The Best of Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool
Sigh. It's sad how much the industry changes, and how some studios just can't accept the fact that bigger companies can't afford to keep them open anyone. That's the fate that recently befell Psygnosis, aka Studio Liverpool. In the running for nearly three decades in the industry now, the hammer fell on the team this month when Sony, in the midst of restructuring, chose to close its doors.
But to close the door on the legacy of Psygnosis is impossible. The company has been operating for some time, for getting its start on systems like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64 before eventually moving on to newer platforms. A lot of folks think that their biggest heyday occurred in the PlayStation era, when games like Colony Wars, G-Police and the original WipeOut got all sorts of attention, as those were titles that helped put Sony on the map in the first place.
So, with that, I've decided to compile a list of Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool's best games, as sort of a way to pay tribute to the company for everything they did. The doors may be closed, but the sheer wonder of their game design will live on in our fondest memories.
Note: These may be out of order, but all of them in general are worth checking out, if you feel like exploring a little.
What better way to start than with one of the best puzzle/strategy games ever made? In Lemmings, you guide a number of those suicidal little buggers across a variety of stages, using different classes to perform various duties to reach the end of the stage. The game first got its start on smaller game platforms, but when it arrived on PlayStation, it hit the big time, with various sequels following, including 3D Lemmings, Lemmings 2: The Tribes and, our personal favorite, Oh No! More Lemmings. Spin-offs also ensued, including the excellent platformer The Adventures of Lomax, among others. The game is rumored to be making a comeback as part of Sony's new mobile initiative for PS Vita, so we'll see where that goes. We just need to kill more of these suckers…
Many people think that Star Wars: Starfighter is the definitive space adventure series to go to when it comes to old-school gaming. To which we respond, "Um, no, we can think of something better." And that's none other than the Colony Wars trilogy, which really captivated back in its day on the original PlayStation. Creating thrilling new worlds along the same lines as Battlestar Galactica, the Colony Wars games also had great space shooting action, as well as a storyline and various missions that urged you to keep playing, even later in the night. The original game was a blast, and the follow-ups, Vengeance and Red Sun, were hardly anything to scoff at. It just saddens us that the game will never get a chance to shine in the next generation of games. Here's hoping Sony considers a re-release of the originals on PSN some day.
It's funny how a racing game can come out of nowhere in a launch line-up and really shake things up. In the 90's, when the PS One was just gaining its footing, Wipeout was able to establish a huge user base with its cool techno soundtrack, schnazzy visuals and riveting gameplay. Whether you were taking heavy boosts on an anti-gravity course or firing missiles to take the lead at the last minute, the game presented plenty of terrific racing opportunities. And the sequels have just been getting better over the years, including the underrated Wipeout Fusion on PS2 and Wipeout 64 on Nintendo 64. But there's one game lately that really stands out in the series. More on that in a second…
Shadow of the Beast
In 1989, Psygnosis managed to eke out a great side-scrolling series with the release of Shadow of the Beast. The game was a little more technically inclined than we were expecting from a side-scroller, but it managed to entertain with a solid premise, a higher difficulty setting and plenty of action. The game has since been released for multiple systems, including the Atari Lynx and the Turbo Duo, but most folks remember it fondly on the older PC's. Two sequels followed, but nothing came close to topping the original.