15 PS1 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Or maybe you did?


Do you like the iconic PlayStation 1? Do you like learning kinda useless trivia about Sony’s grey console? Well, good news! We’ve combined both of those things together to look at the history of the console that put Sony on the video game map, establishing a dominance that would extend with little challenge for about a decade. The PS1 had a lot of promise to live up to upon release in 1994, but with some early arcade essentials like Ridge Racer and Tekken, RPGs like Final Fantasy VII, and a decidedly edgier and more varied game library than the competition could offer, the system soon became an industry leader.

You may know all of this already, but do you really know everything there is to know about the PS1? There’s a ton of fascinating trivia and other bits of information about this system that you may not know. Let’s find out just how strange and incredible the PS1’s lengthy life cycle really was.


1. Atari Tried to Stop the $299 Launch

Poor Atari. By the middle of the 90s, the console manufacturer was all but an afterthought. The portable Lynx was long gone. The Jaguar had its fans, but really didn’t have any hope in hell of catching up to Nintendo or Sega. So, when Sony announced their PlayStation was on the horizon, Atari decided the last thing they needed was another company thoroughly kicking their ass.

In a 1995 interview with Next Generation, Atari head Sam Tramiel made it clear that they would not accept Sony launching their PS1 for $299 in the west after a $500 launch in Japan. “We’ll do whatever we can to have the ITC — that’s the International Trade Commission of the United States — to go after them. That’s called dumping.”

When asked what he thought a fair price for a PlayStation might be, Sam replied “$500.”

Guess how much Sony launched the PS1 for. Go on. Guess.


2. PS1/PS2 Cross-Platform Games

Nowadays, it’s not at all strange to see a major title get a release on both generations of a company’s console, and while the PlayStation 1 wasn’t the first console to get cross-platform games from its powerful successor, the practice was still an uncommon one when the PS2 came out in 2000. Nevertheless, a small handful of games were developed for not only the shiny new PS2, but for the PS1, as well.

The first two games in the Harry Potter series, the third and fourth entries in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, two of those “beloved” Army Men titles, and Wild Arms are among releases that made it to both systems. How do they compare? About as well as you’d think, but the PS1 versions are still in most cases a lot of fun to play.

Still, be sure to treat yourself to the nightmare fuel that is Hagrid on the PS1 version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Hagrid does not look well at all.


3. The PS1’s Answer to the Nintendo Power Glove

The results with gaming gloves have always been a bit messy in the execution. Remember Nintendo’s Power Glove? It was so bad. Unfortunately, besides being a line from our favorite 90-minute Nintendo commercial of all time, that was also a good way to describe the glove itself.

Reality Quest tried to do something a little more effective and viable in the late-90s for the PS1 and later the N64, and from the sound of contemporary reviews, it worked.

After fitting the glove to your right hand, and fixing it to your hand with Velcro straps, the Reality Quest Glove works by using wrist motions for horizontal or vertical movement. Your four main action buttons can be found under three fingers, and it’s clear that this controller was a viable option for those who couldn’t play with traditional controllers for one reason or another. However, for everyone else, the glove just couldn’t fully replicate the traditional controller experience.


4. Net Yaroze Ruled

Described as a hobbyist game console, Sony’s Net Yaroze is fascinating to examine in retrospect. This all-in-one kit was available at retail, and it did indeed let you create your own PS1 games.

Sort of.

The Net Yaroze was a very stripped-down version of the actual developer kit that was given to companies like Square or Capcom. Despite its limited scale, it did allow many young programmers and creators to cut their teeth with tools that could create games, and Sony even created a forum in which developers could share projects and get advice. Some of those people have gone on to actual industry careers, including Mitsuru Kamiyama, who has worked on numerous games for Square Enix over the past 20 years.

The sharp black exterior of the Net Yaroze looks pretty cool, but it couldn’t actually play PS1 games. However, if you were to make a game on the Net Yaroze and burn it to a CD, your PS1 would run your creation just fine.


5. The First 100-Million Selling Console

Just how dominant was the original PlayStation? It was the first video game system to hit 100 million in sales. That’s right. The very first. In fact, the original PS is still the sixth best-selling console of all time. That’s impressive, and it underscores why Sony’s new kid on the block destroyed Sega and put Nintendo on the ropes.

Sony has been a major player in the console wars ever since. By comparison, the Nintendo 64 has sold approximately 32 million units, while the Sega Saturn ended its short lifespan with less than 10 million.

