The 64-Bit Console Wars – Why Sony Beat Nintendo’s A$$

Epic PS1 characters

Some gamers are still reliving the bit wars of the late 90s. But honestly, that’s not such a bad place to be. The games were great and competition was fierce. But in the end, there could only be one winner.

The Sony PlayStation (PSX, PS, or PS1) and the Nintendo 64 (N64) were loaded with great and memorable games. PlayStation was trying to make its mark on an industry that had been previously dominated by Nintendo and Sega, while the N64 was developed to follow in the footsteps of the juggernaut that was the SNES.

So, how did the PS1 come out on top?

Realistically, there were a lot of factors that led to the PS1 becoming the system that sold more consoles. Still, if it was the games that made the difference, I’d bet that it was some of these.

Gran Turismo 2

PS1 vs N64 - Gran Turismo 2
Gotta go fast!

Gran Turismo 2 was a fantastic sequel and a great racing game. You could obtain hundreds of different cars throughout the game, customize them, and race them in all kinds of competitions. 

Gran Turismo 2 did have a couple of dull spots, though, like having to get licenses to take part in certain races. Other than that it was fast, fun, and had enough content to keep you coming back for more.

Personally, I loved the endurance races because you could spend over an hour ripping through an area in a souped-up car and lapping the bots

In terms of quality and depth, this game did a lot to ensure that people would rather fire up their PS1 than go for some of the racing titles on N64. (I still love you, Mario Kart 64).

The Legend of Dragoon

PS1 vs N64 - Legend of Dragoon gameplay
I bet you thought this was going to be a Final Fantasy

Although it sold over 1,000,000 copies, I think it’s still fair to say that The Legend of Dragoon was overshadowed by many other JRPGs on the PS1. That being said, the reason that I put this game here is that it was innovative, and that’s something that gave PS1 an edge.

The combat was actually engaging because you got a bonus strike for timing your attack and pressing your X button. Best of all, you got the “dragoon” form which gave your character a cool transformation and enabled magic in the game. The story was pretty decent, too.

When you add in the great cutscenes and music, you come away with a complete game that doesn’t have Square, Enix or Konami on the label. If the small studios were able to put out games like this, it’s no wonder that N64 games had trouble measuring up.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

PS1 vs N64 - Legacy of Kain gameplay
“Dude! When did YOU become a dragoon?”

The story in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver has a lot going on. You’re betrayed, tortured, killed, revived, and then given a new purpose in the first 10 minutes of the game. From there, you take control of the vampire wraith, Raziel, and you have to fight your way across a dying landscape to take down Kain.

The game had a very unique world where you would go between the spectral realm and the land of the living to fight monsters, solve puzzles, and fight some awesome beasts

The graphics weren’t fantastic, but the game designers made the most of them. Soul Reaver was dark and gloomy, the voice-overs were memorable, and the atmosphere was enhanced by a brooding soundtrack.

Titles like this showcased the versatility of the PS1, and demonstrated that the system could handle somewhat complex action-adventure games with ease (and without a convoluted controller).

Metal Gear Solid

PS1 vs N64 - Metal Gear Solid gameplay
I sure wish I had a box right about now.

Metal Gear Solid changed gaming for me because it was the first game I played that had a stealth mechanic. I was so used to other games where the only reason I stopped shooting at my enemies was to reload. 

This game had some very interesting gameplay that relied on keeping your head down and weaving through levels while avoiding detection. Not only did this help popularize the stealth genre, but it worked some innovative mechanics into the gameplay that had not been done as successfully in older titles. 

The music was reminiscent of spy movies, and sometimes it didn’t help to have it playing in a situation when you’re running for your life.

Personally, my favorite part of the game was the boss battles. I loved the whole Psycho Mantis schtick (I won’t ruin it for you) and Metal Gear Rex fight, even though I got killed more than a few times because I honestly sucked at this game.

Metal Gear Solid started a whole new series of Metal Gear games and inspired the genre, something that makes it stand head and shoulders above N64 titles like Winback.

I could go on…

PS1 managed to top N64 in sales for a lot of reasons, and one of them was that the PlayStation had a large number of games that were simply top-notch like the ones I talked about here. 

That’s not to say that N64 didn’t have some of the best games, though. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of the best games of that decade, and Goldeneye 007 changed the way that people everywhere played shooters. It just helps when you can get a system like the PS1 knowing that it has a lot of great games from each genre.

3 responses to “The 64-Bit Console Wars – Why Sony Beat Nintendo’s A$$”

  1. N64 for me, Ocarina of Time was breathtaking. And Goldeneye was just something else at the time. Rare really went off on a genius spree with Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark, Banjo, Diddy Kong Racing etc. What a force it was back then!

    And Super Mario 64, man alive!

    I liked the PS1 and it had FFVII. Which is one of my favourite RPGs of all time. But the N64 just had the killer games.

  2. I loved the N64 – I think the biggest detail was having 4 controller ports – that really unleashed a bunch of multiplayer couch gaming that the PlayStation never had. (And I’m still sad the PS2 had 2 ports… think of how much more multiplayer there might have been…)

    The cost of CDs and opening up to developers is how the PSX shined, though – so much more diversity and willingness to experiment. Carts are cool and durable and no load times, but each game was always too much of a financial risk for developers.

  3. This is more of a quantity over quality kind of situation. Playstation sold more consoles, because it was more affordable and thus sold more games in numbers, because of a larger playerbase, but the overall library of N64 exclusives were way ahead of anything Sony could bring to the table. Mario 64, Mariokart 64, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, F zero X, Star wars Episode 1 racer, Diddy Kong Racing, Zelda Ocarina of time, Majora’s mask. These games still hold up to this day, and aged very well. Ps1’s top 5 doesnt come close the level of quality these games have. I have tried replaying all the best Ps1 games, and they didnt age well, except for Metal gear solid, Spyro, and maybe Crash Bandicoot.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: