Earlier this week, my friend Archie Ford and I were bored one evening, so we decided to hit up our nice local Goodwill for fun. Every once in awhile, I like to stop by to browse Goodwill's eclectic inventory, where you'll find items both old and new. To me, it's almost like a hands-on museum. Plus, every once in awhile, you find a gem you actually want, including treasures from gaming's past.
Our local Goodwill lays out its miscellaneous electronics across a wall of shelves with so little organization that any parent would be horrified to see their child's room in the same disarray. Everything ranging from old stereos to waffle makers lay before us as we browsed through the most random collection of items--if it plugged into an electric outlet, it was there. Then Archie spotted a piece of technology that started a gaming revolution: an original PlayStation 1.
When I say original, I mean the boxy, darker gray PS1 with a non-DualShock controller. Even more astonishingly, the old console was in like-new condition - probably owned by a gamer who loved it and took good care of it for years. So at $10, this PS1 wasn't something Archie could pass up and he bought it with a $2 copy of Gran Turismo 2.
When we got to my house, we first had to assemble a means to play Archie's latest console purchase . In my garage is an old, but nice, 65-inch rear-projection HDTV my roommate and I picked up for free a few weeks earlier. "Let's hook up your PlayStation to this TV here," I suggested to Archie. "Might as well test it out, right?"
We plugged in the power and inserted those composite yellow, white, and red cables my future kids will never know of because they'll be on HDMI 5.0. Hitting the power button, we immediately started a trip to the past.
Neither of us owned a PS1 growing up so we don’t have strong nostalgia for the console specifically. Yet that boot-up screen still carries that grand 90s future aesthetic that takes me back to simpler days in my life. Playing it on a rear-projection screen only pushed out more old-school vibes that the rest of our night would become saturated with.
If you have a copy of a PS1 Gran Turismo game, try going back and playing it because you may find yourself getting more enjoyment than expected. Driving along hillside roads trying to edge out other racers while Garbage’s “I Think I'm Paranoid” plays in the background is still a good time. During one run, a hilarious glitch happened where Archie’s car graphically clipped and was stuck inside another car. When we tried to save the replay, the realization hit that we didn't have a memory card. Boy, are we spoiled with on-board hard drives in modern consoles.
After a few races, Archie said something that stuck out to me, especially since he’s not a frequent gamer.
“These graphics are still pretty good. I mean, they’re low resolution, but I think this is fun.”
We continued to sit in my dimly lit garage for several more hours, playing through the beginnings of the few PS1 games in my collection. The sweet themes of Nobuo Uematsu’s score comprise most of Final Fantasy VIII’s audio and made me notice how noisy AAA games nowadays can be. Metal Gear Solid's cinematic style is still enough to grab you and never let go. And Dance Dance Revolution is still a challenge to this day.
Even past 2 AM, both of us just wanted to stay sitting in the garage playing these classic games, but PlayStation magic sometimes isn’t enough to keep my eyelids open. That night served as a reminder that solid gameplay and an engrossing story can truly make a game timeless. I hope Sony and the developers they work with don’t forget that moving forward with the PlayStation 4. That way my kids can one day find their kids sitting in a garage and playing PS4 games on an out-of-date 1080p LED HDTV, and it will put a smile on their faces.