The PS1 distinguished itself with a massive library of must-have games like Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, Ridge Racer, Tekken, and the list goes on and on. You can have any favorite you want from this generation of consoles, but you have to admit it’s not hard to understand why the PlayStation was the first to achieve this honor.


6. One of the Best CD Players Ever Made?

The PlayStation 1 didn’t just play video games, though most of us probably know that your PlayStation could also play audio CDs. The interface was a little odd, as was running everything with your PS1 controller, but it could play any music CD you had on hand.

That part may not be interesting to you, but what you may not know is that audiophiles contend to this day that the PS One absolutely kicks ass at playing audio CDs as they are meant to be heard.

The PS1 was even described in one article as offering a “Smooth, non-digital sound that seemed to take all of the rough edges off digital replay of the day, replacing them with a soft, burnished glow.” While the console’s age can be problematic in terms of finding one that actually works, the PS1 is still seen as an excellent choice for those who want the most authentic sound possible from their physical media. You’ll still need to invest in a worthwhile sound system, though. The only sound that comes out of the PS1 is the disc spinning.


7. The PS1 Revolutionized Saving Your Games

Saving your game used to be kind of a pain in the ass. Things got better with consoles like the NES in the third generation, but saving capabilities were still extremely limited. Some games demanded the use of a password, and that always had the potential to become a small nightmare of memorization and writing down what could sometimes be dozens of characters.

External storage was clearly the solution for the future, and the PS1 was the first system to offer something robust and even groundbreaking in this regard. They weren’t the first major console to launch with external storage capabilities, as that would be SNK’s Neo Geo in 1990. However, the Neo Geo card only gave you 2KB worth of storage. The PS1 memory card offered 128KB, broken up into fifteen blocks for saving a plethora of games. It still wasn’t enough sometimes, but it ushered in a new era of data storage for consoles.


8. Sony’s First Major Developer Release

One of the reasons why the PS1 was a massive success came down to Sony partnering up with some of the best developers and publishers in the world. They struck a particularly lucrative deal with Namco for games like Tekken and Ridge Racer, but really, Sony developed good working relationships with just about everyone. This ensured the PS1 would have a library unlike anything before it.

But what about Sony themselves? What was their first major release as a developer? If you’ve never heard of a 1994 game called Motor Toon Grand Prix, that’s fair. Somewhat obscured by time, despite doing well enough to get a pretty good sequel in 1996, Motor Toon Grand Prix was directed by Kazunori Yamauchi and developed by the Polys Entertainment team. Yamauchi and indeed most of Polys would later be the legendary group behind the first Gran Turismo, which we’re willing to bet is a game you have heard of.


9. Why The Black Disks, PS1?

It would be easy to assume that PlayStation 1 discs were black for purely aesthetic reasons, since Sony was positioning their console as the coolest thing humanity had ever done. That might be part of the reason, we’ll never know for sure, but we do know that a big part of this decision almost certainly concerned piracy fears.

One of the big advantages of cartridges was how difficult it was to pirate them. Disc technology may have been able to contain the multitudes of a Final Fantasy VII or The Fifth Element, but it was also considerably easier to copy whatever was on the data side. Sony may have believed the black ink added an element of difficulty to pirating the games, but there’s no evidence this ever worked. Even as the black discs gave official PS1 games a measure of distinction, eventually blank black discs were released to retail anyway.


10. Deciphering the PS1 Controller Symbols

Times may change. Technology certainly changes. But even Sony knows better than to mess with the iconic symbols associated with not only their controllers, but with their very brand and identity. Modern PS5 controllers continue to utilize the triangle-circle-X-square symbols on a four-button design. Many people don’t really think about what these symbols might mean, but it was recently uncovered in an old interview with PlayStation 1 designer Teiyu Goto that the symbols and their corresponding colors all have meaning and purpose.

Basically, the triangle is green and represents viewpoint. Square is pink and refers to menus and documents in the game. Circles are red and represent a yes, while the X is blue and represents a no. It’s ingenious when you stop to think about it, and while PS5’s DualSense controllers don’t have the colors, we all just kind of know which each one is supposed to do.


11. Sony and….Sega?!

Much like the story of Atari nearly coming to terms on releasing the NES stateside, Sega had an opportunity to work with a company that was looking to break into the video game console business, and it didn’t work out.

