PS1 vs. PS5: How Far have we come?

The PlayStation is one of the oldest and longest-lasting video game console brands, having originally been released in December 1994 in Japan with the PlayStation 1 (also called the PSX and the PlayStation One). The console has had a number of follow-ups, including handheld consoles like the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation Vita. The most recent PlayStation console, the PlayStation 5, was recently released in November 2020 – almost 17 years after the original. But how has the PlayStation changed?

The PlayStation brand of consoles has grown more powerful, and the games are virtually unrecognizable. The PS1 can handle upwards of 360,000 polygons per second, while the PS5 can handle an astonishing 8.9 billion polygons per second. The PS5 has additional processing power that allows it to do more.

But what is the best console between the PS1 and PS5?

PS1 vs. PS5

The PS1 was the start of one of the biggest video game brands, and has given us some of the greatest video games of all time. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil, and Tekken either brought new franchises to the field, or breathed new life into old franchises. It started in 1994 (1995 in the US), and it lasted an incredibly long time. The PS1 console only ended production in 2006, the same year of the PS3’s release, and Capcom released the final game in October 2006 for the PS1, called Strider Hiryu. Meanwhile, the PS5’s big advantage is that it can make games that are much bigger, and it has fewer limitations it has to worry about.

How much more powerful is the PS5 than the PS1?

As mentioned above, the difference in power between the PS1 and the PS5 is crazy, and people who grew up with the PS1 must be shocked by how far gaming has come. The PS1 launched with just an optical CD drive (fun fact, you can play music CDs on your PS1), but that’s nothing compared to the 4K Blu-ray drive. No more having to buy games that are 1,000 discs; now they will all fit on a single Blu-ray disc. Plus, using a solid state drive makes the PS5 load games incredibly fast, much faster than the slow load times of the PS1. Below is a list of specs for the PS1 and PS5:


  • Central Processing Unit (CPU): R3000 @ 33.8688 MHz
  • Memory: 2 MB RAM, 1 MB VRAM
  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): 32-bit Sony GPU
  • Audio: 16-bit Sony SPU


  • Central Processing Unit (CPU): 3.5GHz, 8-core AMD Zen 2
  • Memory: 16 GB/256-bit GDDR6 SDRAM 512 MB DDR4 RAM
  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): 10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU
  • Audio: “Tempest” 3D AudioTech

Does the PS5 have a better library than the PS1?

The PS5 is admittedly a relatively new console – not even two years old yet – which means that it has a smaller library of classics compared to a lot of other video game consoles. This will eventually change, and it will probably have a huge library (especially considering how popular it is), but right now, it might seem lacking, as all newer consoles do.

One of the biggest advantages that the PS5 has over the PS1 is the indie scene which has grown hugely over the past decade. One of the big problems that the PS1 faces is that Sony was pretty restrictive about the kinds of games that could be released for it, at least in terms of American releases. For example, did you know that Sony’s American division was restrictive on games, even if they were made by major companies like Capcom? Sony wanted to restrict 2D games in particular, and only relented on certain games when the publisher threatened that they might not make games for PlayStation if they did not allow their games in the US. In particular, Capcom threatened not to release Resident Evil on PS1 This is how we got games like Mega Man X4, for instance, despite it being 2D.

The reason why Sony was so reticent to have 2D games on the PS1 in North America is due to the interest in advancing 3D games. The bias against 2D by Sony’s American division did not, unfortunately, stop this practice during the PS2 era. For example, Metal Slug 3, the excellent run-and-gun shooter, was not allowed in the United States, due to being 2D. They also declined Capcom’s Viewtiful Joe, a 2D beat ’em up, because they felt that it was not a good demonstration of the PlayStation 2’s technical capabilities. Thankfully, this kind of behavior eventually died out, especially since Sony began to deal with more competition, thanks to the success of Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox.

What games can the PS5 play?

The PlayStation 5 has a decent lineup, but one of the best features about it is the fact that you can play the PlayStation 4’s library as well. For some games, you can even get both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game just by buying one version or the other.

The PS1 is only capable of playing games made for it, mainly due to the fact that it is the first of its kind, although it wouldn’t be the first time that a console had a way to play games from competing consoles. For example, Sega’s Dreamcast had an unauthorized, unofficial method of playing PS1 games, called Bleem! This, however, did not last long, as Sony put the kibosh on it. Meanwhile, the PS5 is capable of playing both PS4 and PS5 games, meaning that it had a ton of games you could play at launch. Granted, if you already owned a PS4, this would not matter as much, but if the PS5 is your first console, you’re eating well.

How much more expensive is the PS5 compared to the PS1?

