Cory Barlog, Keita Iizuka, and more PlayStation developers on the games that defined them

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While we can all agree on PlayStation’s greatest games, choosing a personal hit from the last 24 years is a little harder. After reaching a milestone with issue 150, Official PlayStation Magazine asks some of their favourite developers about the games that impacted them the most, and the franchises they think changed the industry forever. Hold onto your DualShock, we’re about to a trip down PlayStation memory lane. 

Cory Barlog (Creative Director, God of War)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system? 

Wow, this is a really hard question. Picking just one game above all is nearly impossible for me, but if I had to, it would be Metal Gear Solid. I remember being completely blown away with the story, the mechanics and the overall presentation on my first playthrough.

What PlayStation series most affected you? 

I would say that Fumito Ueda’s games (Ico, Shadow Of The Colossus, The Last Guardian) had a gut-punch of an emotional impact on me. Storytelling in its purest form that connects to all of us as humans. 

What game or series most influences you? 

The Uncharted series really pushed me as a developer. They managed to raise the bar with every single release and produce an action- packed thrill ride starring characters I wanted to hang out with, and mechanics I can easily pick up and play. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry? 

The Resident Evil series. Not only are they great games, but the creators’ willingness to reinvent the game every so often is something I think positively affects our industry. Resident Evil 4 truly changed the way I look at making games.

Mark Healey (Creative Director, Dreams)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system?

It’s a toss up between Katamari Damacy and PaRappa The Rapper. I loved how off-the-wall and silly these two games seemed at the time. I’m a real sucker for novelty! 

What PlayStation series most affected you?

The honest answer has to be LittleBigPlanet. I spent a large proportion of my life making it, then even more time enjoying seeing the community do wonderful things with it! 

What game or series most influences you? 

Sorry to be boring, but I’m going to say LittleBigPlanet again! Seeing how that was embraced by the community is the biggest driver for me at the moment in making Dreams, and wanting to give more power to the community to see what they will do with it. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry? 

For some reason, WipEout sticks out in my head; for me it marks a time when games started being viewed as ‘culturally cool’.

Motohiro Okubo (Producer, Tekken 7 & Soul Calibur 7)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system?

That’s a very difficult question. I’ve played many games since joining the game industry, and I ended up getting really into some games even though I was just planning to check them out for business. Recalling my school days when I was purely enthusiastic about a game itself, the first Ridge Racer was my favourite game that I played the most back on PlayStation. I didn’t pay much attention to the Namco logo on the game, but it might have inspired me to unknowingly to enter this company. 

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What PlayStation series most affected you? 

My memory is too vague for a detailed answer to this question, but I presume the Dragon Quest series. It’s a masterpiece that’s affected gamers of my generation for long time. Indeed, I was surprised that many people I know bought the newest title [Dragon Quest XI] even though they’re in their 40s. At the time it must have been difficult to propose fusing the traditional and the new together when that series began development, which was totally fresh. The Dragon Quest series has a very long history and still affects old and new players, which is really a great reference to me. 

What game or series most influences you? 

My very first game was not released on PlayStation, but Virtua Fighter has been a big influence for me. I never expected that myself in my 40s could use the knowledge gained during my teenage years. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone at work that I love Virtua Fighter. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry?

It’s a similar answer to #2, but I presume Final Fantasy VII was the trigger for these now-in-their-40s people to buy PlayStation at that time, even while they didn’t have much money. I believe the Final Fantasy series is still leading the latest visual technology on PlayStation.

Keita Iizuka (Producer, Code Vein)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system?

I like the Monster Hunter, Sengoku Basara, and Dark Souls series. But, I also like adventure games such as Danganronpa and Stein’s Gate. 

What PlayStation series most affected you? 

It’s Heavy Rain, which was released on PS3. I like the story’s multiple endings, where the result changes depending on the behaviour of the different characters. Also, I like its unique operation method which feels you link with the character’s motions. Before that, I didn’t play overseas adventure games. However, since I played this game, I’ve become a big fan and started playing Beyond: Two Souls, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Until Dawn. 

What game or series most influences you?

The Dark Souls series. Of course it has characteristics such as an “attractive universe” and “high difficulty” which makes me to want to challenge over and over again. But in particular, I think the network play is very fun since it offers users a co-op multiplayer, or battles focusing on roleplay. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry? 

Square Enix, thanks to making Final Fantasy VII and Xenogears. Those games took advantage of the hardware’s features.

Mathijs De Jonge (Creative Director, Horizon Zero Dawn)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system? 

Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation 1 is my favourite. When it released this game was groundbreaking in terms of its cinematic presentation. But it did so much more; the stealth action was superb and the story was gripping and serious, but also playfully injected with lighthearted moments. And then there were these truly unbelievable gameplay moments like the fight with Psycho Mantis. Somehow, during this boss battle, the game managed to escape from my TV and enter my living room, which was scary and mind-blowing at the same time! To this day I still remember the exact details of my surroundings at the moment that this happened, as it made such a deep impression.

What PlayStation series most affected you?

Throughout the years many games have affected me as a developer, but one that stands out is The Last Of Us, which I first played on PlayStation 3. The ending was deeply moving, something I’d rarely experienced in a video game. When we were developing Horizon Zero Dawn we decided we wanted this to be one of the goals for our story as well. 

What game or series most influences you?

I take inspiration from many different games, movies, TV series and books, but a game that we often still refer to when designing combat scenarios is Resident Evil 4. This game is a holy grail in terms of level design, enemy design, and mechanics design. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry?

That distinction goes to Ico. The game is a real work of art. Its minimalist design approach, and the interplay between the two protagonists, Ico and Yorda, created a truly unique and moving experience that inspired many developers, and probably continues to do so.

David Lee (Community Manager, Days Gone)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system? 

It’s Infamous 2. I come back to this game every year and have so much fun with it! The combat, story, and characters are the best. I’ll never get tired of Zeke’s bad jokes. 

What PlayStation series most affected you? 

The Ratchet & Clank series. Every game in the series is a blast to play and has great humour. Blasting robots and aliens always helped me relax after a long day. 

What game or series most influences you? 

Tekken 3. This game helped me break out of my ‘shy’ shell and showed me the world of the FGC. Tekken and fighting games in general are a consistent reminder of how great the video game community can be. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry? 

The Uncharted series has had a monumental effect on the video game industry. From its storytelling, top-tier graphics, relatable characters, and fun gameplay. Props to everyone at Naughty Dog.

Paul MacGillivray (QA Lead, Blood & Truth)

What’s your favourite PlayStation game of all time, on any system? 

If I had to pick, it would probably be Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2). For me this was the best Metal Gear game with an incredible story, protagonist, bosses, and theme song. No other game lets you capture, and then eat, a boss’ pet parrot mid-fight. Also the ending. Bloodborne (PS4), Shadow Of The Colossus (PS2), and Persona 4 (PS Vita) have to get honourable mentions. 

What PlayStation series most affected you? 

"For me, Wipeout marks a time when games started being viewed as culturally cool."

Mark Healey

It has to be the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VII was the reason I got a PlayStation and was also the first JRPG I played. It was my first time experiencing a game with such a narrative, fantastic music and excellent turn based RPG gameplay. I absolutely loved it! I’m still a massive FF fan to this day. 

What game or series most influences you? 

The Bloodborne/Souls series. There is such care, passion and polish put into almost every aspect of the game. I really respect the way the developers leave the player to figure out the game on their own. This really promotes exploration and experimentation and gives a great deal of freedom to the player. This also feeds into the difficulty, you can either take your time to learn the boss fights or you can summon in other players if you just want to proceed.I’ve completed every single Souls game. 

Which PlayStation game or series or developer changed the industry? 

The Metal Gear Solid series and Kojima Productions. When Metal Gear Solid released on PS1 it defined 3D stealth games as well as cinematics in games. Each new entry in the series has further refined gameplay and storytelling. Now it’s very common to see games with strong narratives but Metal Gear really set the bar for this. I really cannot wait to see what Kojima Productions do with Death Stranding!

This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great coverage, subscribe so you never miss an issue.