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PlayStation At 25: Facts You (Maybe) Never Knew About Sony’s Iconic Console

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PlayStation At 25: Facts You (Maybe) Never Knew About Sony’s Iconic Console

The PlayStation is 25. Happy birthday, the PlayStation. Sony's gaming brand has changed over the years, but that original console, still such a classic (even though its Classic Mini rather disappointed). And to mark the quarter-century anniversary, GAMINGbible is running a series of PlayStation At 25 articles and videos - and you can find them all here, as they go live.

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Here are ten facts about the PlayStation, which was first released in the UK and Europe on September 29th, 1995. Some you'll know; others, maybe you didn't.

The Nintendo PlayStation / Credit: unknown
The Nintendo PlayStation / Credit: unknown

The PlayStation was born out of revenge on Nintendo, kinda

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With a prototype Nintendo PlayStation selling at auction earlier this year for about $300,000, this story of PlayStation's past has been headline news very recently. But it's worth revisiting, briefly, nonetheless. The story goes like this... Sony was working with Nintendo to create a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo, rather like SEGA had the Mega Drive-compatible Mega CD. A prototype console that combined a CD drive and a SNES cartridge slot was made, and called the PlayStation. But Nintendo had eyes on another partner, Philips, and dropped its arrangement with Sony. Long story, incredibly short, Sony refused to give up on the gaming market, having already dabbled in it with the MSX range of computers, and their own PlayStation was born from the ashes of the Nintendo deal. Indeed, the collapse of the Nintendo deal motivated the team at Sony, as they looked to get a kind of revenge with their own, industry-leading console. And they only went and did it.

Toro Inoue in the trailer for 'PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale' / Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment
Toro Inoue in the trailer for 'PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale' / Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation did (does!) have an official mascot - but only in Japan

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What do you mean you've never heard of Sony Cat? Fair enough, actually. PlayStation never really had a Mario- or Sonic-like mascot in the West, although I guess Crash Bandicoot could stake something of an unofficial claim; or PaRappa the Rapper, or a FEISAR racer. In Japan however, Sony Cat - or Toro Inoue - has been associated with PlayStation consoles ever since the 1994 ('95, here) original. Toro has appeared in several games in the last 25 years, he's named after a debugger who worked at Sony, and his birthday is May 6th. So, now you know.

The face buttons on a PlayStation controller / Credit: Evan Amos
The face buttons on a PlayStation controller / Credit: Evan Amos

The symbols on the PlayStation controller actually mean something

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We've been through this ourselves, before there was a flurry of content online about it. But yep, the circle, square, triangle and cross (not 'x') all stand for something. The square button is meant to represent the game's menu, and the triangle is the player's perspective, or direction. The cross is supposed to represent 'no', and the circle 'yes' - though when the PlayStation came West, these buttons typically operate the other way around, with cross moving forward through options, and circle going back.

The PSX / Credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain
The PSX / Credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain

Some people call it the PSX, and there's a reason for that

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Ever seen the PlayStation called the PSX? For a while, in gaming magazines of the 1990s, that seemed to be all it was called - obviously before there was a PlayStation 2, to make this console the 'PS1'. PSX is - or was, I guess - the console's codename, before PlayStation was revealed (again, given the whole Nintendo thing). Early advertising for the console stuck to the codename, calling it the PlayStation X; but following some less-than-ideal public feedback, the 'X' was scrapped. Sony would eventually release a product in 2003 called PSX, a digital video recorder with a built-in PS2, but it bombed and never received distribution outside of Japan.

The PS One / Credit: Evan Amos
The PS One / Credit: Evan Amos

If you call it the PS1, don't mix it up with the PS One

We all call the OG PlayStation the PS1 these days - we sort of have to, now that we're up to the PlayStation 5. But there is a console explicitly called the PS One, so be sure to not confuse the two. The PS One was a smaller, rather-more-curvaceous version of the PlayStation that was released by Sony in 2000 (at which point it outsold the PlayStation 2 - smart move, Sony). You could attach a five-inch LCD screen to the back of the PS One, which sort of makes it Sony's first portable console, right? Sort of? The PS One sold over 28 million units, making this revision of the PlayStation a bigger hit than SEGA's final two consoles, the Saturn and Dreamcast, combined.

The discs were only black underneath to look cool (I guess)

That black colouring underneath a PlayStation game disc? It served no purpose whatsoever. Sony just thought it looked good.

The PocketStation / credit: catawiki.com
The PocketStation / credit: catawiki.com

The PlayStation had its own virtual pets, trapped inside memory cards... sorta

Tamagotchi toys were a big thing in the mid- to late-1990s, around the same time that PlayStation was really making its name. And Sony didn't say no to merging virtual pets with their gaming line. The PocketStation - marketed with Toro Inoue on its Japanese box - was a memory card with a digital screen, which both stored your saves and could play games of its own. The biggest-selling title was the one starring Toro himself, Dokodemo Issho, which shifted 1.5 million units. A cute little virtual cat in a pocket-sized digital device? Yeah, can't see what market that's going after, Sony.

The console effectively beat its competition with just three numbers

The PlayStation was set to face-off, primarily, with the SEGA Saturn in the second half of 1995, with the Nintendo 64 still a year away. At E3 that year, in Los Angeles, SEGA made its move: the new console would be released immediately in the US, for a price of $399. PlayStation licked its lips. Its keynote came after SEGA's, and upon being invited to the stage, Sony's then-president in the States, Steve Race, offered just three words, three numbers: "two, nine, nine." The PlayStation would undercut the Saturn by a whole 100 dollars. Game over, man.

Think your PS4 gets hot now? Old-school PlayStations could melt

It wasn't all sunshines and rainbows for PlayStation owners, though. Much like later model PlayStation consoles, its fans were ill-equipped to deal with how hot the machine's insides could become. The plastic casing could get so hot that it softened, and basically began to melt. I never saw that for myself, but the internet reckons it's legit, so we'll go with it.

Twisted Metal 2 / Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment, MobyGames.com
Twisted Metal 2 / Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment, MobyGames.com

Sony once got sued by an ice cream company because of 'Twisted Metal 2'

Something that definitely melts is ice cream, and in 1996 Sony released Twisted Metal 2 for its still-new console, which featured a killer-clown character named Needles Cane who tore around the game's setting of a ruined Los Angeles in an ice cream van called Sweet Tooth. On the side of the van was the wording "frosty treat" - and a real-world ice cream truck vendor in the US, Frosty Treats, didn't like that, not one bit. So they took Sony Computer Entertainment America to court, claiming that the game infringed on their copyright. A judge dismissed the case because they couldn't see how one, a vehicle in a video game, could be confused for the other, an actual ice cream truck. But Frosty Treats weren't satisfied, and appealed - where the dismissal was affirmed. Sorry, ice cream truck guys.

Featured Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

Topics: Feature, list, PlayStation, Retro Gaming

Mike Diver
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