True to its word, Sony has added two more tiers of content to its PlayStation Plus subscription service. The normal subscription continues under the name PlayStation Plus Essential. The other two levels are called Extra and Premium, the latter is the highest level and costs around 10 euros a month if you take out a PlayStation Plus Premium annual subscription.
The advantage of the last level, in addition to cloud streaming and trial versions of new titles, is above all the large selection of classics from PlayStation history, which you can access almost at any time. That means you can catch up on PS1, PS2 and PS3 games that you may have missed at the time – or revive old favorites. The catch: the PS3 is still notoriously difficult to emulate, which is why you can only stream its games.
At the start of the service, it was important to us to recommend a few cult games to you. Titles that perhaps not everyone knows, threaten to fall into oblivion or that wrongly did not have such a good reputation. time to correct that.
Ape Escape 2 (PS2)
One of the craziest series in the most positive sense that a major platform provider like Sony has ever commissioned in-house. It all started as a quasi-demo for a controller that had not just one, but two analog sticks. Back in the days of PSone, I had said quite spitefully about Sony that they simply duplicate all of Nintendo’s good ideas – first the shoulder buttons on the controller, then the sticks. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was an excellent idea that Nintendo should have had earlier. Anyway, Ape Escape is a brain-bending delight of a game when you catch crazy monkeys with your right stick landing net – visually a little more tolerable in the PS2 version than in the PSone original. Be sure to check it out! If only to signal to Sony that there is still demand for this brand.
That means war. A thought that comes to you more often in Ape Escape 2.
BioShock 2 Remastered (PS3)
BioShock 2 has long been the unloved stepchild of the series, and certainly not undeservedly so. The game itself wasn’t the problem though. It was more the underlying idea of going back to Rapture and hearing from people we hadn’t heard a syllable of in the first installment, in a remarkably comfortable way. No matter how deep we dug into Rapture’s trash cans for audio logs. In the meantime, however, we should have gained enough distance from the first part to consider part two for what it really is: A really good BioShock, which is narratively in top form, especially with the DLC Minerva’s Den. An underrated game.
Admit it, your fingers are a little itchy to give BioShock 2 another try.
Dark Chronicle (PS2, 2002)
Dark Chronicle from Level 5, known as Dark Cloud in Japan, is a wonderful and, especially at the time, very daring mixture of many, many elements. A decent dungeon crawler serves as the basis, in between you rebuild a village and make use of a clever crafting system. In 2002 it was still extremely fresh. But it doesn’t stop there. You also take pictures of all sorts of things to get “ideas” out of those items. And three right ideas combined result in a new invention. A window, a fountain and a box can be combined to form an aquarium, for example. And of course you can go fishing too. Thanks to the cel-shading look, Dark Chronicle has also held up optically excellently, which is not a matter of course for a title from the PS2 era. My personal favorite on this list.
Hardly anyone knows Dark Chronicle today. And that’s a shame. It’s one of Level 5’s best titles.
Ico Classics HD (PS3, 2011)
Ico will make you feel a lot of things. Also frustration with a weak camera, sluggish fights and that it is one single well-veiled escort mission. Above all, however, you soon feel a deep love for the wondrous, sad world that you roam as a cuckolded boy and for the delicate figure of light who you are supposed to help to freedom. It’s a story of two outcasts who find each other and form a deep bond without many words. A very special game with a special atmosphere and appeal that does a good job of showing where the journey would take Fumito Ueda and team in Shadow of the Colossus and later The Last Guardian – and an educational gap that needs to be filled.
The beginning of an intimate friendship.
Lost Planet (2006)
Lost Planet is one of the series that unfortunately got a bit under the wheels in Capcom’s weaker PS360 phase. The debut was a very promising and spectacular shooter that attractively married Western game principles and Japanese design. Competing against massive bugs in an ice world, using mechs here and there and not getting freezer burn was a good mix, even if the game was a bit short. But let’s face it, you’re not here to find a game for the next 100 hours anyway. A cool and today still respectable shooter. It’s a shame that the successors seemed so disoriented that we can probably forget the series now.
Whether jungle or ice: Capcom knows monsters.
Machinarium (PS3, 2009)
A classic Czech adventure where you play a small robot in a junk world. Insanely hearty even without words and quite unusual in its world building as well as an ornament in terms of design and sound. In terms of play, Machinarium is pretty simple, but you get so absorbed in this world that it doesn’t bother you too much. Definitely a remarkable point-and-click from a time when hardly anyone made decent games of this ilk. The makers of Amanita Design have made a lot of nice games — Samorost, Botanicula, Chuchel, and a few other names that spell check will throw at you — but Machinarium and its little tin man are particularly close to my heart.
You just have to love Machinarium.
Sirens (PS2, 2003)
Where Resident Evil inflated splattering B-horror to blockbuster format, Silent Hill focused more on psychological terror. Siren (actually Forbidden Siren in this country) from the creators of the first Silent Hill also goes in this darker direction, but relies on the otherworldly and extremely Japanese spooky aesthetics of The Grudge. Even then, the game was considered quite bulky, disempowered the player significantly more than other titles at the time and relied more on stealth. An interesting mechanic lets you see through the eyes of your enemies and is good for many exciting moments. If you’re in the mood for effective horror and you’re up for a challenge (some of the puzzles are a bit far-fetched after all), Siren is an unusual horror shocker that has a few tricks up its sleeve that you don’t already know by heart .
There will be news coming soon from Siren creator Toyama. Slitterhead should be very interesting.
Split / Second Velocity (PS3, 2010)
I’m not sure if the streamed PS3 version is the best way to play this game. But this is better than not trying this little insider tip at all. I’ll admit that I found Bizarre Creations’ Blur, released almost at the same time, even stronger back then, but Split/Second still does what it sets out to do excellently. It is simply an extremely watchable racing game. In insanely overpowered sports cars, you take part in a racing game game show where during the race you blow up the scenery around the track in a way that tears up as many of your competitors as possible. For example, let a huge chimney crash onto the track or wipe a dry-dock parked tanker across the course.
The sugar high that split/second gives you doesn’t last forever. Great fun for the hours it works though.
It’s not a game for the ages (he said 12 years after the title’s original release), but the effect of the brilliantly choreographed destruction eventually flattens out. But it’s explosively entertaining from the first second and still looks pretty impressive more than a decade later.
The Mark of Kri (PS2, 2002)
The Mark of Kri was not so easy to get in Germany at that time due to the lack of an official release. Sony found the game too hard for the German authorities. It’s really a shame that hardly anyone knows this title today, because the tough action-adventure about the barbarian Rau had an innovative and beautifully rhythmic combat system with it, with which you could cleverly rake several opponents at the same time. Successful stealth elements and a cinematic presentation complete an adventure that could actually do everything and deserved more success. Actually inexplicable that just three years later God of War became a world hit with similar qualities. Besides Dark Chronicle, my other personal favorite from this list.
A prequel to God of War and the Arkham Batmans: The Mark of Kri.
Which classics from the PS Plus Premium selection would you like to catch up on or experience again?