Top 10 PSP Games Since Launch
The Nintendo DS may have sales numbers, but Sony's PSP has the third-party support. Not hindered by things like technical inferiority, developers are free to create console-scale games and take chances with new concepts without having to worry about console-scale costs. Below are 10 of the best PlayStation Portable games ever made, though it's by no means every amazing game available--we just didn't have room for a Top 20.
10. Crimson Gem Saga Publisher: Atlus Developer: IRONNOS Software Release Date: May 26, 2009 Read Full Review
The PSP is an endless abyss of all manner of RPGs, and yet only 2.5 of them made this list. The first being Crimson Gem Saga, a throwback to classic RPGs that isn’t exactly innovative in any particular way, yet manages to be the one rare game that does everything very well and has a certain charm that pushes it all over the top. It understands the experiences it’s paying homage to, and delivers a wholly worthwhile adventure in the process.
The 2D art is colorful and well-animated, and the battles are filled with plenty of epic special attacks and team combos. The move to four simultaneous party members (rather than the typical three) is an extremely welcome touch. Ultimately, there are many games similar to Crimson Gem Saga, but few of them rival the overall quality contained in this little treasure from Atlus.
9. Valkyria Chronicles II Publisher: Sega Developer: Sega Release Date: August 31, 2010 Read Full Review
Valkyria Chronicles is undoubtedly the game I had been waiting for on the PS3 (aside from Demon’s Souls). Sony may have tried to shove Resistance, Heavy Rain, and Heavenly Sword down the world’s collective throats, but Sega’s unexpected masterpiece is more original, more compelling, and more enjoyable than all of them combined. When the franchise switched from the PlayStation 3 to the PlayStation Portable, the home console’s loss was the handheld device’s gain.
Valkyria Chronicles II contains everything that made the first so undeniably wonderful, while focusing on new characters who attempt to juggle their responsibilities as military students and soldiers. New classes and customization options are included to keep things fresh, and although the combat is greatly satisfying, it’s the character interactions (on the battle and off) that make Valkyria Chronicles such a great game. This is one of those few classics that you race home from school or wake up early in the morning, just to put in an extra hour whenever you can.
8. LocoRoco Publisher: SCEA Developer: Japan Studio Release Date: September 5, 2008 Read Full Review
Katamari Damacy. Patapon. Pixeljunk. Sony platforms are no strangers to wacky oddities, but few of them touched upon the frenetic WTF-ness of LocoRoco. The music is immediately irresistible, and the roller coaster-ride gameplay keeps things moving along at a fast pace, even if you have no idea what the hell is going on. Although this quirky-yet-lovable style has been applied far and wide since LocoRoco’s initial success, the little blob faces and their Borg-like tendencies are still one of the most obnoxiously memorable to this day.
7. Rock Band Unplugged Publisher: EA / MTV Games Developer: Harmonix Release Date: June 9, 2009 Read Full Review
Although Guitar Hero may have put Harmonix on the mainstream map, it was a little game called Frequency for the PlayStation 2 that introduced them to music-loving gamers who knew a good thing when they heard it. Rock Band Unplugged took their monster plastic controller franchise and blended it with the classic Frequency gameplay. The rock-heavy soundtrack wasn’t on par with Frequency’s electronic lineup, but it did include Freezepop’s Less Talk More Rokk and a healthy supply of DLC.
Harmonix has always stated it would like to go back to its roots and revisit Frequency, and to all those who “liked them before they were cool,” Rock Band Unplugged was the best of both worlds. It also overshadowed any handheld Guitar Hero offerings in every way possible, outright making it the best music rhythm game for the PlayStation Portable.
6. Dracula X Chronicles Publisher: Konami Developer: Konami Release Date: October 23, 2007 Read Full Review
Konami is not known for going above and beyond with its ports. Even its new games, such as Castlevania HD for XBLA, are poorly-constructed messes that seem to be a smash-and-grab effort towards fans’ wallets before they can realize what hit them. So when Dracula X Chronicles was announced, there was reason to get excited. The game remade a previously unreleased (in the States) Castlevania title, Rondo of Blood, in glorious 2.5D graphics. The sound also received a crisp overhaul, but the gameplay and challenge remained painfully intact.
