Published by Matthew Evans (Guest Writer) December 5th 2013
As the new generation of consoles envelops our lives with great excitement, it can be fun to take a trip down memory lane to explore their legacies and humble origins. Delving through my own personal treasure trove of PS1 titles, I stumbled across a few that really stood out to me that seemed to disappear as time moved on leaving them behind; titles that I believe would be welcomed with open arms in this wonderful, new generation.
1. Sheep, Dog ‘n’ Wolf (Sheep Raider) - Infogrames
Sheep, Dog ‘n’ Wolf (released as Sheep Raider in the States) is a stealthy, puzzle-solving, platforming mix set in the world of Looney Tunes. Based on a series of Looney Tunes cartoons, you play as Randolph Wolf (cousin of Wile E. Coyote) and get whisked onto a game show, hosted by Daffy Duck no less, where your goal is to steal a sheep from Sam Sheepdog in every level. You’re aided by a collection of Acme gadgets and Looney Tunes characters in an outlandishly imaginative adventure.
The creativity within this game is overwhelming as you navigate levels using hand-made slingshots, sheep-costumes, time-travel, the pied-piper’s pipe, and many more Acme branded gadgets.
The puzzles require a genuinely large amount of thought, especially towards the end of the game, proving that Sheep, Dog ‘n’ Wolf is far more than a cheap license cash cow.
Such a unique concept, with such a vibrant world, could happily make a return to a modern generation. Old fans would be delighted to see this series return while newcomers would appreciate the game for its many interesting components.
2. Dino Crisis – Capcom
Dinosaurs are inherently cool. Any game that has dinosaurs in it should therefore be inherently cool. The Dino Crisis series was more than just this, replacing zombies with dinosaurs to make a franchise superior to Resident Evil, which ultimately ended up being forgotten.
Dino Crisis took a more action-orientated approach to survival, in place of Resident Evil’s horror focus, and as a result is faster paced. An array of guns could be obtained and used to shoot a variety of dinosaurs, from nimble and vicious Velociraptors to the fearsome Giganotosaurus. Dino Crisis 2 is especially poignant in my memory for having a fun underwater section (who would have thought), nuclear threats and time paradoxes, culminating in an adventure that was both enjoyable and gripping.
A new Dino Crisis game that makes the most of current technology, while providing the same tense gameplay and intriguing narratives that made the original trilogy so great, could be terrific.
3. Incredible Crisis – Polygon Magic
Incredible Crisis is a very unusual collection of minigames that foregoes any multiplayer in favour of a singleplayer adventure about a Japanese family who all need to get home in time to celebrate the grandmother’s birthday. Along the way they come across terrorists dressed as wolves, a 200ft pink teddy bear destroying downtown Tokyo, and a workplace dance-off ruined by a rather malicious wrecking ball. Minigames include; playing Simon with a UFO, shooting down said teddy bear while piloting a fighter jet, and the repeated appearance of man whose boat you nearly sink on three separate occasions. It’s crazy and chaotic and brilliant.
Minigame collections are few and far between nowadays and one as zany as this would resonate with a special niché of consumers with a taste for all things wacky.
4. Klonoa - Namco
Klonoa has a special place in my heart. Not only is it a fantastic 2.5D platformer that combined traditional platforming with clever depth-related puzzles, it was the first game that had a story which gripped me at a truly personal level. It was a beautiful tale about a dream world that eventually comes crashing down in its very heart-breaking final act. You play as a cat-like creature who uses a magical ring to inflate enemies into hilariously disproportionate balloons and then throw them as a weapon or use them to double jump by bouncing off their heads (as they fall down a bottomless bit to a hideous death).
The series returned with a fantastic sequel on the PS2 but never advanced further from there. The original was then remade for the Wii in 2009 but that failed to bring the series back.
With such a grand emphasis on 2.5D puzzling brilliance, Klonoa is a series that can appeal to both children with its charm and adults with its challenge.
5. Crash Bandicoot – Naughty Dog
Crash Bandicoot was one of the most beloved series on the PS1, and really needs no introduction. The flawless trilogy of platforming adventures, collecting crystals, gems and wumpa fruit, was followed by a brilliant kart racer, all of which were from the brains and fingers of the clever folk at Naughty Dog Studios. There was also Crash Bash, the delightful party game that sucked up many hours of my childhood with giant-walrus-on-iceberg joy, from Eurocom. This series hit a patch of turbulence as Naughty Dog handed over all rights and responsibilities to Activision, producing some mediocre games on the PS2 (Crash of the Titans, anyone?) before slowly being forgotten.
With the Rumour Mill spinning heavily with regards to Sony potentially reacquiring the rights to their shorts-wearing-marsupial, the thought of seeing a Crash Bandicoot game not far removed from its brilliant beginnings is absolutely titillating. Crash Bandicoot is regarded to this day as Sony’s swansong platformer and a return to glory would be a fine sight indeed.
These are just a few picks of my favourite games that disappeared into the ether but I know there are many other hidden gems on the PS1. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!
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