Rapper. The game was designed by Masaya Matsuura, a music producer, with art by New York artist Rodney Greenblat. The stages in the game all take place as a rap battle. Each teacher, opposite PaRappa, will rap a phrase (represented by button presses on the controller) and then you must repeat the phrase. It’s a little bit like Simon, but set to music. In fact, PaRappa is probably the first modern rhythm game, the ancestor of Just Dance and Guitar Hero. It was an unexpected success, selling over a million copies.

More than 100 million PlayStations were sold through 2006. That weird little console beat out Nintendo and Sega and became THE console to have, and made Sony into the video game leader they are today.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.