Top 10 best PSP games

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It feels like the success of the PSP has been somewhat forgotten. Maybe it's because the PS Vita has been out for several years now and sadly never found itself in the hands of enough gamers. However, that shouldn't detract from the amazing history of the PSP.

Sony's first handheld was released in 2004 in Japan, then a year later in North America, and a few months later in Europe. Without overstating it, the PSP was a runaway success. Sony has a history of supporting its devices long after they've been succeeded, or at least had their day in the sun, and the PSP was no exception. There are still some PSP games coming out in Japan.

The PlayStation Portable sold somewhere around 82 million units. 82 MILLION UNITS. To put that into perspective, the PS3 and Xbox 360 clocked in at around 84, the NES at 63 million, the SNES 49 million, the Xbox 24 million, and the Wii U 10 million. The PSP was a massive success for Sony, and rightfully so.

One of the major reasons why it was a success is actually something Sony didn't plan for and actively tried to counteract: emulation. The PSP is an incredibly easy system to emulate games on and so once this fact was realized and shared, millions of people began buying the handheld so that they could play Nintendo games, as well as PS One classics.

That's not to take away from the genuinely phenomenal library of games on the PSP. And, as we all know, games are the primary reason anyone buys a console. If you were to pick up a PSP today, which I don't recommend (cause PS Vita is 10X better), you would have about 1000 games to play. And quite a few UMD movies to watch as well.

Anyway, let's get on with the show. Hit next and find out what 10 games made the list, as well as some honorable mentions, and learn what made them so special!

10. Tekken Dark Resurrection

While it might look pretty darn rough around the edges, literally, I recall being blown away by the graphic fidelity of Tekken Dark Resurrection on the PSP. Basically a port of Tekken 5, Dark Resurrection was an amazing PSP game that somehow effortlessly translated arcade action onto a handheld.

Tekken Dark Resurrection brought all of the great fighting action to the PSP and also some mini-games and a surprisingly great multiplayer. While being basically a straight a port, the PSP version added some new moves, new music, a cleaner interface and every character is available from the outset. It's what we now call a "Definitive Edition."

Yes, this game has a host of awesome features and it looks good but ultimately the basic fighting mechanics are what make it great. Tekken has always been one of the very best fighting games, mechanically a personal favorite, and it's represented stunningly well here.

New modes, new characters (the slow-but-powerful Dragunov and the speedier mash-friendly Lili), incredible graphics, and plenty of other add-ons not only make Tekken a fantastic fighting experience, but one hell of a great PSP game as well.                                                                                          -IGN

9. OMG-Z

Even though it was just a PSN Mini, OMG-Z was a devilishly clever and addictive game that was perfect on the PSP.

Created by Laughing Jackal, OMG-Z is a game in which you cause mass bloodbaths by shooting a particular zombie and setting off a chain reaction. Different zombies offer different rewards so each shot counts and makes each level feel fairly different.

The gameplay is simple yet effective, and the black and white art makes the blood all the more vibrant, creating a game that is as stylish as it is addictive.

All of this adds up to a monstrously addictive quick-fire affair that utterly nails what on-the-go handheld gaming should be about.

                                                                                                -Eurogamer

8. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Any list of PlayStation games would be far from complete if it didn't have at least one Grand Theft Auto among the ranks. Without doubt, GTA: Liberty City Stories is well worth a place on the list.

It's still baffling to me how this thing even fit on the PSP, I mean, it's a giant game and it looks really good, too. Rockstar could have easily ported GTA III to the handheld but they made a brand new game that looked every bit as good -maybe better- and created a whole new story. It's a technical marvel and a pure joy to play.

This game highlighted Sony's dedication to making the PSP a great platform with some highly impressive games. Getting one of the world's biggest developer, Rockstar, to make an original game that was only on its handheld showed belief and support that made gamers believe in the system. It's a pity such intense support never occurred on the PS Vita; a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Stories, or Grand Theft Auto: Roman Belic Stories could have been a literal game changer for the handheld.

Regardless of all that, Liberty City Stories is an amazing game that is still fun today. It was eventually surpassed by its predecessor which, sadly, does not make the list. Go figure.

