December 3rd, 1994 - Sony launches the original PlayStation in Japan, bringing with it seismic shift in the nature of console gaming. The 2D era of sprites and bitmap art was coming to an end, with polygon-driven 3D the new standard in state-of-the-art visuals. The Sega Saturn launched a couple of weeks ahead of Sony's debut console, but it was the PlayStation that set the standard for technological innovation in this new era. Namco's Ridge Racer launched alongside the new hardware - and it was a revelation.
19th November 2013
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Back in the spring of 1994, there were plenty of astonishing things to catch your eye at the Trocadero. Galaxian3 showed the glorious peak of Laserdisc games. There was a Virtua Racing multiplayer cab that had cockpit cameras showing the players' faces. There was the sprawling 8-player Daytona USA (which would sit in place until the Trocadero's bitter end), a silky smooth racer complete with a 3D Sonic carved into a cliff face. But all this was nothing compared to what sat at the top of the escalator: a full-size Mazda Eunos Roadster in front of a giant screen, which was showing the most astonishing video game graphics I had ever seen. As an excitable man shouted the game's name, a red car flung itself around a coastal metropolis rendered in fully texture-mapped 3D graphics, all at a beautifully smooth frame-rate. I stood agape, knowing I was witnessing the future.
We've already taken a look at some of the less impressive games to debut alongside consoles past in our Five Terrible Launch Titles video. But of course, they weren't all terrible (in fact some of them weren't that bad at all, eh, vociferous Kameo fans?), so here's our guide to five of the best.
Plus, coming soon: Five Launch Titles You've Probably Forgotten About That Were Quite Good Actually, Come To Think Of It. We're just trying to remember what they are.
Kaz Hirai has officially bid farewell to Sony's PlayStation division and, as president and CEO of Sony Corporation as a whole, moved on to higher things.
Daytona USA-flavoured DLC will invade Ridge Racer on PlayStation Vita, publisher Namco Bandai has announced.
Somebody once leaked the code for the original Ridge Racer onto the internet. Not the code in the sense of a pirate version of Namco's seminal arcade racing game: rather, the source code, the written instructions of logic and maths that fired its primary-coloured cars around the track.
Overnight, the code became famous amongst game developers. It revealed that the handling model for the vehicles was written in just a handful of instructions. Today, Polyphony Digital and Turn10 toil for months recreating the intricacies of real-world racing car physics and handling, but Ridge Racer allowed us to soar around hairpins, drifting majestically, with an economy of logic that stunned contemporary game makers.
That economical DNA has served the Ridge Racer series well: a leaning towards simple thrills that has allowed Namco to launch a new version alongside the release of many new pieces of video game hardware since. So it is that a Ridge Racer accompanies the arrival of the PlayStation Vita. But while that riotous yet precise handling remains, the surrounding game structure is anything but orthodox, simple or, tragically, good.
Picking up a PlayStation Vita tonight? Already checked for the cheapest Vita retailer? You'll probably want some Vita games then.
Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has explained the company's PlayStation Vita game price strategy - and insisted you'll get your money's worth from £40 titles.
UPDATE: Namco has announced plans to launch a PlayStation Vita app featuring information on its upcoming games, including Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen and Touch My Katamari. Both titles will receive demo versions and will be supported by both free and premium DLC after launch.
UPDATE: Famitsu (via Andriasang) has revealed the Japanese Ridge Racer Vita DLC schedule in full.
Ridge Racer Vita only has three courses and five cars to choose from, according to a pair of Japanese previews.
Namco Bandai has confirmed it will have three games on shelves for the PlayStation Vita's European launch next year.
You'll be able to grab oddball collect 'em up Touch My Katamari, ninja assassin sequel Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen and console launch perennial Ridge Racer when Sony's new handheld arrives on 22nd February.
A full European launch line-up for the system hasn't been announced yet, though Japan gets the following titles when it goes on sale there in December:
Nintendo may have done its best to spoil Sony's party by announcing that Monster Hunter would be coming to the 3DS, but the air of celebration continues around the Vita. 31 games for the handheld made an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show, and - Monster Hunter aside - it was the biggest pull of the event.
With no firm word of a release date outside of Japan and no region locking for the console's software, there is of course a huge temptation to import Sony's Vita when it comes out in the East on 17th December. 26 games launching alongside the handheld ensure that, unlike this year's 3DS launch, there will be a wealth of options when it comes to picking up games.
Sony's first-party games provide the obvious highlights - and Uncharted: Golden Abyss is as close to an essential purchase as there is for the Vita, both a technical marvel that's perfect for showcasing the console's power as well as an extension of one of this generation's best-loved series.
18 unannounced PlayStation Vita games will be playable at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony has announced.
Three unannounced PlayStation 3 games will also be playable, Andriasang reports.
The Vita games confirmed as being playable at Sony's PlayStation Vita Zone are:
There's a Ridge Racer game in development for PlayStation Vita, Namco Bandai has announced.
Namco Bandai has unveiled another instalment in the classic Ridge Racer series.
Bands love doing this. They release a few good albums, do a couple of tours, hit the studio again and crank out some nonsense, then return to form with a self-titled EP. Ridge Racer's a bit like that. Indeed, if the people who made Ridge Racers 1-4 did go on tour, that probably explains why RR5 and R: Racing were so ARGH; they probably whipped their heads round so fast demonstrating the cornering routines that they spun clean off and had to be surgically re-attached. Game development is much harder when you've accidentally decapitated yourself.
It's easy to lose your head talking about Ridge Racer, too. Technically, it's as amazing to see on a handheld now as it was when we first got hold of our Japanese PSPs last December. It looks like a proper racing game. Reflections slide silkily over the bright chassis of your opponents, as you slide silkily round apex turns; biplanes swoop past mountainside tunnels before you dive down a hill and snake round a grassy chicane. It's never shy when it comes to the view. You can turn a bend and see a whole valley stretching out in front of you, suspension bridges linking narrow roads on either side; or neon cityscapes bouncing across your field of vision as you boost off the top of a hill, land on another bump and then boost again.
Okay, so we still don't like the music, but apparently we're in a minority on that one. Pfft. Screw you.