There are many who say that Sony should re-enter the handheld gaming market. Thanks to the success of the PSP (and, to a lesser extent, the cult popularity of the PlayStation Vita), many gamers clamour for a return to the halcyon days of Sony’s first handheld and its hardcore alternative to the more family-friendly DS. We’re not sure if Sony would make any inroads in the modern handheld market, dominated as it is by Nintendo and smartphones, but the PSP remains a titan of gaming history. Here, in no particular order, are the top 25 PSP games of all time.
1. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Let it never be said that a full-scale Metal Gear experience can’t be squeezed into a handheld. Hideo Kojima apparently referred to Peace Walker as “Metal Gear Solid 5” internally, and looking at the finished product’s scope, it’s hard to disagree. Peace Walker’s mission-based structure, base-building elements, and focus on Big Boss were all precursors to what would actually become Metal Gear Solid V.
2. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Final Fantasy Tactics is an undisputed strategy classic, but the PlayStation version of the game is a little rough. That’s where War of the Lions comes in. This updated PSP re-release cleans up the translation, adds widescreen support, and tweaks some of the more unforgiving elements of Tactics, making this the definitive version of the Final Fantasy series’ most successful experiment to date.
3. Mega Man Powered Up
This adorable little game is a remake of the original NES platformer, so it has all of the same enemies and weapons. What is new, though, is a rather cute (if divisive) new art style, as well as tuned-up controls and other improvements. Powered Up unfortunately didn’t sell as well as Capcom was hoping for, which means we never got a Powered Up 2. Hey, it’s never too late to appreciate this masterpiece!
4. Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters
Don’t listen to the title; size absolutely doesn’t matter. Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters manages to pack a full-sized Ratchet and Clank adventure into the relatively modest dimensions of the PSP, cramming in more levels, weapons, and enemies than should be fair for a console with specs like the PSP’s. If you love Ratchet and Clank, you should definitely give this one a try.
5. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is actually two games in one: you’re getting a remake of Rondo of Blood and a full port of the legendary Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Either one of these games on its own would be worth the price of admission. The main game is a tightly-designed platforming gem, while Symphony of the Night helped to codify the current trend for open-ended exploration in gaming.
6. God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Both Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus represent excellent core God of War experiences. This isn’t the brooding, penitent Kratos of the 2018 “requel”; it’s the seething, rage-filled monster that revelled in the early games’ astonishingly violent battles. As Kratos, Ghost of Sparta allows you to experience a virtually uncompromised version of the PS2 games’ action-adventure blend on your handheld.
If the more action-heavy stylings of Jak 2 and 3 didn’t appeal to you, then you may wish to take a look at Daxter. It’s a return to the classic platforming of the original Jak and Daxter game (for the most part, anyway) and features everyone’s favourite little ottsel cheekily acting out iconic scenes from movies and other pop culture moments. The platforming is as smooth and tight as ever, too.
Patapon spawned two sequels on the PSP, both of which are also worth a look if you like this game. It’s a cutesy mixture of strategy and rhythm game in which you must guide the titular Patapon through lands filled with danger. To do so, you’ll need to tell them which dances to use to pass obstacles and defeat enemies, with the PSP’s face buttons corresponding to different dance inputs. It’s as fun as it is quirky.
The LocoRoco series leveraged the vivid display of the PSP to great effect. At their core, these games are platformers, but they’re more about exploiting momentum than leaping from surface to surface. You are the titular LocoRoco, who can join together to create a single huge entity. You must tilt the level so that the LocoRoco can reach their destination, squeezing through tight gaps and leaping across chasms along the way.
10. Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
Taking place before the events of the iconic Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core revolves around Zack, an extremely capable SOLDIER agent. Unlike VII, Crisis Core is an action RPG, so battles have a more kinetic and exciting feel to them. It’s also got a mission-based structure, so you can easily pick it up, play for a few minutes, and put it down again.
11. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
If you love stealth games like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, then Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is an essential addition to your PSP library. It’s a third-person stealth shooter that follows long-time series protagonist Gabe Logan as he uncovers another sinister tech conspiracy. With a wide variety of weapons to use and environments to explore, Dark Mirror is a must if you’re a stealth aficionado.
Lumines’ blend of rhythm and puzzle gameplay is so satisfying, it’s almost bound to put you in a trance. Blocks appear, and you must match them to make them disappear, but you’ve got to do it to the beat. From this simple setup comes hours of addictive fun as you enter a Zen-like flow state, matching blocks and feeling the music course through your body.
13. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is a huge improvement over the first instalment, featuring an expanded roster and better single-player gameplay. It’s a stylish 3D fighter in which you can pit legends from the Final Fantasy series against one another, but now, it’s also a surprisingly accomplished single-player RPG with a whole world to explore. This game is a must for any Final Fantasy lover.
14. FIFA 09
The PSP is not well-known for its football library, and that’s perhaps for the best…with one exception. FIFA 09 features fully licensed teams from the 2008-2009 season, and it’s got hugely improved mechanics over the last instalment, too. Players have more realistic collision detection and the physics overall feel like they’ve received a boost, but otherwise, it’s FIFA on your PSP. What’s not to like?
15. Persona 3 Portable
For our money, the PS2’s expanded Persona 3 FES is the definitive way to experience this slice-of-life RPG. However, if you’re determined to play on PSP, Persona 3 Portable is an excellent version of the game. While it doesn’t have the fully 3D exploration of its PS2 cousin, it does have a protagonist of customisable gender, as well as several new Social Links and other extras.
16. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
What’s going on in the wider Kingdom Hearts timeline? Only the truly hardcore fans really know the answer to that question, but either way, Birth By Sleep is a great action RPG on the PSP. It stars Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, and is set around ten years before the onset of the first Kingdom Hearts game. You’ll explore several iconic Disney worlds, taking part in the series’ characteristic acrobatic combat as you do so.
17. Secret Agent Clank
Clank, Ratchet’s adorable robot companion, gets his own PSP game in the form of Secret Agent Clank. It’s an accomplished little platformer full of gadgets to use, enemies to use them on, and levels to explore. You’ll also see the return of Ratchet, of course, as well as Clank’s old friends, the Gadgebots. Slightly dull stealth QTE sequences aside, this is a worthy addition to the PSP’s library.
18. Valkyria Chronicles II
The Valkyria Chronicles series might be one of the most unlikely franchises of all time. At least, that’s what you’ll think until you actually play one, at which point you’ll almost certainly be converted. They’re tactical strategy RPGs in which you must manoeuvre characters and aim their weapons yourself, giving them a more on-the-ground feel to bird’s-eye games like Fire Emblem. Valkyria Chronicles II transposes this addictive action to the PSP, so give it a look if you like strategy RPGs.
19. Gran Turismo
Despite what the name may suggest, this isn’t a remake of the original PS1 Gran Turismo title. Rather, it’s a game developed from the ground up for the PSP, although it doesn’t feel like anything has been left behind in the transition. This game has all the cars, tracks, and modes you’d want from a PSP Gran Turismo game, although it does lack a traditional career mode.
20. Monster Hunter Freedom
It’s difficult to explain the appeal of the Monster Hunter series to those who either haven’t played them or don’t go in for multiplayer. At their core, though, these games are all about hunting huge monsters by using tactics and strategy to deduce their weak points. Monster Hunter Freedom brought this core gameplay loop to the PSP, featuring great graphics and a faithful translation of the series’ strengths.
The original LittleBigPlanet, released back in 2009, was Media Molecule’s first foray into the world of user-generated content. The PSP version featured a set of strong core levels, as well as a creator you could use to upload and showcase your creations around the world. Sadly, the servers are now closed, but that won’t stop you from playing the single-player game, which is still an excellent platformer.
22. Killzone: Liberation
The devs behind Killzone: Liberation knew that they couldn’t expect the series’ trademark blockbuster first-person shooter action to translate well to a handheld. This being the case, they turned it into a tense, well-constructed third-person stealth shooter instead. Liberation is tightly designed, lengthy, and challenging, and it ties directly into the ongoing Killzone canon as well.
23. Ape Escape: On The Loose
The Ape Escape franchise is criminally underrated. These games are great 3D platformers that use the PS1’s DualShock controller in an innovative way, and although the PSP version of the first game lacks that crucial tactility, it’s still an excellent game. You must hunt down and capture escaped monkeys (not apes, oddly enough) across a variety of levels, with most of the fun coming from how you locate them and coax them out of hiding.
24. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
We’re recommending this game with a strong caveat: it’s certainly not for everybody. The anime stylings of the plot could seem grating if you’re not immersed in that aesthetic, and the strategy RPG gameplay on offer is almost maddeningly deep and complex. If, however, you’re in the market for a zany story hiding oceans of depth, then Afternoon of Darkness should be your first port of call.
25. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories
We’re cheating a little here by including two games, but Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories are essentially two sides of the same coin. Incredibly, they contain exact replicas of both cities as they appeared in GTA III and Vice City, but they revolve around new protagonists, each of whom must establish and protect their own criminal empire while dealing with the madcap characters who threaten to destabilise it.