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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

Sony’s PSone:
The Future of Gaming is in the Past
November 1, 2000

 

You, like thousands of others probably stood in line at Wal-Mart on the morning of October 26th rediscovering religion and praying to your newfound god that you would be one of the lucky ones. And when the store opened, you lost your newfound faith when your prayers failed you. As you walked out of the store you probably didn’t even notice the the plethora of grey PSone boxes. You were too busy obsessing about how to get the impossible when all you realy needed was right there in front of you. "But," you say, "the PS2 is the future. The PlayStation is so 1995." I didn’t buy a PS2 at launch. I don’t have that kind of money, and I’m not certain that it will be the next big thing. I’m very fond of my Sega, thank you very much. But, when I saw the PSone a few weeks ago, I knew I had to have it.

You probably haven’t even heard about the PSone. Frankly, I’ve been surprised at the lack of coverage for the PSone. It hit stores about a month ago, and I still haven’t seen one major article dedicated to its attributes. The PS2 has unjustly stolen the spotlight of a little marvel that everyone would be talking about if it had only come out a few months earlier. In Japan, where the PSone has been available for a few months now, most PS2 users are using their systems mainly as DVD players and the PSone is outselling both the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Dreamcast.

I’m a sucker for aesthetics. I use an iMac because I like the ruby red casing, not the operating system. The idea of a 32 bit console the size of a double DVD case was more tempting than I could bear. There are no hard lines to the PSone, just simple curves. It is simply soothing to look at. Aesthetics happens to be one of my biggest complaints about Sony’s successor. The PS2’s big, black box is anything but sleek, and next to the PSone it looks downright ugly. The PS2 wouldn’t comfortably fit anywhere in my home entertainment system, but the PSone fits everywhere comfortably. Words and pictures do not do the PSone justice. It must be experienced. The pictures do not do a good job of conveying size, and you won’t believe what I write. It has to be seen in real life to be understood. I’ve never used the adjective cute to describe a gaming console before, but I can’t help using it whenever I talk about this little guy. He’s just that cute!

Sony plans to release an LCD monitor next year which will make this the coolest portable console around. Just try to imagine taking your Playstation with you wherever you want to go. There will no longer be a need to haul around even small TVs. It will fit in the back seat of the most compact cars. I plan on hiding mine in the top drawer of my desk at work.

You have to look around for the PSone. Most retailers have hidden them behind their old stock of the PSX (easily done because they’re so much smaller). Wal-Mart et al are fully aware that if people know about the PSone then there will be no one left to get that old bulky system which is priced at the same $99.99. The PSone is packaged with one Dual Shock controller (which takes up almost as much room as the system itself). There are no games, only the promise of a demo disc if you mail in your registration card. The manual is simple and straightforward; you’ll be up and running with this baby in no time. The PSone is simplicity personified.

In the world of gadgets and electronics, smaller is better. Sony has realized this with the invention of the Walkman, the Discman, and now the PSone. It could be called the Pocket PS or the Palm PS. If they made this guy any smaller, there wouldn’t be enough room to plug in the controllers or memory cards. There are no external upgrade ports, which might frustrate those wanting to play import games, but you can upgrade with internal chips. This system truly has everything you need.

There’s still some life in the old man. THPS2 is probably the hottest game out there right now, and Final Fantasy IX will be out in January. There are hundreds of games now available, and most of them come in at under 20 bucks. If graphics are all that matter to you, then you probably need to have the PS2 (until the Xbox comes out), but if gameplay at a reasonable price is what you’re after, then the PSone should tie you over for a while yet. The PS2, however, has yet to prove itself as the definitive next generation console. The general response to its launch titles has been lackluster at best and with the recent jumping ship of the Oddworld franchise it would appear that the PS2 still has a ways to go before proclaiming itself the king of all consoles. But the original PlayStation still has a ton of new titles coming out on top of a massive catalog of old titles.

I’m a Dreamcast man myself, and before that it was Nintendo. I’ve avoided Sony since its debut and I never thought I would sign up to the Sony camp so easily. I knew the PS2 would probably sway me, but the original Playstation? What can I say? I’m a sucker for packaging. If you buy a PSone do it for its sheer beauty and promise of portability. It will change how and where we play games.If you don’t have any extra cash lying around, then I recommend that you keep your eyes away from the PSone. Whatever you do don’t look in the box. I guarantee that if you see it, you will covet it. Even if you have been guaranteed a PS2 before Christmas, you will find yourself dreaming about the smooth curves and compact shape of the PSone. It is the hottest thing that no one is talking about.

Jason Frank

 
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