It only took a few years for the name "PlayStation" to go from being that underdog Sony console to as synonymous with video games as Nintendo. No other console maker— not Atari, not Nintendo, not Sega, and not Microsoft— can boast four consecutive objectively successful consoles besides Sony. In addition, the PlayStation Portable held its own even with the massively huge Nintendo DS being its primary competitor. Even the PS Vita, the least-successful addition to the PlayStation family of hardware, has managed an estimated 16 million units sold which exceeded many projections after its rocky start.
Obviously, all of that success means a lot of the right decisions were made— luck only goes so far. But, that isn't to say that Sony or the other companies that have contributed to the PlayStation's legacy have never made a mistake and shot down what would've been the better idea than the one that was chosen. And that is what this list is all about.
20 God Of War's "In-Game" Menus
Much fuss was made about last year's God Of War having a "one-shot camera" and generally lacking any sort of UI, making for a completely immersive, movie-like experience. In fact, the original plan was to not even have the game cut away to go into menus or anything of the sort at all.
Early videos of God of War show Kratos looking down at his axe and tinkering with it to upgrade its abilities, so that the player could do it "in-game" and never break that immersion. Ultimately, it was decided to be too much work and the developers scrapped it— but just think of how cool it would've been, a 100% menu-free game.
19 The Forgotten Mascot
Even though the PS1 had plenty of mascot-type characters, none of them— Crash, Spyro, Parappa, Sweet Tooth, Lara Croft, and so on— were ever officially considered a mascot for Sony's first game system. These days, it's not a big deal for a console to not have a mascot character, but it seemed like a necessity back in the '90s.
When this in mind, Sony briefly considered making "Polygon Man"— the spiky purple head that briefly showed up in early ads— the PlayStation's mascot, but this idea was ultimately rejected. Obviously the PS1 did just fine without a mascot, but it still felt like something was missing by it not having one.
18 Tomb Raider: The Adventures Of... Laura Cruz?
Hang on a second— put down your pitchforks and ice those angry comment-typing fingers for a minute and hear us out here. Lara Croft is a bonafide gaming icon. Nobody is disputing that. She's right up there with Mario as an instantly-recognizable character who have come to represent gaming itself and whose popularity has transcending gaming itself. And, no, we aren't even going to criticize her huge rack or impossible figure.
But imagine if Lara Croft creator Toby Gard's original design for Tomb Raider's protagonist— a South American adventurer named Laura Cruz, who had a lot more personality and attitude— hadn't been nixed by publisher Eidos? Imagine if gaming's most famous female wasn't just a generic Caucasian archetype with a blank expression and short shorts unsuitable for jungle exploration?
17 A Better PlayStation Logo
The PlayStation logo— more specifically, the logo for the PS1 console— is legendary. It came to symbolize a new, more mature era of gaming and announced the arrival of the first platform that was ever able to fully topple the Nintendo dynasty.
Try to put the logo's legacy aside for a moment and look at it objectively, next to the recently-discovered other finalists for the PlayStation logo. There are a few that might've been better, more interesting picks. Our choice is the one circled in the image above, but look for yourself with truly unbiased eyes... and don't be surprised if you find that your favorite also isn't the one Sony ultimately went with.
16 The Ill-Conceived DualShock Detour
We generally take controller vibration for granted, and only really even notice it in the rare game that puts it to more creative use than to vibrate when a character attacks or gets attacked. When Sony released the original DualShock controller, however, it felt revolutionary. It might not have been the first time a controller ever vibrated, but it made it the new standard.
Sony initially planned to continue its DualShock line for the PlayStation 3, but they ended up rejecting that in favor of the new Sixaxis controller, which swapped out vibration for shoddy motion controls that almost nobody used. They eventually realized their mistake and brought the DualShock back, but it was of little consolation to early adopters stuck with their vibration-free (and way too light) Sixaxis controllers.
15 Xbox Got It Right
For years, the DualShock was considered the gold standard for console controllers, in particular the design and placement of the analog sticks. That is, until Microsoft entered the console race and created controls that swapped the placement of the d-pad and the left analog stick. As analog control had become much more common in the era of 3D games, it made more sense to have the standard movement input be closer to where most people would rest their left hand.
After three generations of not changing the basic design of the DualShock, Sony smartly considered making that same swap with the DualShock 4... but that plan was shot down in favor of keeping their more traditional (and arguably less comfortable) placement.