And by “it didn’t work out”, we mean that Sega flat-out refused to even consider the notion of collaborating with Sony on a console project. More specifically, Sega of Japan rejected a proposal brought forth by Sega of America President Tom Kalinske to join with Sony to create what would be called the Sega Multimedia Entertainment System. “Sony doesn’t know how to make hardware,” Sega said at the time. “They don’t know how to make hardware either,” Kalinske later said the company told him.

Perhaps that was a fair assertion in 1991, but it was nevertheless a decision that would come back to haunt the company when Sony started rocking their shit hard in 1995.


12. It Could Kind-of-But-Not-Really Play Movies

One of the biggest reasons why the PS2 absolutely slaughtered its competition in 2000 coincided with the rise of DVD technology. The PlayStation 2 offered DVD playback in a package that was cheaper than virtually any dedicated DVD player currently available. It made sense for Sony to tap into the media playback potential of the console, as they had done something similar with the PS1 and Video CD technology.

It’s commonly known that the PlayStation 1 could play music CDs, in addition to your standard video games. While the PS1 obviously couldn’t play DVDs, one specific model of the console could. The SCPH-5903 PlayStation could handle Video CD playback, although keep in mind that the video CD format tanked in most parts of the world because it was more expensive than VHS and roughly the same level of video and audio quality. It’s also worth noting that this particular PlayStation is very hard to find.


13. The Last Officially Licensed PS1 Game Ever Released

If you wanted to stay loyal to the PS1 and only the PS1 throughout the 2000s, you could count on getting at least a small stream of games up to the middle of the decade. Although most of the world left the PlayStation 1 behind for the PS2 and other entries in the sixth console generation, developers continued to release some questionable titles. This includes several sports games and some god awful kids games that even children would likely hate.

In fact, the last licensed PS1 game to ever be released in North America was FIFA 2005. Developed and published by EA, the game was released to seemingly every platform that could handle it, which is pretty standard for FIFA even today. This may have been why the game sold extremely well upon release.

The last game ever released for the PS1 seems to be the Japan-exclusive re-release of Strider Hiryu from Capcom, who released the game months after Sony officially ended support for the console.


14. Nintendo and Sony: What Almost Happened

Sony had been trying to get into video game hardware for quite some time before the release of the PlayStation in 1994. While we don’t know how long a Sony and Nintendo partnership would have actually lasted if it worked out for the Nintendo PlayStation, we do know that when Sony excitedly announced its venture with Nintendo at the CES Chicago event in 1991, Nintendo responded by announcing that they were dropping Sony to work with Phillips instead. Bloody hell, Nintendo.

But the game hardware giants were perhaps right to be concerned that Sony might have an unfair advantage in their union. Ken Kutaragi from Sony later made it clear that he hoped the work with Nintendo would eventually lead to Sony starting to manufacture their own systems.

Unfortunately, Nintendo’s effort to push Sony away backfired in spectacular fashion. Sony Computer Entertainment, the company that would eventually put the PlayStation in stores, was literally created by Sony President Norio Ohga as an “F U” response to Nintendo’s unexpected treachery.

Honestly, we love Nintendo, but they were absolute lunatics in the 90s, and it was always a treat to see someone snap back.


15. The Best-Selling PS1 Game Took 5 Years to Develop

Quick, what’s the best selling PS1 game of all time? If you said Gran Turismo, then you know just how utterly dominant that franchise was on the PS1. There were plenty of million-selling games, but only one made it past the ten million copies mark, and that’s the first entry in one of the most beloved racing sim franchises of all time.

Gran Turismo changed the way people thought about racing games, and it’s not a huge shock that the success of this game puts it at the top in the sales department. The sequel did nearly as well with a little over 9 million copies. The only significant competition comes from Final Fantasy VII and VIII, and then a little game called Tekken 3.

Gran Turismo also took five years to get off the ground, which is normal in today’s climate, but more distinctive during a time where most games came after a year or two in development. Gran Turismo’s story begins in 1992 as one of the countless proposals creator Kazunori Yamauchi offered during the development of the PlayStation console itself. The game’s lengthy development time came down to a variety of issues, including working against the limitations of the PlayStation, a small development team that rarely had more than 12 people, and the demands of games like Motor Toon Grand Prix and its sequel.

Gran Turismo’s very origin is directly tied to the history of its home console, and there’s something that just feels right about Gran Turismo being the best-selling PS1 game ever.

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