That alone may not be reason to land on a Top 10 list, but Dracula X Chronicles also included the complete sequel to Rondo of Blood; none other than Symphony of the Night, arguably the best--and undoubtedly the most influential--Castlevania game ever made. The SotN port include unique features such as the ability to play as Maria (previously only possible in Sega Saturn version), making it the definitive Castlevania bundle for those looking to bridge the old 8 and 16-bit entries to the more modern storylines.
5. Wipeout Pulse Publisher: Sony Studio Liverpool Developer: SCEA Release Date: February 12, 2008 Read Full Review
Wipeout Pure was one of the many quality launch titles for the PlayStation Portable, bringing with it a return to form for the flailing franchise. Pulse takes it several steps further, introducing modes from other Wipeout titles such as Eliminator and Zone (my personal favorite). The remnants of Psygnosis took the opportunity to revert Wipeout back to pure, unadulterated hovercraft racing with throbbing techno beats and futuristic visuals, and the end result was everything fans had been clamoring for. It’s rare that taking a few steps back can breathe new life into a game series, but when the original experience was so solid to begin with, sometimes a fresh coat of paint and a new soundtrack is all we need.
4. Lumines Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Q Entertainment Release Date: March 22, 2005 Read Full Review
Before the PSP hit store shelves, Tetsuya Mizuguchi was best known for his work on Sega Rally, Space Channel 5, and Rez. The new handheld gave him a low-cost venue to tackle some of his more high-risk concepts, and Lumines was born. Like his other projects, Lumines is a hybrid music puzzler - essentially Tetris for the modern generation - and it frakking rocks. The eclectic mix and fluctuating pacing is the perfect portable experience to just zone out on for hours before waking up in a dark alleyway somewhere South missing one of your internal organs.
3. Ridge Racer Publisher: Namco Developer: Namco Release Date: March 22, 2005 Read Full Review
Like with Wipeout, the creators of Ridge Racer saw the PSP as a chance to not only focus on everything that originally made the franchise so great, but to also act as an anthology. Taking 12 courses and 31 music tracks from five classic Ridge Racer titles, there was no better purchase for fans of high-speed drifting than this. Though Burnout Dominator and OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast are solid alternatives, the value of remixed nostalgia offered up in this excellent compilation contributed to one of the best launch lineups in video gaming history.
2. God of War series (tie) Publisher: SCEA Developer: Ready at Dawn Studios Release Date: March 4, 2008 / November 2, 2010 Read Full Review
I’ve never understood why the PlayStation Portable has been looked down upon in our industry; it started strong and has had more worthwhile titles than the PlayStation 3 during its lifespan. For proof, look no further than the God of War spin-offs, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, easily on par with any of the console games. Arguing over which is the superior adventure is futile, as they’re both roughly equal to each other. The outstanding visuals and sound design the series is known for is all preserved on the PSP, and even the stories have been given plenty of heft, fitting succinctly between numerical entries. As the original God of War proved that the PlayStation 2 still had plenty of fight left in it, these two games have shown just what the PlayStation Portable is truly capable of.
1. Persona 3 Portable Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release Date: July 6, 2010 Read Full Review
While God of War and other console-worthy games like Peacewalker are technically impressive, Atlus’ port of Persona 3, one of the best JRPGs ever made, overshadows them all in terms of sheer character and originality. Those that skipped out on the game the first time around will be treated to the unequivocal definitive version, adding unparalleled new features such as the ability to play as a female protagonist, a revamped battle system based on fan feedback, and new plot and Social Link changes, as well as new music and cutscenes. The addition of a female option alone practically doubles the game’s value.
For the uninitiated, Persona 3 is a unique RPG where players spend just as much time trying to survive life as a high school student as they do in Tartarus, the game’s dungeon world. It’s essentially like playing a really good anime, and if they doesn’t sound enticing, it’s actually a great deal of fun. Name any other game where you care more about going on dates or passing tests than leveling up your Personas (which are summoned by shooting yourself in the head, by the way). The game just has so much imagination and style, and the PSP version’s tweaks and additions make a great title a near-perfect one.