Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Musi(c.)PSX: Breathe (1996)

Sony's Playstation console was first released in Japan in December of 1994. A year later, it spread across the globe, leading to it's eventual assimilation into modern living. The console was officially discontinued by Sony in 2006, but began a process of phasing out with the 2000 release of the Playstation2. Known in it's early years colloquially as the PSX, the console was characterised by a slick attitude that met modern gamers on varying levels, boasting releases like Wipeout, which fused electronic music culture with the gaming experience. This post is a celebration of that time. Music circa (c.) the PSX.

The Prodigy - Breathe (1996)

I'm not sure I could think of a song more anthemic to the era than this one.
A bit like Keith Flint's misappropriation as the lead-man behind Liam Howlett's The Prodigy, I could probably make a vague connection between this song's presence in the era, and my eventual purchase of a PSX in '97.

After doing the Master System and Genesis thing in the years prior, it was a logical progression to look forward to the Sega Saturn. It wasn't that I had anything against Nintendo, but with it's clunky handling and ugly red hues, it just stood to reason that the brand was the lesser option for spoon fed windowlickers. The 64 didn't show up until 1996, but like most Nintendo consoles that followed, it was fast a non-issue, worthy of note only for a small handful of familiar releases.

Familiarity was definitely a factor in this new age of console gaming, but what quickly became apparent was that this was unlike any generation before it. Genres that had previously been restricted to unfeasible dimensions exploded in ways only possible on machines that boasted 3D design across their line-up. Everything old was new again, and decisions now more than ever had to be made based on brand new available information.

Platformers and fighting games had been deal-makers in the 2D era, but as important as they still were, suddenly a good racing game had it's place. Never before on home consoles had the thrill of racing opponents in a match of speed and skill been so thrilling. The illusion of movement was transferred from scrolling backgrounds to realistically manoeuvring vehicles, and the results were electrifying. Wipeout -- a game I'll mention often -- played a major hand in veering a Virtua Eye for a Console Guy away from the Sega, over to the new challenger.

In those early days accessibility gave the PSX a slight edge, but as my world was changing in 1997, a new friend's enthusiasm for the Playstation made understanding it's range that much easier.

With the sounds of Breathe echoing throughout a period where all bets were off, the then upcoming sequel to Sony's combat racer, Twisted Metal, somehow emerged as one of several straws that broke the camel's back. It was as if the grungy BPM of Keith Flint and Prodigy were beating in time with the punk-clown symbol of Twisted Metal. The time for a decision had finally arrived and there was only one possible answer: Sony's "PSX" -- the Playstation.

Through the PSX came several years of enjoyment and exploration.
The Saturn faded into obscurity, and that PSX loving friend drifted into the post-Nirvana punk that permeated through the era, but our overlap was defined by the versatility and excitement of the Playstation. It was the race to the year 2000, when humanity was at it's most excited and ambitious. It was the culmination of video game theory and the troubleshooting execution of everything we had imagined. It was an exciting time. I miss it.

Original Post: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8987663

No comments: