Sony’s recently announced Playstation Now service is something that legitimately makes me feel like I live in the future. We’re finally getting a Netflix for old games, allowing easy access to generations of titles and preserving the legacy of older machines in a way that has been sorely lacking in the United States. Much like Netflix did for movies and TV, this service will also present a second chance at recognition for a slew of interesting titles that were overlooked to some degree for whatever reason during their original time of release. Sure, everyone remembers playing God of War and Crash Bandicoot, but digging deeper in the Playstation archives unveils a treasure trove of interesting titles that Playstation Now could hopefully revive in the minds of gamers. Here are some that I think fit the bill in no particular order.
A small scale RPG starring two characters with completely different playstyles and a story that lets them cross paths while also having unique adventures, Threads of Fate is the type of weird project that Square used to make before they became a Final Fantasy company. I’ve never been a huge fan of RPGs, but this game called out to me as a kid and enchanted me with its weird mechanics and mature yet cartoonish characters. Playing through as Rue, with his weird buzzsaw/sword combo and his ability to transform into any fodder enemy in the game, I had a blast, and I feel that kids today could use an entry into the genre that isn’t saddled with Facebook integration and rougelike elements.
Tomba! is a 2.5D platformer with RPG-like puzzles and questing where you play as a pink-haired caveman who fights an army of pigs that stole his grandfather’s ring. I played this game when I was younger and found nothing but confusion, but I realize now that it was a bit complex for a kid in elementary school. Today, it feels like a precursor to Metroidvania games, and its wierd main character is as charming as ever. Back when it was released, Tomba! was a universally praised game that failed to sell a lot of copies, although it did eventually gain a sequel a few years later. Both games can now be found for marked up prices over on EBay due to their rarity, so Playstation Now could give gamers a chance to try out the game first without the hassle of paying ridiculous fees for a physical copy.
A mech action game released at the tail end of the PS1’s lifespan by the guys who are most famous for recording the undersides of cars for Gran Turismo. So yes, you could call Omega Boost an oddball. However, doing so would discredit how awesome it is. In a world where a Panzer Dragoon game is a rare sight, Omega Boost should be cherished and notable. Sony were confident enough in this game that action figures were made of its characters! It has gorgeous visuals for a Playstation 1 title, and it runs smoother than some console games do even now. Poor marketing may have done it in initially, but I can’t see this game going unnoticed a second time.For those who are only used to the cash grabs that bear the name nowadays, or only used to the current half broken output of EA, this may seem a bit out of place. However, Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is the definitive Hot Wheels experience in video game form. This is essentially a kart racing game, which is fine considering you can choose from an array of vehicles ranging from a monster truck, a cement mixer, and a dragster. The tracks feel like enhanced playsets, with flimsy backdrops brought to life by imagination and loops and twists in just the right places. The powerups are all handling based, so it’s all about getting speed and doing mad flips in the air. Add in the licensed soundtrack by hard rock bands of the day (including Metallica of all things), and you’ve got a type of arcade racer they just don’t make anymore.You’ve all played, or at least hear of the Tony Hawk series of games, but they weren’t the first extreme sports games to showcase the genre’s unique strengths. That would be the first two games in the Cool Boarders series. Featuring an addictive half pipe mode, crazy hidden characters, a vast array of tricks to pull off, and hard as nails progression through the main campaign, Cool Boaders set the stage for what was to come later and deserves a spot in history for it. Plus, it’s now fill with hilariously outdated cliches from the announcers, which can only be considered a bonus.
Taking the world of Gundams into the realm of Street Fighter could have been an awful idea, but with the then-recent advent of G Gundam and its ridiculousness, it became a case of right place, right time for everyone involved. Battle Assault 2 features the main stars and villains from OG Gundam, Gundam Wing, G Gundam, and even a few from Japan-only spinoffs. It also features a few screen filling boss encounters the likes of which are rare in a 2D fighting game. It has a huge roster, the fighting system is deep for a licensed product, and you get to unleash the BURNING FINGER on your opponents over and over again. What’s not to love?
Here we have the rare golden-age Lucasarts project that was a console release. Seemingly capitalizing on Disney’s own Hercules, Herc’s Adventures is an average top down action-adventure brought up by the humor and style that Lucasarts used to be known for. If features Dan Castellaneta as Herc, who is better known as the voice of Homer Simpson, as well as a selection of two other era appropriate playable characters. If you can get past how similar the cutscenes now look to the CD-I Zelda games, there will be some enjoyment to be found in this curiosity.
God Hand, or that OTHER Clover game that is only overlooked because everything Clover made was outstanding, is the closest thing that video games had to a ridiculous action movie at the time. Over the top moves paired with a deep and complex control scheme, and insane characters to boot. God Hand was released amidst the hype for the Playstation 3 and lost in the shuffle, but it is a stepping stone between the past and games today like Metal Gear Rising and Vanquish, and it’s another one of those games that plays so well that its age isn’t readily apparent. Of course, that’s what you’d expect from Clover/Platinum right?
Here’s a really dumb and Japanese idea for a video game. You play as a mosquito and attempt to suck blood out of a Japanese family as they live their lives. Sounds simple, but then you remember that a simple swat of their hand is enough to bring the world crashing down around you. Notable just for its insane premise, I feel that more people need to play more Japanese weirdness. Otherwise we condemn ourselves to nothing but bland grindy JRPGs and Naruto fighting games from that entire country. But with the help of a giant library of games and a little Mister Mosquito, perhaps more than just those examples can come over the pacific.
I’m amazed whenever someone brings Goldeneye up in a conversation anymore. The Timesplitters series is the rightful heir of the Goldeneye name, bringing the subtile craziness of the multiplayer in that game and cranking it up to 11. It has over a dozen multiplayer modes, over 100 playable characters with class variations if you turn them on (including an entire cast of monkeys for you OddJob fans out there) and a ridiculous arsenal of weapons from across time, space, and a cyberpunk future. The single player features something similar to Mortal Kombat‘s challenge tower, with over 100 contests to best. Getting trophies in that unlocks maps, characters, weapons, no DLC to buy here. It features an in-game map editor long before Halo‘s Forge mode. I regularly go back to this series, and the shooting hasn’t aged a day. If Playstation Now can add online multiplayer back to Timesplitters, that would justify the existence of the service in itself, it’s that good.