There is no doubt that the original PlayStation One is one of the best video games consoles to come out. It had to be as it beat Nintendo and Sega at their own game and in Sony’s freshman outing, no less. It’s even more amazing that the system was made just to spite Nintendo for breaking the deal they had for the Super Nintendo CD add-on they were making. The system also introduced the world to a new level of games and was a lot of gamers’ introduction to long-lived series like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear. It also gave birth to new franchises like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider.
As there have been so many games that were released on the system, there are bound to be more than just a couple of really good game that get lost in the shuffle. Unfortunately, this means they don’t show up on the PlayStation Store as the games themselves weren’t that big to begin with. Everyone has that list of games that wish got a little more fanfare and, well, this is one of them. So, without further ado, here are just three of my favorite “hidden gems” that can be found on the PlayStation One but not modern consoles.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete
Sure, Final Fantasy VII got a fantastic remake. But the Lunar series did fantastic remakes way before it!
Both Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue have a interesting history on their way to becoming a cult PlayStation One game. They both started their lives on the Sega CD. They were games that tried to use the larger storage capacity of CDs to its fullest by inserting anime cutscenes as well as fully voice-acted scenes. The games were a big hit for Sega and they were eventually ported over to the Sega Saturn. But they weren’t your one-of-the-mill direct ports. All the graphics were remade and even the anime cutscenes were re-animated to to take full advantage of the updated tech. Working Designs, who actually worked on the Western ports of the original Sega CD versions, also did the localization of the updated game and ported them to the PlayStation One. These are the version of the games that I remember and love.
I will give a lot of credit to Working Designs because they did an incredible localization job on both Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. During the early days of the PlayStation and gaming in particular, getting good voice acting wasn’t a particular concern. Yet you can tell they put a lot of effort in getting the best voice actors they could for both games and it shows! The gameplay, while not particularly revolutionary, was still super fun and the stories were very engrossing. The updated visuals and anime cutscenes also helps the Lunar series stand out.
It’s actually kind of sad that, despite the games getting a cult following, you can’t just download the original Working Designs versions by any legal means. You can still get the first game but the original voice acting and even the singing has been re-recorded. I really miss the original version of Wind’s Nocture AKA The Boat Song. The new version is a better translation of the original Japanese lyrics but the original Working Design lyrics feels more melancholy and poetic.
That’s better than what Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete got as, as far as I know, has not been re-released for modern systems. Now, that’s just a crying shame! Still, it’s going to be very difficult to play the original versions of both Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue nowadays.
Bust-A-Move and Bust-A-Move 2
Fun fact: I made it all the way to the quarterfinals in a tournament for this game! I only lost because they had to pick Strike’s song for my turn! It just so happened to be my worst song! If they had me play Natural Playboy, well, it would’ve been a different story!
Now, I don’t have a lick of dancing ability in my body but I do love myself a good rhythm game. And the first Bust-A-Move (AKA Bust-A-Groove in the West) helped me to learn that about myself. As this is a rhythm game, most of its success relies on how good the songs are and Bust-A-Move does have some really good ones. Obviously, my favorite is Natural Playboy, Hiro’s theme song. However, the other songs from the first game, such as Kelly’s Transform, Shorty’s Waratte Pon! and Kitty-N’s Aozora No Knife. I also found it amazing that Enix bothered to make English versions of the songs. That may not seem like a lot but, during the PlayStation One era, that was a big thing.
The second game, aptly titled Bust-A-Move 2 (AKA Bust-A-Groove 2 in the United States) had more characters and, since each character got his/her own theme songs, more music to dance to. The new Hiro theme, Let the Music Take Control, is good but not as good as Natural Playboy. Then again, what is? But most of the other characters got some catchy tunes like Strike’s Here Comes Trouble, Heat’s The Heat is On and Comet’s Magic Tower.
As good as the games are, both Bust-A-Move and Bust-A-Move 2 are not available to play legally via download at this time. Like Lunar 2, this is really sad. What makes it doubly sad is that there was an arcade version of both games as well as a Japanese exclusive sequel made for the PlayStation 2! That’s kind of a mark of how successful the series is. However, I did look at the Dance Summit 2001, the third entry, and it does seem to lack the charm and the fun tunes of the prior two games. Still, I would really love it if I could play Bust-A-Move and Bust-A-Move 2 again on a more modern system… legally. I’ll pay money!
The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
Oh, Megaman Legends is already a “hidden gem” of a game series. But it also spawned a spin-off “hidden gem” in The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.
Before she was boarding giant mechs and fighting off the likes of Ryu, Iron Man, Mike Haggar, Storm, Morrigan, Doctor Doom and many more in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Capcom decided Tron Bonne was popular enough to move from the Megaman Legends series and get her own game. What resulted is a cute and hilarious minigame collection. Tron Bonne was already a stand-out character from the original games and her likableness transferred perfectly into The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. She’s still the same anti-hero pirate who’s able to assemble elaborate robots for various needs and missions.
The minigames themselves aren’t particularly creative. There’s your standard third-party shooter where you try to do as much damage as possible while robbing a bank. There’s a puzzle game where you have a limited number of moves to collect all the boxes in the area. There’s also the obligatory dungeon crawler where you try to uncover treasure and fight monsters. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne also has simple home management system in order to upgrade Tron’s servbots’ stats. While simple, all of them are just fun enough to be a worthwhile distraction.
But what makes The Misadventures of Tron Bonne stand out is just how charming the characters are. Tron Bonne may be a pirate but she does have a good heart. Her servbots may be little thieves but there’s also a sense of kid-like naivety with them. Even the secondary characters have a cartoony appeal to them. It’s a game chock-full of personality. And, once again, it’s not available anywhere!
BONUS: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
A musical JRPG targeting young girls and kids? Yes, there was such a thing. And it’s called Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure!
Now, I might not be a girl nor was I anything but young when I played it. But I can appreciate what Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure was trying to accomplish. It was a simple tactical RPG in the same vein of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. It had overwhelmingly cute character designs and a saccharine sweet atmosphere, which made me think that it was made for a more feminine demographic. It also was very, very easy and not much of a challenge so even younger gamers can enjoy the appeal of a tactical RPG.
What made Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure stand out is, well, the music. The songs aren’t all that great but fun and catchy in their own way. It’s pretty much Disney-esque in quality as the characters will just break into song at certain moments, which is weird but kind of funny. And, like any good Disney animated film, it’s the villain that gets the best song.
I will say Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure isn’t one of my favorite games on the PlayStation One but, if I were much younger when I played it, I’ll bet I would’ve loved it and, if that were the case, it would be one of my “hidden gems” on the system.
What other “hidden gems” can you think of that were available on the PlayStation One? Let me know in the comments section below!