A Metalhead's Guide To... PlayStation 1 Games
"I prefer the older stuff" doesn't just apply to metal, but the world of gaming too!
Gaming is metal. Just fuck the real world off for a few precious hours and you can be a fighting champion, a crocodile with a backpack or a regiment of smart-arsed worms. And the phenomenon just keeps moving forward. Forward like Boba Fett into the Sarlacc Pit. Forward like custard in a vicious round of Creamy Muck Muck. We’ve reached the Carry On Call of Duty stage and nobody’s ever going to top The Last of Us; the charm of yore has been somewhat diluted and, in many cases, plot and genuine enjoyment have been muscled out to make space for seizure-inducing graphics.
The PlayStation 1 had the best games. It just did. The console pissed all over the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn from a great distance in terms of sales, gameplay and longevity – even the shape of the PlayStation controller is iconic. So, without further blathering, here’s seven very metal PlayStation 1 games you must investigate if you have even a fleeting interest in the human experience. They’re that good.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000)
The connoisseur’s choice. Lovers of the PlayStation 1 constantly bicker, battle and brutalise one another while arguing which is better: Spyro or Crash Bandicoot. While both series ran through a three-release curve matched only by Marilyn Manson and Pantera, Year Of The Dragon gives Spyro a slight upper claw. The maps are bigger than ever, lending from early incarnations of Grand Theft Auto to add an almost free-roaming feel to the game; the dialogue is hilarious, with Moneybags in particular being a hateable, hilariously dickish bear with one eye on your wallet and the other stuck behind a flashy monocle; oh, as with the previous two games, the music’s done by Stewart Copeland. Y’know, the drummer from The Police. Just throwing in full-on, lavishly produced orchestral scores to capture the exact essence of a level. Year Of The Dragon deserved perfection and that’s what it got. There’s even a love story between a cheetah and a woman, although she’s got rabbit ears so that kinda eliminates the whole, er, bestiality element. Basically, if you want to skateboard alongside yetis (metal), fight gnarled, hellish frog monsters (metal) and help save the future of Dragonkind (metal... and why wouldn’t you? Callous bastard), then Spyro: Year Of The Dragon is the game for you.
**Silent Hill (1999)
**Forget the crap film adaptation – Silent Hill will have you buying nappies by the bucketload. It’s essentially Resident Evil’s mutant brother which has been chained up in the attic eating nothing but fish heads; shameless smatterings of fog choke the screen in a valiant attempt to distract you from the graphics, industrial clanging soundtracks the whole thing and you spend most of the game just walking around being scared of what’s at the other end of your torch. It’s psychologically scarring and that’s what a properly thought-out horror should be, not just loads of aliens and zombies bursting down a hallway.
Crash Bash (2000)
What was said about plot in the introduction to this article? Throw that out of the window. Crash Bandicoot’s original three games had enough story in them to establish the groundwork for Crash Bash: the ultimate party game. The goodies are pitted against the baddies through a series of bite-sized trials involving polar bears, tanks and pogo sticks. Random events occur, challenges range from the mundane to the near-obscene and you are dead inside if you don’t get a thrill from pushing Dingodile off the edge of a very tall building. Plus, the final level is called Dante’s Dash and you just drive around a race course which is essentially Hell. Doesn’t really get more metal than that.
Originally a PC game, Carmageddon finally smashed itself onto PlayStation 1 discs in 1999, certifying itself as probably the most metal game of its era. The bloody thing’s got a load of Fear Factory songs on it and was at war with censors for ages because, y’know, apparently it’s fine to run over robots and zombies but mowing down a human just isn’t cool. The aim of the game is to win the race by any means necessary, with extra time being awarded for blowing up your opponents’ cars and just running shit over. Can’t really see anyone making a game like this ever again unless they want to end up in prison.
From its visuals right down to its morbid sense of humour and Elfman-esque soundtrack, MediEvil is a celebration of all things Halloweeny that wants to be The Nightmare Before Christmas so, so, so much. We all know that The Nightmare Before Christmas is better than sex with a giant piece of money that loves you back, but MediEvil has its own unique charm; the jolty camerawork isn’t too dissimilar from some of the dodgy bits in the Spyro series and the protagonist, Sir Daniel Fortesque, possesses the ability to detach his own skeletal arm and whack opponents with it (as opposed to taking off his head to recite Shakespearian quotations). If someone introduces Wednesday 13 to this game, he’ll never leave his house again.
Worms: Armageddon (2000)
Quite possibly the most ridiculous gaming series ever created, Worms stands as an oddity. Even today, in a world awash with erotic Dinosaur literature and ten-hour Rick Astley videos, Worms is still barmier than an oxygen-deprived clown. Armageddon took the multiplayer, turn-based nature of the first two ‘proper’ Worms discs and ironed out many of their flaws, leaving the player to destroy platoons of worms without fear of impending glitches. The landscape is blown to smithereens, enemy worms curse your name before exploding into makeshift graves and the legendary Concrete Donkey still manages to turn up every now and then. Worms did get a bit shit as the years progressed, but if you want the best of the best and fancy ruining your friendship with someone, get a few beers in and stick on Worms: Armageddon.
Hogs Of War (2000)
Stanley Kubrick pun on the front cover? Check. Anthropomorphic pigs voiced by the people’s poet, Rik Mayall? Check. Basically nicking the Worms format but throwing it into a fully three-dimensional, grim WWI environment, this is the funniest PlayStation 1 game you’ll ever own. The humour makes Hogs Of War unequivocally British, something a lot of games were and still are afraid to be; the campaign across Saustralasia gives you a real feeling of accomplishment as you fry your porcine peers. Mayall’s speech at the end was funny when you were younger – ‘haha, politicians are stupid, etc etc’ – but given the state of this world we live in, it’s genuinely unsettling to sit through in 2015.