The forthcoming PlayStation Classic has drummed up nostalgia for the olden days of 3D games, but most of them are unplayable now. Here are the 90s games you could still enjoy.
Nostalgia can be a terrible thing. The stuff you loved when you were young doesn’t always hold up to modern scrutiny, as you will know if you have ever tried rewatching Knight Rider.
Last week, Sony announced the PlayStation Classic, a mini version of the original PlayStation from 1994, complete with 20 built-in games. The full list has yet to be announced, but the five confirmed games are Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4 and Wild Arms. And though we are all thinking, “Ah yes, I loved Ridge Racer; Final Fantasy was legendary”, the reality of early 3D visuals is gruesome and the absence of analogue controllers will seem like a cruel joke to our soft 21st-century hands.
There are still some PlayStation games that you could pick up and play today without feeling confused or crushingly disappointed. Hopefully, the PlayStation Classic will draw more from this list.
Alundra (Matrix Software 1999)
A top-down-viewed action role-playing game (RPG) crammed with challenging puzzles, exciting combat and a huge world to explore. One of the greatest fantasy adventure games of the 1990s. Don’t @ me.
Bishi Bashi Special (Konami, 2000)
A bizarre collection of super-fast mini-games for multiple players. Do you want to chuck wedding cake down an aisle? Do you want to drive a car by shaking a can of fizzy pop? Yes you do.
Bust a Move 2: Arcade Edition (Taito, 1996)
The classic bubble-popping series known as Puzzle Bubble in Japan reached its zenith with this release, allowing compelling two-player screen-clearing action that could seduce anyone. It is still my wife’s favourite game.
Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (Capcom, 1998)
Street Fighter Alpha 3 was probably the best 2D fighting game of the PlayStation era, but it didn’t have Chun-Li fighting Hulk or Arthur from Ghosts ’n Goblins popping in as a support character, so Clash of Super Heroes wins.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami, 1997)
One of the greatest multidirectional scrolling adventure games ever made – a gothic romp around Dracula’s castle that is loaded with memorable monsters, beautiful ruined architecture and dark secrets to unveil. The soundtrack is great, too.
Devil Dice (Shift, 1998)
One of the original crossover indie success stories, having started out as a PlayStation Yaroze project, Devil Dice is an intriguing puzzle game based around moving dice into formations so they disappear. Think Tetris meets, um, dice.
Final Fantasy Tactics (Square Enix, 1997)
Forget Final Fantasy VII or VIII – they look weird, fractured and dated now – but this tactical RPG, with its sharp isometric visuals and tight, contained turn-based battlefields, remains a challenging treat for strategy fans. Konami’s Vandal Hearts and Quest’s Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together are fine alternatives.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (Oddworld Inhabitant, 1997)
An idiosyncratic platforming adventure set in a sci-fi meat-processing factory, which your lead character is trying to escape. Featuring stealth elements, tactical telepathy and some lovely animation, the game spawned an equally good sequel, Abe’s Exoddus.
PaRappa the Rapper (Sony Japan, 1996)
The greatest game ever made about a paper-thin rapping dog and his various anthropomorphic music tutors. The sequel, Um Jammer Lammy, is also amazing.
Suikoden 2 (Konami, 1998)
With its epic narrative of endlessly warring factions and gigantic cast of characters, Suikoden is like Game of Thrones reimagined by the best RPG designers on the planet. Its use of wonderfully animated 2D visuals was mocked at the time, but it has aged better than most of its peers.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (Capcom, 1996)
A gem-matching puzzler in the style of Baku Baku, featuring super-deformed characters from the Street Fighter universe. Adorable and fiendishly compelling even now, especially in two-player mode.
Tomba! (Whoopee Camp, 1997)
While everyone was going nuts for pseudo-3D Mario wannabes such as Spyro and Crash, this 2.5D platforming treasure from the creator of Ghouls ’n Ghosts, was criminally overlooked. Like the aesthetically similar Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, it stands up better than more hyped rivals.
Vib Ribbon (NanaOn-Sha, 1999)
A fascinating rhythm platform game where minimalist one-line levels are constructed in real time, depending on the music CD that the player puts in the drive. Finding a music CD is probably the biggest challenge it would pose today.
Worms Armageddon (Team17, 1999)
The essential multiplayer worm battle simulation is available on every gaming platform known to humankind – for good reason. It is unique in its blissful marriage of silly humour and deep strategy, and this PlayStation iteration is one of the best.