Well, I don’t know about that, but they’re definitely good ones from my youth.

I guess I’ll mention my favories from the days of the Sony Playstation (the “One,” or original), since those days are freshest in my mind.

The Sony Playstation Years

Developer's kit PlayStation

Image via Wikipedia

First would have to be the Gran Turismo series.  There’s so much to say about it.  My brother and sister and I played this game almost religiously.  My current lifelong infatuation with cars is largely because of it.

And to think, we only grew fond of the game because of that little sample disc of mini-games that you got for free from Sony when you bought your Playstation — you know the one I’m talking about;  it had mini-levels of:

  • Wipeout (a game I loved but have never, ever, played again for inexplicable reasons)
  • Spider (a game that was crazily fun and that we finally bought nearly 10 years later off of Ebay)
  • And Gran Turismo, of course.

1) Gran Turismo

GT Cover

Image via Wikipedia

The sample version of Gran Turismo that was included on the sample CD with a new Playstation only had one race track on it — The short Clubman Course — and two cars, the 95′ Corvette and a standard Honda NSX.  But with these two cars and this one track we probably got months of enjoyment, because, you see, this game was hard (and it wasn’t even released yet — we had to wait until May of ’98!).

The computer AI on the trail version was not adjustable, and was probably set to its highest settings.  This was compounded by the fact that — and this is even more noticable if your only history with racing games have been those of the “fun” or “arcade” type — Grand Turismo’s controls are very, very realistic. If you just mash down on the gas, you don’t shoot forward like a bat outta hell, you just sit there and spin, like you would in a real car with 400+ horsepower.   If you try to take a turn at full throttle like a moron, you don’t just veer to the outside — you oversteer and spin out.

Just playing this trial version with my siblings enabled us to really get a feel for the game — after a few weeks, we were able to beat the computer in the trial version of the game almost every time, and this is no small feat, since in the trial version there was no placing and you always started at the back, not to mention the fact that Clubman is a very small course, and there’s little time to move up in the ranks.  And did I mention the fact that all of the computers are driving the same car as you?  (edit:  I just remembered that they weren’t, but they were still very, very similar cars.)

Every dream we had about playing more of this wonderful game came true when we finally got our own copy — the game was nearly perfect.  The graphics were amazing for the time (they were actually better than the graphics in the sequel, Gran Turismo 2), there were hundreds of cars to choose from and dozens of tracks, and then there was “Simulation Mode.”

Simulation mode was a surprise to us — we hadn’t expected something like it. In it, you actually exist in a simulated world where you start out with $10k and the opportunity to enter a few races and earn some money on simulated circuits. Then you fix up the car you own (make it faster, lighter, quicker, etc.), earn enough money to buy another car, and then start again, eventually entering realms where you’re racing million-dollar Super GT racers at 200 miles an hour.

But then again, that’s the beauty of the game — you don’t have to race multi-million dollar sports cars if you don’t want to.  You can race regular, run of the mill cars: four door sedans, four cylinder economy cars — whatever you want. You can race cars that could probably actually buy in real life one day, and it adds a definite sort of fun realism to the game.

We played this game nearly to death — raced every car, every track, even the grueling 3-hour-long endurance races. The sequels have been okay, but no game has quite matched up to the fun of the first Gran Turismo.

GT2 was a bit of a letdown — it had about 5 times as many cars, including some cool vintage muscle cars, but the graphics were strangely a step back, and the game was buggy due to the fact that it had been rushed out for the christmas season.

I don’t remember much of GT3, other than the game was changed around a slight bit (nothing drastic), and the number of cars was drastically reduced (from 600 in GT2 to around 150). However, this was the first release for the PS2, and the new graphics made up for it.

Of the latest release, GT4, I’ve actually played it quite a bit — it’s the closest that any sequel comes to the fun of the original, that’s for sure. It’s got nearly 700 cars from all over the world (including Jay Leno’s “Tank Car” — a steam-powered 1000 ft./lbs. torque monster), and loads more tracks, including the famous German Nurburgring.


And wow — that’s just one game!  More to come as soon as I have time to write it.


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