Console prices in general have been increasing over time, though not linearly. For example, the PS3 was the most expensive mainstream PlayStation console, with the original price being $599. This price point got a lot of flak for Sony, especially since former CEO Ken Kutaragi commented that people would get two jobs to afford it. This came off as extremely callous, especially one year later, following the recession that occurred in 2007. This man is a former CEO for multiple reasons, but this one was one of the biggest dings to his reputation. Thankfully, Sony has seen reason when it comes to pricing, and the PlayStation 4 launched at a whopping $200 cheaper. But what did the PlayStation 5 cost at launch?

The PS5 was either $399 or $499 at launch, depending on the model you choose. The prime difference between the two PS5 models is the disc drive. The cheaper PS5 model can’t play physical games, requiring you to only play digital games with it. The $499 PS5, meanwhile, is capable of playing both digital and physical, regardless of whether they are PS4 or PS5 games. The PS5 is not very likely to drop in price soon, especially considering the fact that it feels impossible to even find a PS5. Seems like if you don’t buy a PS5 within seconds of the console going on sale, you’re going to miss out on it.

The PS1, meanwhile, was actually surprisingly expensive, considering it was 17 years ago. At launch, the PS1 was $299, and the PS2 launched at the same price point.

Can you still get a PS1 today?

There are multiple ways you can experience the PS1 game library. If you are a PS4 or PS5 owner, for instance, you can get access to a rich library of PS1 classics by subscribing to a certain PS Plus tier. Across various tiers, PS Plus offers multiple types of PS games, including PS1 games. You can still buy used PS1 and PS2 consoles that can play PS1 discs, and you can even play PS1 on PS3, PSP, and PS Vita, either digitally or physically (though digital PS1 games have only a limited selection). A PS1 miniature console was released recently, although the quality is somewhat dubious. It’s cute for the novelty, at least, although modders have managed to find value in the device (which is surprisingly capable in this sense).

What are the best PS1 vs. PS5 games?

Now, let’s talk about some of the best PS1 games vs. the best PS5 games. After all, when the chips are on the table, the best games a console has to offer will be the ultimate deciding factor.

Best PS1 games

Ape Escape

Ape Escape does not get as much love as Crash Bandicoot or Super Mario 64, but it made pretty big splashes on its own. It was one of the best uses of the DualShock controller at the time, with each item using the right stick. The monkeys you need to capture require the use of a net, which you swing by moving the right stick. Other items include a copter you fly with by spinning the stick, and a monkey detector that you aim with the stick. It’s also one of the most novel collectathon, with each monkey being a unique and interesting challenge to capture.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Thank goodness Sony did not get its way with the handling of 2D games, because otherwise we would miss out on one of the most classic PS1 games of all time. This is one of the earliest examples of a Metroidvania, mixing exploration elements found in Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with Castlevania’s world and aesthetics. Dracula’s Castle was absolutely massive, and it was great to see how it opened up compared to previous Castlevania games. The game also has an awesome twist in the middle – it’s well-known, but if you haven’t heard of it, go check it out for yourself before you’re spoiled!

Chrono Cross

While Chrono Cross is a pretty divisive sequel to the Super NES game Chrono Trigger, over the years, Chrono Cross has gained a pretty huge following. The game is noted for having a pretty convoluted story and strange gameplay, but despite these downsides, the story is memorable and the game is wonderful to play. Chrono Cross has 45 playable characters in total, and requires multiple routes to get all of them. However, if ever there was something to play Chrono Cross for, it would be the amazing music and visuals. Chrono Cross’ soundtrack is still considered one of the best examples of PS1 music.

Final Fantasy VII

No surprise that this ended up here, considering how iconic a game Final Fantasy VII was for the PS1. While it’s obviously not the first Final Fantasy game, it was the first one that many experienced in this illustrious series. You take the role of Cloud Strife, a mercenary working to fight a corrupt government that is destroying the environment for profit, alongside characters like Tifa Lockhart, Barret Wallace, and Aerith Gainsborough. Perhaps the most iconic of Final Fantasy VII, however, is the bitter rivalry between Cloud and Sephiroth, the game’s main antagonist. There’s a reason why Final Fantasy VII is still regarded as one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

Final Fantasy Tactics

While we didn’t want to include too much of one game on this list, we felt it important to include what is arguably the most popular strategy game for the PS1. Final Fantasy Tactics involves a deep story and even deeper gameplay, introducing the genre of strategy RPGs to a lot of Final Fantasy fans while challenging them further than VII ever did. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan and want to try something new for the series, we cannot recommend playing this game enough.

