Welcome readers to another exciting edition of GHoF. This week our two gaming pugilists (Matt and Ian) will battle it out in three rounds of hell to decide the undisputed heavyweight gaming champion of the mid 90’s. In the red corner wearing the black with grey buttons will be the 64 bit dream, the 3d tornado, the N64 (championed by Matt). In the blue corner, in the all grey, (insert ps1 nicknames), the P…S…1 (championed by Ian). Now! For the thousands in attendance and the millions watching at home. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…let’s get ready to rumble!!!!!!!
PS1 vs. N64
Ian: The PlayStation was the first home console that I ever owned and to say it’s left a lasting impression on me would be just a bit of an understatement. I want to mention at the beginning that I’ve owned a N64 myself (it was actually a Pikachu one where its cheeks lit up to indicate power etc. – CUTE!) yet there has always been a certain magic about the CD loading grey one. Whilst there’s loads of good points I could make about why the PS is the superior console I’ll just stick to the main point; the games. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the dragon and Metal Gear Solid to name but a few. Because the PS played games on optical media it meant that the games were able to contain CD quality audio (both sound effects and music) and was able to contain full-motion video sequences. Games were also able to be much larger. The Final Fantasy series don’t forget was a Nintendo staple until the PlayStation came out as the developers realised they could create a much more immersive experience on the Sony machine (the Metal Gear series is another example of a series that originated on Nintendo). That sums up why the PlayStation is better. Nintendo were doing fantastic for the NES and SNES years then, because technologically they drag their feet, Sony leap-frogged them and took many developers with them. CDs were also much cheaper. So a game like FF7 that fitted on 3 CDs would have cost an absolute fortune, due to manufacturing costs of cartridges, if an N64 version had even been technologically possible.
Matt: I never actually owned an N64 as a child, I had a PlayStation. I loved that little grey box with every piece of my heart. It got me through some rough times; the accidental deletion of my Pokémon Gold save file, the revelation that father Christmas was a lie and the breakup of my first relationship (I was about ten, but it hit me hard bro). All in all I loved the PS1. However I always wanted an N64, all my friends had them and I was the only one with a PlayStation. When I did finally get a N64 in later life I was more equipped to enjoy it, as a gamer. The N64 has some gems in its back catalogue that as a child I would have never have played. That’s right, there is more to the N64 than Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye. The console itself was pretty revolutionary. We got the first analogue stick in a games console, we also got expandable memory, but that’s not really the point I was making. The N64 did lack FMV and the cartridges did have memory issues. But the N64 made up for these things with some pretty bad ass games; Perfect Dark, OoT, Majora’s Mask, Mario 64, GoldenEye, Pokémon Stadium, Mario Kart 64 and Mischief Makers among others. The back catalogue for the N64 was just as good if not better than the PlayStation. My point is that the N64 was at least on par with the PS1 in terms of game library…In my opinion better.
Ian: The back catalogue is not as good on the N64 as it is on the PS. It’s nowhere near. If you get a N64, as with all Nintendo consoles, you’re just buying it for the games that Nintendo make. As with today the PS excels on its third party support. Sure you get the mascot platformers (like Crash) but some of the biggest releases for the PS weren’t made by Sony at all. All the great N64 games were either by Nintendo or Rare. Plus the N64 is a lie of a name! The damn thing isn’t even 64 bit. It’s two 32 bit processors, which doesn’t mean it’s 64 bit. It’s all marketing as the PS released a year earlier than it and they needed to get in the spotlight. The lying bastards. One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is that in the official PlayStation magazine you’d get a disc full of demos. This meant you could try games out (and view trailers) for games that were about to come out. I had an absolute tonne of these discs and I can’t tell you how many times they introduced me to games I knew nothing about (Soul Reaver and Rayman 2 being ones that I vividly remember being blown away by). These demos were never possible on the N64, due to the higher cost of cartridges as mentioned above. The final point that I’m going to make is that whilst it doesn’t necessarily indicate quality, the PS absolutely destroyed the N64 in sales. Just thought I’d mention that.
