Xevious 3D/G+ is the most unexpected game I keep coming back to

I don't mean it's the rarest or least highly regarded, but rather the most difficult to explain.

Xevious 3D/G+ is a PlayStation 1 remake of an arcade classic. I picked it up off PSN about 3 years ago and I have played it every few months since then. What makes it weird is that while I had a PlayStation in the 90s I never had, or even knew about, this game. I also have no specific nostalgia for Xevious, the classic arcade shooter that it's a remake of, and while I like Shmups OK it's not like I'm a fiend for that genre. I don't even think Xevious 3D/G+ is a particularly good Shmup. Gamespot gave it a 6/10 when it was released and that seems about right to me. I have access to all the current systems and plenty of games so why do I return to this not particularly special and largely forgotten game 20 years after its release?

Well the answer is nostalgia, but not nostalgia for the game per se. Rather it's nostalgia for the PlayStation era as a whole. I had a PlayStation in high school and one of the things I loved about it was how much weird and quirky software there was. I rented and bought lots of random and long-forgotten games like One and The Unholy War, and I played even more on the many, many demo discs I picked up along with magazines. Jersey Devil, N20: Nitrous Oxide, Trap Gunner, Pong the Next Level, the PlayStation was full of random little games made by relatively small developers that didn't have a lot of polish or name recognition but had heart and were usually interesting if nothing else. N64s expensive cartridge costs meant that games had to be relatively mass market to justify their print runs, and Saturn was not popular enough in the US to get all the quirky stuff, but PlayStation's huge install base and cheap CD format meant that lots of these games were released for the system stateside.

Xevious 3D/G+ reminds me of my time discovering those games, and how much fun it was to boot up a demo or bargain bin PS1 disc and just see what the game was like. It is a VERY PlayStation 1 game, with lots of flat-shaded polygons and super PS1 specific menus, and so even though I could spend my time playing a better shooter like Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun, or one of the PlayStation games I actually enjoyed during the era (mostly huge mainstream hits like Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, and Tekken 2) they don't capture the spirit of the era like Xevious 3D/G+ does for me. Every time I boot the game up I feel like I'm back in my bedroom at 16 years old, discovering some new weird gem on an Official PlayStation Demo Disc, and that feeling keeps me coming back.

Pandemonium, a game that I also got off PSN and also did not own (but was aware of) during the PlayStation's initial run has much the same effect. I don't even like the game; it has stiff controls and weirdly long levels for a platformer, but I play it for many of the same reasons.

This is one of the reasons I've been so disappointed with the discontinuation of the Virtual Console and the fact that Sony shows no interest in bringing PS1 (or even, it seems, more PS2) games to the PS4. These old games remind me of a different time in my life, a different version of myself, and I loved having them easily accessible for purchase. Of course I could just emulate them on a Raspberry Pi or something, but I don't like the idea of piracy and there's something satisfying about browsing even an online story and selecting something to play, then forking over a few bucks for a copy. It reminds me of going to my old game store as a teen with a month's allowance in my pocket to pick out a new game to try. It's part of the experience.

But it seems like it's an experience that most people don't care about, so I will content myself with the games I picked up during the Seventh Generation, when it really seemed like gaming had discovered an answer to the age old question of preservation and official emulation was taken seriously. And I picked up a PlayStation Classic, even though it's bad, so I can play Intelligent Qube (A game I only had the demo for as a kid but played a lot of nonetheless) and so that maybe Sony will make another one with slightly more daring choices. And I'll hold out out hope that some day someone will try again to wrangle all these old games and put them online, or that the PolyMega will pan out and I will be able to hook it up to my current TV and buy old games off Ebay or whatever to satisfy my urge.

Until then I'll keep coming back to Xevious 3D/G+. It may be the weirdest game I frequently play but it gives me a feeling I can't get elsewhere. And that's worth the $6 I paid and a whole lot more.