When the Sony Playstation hit North America in 1995, the gaming world exploded with excitement about 32-bit graphics, CD-Rom music, beautiful cutscenes, and new possibilities. With open horizons, 3rd party developers programmed game after game, building a massive library of well over 1,000 titles. With all of those releases, there is a lot of room for great games to slip through the cracks as cheap hidden gems. I could probably write 10 blogs on outstanding games for the PS1, but lets begin with just a couple of cheap hits to get you started.
I'm usually very cautious when it comes to reboots, but the Playstation update of Centipede is one of a few that are unique enough to make this list. Centipede for PS1 is a well-made update on the Atari classic. It brings the same concepts into a 3D environment with the ability to switch between top-down and ground level views, and the addition of power-ups to improve your weapon. Levels are divided into different locations. After completing each location, a draw bridge is lowered so you can shoot insects in a new area. Overall, for around $5 you can have a great new experience with one of Atari's greatest franchises.
The second reboot on our list is the way underrated Galaga: Destination Earth. Sure, it isn't the best looking or best playing shmup on the system, but it has a lot of cool advances from the 16-bit shmup era. Galaga has 9 levels that are split up into a few different stages. As you move between stages, your perspective changes between a top down style a la the original Galaga, a side scrolling view a la R-Type, and a 3D view reminiscent of Star Fox. The game is challenging, unique, and pretty appealing to the eye. On the downside, there aren't a lot of weapons upgrades like the ones you typically find in shmups, but for around $6-$7, you get all the fun of a $40 game!
Moving out of the reboot sector, we find the often ignored, but BRILLIANT platformer Gex. Gex plays like a new and improved Donkey Kong Country with wacky sound effects, CD quality music, and cool new moves like wall climbing and tail whipping. You move Gex on a map between levels and tear through action packed platforming. It's a mystery to me why this one hasn't become one of the PS1's demanded classics like Spyro the Dragon or Crash Bandicoot. It could be due to the less than legendary 3D Gex games, but still – don't let that dissuade you from one of the greatest 2D platformers under $10. You should be able to pick this one up anywhere between $5 and $10 depending on condition.
Next up , by the creator of Resident Evil, we have Dino Crisis. Don't get me wrong – Dino Crisis has its flaws, but for $9.99 this PS1 classic packs a punch. Picture Resident Evil with dinosaurs instead of zombies and you have the basic premise of Dino Crisis. Dinosaur fighting segments are thrilling and action packed. Also, saving is not as tedious as the annoying ink ribbons from Resident Evil. So how did this fall off of the collector's spectrum? Well, some claim that a lot of the puzzles in the game are too tedious/difficult. Still, the game plays well and is worth checking out for yourself!
Lastly, one of my greatest weaknesses is a good futuristic racing game, and on the PS1 Wipeout 3 does not disappoint! Say what you want about their games, but Psygnosis ALWAYS has awesome soundtracks! To me, when I'm looking to kill 20 minutes there is nothing better than cranking the sound on my TV and blasting off in a few races with my spacecraft. Weapons, quick dicey turns, floaty jumps, and throbbing techno – Wipeout 3 has it all and hits you with a palatable price of $6 or less!
So, I could go on and on about the PS1 library and its hidden gems. The 5 mentioned in this blog entry are some that I always have floating around my brain when people ask for recommendations in the store, but with this library, I could pick out cheap gem for days! Don't be surprised if you see another Playstation chapter in the near future, but for now, these are your 5 great cheap games for the PS1!
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