Matt: Sales aren’t everything. The dreamcast (which in my opinion is one of the greatest consoles ever, but that’s beside the point), sold poorly but is still regarded as a good console. I also don’t see what your problem is with the best games on N64 being first party. When you make games as good as Nintendo it doesn’t matter. I do agree with you that the third party support was better for the PlayStation, but that doesn’t indicate it’s a better console. It just indicates it has better third party. There is one thing that the N64’s cartridges, you seem happy to bash, had over disks…battery saves. With the PlayStation you needed to buy a memory card, or in my case memory cards. With a nice simple cartridge you just played and saved. No issues no worries. How often did you get corrupted data on the PS1? Because I used to get it a fair bit. All my bloody Smackdown! 2 data got wiped and it was a dark day. You also never had to worry about long loading times with a cartridge either. That is something I miss. One thing I think I’ll mention before I put you back in the driving seat is that the N64 allowed for 4 players natively. On the PlayStation you had to buy a Multitap to have 4 mates play. On the N64 you could all sit round and spend the day shooting each other on GoldenEye or having a good race on Mario Kart (which is better than Crash Team Racing by the way).
Ian: I’ve genuinely never had a corrupted save on the PS1, I have on the PS3 but that’s another matter. I’m not saying that having great first party support is a negative, I’m saying that the PS had amazing first party support (Gran Turismo is the best-selling game on the console after all) but it follows it up with amazing third party support. With the N64 the classics are ONLY first party, that’s all. Battery saves are good except they push the price of the games up whereas with a memory card you can delete saves as you trade games in. The batteries in the cartridges also run out remember! And 4 players never bothered me as I have no friends. And even if I did I wouldn’t make them play Mario Kart, we’d take turns to play CTR and have an even better time.
Matt: The battery does run out on a cartridge, which is true. However they rarely run out in the natural life time of the game. It takes years. Furthermore all the classics aren’t just Nintendo games. Doom wasn’t a Nintendo game, neither was micro machines turbo racer. On that point, even though it’s not technically a classic (but it is still one hell of a game) mischief makers wasn’t made by Nintendo either. I do also agree with you that the battery save feature pushes the price of games up. I can’t argue against that, it’s a simple mathematical fact. What I can say (as I said before) is that battery save is a safer save format. I’m not going to spend my time saying bad things about the PlayStation, because I simply love it too much. What I will say though is that this all comes down to a simple preference of taste. There is no arguing that both of these consoles belong in the Hall of Fame. It’s just a shame they came up against each other. Basically we aren’t going to answer a quest that has been raging for about 15 years in this blog, what we can do though is decide which goes into the hall of fame, which is now in the hands of the judge.
Ian: Doom and Micro Machines came out on PS as well. You can’t even name some exclusive third party games to support your argument.
Joe: Wow, where do I even begin? I have to say congrats Matt and Ian for creating one hell of a debate, and making it so difficult for me to decide. Of course I took a completely open and objective stance going into this discussion, and I’ve had to read it two or three times through to make my decision – again, it’s a tough one!
Ok, so here goes. Ian makes a good point regarding third party games. Matt’s right, the N64 did have some badass games, but it’s pretty clear that the PS had a lot more diversity in its smash hit titles. As Ian pointed out, the N64 did seem to rely more heavily on its system selling games created by Nintendo themselves. I remember getting corrupt data on my PS memory card, and I was not a happy bunny – Matt’s done well to pick up on this obvious PS flaw.
Ian protects his side brilliantly by emphasising the superiority of the CD/memory card combo – it was just ultimately a better, more advanced method for playing – plus as Ian mentioned CDs were able to achieve more, quality and size-wise, than the N64’s cartridges. Again Matt makes a great point saying that the multitap was a major downfall of the PS, however the option was still there for PS users, they just had to pay a little bit more for the experience. By the way Ian, “I had no friends” is not a valid point for this argument!
It’s such a close call this one, but here’s my verdict. I’m going with the PS as the winner. I think the deciding factor for me was the way Ian’s argument insinuated that the PS was simply a more advanced machine at the time.
We can all agree that both consoles deserve to go in the hall of fame. However from this debate I think the PS should sit just a touch higher on the podium.