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Top 25 PS1 Games You Need to Own (#25 - #21)

Sony’s PlayStation was the poster console for video game systems that used the optical disc format—a success story that bumped cartridge-based consoles out of vogue and into gaming past. It also has some of the most fondly remembered games in its library. This week on GameZone, we’ll run down the list of our favorites and must-haves, arranged into sensible groups for your convenience. Below are our first five: the Platformers.

25) Ape Escape

Ape Escape didn’t monkey around; it meant business. The game was an important landmark: the first PS game to actually require a special DualShock analog controller for play. Its commercial success reserved it a spot in Sony’s “Greatest Hits” collection, and with a premise this original, it’s no wonder. Not every game equips players with a net and quirky gadget to chase after rebellious primates, but Ape Escape had us hooked—and cursing—every time the simians won.

24) Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

Namco’s side-scrolling platformer Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was an odd trinket for its time: a game that existed in essentially two and a half dimensions, otherwise referred to as a 2D game with polygons. The type, stuck halfway between ordinary 2D platforming and 3D world exploration, wasn’t very popular, but Namco gave Klonoa the oomph of 3D while keeping it rooted in 2D, allowing levels a longer creative leash and a little more slack. If you ever get your hands on this gem (starring an animal character with Pac-Man on his hat), consider yourself lucky—it’s a rare find.

23) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Symphony of the Night is also quite the collector’s item. When 3D gaming was all the rage, werewolves and vampires were still biting in retro 2D. The game was a critical entry in the series, opening up the prior level-by-level gameplay and sprinkling in some RPG elements. As the demon-killing hero Alucard, players could backtrack and investigate previously unlocked areas once they had more impressive powers under their belts. SotN later joined the Greatest Hits set of best-selling games on the PlayStation.

You can buy Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in the PSOne Classics section of the PlayStation Store.

22) Spyro the Dragon

Spyro and his dragonfly guardian, Sparx, sniffed out gems and freed imprisoned dragons in the first and very iconic Spyro the Dragon game, a platformer that involved burning sheep, headbutting rams, and gliding off cliff tops. Its musical score was one of the best of the era, with Stewart Copeland (once drummer for the band The Police) composing. Of course, the feisty dragon added an invaluable layer of personality to the game, which wouldn’t have been as remarkable without it.

Glide over to the PS Store for the game.

Close Second: We can’t forget Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (also available in the Store). The game had us riding polar bears and surfing on mine-infested waters, and it wasn’t uncommon to see Crash and Spyro back-to-back on game covers and manuals in their day, promoting each other’s work. Stay tuned for more Crash later this week, when we put the spotlight on another notable PS1 game.

21) Tomba!

Like Ape Escape, Tomba! (from the noggin’ of Tokuro Fujiwara, who made Ghosts ’n Goblins and Mega Man) took early advantage of the capabilities of the DualShock controller. On a fleck of islands, the pink-haired Tomba set out to trap seven evil Koma pigs and reclaim his grandfather’s bracelet. The game appeared on PlayStation demo discs but never sold well, and its notoriously poor circulation has earned it an elite status with collectors, who are willing to pay $300 for a mint copy. As with Klonoa, if you see it, grab it.

Stop by tomorrow for our next set of five must-own PS1 games: the Fighters and Racers.

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