Useful Notes: PlayStation
ENOS Lives: U R Not E note
Never Underestimate the Power of PlayStation
Long story short, Nintendo didn't think through a contract with Sony
by Hiroshi Yamauchi, then-president of Nintendo. The contract gave Sony
all profits for a potential CD-ROM add-on
which was being developed by Ken Kutaragi. Yamauchi didn't like the deal, but instead of telling Sony that and drawing up a new contract, he instead went with Phillips to develop an alternative CD-ROM add-on for the SNES... a deal which also
imploded, and caused Nintendo to spurn both the 32-bit era and the CD-ROM format. note
Sony then moved on to attempting to woo the other
hot video game company of the time, Sega
. They sent Olaf Olafsson, Sony Electronic Publishing president, and Micky Schulhof, president of Sony America, to meet with Tom Kalinske, president of Sega of America, with the logic that both companies had a common enemy in Nintendo
. The proposal of partnering up with Sony intrigued Kalinske, who met up with Kutaragi, similarly bullish over the concept; the hardware, which both companies agreed had
to be CD-based, would likely be sold at a loss, and the partnership could mean Sega and Sony could split the losses across the two companies. Kalinske then brought the idea to the attention of his Japanese counterpart, Hayao Nakayama, and the Board of Directors. They promptly shot it down, claiming "That's a stupid idea, Sony doesn't know how to make hardware. They don't know how to make software either. Why would we want to do this?
Having potential partnerships shut down with both halves of the major video game hardware industry left Sony reluctant to get into gaming, but that move ended up losing it face; Sony had
to get into gaming to reclaim its honor.
Thus the PlayStation as we know it was conceived. Sony redesigned the "PlayStation X" from a fancy CD drive for the SNES into a full-fledged console; the first console of the fifth generation
. Developers were getting excited by 3D gaming, so Kutaragi designed the system with that in mind. He also made sure it was easy to develop for, so programmers could get their 3D system right out the gate. Sony also had, by far, the most developer-friendly license in the industry, with low royalties and no "our console and nobody else's" restrictions. This made the system extremely attractive to developers. Combined with great early sales and the larger profit margin, it attracted many developers, and thus began two generations of PlayStation dominance. The hardware was also adopted for numerous Arcade Game
s by major companies such as Capcom
However, in North America, the PlayStation had a rocky start. Sony hired a certain Bernie Stolar as head of Sony Computer Entertainment America, the North American arm responsible for licensing content and developers for the PlayStation. Stolar's Executive Meddling
, specifically vetoing many JRPG localization releases for the PlayStation in North America and prioritizing sports titles, almost led to the PlayStation failing in the market. Sony quickly caught on and booted Stolar and voided his policies. The PlayStation began to thrive in the US once other game genres began entering the market soon after Stolar's policies were removed, and with the release of Final Fantasy VII
the rest is history.
Meanwhile, back at Sega, Kalinske left the company, and Stolar, fresh from being kicked out from Sony, took his job... and we all know how that turned out
Incidentally, only the smaller redesigned models usually display the words "PS1"/"PS One
," given that they were released late in the console's lifespan with its successor, the PlayStation 2
, on the horizon, thus there was a need to differentiate it from its impending successor. Though Sony has kept the PS One
designation for its downloadable "PS One
Classics" line. Don't confuse it with the actual PSX console
, even though it was common before the announcement of the PS2 to abbreviate PlayStation as "PSX." (The PSX console, released in Japan in 2003, was a high-end cross between a PS2 and a DVR, whose only notable contribution was the introduction of the XrossMediaBar
interface used on Sony's later systems
While acclaimed for introducing many to 3D consoles and a large library that mostly took full advantage of the CD media, the console had some infamous hardware issues. Many games had Loads and Loads of Loading
, that at times reached two minutes
, and the console was prone to overheating. The first batches even had a reputation for CD drive problems, as the fully plastic tray over time moved the laser into a position where it was no longer parallel with the CD surface.
- A MIPS R3000-A 32-bit RISC CPU at 33.8688 MHz.
- A Vector Unit called the "Geometry Transformation Engine," built inside the CPU.
- A full-fledged GPU. Although the CPU/GTE rotates and translates the polygons; the GPU rasterizes and shades them.
- 2 MB main RAM, and 1 MB Video RAM. Bandwidth has a maximum of 130 MB.
- 512 KB of SRAM memory for sound with BBR compression.
- 32 KB CD buffer, used for commonly accessed sectors of the disk.
- 128 KB memory cards.
- Games comes on standard CD-RO Ms, holding up to 650MB each. Some games come on more than one disc, and a handful (23 in total) come on three or more. The largest game by total file size is the five-disc Tokimeki Memorial 2, at approximately 2.18GB.
- Theoretical polygon count is 1,000,000... but that's assuming the processor is making nothing else, so it isn't helpful. In real-time games, the count would be around 100,000 to 120,000. A few games reached 150,000 polygons a second, which comes out to around 3,500 polygons per frame at 30 fps. As a comparison, this is about 1% of what the PS3 can push.
