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Replay: Hit me with the classics
by Joey Núñez

This article contains information about PlayStation Store content relevant to the U.S. PSN region, but may not necessarily be applicable to other regions.

It's been a long wait, but the PlayStation Network is finally back. You can now sign in, message your friends, play games online, and return to purchasing. But, wait a second, the PlayStation Store isn’t up again yet, is it?

Nope. Oh balls.

The PlayStation Store is the thing I have missed most during the PSN outage, and although our online games shopping centre hasn't quite reopened yet, now that the PSN is back to running on most of its cylinders it’s only a matter of time before we can all begin a collective shopping spree. In celebration I've decided to guide you through my planned purchases, whilst simultaneously recommending some awesome games currently available on the PSN. Where do we start?

Well, with the classics, of course!

I have been clutching a PlayStation controller in my hands since 1997, so I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the original PlayStation's games, many of which I just can’t wait to replay. Now, I know there are many of you out there who missed the PS1 golden age, and given the virtual sea of PS1 classic games to choose from on the PSN (not all of which are worth your money), I’m here to help you out. There are a few real gems in the PS1 classics section of the PlayStation store; here are just a few that I'd suggest you take a look at.

Bloody Roar 2

If you like fighting games, and don’t mind stepping into some 1999 graphics, Bloody Roar 2 is worth a look; a 3D fighter (think Tekken), which gives you the opportunity to control eleven distinct fighters, in combo-heavy hand-to-hand matches. The major selling point? Like those lovable Autobots and Decepticons, these fighters are actually much more than what meets the eye. All the fighters in the game have been genetically altered, and can transform into a human/beast hybrid mid-battle. Wolfmen, bunny ladies and weird insect dudes; Bloody Roar has them all. It's easy to recommend Bloody Roar 2 over its predecessor, as it offers more characters and modes, as well as better graphics than the original, albeit first-generation PS1 graphics.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Simply put, Symphony of the Night is Castlevania at its best. If you have no idea what Castlevania is, then I weep for your soul. In a nutshell, the Castlevania series of games follows the Belmont clan of vampire hunters throughout the generations, in their seemingly eternal fight against Dracula, the vampire king. Unlike the recent Lords of Shadow, the classic Castlevania games are strictly a 2D affair, heavy on the plaforming and the battling. Imagine Megaman with a mediaeval vampiric gothic twist, and you’ll start to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Symphony of the Night is the central gem in the Castlevania crown. The game follows the story of Alucard, the son of Dracula, as he braves the dangers of Dracula’s castles. It's 2D platforming at its best, with just a smidgen of RPG-style character growth. With a great plot, gorgeous art style and pitch-perfect gameplay, how can you live with yourself knowing that this classic is just a download away, but you've never bought it?

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped

Ever wonder what the guys at Naughty Dog - the developer famous for creating the Uncharted and Jak and Daxter games - were doing way back in the nineties? Look no further, my young padawan: Crash Bandicoot is what they were doing.

Sony’s premiere mascot and the PlayStation’s response to Mario, Crash is a cartoon-looking bandicoot – yes, they're actual animals – who wears jeans and has a liking for jumping on things. The Crash Bandicoot games were the best 3D platformers the original PlayStation ever saw, exuding all of the great production values that Naughty Dog is famous for. For a few laughs and some genuinely enjoyable platforming, Crash is the way to go. The third game in the series is easily the best of the lot, but you can go ahead and get all three - you certainly won’t regret it.

Final Fantasy IX

Back in the 1990’s, Squaresoft - now known as Square Enix - was on a roll. When Final Fantasy VII was rolled out on the PlayStation 1, no one could know that it was the game that would define that generation of gamers. Expectations were high for each subsequent game, and for the most part Squaresoft did not disappoint. The PSOne was home to three main-series Final Fantasy games, all of which were astounding. Now, we all know that Final Fantasy VII is an easy recommendation, but some of you might have overlooked the somewhat underrated Final Fantasy IX, which, looking back, is one of my favourite games in the series.

After the modern styles of Final Fantasy VII and VIII, Squaresoft decided to revisit its roots in Final Fantasy IX. Everything from the character design to the battle system is a throwback to the company’s SNES-era Final Fantasy titles; you can count that crystals, castles, airships, unlikely heroes and princesses will all make an appearance. The eight characters in the game mostly correspond to one of the classic 'jobs' that the series is known for - thief, white mage, blue mage, black mage, summoner, etc. - and all are compelling, unique and likeable. This is a Final Fantasy game, so - surely enough - the plot is epic and will have you in a battle for the fate of the world itself. A classic RPG through and through, if you can tolerate the classic sensibilities of the game, Final Fantasy IX is well worth your time.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

The original Resident Evil started it all. Resident Evil 2 is perhaps still the definitive game in the series for most gamers who played the classic titles. Resident Evil 3, however... well, it just was. The critics knew the game was great, but it simply wasn’t as successful as its predecessors. Chances are, you probably didn’t play this game either. I can guarantee you’re missing out on some of the best survival horror to ever come from Capcom.

In Resident Evil 3, you play as Jill Valentine, protagonist of the original game, as she desperately attempts to escape Raccoon City whilst it is being overrun by zombies. To complicate matters further, Umbrella Corporation has developed a bioweapon, designed exclusively to track and kill Jill, called 'The Nemesis'. Resident Evil 3 plays just like its predecessors, with the series' classic controls, but the Nemesis creature really adds something new to the mix; specifically, jump-out-of-your-seat terror. The Nemesis will show up repeatedly and unexpectedly throughout the game, and unlike the other creatures you face, it will follow you through every door and up every staircase, until you choose to face him. To put this simply, all these years later I can still remember how much Nemesis scared the shit out of me. Are you ready to be scared?

Metal Gear Solid

You’ve heard about those nifty action/stealth games called Metal Gear, right? Well, this is the game that started it all. Metal Gear Solid isn’t the first game in the Metal Gear series, but was the first of them to be infused with the cinematic style and stealth gameplay the series has become famous for since.

Like Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid was a console-defining game. At the time, nobody had seen anything like it, and its legacy is still palpable today. If you haven’t played this game, you should. 'Nuff said.

So, there you have it: my list of must-have PlayStation 1 classics. Make sure to download at least one of these classics if you can once the PlayStation Store is back up. And if you have any personal PS1 favorites that get you all teary-eyed, don’t be greedy: share your opinions in the comments below.

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- Joey Núñez

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