One of the best handheld games I have ever played, hands down... This is the type of game that changes the definition of a handheld.
                                                                                  - Next Level Gaming

7. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lion

Even though it was originally released in 1997, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lion was updated and ported to the PSP and fit perfectly on the handheld.

This classic game was brought to the PSP but brought with it a whole host of new features, such as new CG cutscenes, a pretty 16:9 widescreen display, new jobs, story tweaks, and a multiplayer mode.

War of the Lion, much like every other FF Tactics game, was an intense, grinding experience that took a lot of time and dedication to properly get into and master. But once you mastered the systems and were able to play against others in multiplayer modes, this version really shined and overtook the original.

Combine its lengthy single-player experience with the new co-op and head-to-head modes, and you can’t help but love this classic reborn.

                                                                                         - Game Informer

6. WipeOut Pure

Not only is WipeOut Pure one of the best looking games on the PSP but it perfectly distills the fast-paced, arcade action of the classic PlayStation series onto a handheld.

Pure introduced new vehicle types, an awesome soundtrack, and lots of new levels that reintroduced the series and reminded us why we loved it as much as we did. WipeOut has always been an assault on the senses and this iteration managed to convey that on a much smaller screen.

A handful of new gameplay tweaks, new hovercraft racing classes and a PSP-worthy visual overhaul make WipeOut Pure the best installment in the series since 1996's WipeOut XL.

                                                                                             - PSX Nation

5. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Are you currently obsessed with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? Well, this is where it came from. This was literally the last game Kojima worked on before starting production on MGS V and a ton of the ideas put forth in Peace Walker are evident in V. This isn't just conjecture of educated guessing, the game literally started out as MGS V, as outed in 2010 by Kotaku.

Peace Walker took many people by surprise. Releasing 2 years after MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, Peace Walker emphasized gameplay and resource management over story and cutscenes, much the same way The Phantom Pain does.

Additionally, Peace Walker had a great single-player campaign, which laid the groundwork for the story in MGS V. On top of that, it also had a deep multiplayer component with 6 modes. Basically, the standard Metal Gear game would not have worked on a handheld, largely due to the cutscenes and slow gameplay, Peace Walker was built around resource-management and quick missions, perfect for a handheld.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is as ambitious PSP game, and a worthy follow-up to previous entries. Snake is back, and with Hideo Kojima exploiting our political apprehension and love for espionage thrillers, Peace Walker easily offers one of the best experiences on Sony's handheld.

                                                                               - PlayStation Universe

4. Lumines

This is pretty much the kind of game many of you are playing on Facebook or on your phone these days. However, rewind to 2005 and neither of those things were even remotely common. Games like Lumines were perfect on the PSP then.

Lumines was a launch game on the PSP and the first title from developer Q Entertainment. It's an evolution of Tetris and it has that same relaxing quality that allows you to switch your brain off and just play something challenging but enjoyable. Lumines is also accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack and equally trippy backgrounds that assault your senses, furthering the experience. It's the perfect blend of a difficult puzzle game that is fun and addictive, a hard blend to find.

Like waves crashing onto a white sandy beach, it's a spectacular elemental fusion that lulls you into a zen-like state, a type of serenity that relaxes your body as well as your mind as you peacefully walk its shores. An artistic achievement and a must buy, Lumines is therapy for the soul.

                                                                                                     - Modojo

3. Shin Megami Tensai: Persona 3 Portable

If you're a PlayStation fan, or a JRPG fan, I'm sure you've heard of the Persona series. Or at least Persona 4 Golden - largely considered the best PS Vita game - but you might not be as acutely aware of it's phenomenal predecessor, Shin Megami Tensai: Persona 3 Portable.

As is always the case in the series, you play as a teenager in school and must work with your secret club to rid the school of impending doom and evil things, using your Persona. The Persona series has become increasingly popular over the years and it fits perfectly on Sony's handhelds. Persona 3 is a port of the PS2 game, but it contained plenty of new features, most notably the ability to choose a male or female protagonist.

These games somehow marry teenage drama and relationships with grand deception and murder, and wrap it all in a charming, wacky Japanese bow.