14 The Not-Terrible Star Wars Fighting Game That Could've Been
For all the flak that EA has gotten for its handling of Star Wars games in recent years, it's easy to forget just how awful Star Wars games often were back in the 90s and how much better off we are now. Don't believe us? Then you've obviously never played the absolutely dreadful PS1 fighting game Masters of the Teräs Käsi.
What's most frustrating is that we could've gotten a really good Star Wars fighting game. The team that made the underrated Capcom fighter Star Gladiator originally pitched it as a Star Wars fighting game, but they were rejected and decided to retool it into an original property. The result was one awful fighting game getting too much attention and one good one not getting enough— Star Gladiator got just one sequel before fading into obscurity.
13 The Broken Promises Of Backward Compatibility
A huge selling point of the PlayStation 2 was its near-100% backward compatibility with the PS1's game library. Being able to go right on playing your PS1 favorites alongside your shiny new PS2 games was a great feature, and really hammered home Sony's promise of PlayStation being a "platform" rather than a series of consoles.
At one point, Sony promised that all future PlayStations would be compatible with all previous ones, and they planned to keep that promise with the PS3— until they didn't. While all PS3s play PS1 games, they splintered PS3s into ones that could play PS2 games and ones that couldn't... before eventually rejecting PS2 playability entirely. The PS4 then had zero backward compatibility, further breaking that old promise.
12 A Game Cancelled Out Of Spite
One of the messiest break-ups in video game industry history was the one between Konami and its former golden boy, Hideo Kojima. After being responsible for some of the company's best-selling and most acclaimed games, Konami and Kojima began to butt heads over rising development costs of Metal Gear Solid V which led to Kojima quitting the company entirely.
Konami wasn't very mature about things, either. In addition to taking Kojima's name off of the cover of MGSV, they not only cancelled the Silent Hill reboot he was working on but even unceremoniously removed the acclaimed "P.T." (short for "playable trailer") of the game from the PSN store entirely. And what did we get instead? Not a thing. The company has done nothing with the Silent Hill franchise since.
11 Cheaping Out On Controller Ports
In addition to being home to a few of the most beloved games of all time, the Nintendo 64 had a few design features that would become industry standards. One of the most significant of these features, and the one that helped to sell many systems, controllers, and copies of GoldenEye, was having four controller ports.
After that, systems either having four ports or at least supporting four controllers wirelessly has became a given... except for the PlayStation 2. Sony originally intended to have four controller ports on the PS2, but rejected the idea, presumably to cut costs. That they then sold a multitap for a whopping $40 to anyone who wanted four-player multiplayer on the system only further proves money was behind the decision.
10 The Wu-Tang Clan Consolation Prize
There was a lot of excitement over the PS1 game Thrill Kill. Part of it was that it was going to be a four-player fighting game, and part of it was its mature content that was heavy on violence, gore, and sexual themes. It was previewed extensively in magazines and was even said to be completely finished... and then EA bought it and subsequently cancelled it.
After Thrill Kill was rejected, its developer decided to take the work it put into its engine and make another violent, four-player fighting game— only this time, it starred and was based around hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan for some reason. Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style wasn't a terrible game, but it was certainly no Thrill Kill.
9 The PS Vita That Might Have Succeeded
There are a lot of reasons why the PS Vita didn't end up being the success that its predecessor, the PSP, had been. One of the biggest ones was the system's price, coupled with its costly, proprietary memory cards. The thing was also just a little too big to actually fit into anyone's pocket with a necessary carrying case.
An early prototype of the Vita shows that those problems almost never existed, as it not only allowed for half the unit to slide into itself for transport but it also accepted standard SD cards. Had Sony not rejected this version, the PS Vita might've been a much bigger success.
8 PlayStation Portable's Button Problem, Solved
Speaking of Sony's handheld gaming devices, here is the one that was an indisputable success: the PlayStation Portable. With over 80 million units sold worldwide and its most popular games selling in the 6-7 million range, anyone who tries to claim the PSP was a flop is ignoring the facts.
But the PSP was far from perfect from a design standpoint. Among the biggest issues was the system's buttons, which felt a bit wiggly and were prone to breaking. This could've been prevented if Sony hadn't rejected the early PSP version shown here, with its sunken buttons that were flush with the system's face. If only smartphones had buttons like this for gaming!
