Introduced in 1995, the PlayStation was Sony's first entry in the multi-billion dollar video game industry -- and it was a resounding success. By 1998 the PlayStation had become the best selling product in Sony Corp.'s 50-year history.
Prior to the PlayStation, Sony had been involved in a development project with Nintendo to design a CD-ROM add-on for the Super NES. After the partnership was dissolved, and Nintendo changed to the Netherlands based Philips Electronics to pursue further development, Sony continued evolving the original CD-ROM platform. To additionally enhance the console, Sony approached custom chip designer, LSI Logic. Both companies focused on optimizing the processor's performance.
LSI Logic's CoreWare-based graphics microprocessor powers the PlayStation. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) contains three engines that concurrently work together. The system features a 32-bit MIPS-based RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) processor that operates at 33.8 MHz, a graphics engine capable of rendering high-resolution animation and an MDEC full-motion video decompression engine. The PlayStation is capable of playing Full Motion Video at 30 frames per second. It can simultaneously display up to 16.8 million colors at once on-screen. Sony united the three different processors onto a single chip, reducing the size and cost of the console.
As a CD-based system, the 32-bit PlayStation can create true 3D environments and provide extended memory with a storage capacity many times greater than the old masked ROM cartridge format. In addition, the use of the CD delivery medium provides larger, deeper and broader gameplay in a real-time, multi-tasking operating system, and CD-quality sound.
While the PlayStation does not feature on board RAM for saving game statistics or levels, it does contain 2 ports designed for external memory cards, which can each hold up to 128 KB of information. The PlayStation also features a communications port that allows two consoles to be connected by a Link Cable for head to head action.
When it was released in the US on September 9, 1995, the Sony PlayStation retailed for $299, one hundred dollars less then had been expected. To keep prices low, Sony did not include a free pack-in game or the S-video output found on prior Japanese models.
Included with the original US PlayStation base unit were: one controller, a stereo AV cable, a power cable, a game sampler CD and an instruction book. The controller features four directional buttons on the left side, four similarly composed fire buttons on the right, and four shoulder buttons mounted on the top end of the controller for specific moves.
The Dual Shock Analog Controller adds the element of vibration to gameplay. Game programmers can control the speed and intensity of rumbling by utilizing a frequency setting. The Dual Shock Analog Controller features Digital as well as Analog play, and vibrates in such instances as the revving of a car engine or during an on-screen explosion. Games designed to utilize the Dual Shock Analog Controller include: Rally Cross, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Vigilante 8 and Tekken 3.
The Multi Tap Unit is an adapter that allows up to four controllers to be plugged into one of the front ports on the PlayStation console, and expands the number of memory card slots to four -- one for each controller. Games that support the Multi Tap Unit include: Madden NFL '98, Hot Shots Golf, Rally Cross and NBA Shoot Out.
The PlayStation Mouse is made for specific strategy and adventure games, and features two buttons and comes with its own pad. Games that utilize the PlayStation Mouse include: SimCity 2000, Myst, Die Hard Trilogy, Arcade's Greatest Hits: Atari Coll. 1, Lemmings 3D and Tempest X
In April 1998, Sony reached total sales of ten million PlayStations in North America. In June of 1998, Sony reported sales of over 37 million units worldwide, beating the Walkman as Sony's best selling product.
The PlayStation game console is unmatched when it comes to the sheer volume of titles available for any of the next-generation videogame systems. Within the first year of the system's life, there were more than 250 games available, with titles representing every traditional genre of videogame, as well as the appearance of entirely new genres. The PlayStation game console also has the largest number of third party publishers of any active video game system. Today the PlayStation library consists of more than 600 titles.
The best games for the PlayStation include: Die Hard Trilogy, Einhander, Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Madden NFL 98, Tekken 3 and Resident Evil Director's Cut. ~ Dave Beuscher, All Game Guide