- But polygon count is only part of it:
- Textures were high quality for the time, and could have quite a bit of detail. Unfortunately, the system lacked filtering for the textures, which meant that high-contrast textures would look blocky up close.
- Nor was it able to do texture mapping well; due to the use of affine texture mapping (no accounting for perspective) textures generally appear to warp and twitch when the camera moves. Some developers came up with tricks to minimise these effects, but it was just something that PlayStation owners got used to.
- Finally, despite both the vector unit and rasterizer working with fixed-point mathematics (not as good as an FPU, but much better than nothing,) only integers could be passed between the two, leading to the slightly stilted movement of polygons that typify PlayStation graphics (Watch any slow-moving object and you'll notice how the polygons seem to "snap" to each new position, rather than moving smoothly.)
- The "Motion Decoder," a hardware decompressor for JPEG-like image data. This could be used for still images, but its main purpose was to decode a video format similar to Motion JPEG. This made it feasible to mix FMV and polygon graphics, although most games only used it for cutscenes. Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64, by contrast, used software decoding for FMV (though the Saturn had two CPUs and an optional hardware MPEG decoder, while the N64's typically 8-64 Mb carts mostly precluded the use of FMVs.)
- Dual Shock: Since the PlayStation was developed as a 3D system from the start, having three-dimensional control in its games would be vital, so the original PlayStation controller design featured not one, but two pairs of shoulder buttons for three-dimensional movement. Eventually, however, Sony responded to the Nintendo 64's analog controller and rumble feature by incorporating force feedback and dual analogue sticks into the new controller. This controller design would later serve as the basis of all Sony first-party gamepad controllers, ranging from the Playstation 2's Dual Shock 2 (with analog, pressure-sensitive face buttons) to the Playstation 3's Sixaxis and Dual Shock 3 (the former of which added motion-sensing abilities at the cost of force feedback, and the latter of which brought rumble back while still using the motion sensor).
- In the US, Nintendo tried to sue Sony for adding vibration and analog capabilities to the controller. Nintendo lost the case because this didn't violate their patents. Immersion later did successfully sue them because it did violate their patents.
- Dual Analog: Actually preceding the Dual Shock, the Dual Analog controller shared the same buttom placement as its successors but distinguished itself with its longer grips, concave sticks, ridged shoulder buttons and an additional compatibility setting for games that supported the little-known analog joystick. It also lacked rumble outside of Japan.
- Link Cable: A peripheral allowing for playing games with multiplayer modes without the need of Split Screen. However, it has two issues — 1) a set of 2 TVs, 2 Playstation units, and 2 copies of the game are required, and 2) the cable isn't compatible with the redesigned PSOne. About 30 games are compatible with the Link Cable, among which are the Armored Core series, the Wipeout series, TOCA 2 Touring Car, and Final Doom.
- Net Yaroze: Sony's gift to bedroom programmers all over the world, the Net Yaroze (Yaroze being Gratuitous Japanese for "Let's do it") was a one-of-a-kind development kit marketed to computer hobbyists as a chance to create their own PlayStation games. The $750 package included a special region-free black PlayStation console, manuals, instruction books and software to get users started, although users had to supply their own computers and programming skills to create software for it. Usually these games could be submitted to Sony to be published on the demo discs of Official Playstation Magazine. While most of the games produced with the Net Yaroze were fairly amateurish clones of commercial games such as Doom, Puzzle Bobble and Pac-Man (one Doom clone going so far as to hang a lampshade on it by calling itself Clone), some of them were surprisingly ambitious (such as the Zelda-like RPG Terra Incognita). Although future Sony consoles have not featured similar in-depth homebrew options, it's possible to run distributions of Linux on both the Playstation2 and, until a firmware update released after the redesigned model, the PlayStation 3, and the demo disc that comes with the PlayStation 2 features a YABasic programming tool.
- PlayStation Mouse: A peripheral designed for games with mouse-friendly (or required) interfaces, such as Real-Time Strategy games (Command & Conquer series), Point & Click Adventure games (Broken Sword, Clock Tower, Discworld), or FPS games (Final Doom, Quake II). About 50 games, a number of which being Japan-only, are compatible with the Playstation Mouse. A Tokimeki Memorial-themed mouse◊ was issued as one of the goods of the Tokimeki Memorial 1 Limited Edition Box.
- Pocketstation: The Pocketstation was Sony's first handheld gaming system, despite it not even being its own console. Instead, it was sold as a memory card peripheral with a Tamagotchi-like design, featuring a small monochrome screen, a directional pad and an action button, which could be used to play small minigames transferred to the system from its parent console. The system itself never saw release outside of Japan, but some globally-released Pocketstation-compatible games retained their compatibility with the system, including Final Fantasy VIII, where the Pocketstation game Chocobo World was included as a bonus in the PC port.