7 Ubisoft Dooms A Beloved Developer
Timesplitters was an early hit for the PlayStation 2, a launch day FPS from many of the same people responsible for Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Across two excellent Timesplitters sequels and the criminally underrated Second Sight, developer Free Radical Design had proven itself a top developer in the 2000s.
That all changed when they released Haze, the PS3-exclusive FPS that was a total mess and essentially killed the company. The team had wanted Haze to be a third-person action/adventure game, but publisher Ubisoft rejected that plan halfway through development and forced the developer to make it a more action-focused FPS instead with limited time to do so.
6 What EyeToy Should've Been From The Start
If Kinect taught us anything, it's that motion controls that rely entirely on a camera monitoring body movement aren't very reliable. The most effecttive motion controls require some sort of accessory that registers hand movements, which is why the PS Move works so much better.
The EyeToy for the PlayStation 2 suffered the same problems as Kinect, which were solved when the next generation of the device added the PS Move controllers. The plan was for the original EyeToy to have controllers, but that was rejected in order to keep the cost of the accessory down. Think of how much better some of the actually decent PS2 EyeToy games could've been with controllers to sharpen the gameplay.
5 The Rejected Feature That Literally Broke A Game
Planned game features and modes get rejected during development all the time, typically for budgetary reasons or to get a game out in time. That was the reason why the planned drag racing mode was cut from Gran Turismo 2, to help the game make its planned Christmas release window.
The problem was that the game's completion percentage still took the drag racing mode into consideration, and without it, it was literally impossible to get 100% completion in the game. That, coupled with other glitches and bugs, forced Sony to recall the first batch of copies of GT2 and replace them with fixed versions for free. Who says that companies being able to just patch games is all bad?
4 Twisted Metal: Open-World Edition
Much of the PS1's identity was tied to its great first-party exclusives, including popular car combat series Twisted Metal. It was a given that there'd be a TM game for the PS2, and that game ended up being the excellent Twisted Metal: Black. But, as we found out later, the version of TM:B we got wasn't nearly as cool as the original, rejected design.
The PS2 port of the PSP's Twisted Metal: Head-On included featurettes about the changes made to TM:B, revealing that the plan was for all of the stages to be part of one huge, interconnected world. This was rejected when it was found to be a bit too ambitious for the PS2's hardware. Still, whether it was realistic to accomplish or not, that version of TM:B would've been awesome. Here's hoping that revisit that plan for a future TM game...
3 Lamb Chopped
It can be argued that Parappa the Rapper came the closest to being the PS1's mascot, as he was the star of a hugely popular game and, unlike Crash and Spyro, was actually owned by Sony.
Because of Parappa's popularity as a character, it probably wasn't smart business to have him be a secondary character in the first direct Parappa the Rapper sequel, UmJammer Lammy. Perhaps the admittedly fantastic UmJammer Lammy would've sold more if the lead character didn't have such a simple, unremarkable design. Character artist Rodney Greenblat wanted her to, but all of his ideas were rejected in favor of making Lammy look more like pop star Natalie Imbruglia. Yawn.
2 A Divine Comedy Of Errors
One of the most tragic cancelled games in history is The Lost, which was to be a dark, complex action/adventure game for PS2 based around Inferno from Dante's Divine Comedy. After being previewed in magazines and on websites for years, teasing us with promising-looking screenshots and gameplay details, The Lost was reported to be just about finish before it was ultimately rejected by its publisher.
We did eventually get a game based on that same source material, Dante's Inferno for PS3, PSP, and Xbox 360. It's a fine enough game, but it's essentially just a God of War clone that is all about hacking up enemies into a bloody pulp— not quite what Dante's challenging morality tale deserves.
1 The Rejection That Changed Gaming Forever
You probably know the story by now, but just to sum up: what became the PlayStation was originally going to be a CD add-on for the Super NES until Nintendo rejected the deal in favor of partnering with Phillips instead. Ultimately, though, the gaming industry as a whole was better off with this arrangement, even if Nintendo is probably still kicking themselves about it.
So what, in this case, did we get instead that was worse than what we could've gotten? The awful, awful Mario and Zelda games that came to the Philips CD-i as a side effect of their deal with Nintendo. Had Nintendo never signed that deal with Philips, those games would've never existed— and instead, we would've probably gotten some really cool Mario and Zelda games for the "Nintendo PlayStation."