originals\ Sep 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Top 5 PSP RPGs

The PSP has - despite what some people insist - a seriously impressive library of great titles, especially RPGs. In fact, you could argue that the handheld has more quality role-playing games than the PS3 does. That's why it was so hard to narrow this list down to just five games. These five, however, represent the best of the best on the PSP - not the most hyped or the most overrated (hence the lack of both Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep). These games are consistent, well executed and unique - something that can't be said of many more popular titles on the PSP, and on other consoles, as well.

I also chose to omit solid but flawed games like Shiren the Wanderer, the Star Ocean remakes, Cladun, and Crimson Gem Saga because their appeal is a little too niche - and they don't really bring much new to the table, anyway. So that leaves these five. Enjoy!

5. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite - Capcom

While the Monster Hunter series is admittedly bigger in Japan, its popularity in other countries is growing as well - and for good reason. The steep learning curve is well worth overcoming, and the sheer amount of content in this game is absurd. If you're into this sort of thing, at least. What feels plodding to some is simply methodical to Monster Hunter fans. Think a portable Demon's Souls, but with more accessible multiplayer. You'll spend hours on a single hunt, taking it slowly at first, rushing in, dying, and trying all over again. The creatures you're up against are truly fearsome, but if you've got a few PSP-wielding friends on hand and a little patience, there's hardly a better portable title available.

4. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable - Atlus Co.

Persona 3 is one of the most unique JRPGs in recent memory, and it made quite a splash on the PS2 back in 2007. The portable version ups the ante in a few ways, like the inclusion of an all-new female lead - which alters a huge amount of the plot, considering the game is half dating sim - and the ability to take control of your teammates during battle, rather than having them on autopilot. The plot is as wacky as anything else out of Japan (a group of high school students shoot themselves in the head and battle demons in the secret hour that occurs just after midnight), but between the unique style, great music and addictive dating/combat mechanics, P3P is an incredibly charming title.

3. Jeanne D'Arc - Level 5

The strategy-RPG genre experienced a bit of a revival on the PSP between Jeanne D'Arc, the Disgaea series and Final Fantasy Tactics (which we'll get to in a minute), and Jeanne is definitely the most unique of the three. It concerns a fantastical version of Medieval France that's been invaded by the English, commanded by the demon-possessed Prince Henry VI. A pseudo-Joan of Arc heroine, empowered by an ancient, magical armlet with the power to seal the demons away again, must fight her way through embattled France and defeat the demon prince and his conniving, traitorous uncle. It's an epic fairytale told through gorgeous animated cut scenes, and the strategic, turn-based battles - while highly derivative of other games in the genre - are fun as hell. Overall, it's hard not to recommend Jeanne D'Arc.

2. Patapon 2 - Sony Computer Entertainment Japan

Now, before you try to tell me that Patapon is not an RPG, go look at the evolution map, a list of all the different equipment, or some of the various farming and grinding strategies. If those aren't tropes of the role-playing genre as it's currently understood, then I don't know what are. Now take those familiar elements and throw in Patapon's rhythmic strategy gameplay, sense of humor and beautiful visual flair, and you've got a serious gem on your hands. What starts out as a simple mix of Parappa the Rapper and Pocket God quickly becomes a challenging, thought-provoking strategy game with endearing little characters and a surprisingly deep, if extremely silly, plot. The replay value is immense for a game that seems so deceptively simple, especially given the multiplayer elements. It's one of the few games that rarely leaves my PSP rotation, and the third entry in the series is just over the horizon.

1. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions - Square Enix

I wish I could say P3P is the only re-hash on this list, but War of the Lions is simply too good to exclude. It's one of the few classic Final Fantasy titles that hasn't seen remake after remake, so the PSP version is far from overkill - in fact, it's the only way many modern gamers have been able to experience the daddy of all strategy RPGs. While it carries the Final Fantasy moniker, it's actually got little in common with other FF games. A meandering, complex story mixed with absolutely classic elements and some of the most well-thought out battles ever make War of the Lions a must-play for fans of RPGs, strategy games, portable games, and video games in general. Despite it being little more than a port of the original PS1 game, there's no PSP game I recommend higher than this.

Well, that's it. If you disagree with me (and I'm sure you do, or else you probably wouldn't have read this far), well, you know how to leave a comment.

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