The PlayStation 1 Platinum Collection Was a Beautiful Thing


Hands up, who here remembers their first Playstation Platinum game? If you lived outside of the PAL Playstation regions (Europe, Australia, Middle East, Australia) then there’s a chance you won’t even know what I’m talking about. The ‘Platinum’ label was awarded to PS1 games that had been out for over a year and sold over 400,000 copies in the PAL region. Qualifying games would then be rehoused with cool shiny, silvery labels and – crucially – be price-capped to £20 here in the UK. These games would sometimes come patched too, with bug fixes and improved loading times from their original versions. 


They really looked quite classy, unlike the equivalent over in the US – ‘Greatest Hits’ – which had a goo-green label with ‘Greatest Hits’ written in red on it.

‘Greatest Hits’ vs. Platinum. Which would you rather have?

I remember my first batch of Platinum games clearly, because without them I probably wouldn’t have become a PS1 owner. It was back in 1999 on a spittling winter’s evening, and it was a big day in my gaming life, as I braved the rain to go down to my local Electronics Boutique to make a part-exchange trade that, at that time, could make or break friendships.

I was trading in my N64, and I was going to be picking up a PS1. Controversial, I know, but Nintendo’s curvaceous console had grown stale for me, and I was constantly envious of the huge choice of games on the Sony side. Every time I’d go to the store, it felt like the PlayStation games section was eating more and more into the N64’s like a totally hypothetical post-Soviet powerhouse nation would eat into the territory of its neighbours. Even though the N64 was to enjoy something of an Indian Summer in the early 2000s with games like Banjo-Tooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, it couldn’t compete with the galaxy of compelling PS1 games out there (by the end of its lifespan, the PS1 had over 3000 games while the N64 had just shy of 400).

So I handed my N64 in its plastic bodybag over the counter at EB, hoping that its collection of games in their dampened, disintegrating cardboard packagings would be deemed valuable enough that I could start my life as a PS1 player with some semblance of a collection.

The staff behind the counter at EB inspected my old N64, pressing the controller buttons suspiciously (not noticing the somewhat squidgy ‘L’ shoulder button). They picked each of the once-loved old games out of the plastic bag between the tips of their index fingers and thumbs like a parent might pick up used tissues in a teenage boy’s bedroom.

Banjo-Kazooie really deserved a better fate than this…

In the end, I received an offer. I don’t remember the exact figure now, but it wasn’t great, yielding about one full-priced PS1 game per three N64 ones. After scanning the shelves of the latest PS1 games for some time, I began questioning whether my controversial console switch was such a good idea at such a poor exchange rate. It’s at this point that something silver glimmered in the corner of my vision, like a twinkly interactive item in an old adventure game.

I looked over, and there it was: the Playstation Platinum Collection – several rows of shelves lined with gleaming silvery games. As I recall, the Platinum section alone was about the same size as the entire N64 one, and with its silver labels and crisp PS1 jewel cases, it was way more eye-catching. Remember that this was late 1999 as well, and relatively late in the PS1 life cycle, which meant that many of the best games to ever come out for the console had already been out long enough to qualify as Platinum games. What’s more, EB had an offer of two Platinum games for £30. The last N64 game I had bought for below that price was some dire second-hand fighting game called Rakuga Kids – in hindsight, that was probably the final straw…

And man, what a fine batch the Platinum games were: Metal Gear Solid, Tekken 3, one of the Crash Bandicoots, Resident Evil 2, Tenchu. I didn’t realise yet at this point that I didn’t care much for Final Fantasy VII, but hey, it’s a classic and it was there for a steal. The Platinum collection was phenomenal, and in some ways exemplified the PS1’s greatest advantages over the N64: choice and price.

By 1999, most of the PS1’s greatest games were available as classy, cheapy Platinum games.

Platinum collections existed all the way through the PS2 and PS3 eras, but it didn’t carry quite the same gravitas. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that PS1 jewel cases made those Platinum games really shine, while the soft plastic covers protecting PS2 and PS3 games would chafe and dull much faster. Also, on the PS3, Platinum games would look quite explicitly ugly, with the label looking far more grey than silver, with this weird yellow lining that made it look like there crime scene tape around the box.

The ‘Platinum’ branding was renamed to ‘Essentials’ in 2010, which with the red-and-white label just made those games seem a bit cheap. I associated ‘Essentials’ with scratchy toilet paper and tasteless own-brand Baked Beans at the supermarket, whereas ‘Platinum’ really evoked the feeling that these games had to earn that status. Seeing the error of their ways, Sony switched things up from ‘Essentials’ to ‘PlayStation Hits’ in 2018 for their PS4 games, but it couldn’t match the sheer class and gravitas of that PS1 Platinum collection.


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