No not the LA one-hit wonders who shat out Heaven is a Half-Pipe, I’m talking Official PlayStation Magazine UK. Back in the mid to late Nineties gamers were spoilt for choice when it came to magazines. Not only was it our only way of consistently getting news and reviews to feed our appetites for gaming, but the official magazine for Sony’s console came with a demo disc glued to the front/in its bag, something that home computer/PC gamers had been getting for years.
As a young teen with very little in the way of pocket money, (I’d get £1 a week from my Dad which I’d normally spend on sweets) I relied on my mum buying me magazines when I’d visit her and there were a few I’d pick up, C&VG was one, PlayStation World (PSW) was another (mostly as it was huge and they kept lists in the back pages of top ten games in different genres) and Official PlayStation Magazine, which was the priciest at a fiver, was the last. This was how I’d keep up with what games I knew I’d have to plead for when she took us into town once a month or I’d get for birthdays and Christmases.
They were always a great talking point with the small selection of friends I’ve regularly alluded to, but it was after reading this article that I decided to write about the magazine in more depth.
See, now I get that it was nothing more than an expensive advert for all things PlayStation and that scores were given to certain games that they didn’t always deserve. But back then? I wouldn’t even have considered it, it felt too grown up for that, that was something that I’d expect of trash like GamesMaster. which regardless of how much UK gamers had loved the TV show, the magazine by this point in time had become trash aimed at kids, and as a 13/14/15 year old I definitely wasn’t a kid! So PTSE lessons were mostly myself and my only gamer friend in my tutor group scanning through the magazine, checking out the screenshots and me making a mental note of what game I wanted to pick up next, I knew I’d have to wait a few months to get the absolute latest releases as I’d always pick them up second hand from GameStation, but that was fine. Lunch breaks were a mixture of football, usually one man knockout, which I’d normally be eliminated from within a few rounds so I’d sit by the goal (which in hindsight wasn’t the most sensible thing to do) and scan through the magazine some more, all the while waiting to for the end of the day when I could go round a friends house to play on their PlayStation or on the days I’d go to my Mums (every Tuesday and weekend) to play on the PlayStation I had there. It wasn’t until I was 15 I had one of my own at home!
I remember taking the Resident Evil 2 cover disc round to my older brothers place and us taking it in turns to get as far as we could within the demo’s time limit. Seeing the Licker for the first time was reminiscent to rounding the corner prior to seeing your first zombie in the original game. I’ve never really gotten on with the series as a whole, only ever finishing Resident Evil 4 (PS2 version) but both that zombie from Resident Evil and the Licker in the Resident Evil 2 demo have always stuck with me. I’ve already spoken of how obsessive I was of the Metal Gear Solid demo prior to playing the full game, but another demo I played to death was Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2.
Like the GamesIndustry.biz article talks about the Dave Mirra demo, the THPS2 demo was a major awakening for me. I could probably name three games that shaped my early footsteps when finding my own taste in music and they’d be Gran Turismo, Crazy Taxi and Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2. On the latter it was initially via a demo, but I played it so much I just had to have it as soon as possible. The demo featured the Marseille skate park and I think allowed you to play a Tony Hawk or Chad Muska, I always chose chad and absolutely rinsed that demo, often getting into pass the pad score attacks with a friends younger brother.
Tony Hawks 2 must have been one of the first games I bought with my own hard-earned money as it came out in September 2000 and I definitely remembering owning it before I dropped out of art college and then moving in with my Mum which was early 2001 I believe (as I re-enrolled into college on a different course but dropped out due to poor mental health later that same year) and like the demo before it, I played the full game to death, taking it back and forth between my Dads house when I was living there and my Mums when I was visiting her and to friends’ houses, always taking my memory card with me and challenging them to games of HORSE. It was one of the few games I could consistently beat most challengers at so I tried to make sure we always got a session in when playing multiplayer games.