Persona 3 Portable is one of the strongest games in the PSP catalogue, and a shining example of a role-playing game done right.

                                                                                             - Gamervision

2. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Like I said earlier, these lists always feature at least one GTA game, usually two, and so here we are with Chinatown Wars. While I might have personally picked Vice City Stories over this particular installment, there's no denying that Rockstar's return to the top-down perspective was a smash-hit. However, comparing it to Rockstar's humble beginnings is a bit harsh, this game is a great combination of the retro and modern GTA.

The basic formula is there; steal cars, shoot people, blow stuff up, and generally cause chaos while making money. The fact that Rockstar managed to squeeze a 3D Liberty City onto the PSP in Liberty City Stories means that this game is just a little less technically impressive, but still a very big world with attention to detail and fairly smooth graphics.

Everything you'd expect to find in a GTA game can be found in Chinatown Wars: 6-star police chases, Ammu-Nation's filled with guns, races, and a ton of missions. As a first for the series you can lower your wanted level by smashing cop cars (without killing them inside), you can also replay missions and get better scores, as well as skip the journey to the mission should you fail it - small but welcome additions. Basically, this is Grand Theft Auto on a handheld with tight controls, funny characters, and, most importantly, awesome gameplay.

Chinatown Wars is a beautiful blend of the modern 3D games with the pick-up-and-play appeal of the '90s original.

                                                          - PlayStation: The Official Magazine

Honorable Mentions:
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
  • Ridge Racer
  • Resistance Retribution
  • Patapon
  • MediEvil: Resurrection 
  • Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
  • Little Big Planet
  • Burnout Legends
  • Ratchet & Clank Size Matters
  • God of War: Ghost of Sparta
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
  • Daxter
  • Valkyria Chronicles II
  • Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow
1. God of War: Chains of Olympus

This is as epic, beautiful and jaw-dropping as PSP games get, and that's why it ranks above all else. Epic is a word that has become synonymous with the God of War series because, quite frankly, it's the only word that truly encapsulates it. And amazingly, Ready At Dawn (Daxter, The Order: 1886), managed to translate that onto the PSP.

Even though it isn't quite as huge as its console brethren, Chains of Olympus is a prequel that weaves a narrative more subtle and emotional than any other instalment. Anyone who says Kratos is a bland character or one with no personality has clearly not played Chains of Olympus. That's not to say he doesn't do his fair share of screaming and smashing in the PSP title, it just means you learn to love the man underneath the ash.

As alluded to, Chains of Olympus is a pretty stunning game. It looks almost, almost, as good as the PS2 versions of the game, which cannot be understated. Which makes me sad we haven't gotten a GOW game on the Vita. Regardless, this game is a testament to the power of the PSP and the sheer quality of games on the system.

The PSP hasn’t yet seen a game with this much polish, this much visual punch, or this much bloody satisfaction. Everything feels meaty, be it the clash of weapon on flesh or the substantial amount of gameplay depth and environmental design. Not only is Chains of Olympus a worthy addition to the God of War franchise, it also stands on its own as a triple-A title in the PSP library.

- G4 TV

And boom goes the dynamite! That's the 10 (plus honorable mentions) best PSP games. Some of the games in the list were launch titles for the system, and some were right at the tail end of the systems life - meaning the PSP had amazing games from 2005 right through to 2010, few systems can say it had such great launch games.

The PSP had a remarkable 6-10 years on the market, depending on whether or not you see the release of the Vita as the end of its cycle. It faired better than I imagine many critics would have pegged it to and produced some very memorable games. The same can be said of the PS Vita, but that's a list for another time (soon though).

I loved my time with the PSP, and I wasn't one of the many who hacked it (I didn't even know that was possible until this year). I had to put some of my personal favorites into the honourable mention list, including MediEvil Resurrection, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, and Resistance: Retribution among many others.

I have very fond memories of the system and Sony obviously made some missteps with it, including the UMD discs, but that's not what we think of when we look back. Thankfully, we look back on the PSP as one of the best handheld devices ever made and one that left a truly great legacy.

Published Oct. 14th 2015

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