Metal Gear Solid

While Metal Gear Solid was not the first entry in the series (going all the way back to the 80s), Metal Gear Solid is when it became so wildly popular. A rich combination of an elaborate, cinematic story, engaging stealth gameplay, and iconic characters ensures that this game is still relevant to this day. It’s unfortunate that the series has been going through what it’s going through these days though, with creator Hideo Kojima moving on to greener pastures. But even if you’ve beaten MGS, you can try challenge runs – like trying to beat it with the fewest kills.

PaRappa the Rapper

Rhythm games have become a huge genre over the years, but back on the PlayStation, the genre was relatively rare. One of the earliest examples is PaRappa the Rapper, a short-but-sweet rap rhythm game starring the eponymous PaRappa. If we had to pick a word to describe it, it would have to be “loose.” Players could get pretty wild with their timing, and the game even requires you to add your own spin to it in order to get the best score. Few rhythm games have done what it’s done, at least not as interestingly.

Best PS5 games

Elden Ring

We could hardly make this list without including what is arguably the best game released in years, could we? Ever since they released the original Demon’s Souls for PlayStation 3, From Software has been making hit after hit based on their formula, with the most recent being Elden Ring. Elden Ring sets the formula in an open world, meaning that where Souls put you on a relatively strict path in the story, Elden Ring gives you tons of freedom to explore however you like. Nevertheless, expect it to be quite the brutal challenge as always.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

No way can we do a comparison of these consoles without comparing the two different versions of Final Fantasy VII on each. While these games have a lot of the same characters and the same setting, there are so many things that differentiate them. The most notable aspect is the focus: instead of being a full remake of Final Fantasy VII and turn-based, this game allows you to move around freely in battle, and does not even cover half the original game, with the remaining parts on the way. Still, they do a ton of great work to make even this small section of the original game feel like a fully realized story.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Role-playing games can manifest in a wide variety of ways, and Disco Elysium is one of the most interesting, at least in recent years. This game is based more on western tabletop rules than a Japanese role-playing game, putting you in control of an amnesiac man who is, as far as everyone else says, a police officer investigating a murder case. The game is both one of the most political games you’ll ever play, but also one of the best-written ones. The premise basically asks, “what kind of cop are you?”


Hades made a huge splash, coming to a variety of platforms. Arguably one of the best roguelike games, this game puts you in control of Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to climb out of the Underworld – against Hades’ wishes. Not only does each run feel fresh (and frighteningly difficult), but each run has you growing just a little stronger than you were beforehand. A great game if you prefer a roguelike that has the ability for the protagonist to grow stronger.

Hitman 3

The new series of Hitman games has been an absolute banger, bringing back a franchise that had been in a rough shape until 2016. The new design philosophy, having open worlds with many ways for Agent 47 to take out his target. You can kill as many people as you want without losing, but the game certainly rewards you for discretion. The open world also does a lot of good for people easily stressed by stealth games.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

If you are a fan of the Yakuza franchise, it is important to know that Yakua: Like a Dragon is a very different game from other entries. Where the other Yakuzas typically follow Kazuma Kiryu and are beat ’em up adventures, this follows an all new cast of characters in a genre new to Yakuza: RPGs. Despite dropping ‘7’ in English, it still keeps it in Japan, making it a proper, mainline sequel. If you liked the Yakuza franchise’s world and writing, this is sure to be right up your alley.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

While this is not nearly one of the biggest games on the PS5, we think it deserves all the shoutouts. This game is brimming with creativity, fun, and despite its cute aesthetic, it gets into extremely heavy topics in a more mature way than a lot of games rated ‘M’ have done. Chicory examines very real, serious topics with an adorable art style. You can also do local multiplayer if you want to have a partner to paint with.

Which is a better console between PS1 and PS5?

Ultimately, whether you prefer PS1 or PS5 will depend on what you want to get out of it. If you enjoy games, and have a lot of fun with retro games, the PS1 is an easy win here. The PS1 has a lot of classic games, including Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, and Dragon Warrior VII. But the PS5 is no slouch when it comes to video games either. If you get a PS5, you can have some great experiences, like Elden Ring, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and more. But one of the best things about the PS5 is how many libraries can be accessed through it.

PS5 being backwards compatible, allows you to play both digital and physical PS4, but also PS1, PS2, and PS3 games on the cloud through PS Plus. Additionally, PS4 versions of PS2 games can also be played on it. If you are looking for the most bang for your buck, getting the PS5 with the highest tier of PS Plus will be your best bet. But if we are talking about the PS1 and PS5’s exclusive libraries, so long as you have a taste for retro games, the PS1 is definitely the winner.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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