PlayStation Revolution review: Fascinating history of Sony consoles glosses over embarrassing bits

The Sony PlayStation advertising made some daring claims. The PlayStation Revolution documentary seems to be again on the model’s historical past.


With the PS5 and Xbox Series X launches mere months away, it is the perfect time for a nostalgic look again at Sony’s early days within the online game business. From Bedrooms to Billions: The PlayStation Revolution explores Sony’s 26 years of creating consoles.

The documentary is directed by Anthony and Nicola Caulfield, whose From Bedrooms to Billions collection beforehand lined the rise of the British video games industry and the Commodore Amiga. It hits streaming, Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 7.


The PlayStation Revolution comes out Sept. 7.

Gracious Movies

Veterans of the late ’80s and early ’90s console wars will instantly really feel at house with this documentary. Sega and Nintendo have been locked in battle, so newcomer Sony snuck into the sport by partnering with Nintendo for a SNES add-on dubbed “Play Station.” When the 2 corporations fell out, Sony reworked the identify for its first console.

1994 flashback

In overlaying the unique PlayStation and Sony’s rise to energy within the business, the documentary is totally gripping for anybody with a passing curiosity in video games, popular culture or enterprise. It spectacularly highlights how the Japanese firm shifted gaming from one thing you allow behind with childhood to a pastime for stylish adults by means of archival footage, previous advertising supplies and interviews with individuals who lived by means of the period.

Individuals like ex-Sony Pc Leisure exec Phil Harrison and former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske (a reputation readers of Blake J. Harris’ Console Wars will know properly) supply fascinating insights into the enterprise and advertising successes of these early days, with lead PS5 architect Mark Cerny and different builders making simply digestible technical factors concerning the challenges of programming console video games in 3D for the primary time.


Hideo Kojima displays on how the PlayStation’s tech let him create Steel Gear Strong.

Gracious Movies

Followers of Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy 7 can be delighted to see Shinji Mikami, Hideo Kojima and Yoshinori Kitase speaking about these collection’ PlayStation entries as properly. The technical bounce from the 16-bit SNES era to Sony’s 32-bit console created new alternatives for cinematic gaming experiences that regarded like nothing avid gamers had seen earlier than, and made these guys legends whose influence continues to this day.

The documentary not directly highlights how male-dominated the business was. We do not see any girls till Tomb Raider artist Heather Stevens discusses her function in creating Lara Croft’s first journey.

Going next-gen

Sadly, after spending greater than two thirds of its 2-hour, 40-minute runtime on the unique PlayStation, the PS2 — the highest selling console of all time — will get lower than 30 minutes. This part highlights the technical leap ahead with footage of classics like Jak and Daxter, Grand Theft Auto 3 and God of War.

That additionally meant it was tougher to program video games for the brand new console, which means there weren’t many third-party video games prepared for the PS2 launch in 2000. The movie additionally reminds us of the significance of the PS2 being one of many least expensive DVD gamers in the marketplace.

The PS3 period fares even worse — the filmmakers take the time to acknowledge that console’s comparative failure and one way or the other solely give it a 10-minute section. And Microsoft’s Xbox, which rose as Sony’s essential competitor through the PS2 period and whose Xbox 360 wolfed up a bit of PS3’s market share, is just referenced as soon as. We do not get a lot perception into the PS4 both, past some commentary about its unimaginable success and a section about PS VR that feels extra like advertising than evaluation.

Sony’s moveable gaming units, the PSP and PS Vita, aren’t lined in any respect regardless of the PSP’s huge recognition. (It was overshadowed by Nintendo’s DS.) These omissions are notably fairly jarring because the PocketStation, an odd reminiscence card peripheral that was solely ever launched in Japan, will get a point out.


The documentary covers the unique PlayStation completely.


Early success

PlayStation Revolution is a enjoyable journey when it is overlaying Sony’s preliminary foray into the online game business and the joy of the mid-’90s. Much less satisfying is the way in which it glosses over follow-up consoles, the corporate’s failures and influence of the competitors regardless of the documentary’s lengthy runtime. It may need felt extra at the same time as a multipart collection that checked out every period extra equally. 

If you happen to’re a gamer who’s been on the PlayStation journey because the authentic console or simply need to see how Sony went into battle towards Nintendo and Sega again in 1994, the preliminary section of the documentary can be a nostalgic deal with. Simply do not anticipate the identical stage of perception into subsequent generations.

nintendo sony playstation prototype mov 00 14 29 00 still001

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Sean Keane