Many people use video game reviews to determine how to spend their hard-earned dollars. While as an adult I don’t take this as seriously and I now make my own money I am more forgiving of games that aren’t perfect. As kids or teens, we have limited money and are usually picked through gaming magazines to determine if that one game was worth the money because we only got a few a year. For me, it was only during Christmas time that my parents bought games. I mostly rented mine throughout my childhood and teen years. Even for rentals, I was picky as I didn’t want to be stuck on my weekend with a dud of a game. Even a 7/10 or 3.5/5 would be considered a waste of time. Throughout the early 2000s, I had a PS2 exclusively and I was stuck with that system. This was the last generation in which AAA title after AAA title would be considered fantastic and with so many exclusives it was hard to keep up with. The HD era of gaming would see budgets balloon to insane heights and game releases slowed down as a result.
In my eyes, 7/10 or 3.5/5 games are mostly ignored. These aren’t always considered hidden gems either. Some are, but some are just considered forgettable. Not awful or good, but just passes under everyone’s radar. These aren’t the “so bad it’s good” type of games either. A few of these games have cult followings while a few I had only heard of while compiling this list and some I played myself growing up. I compiled this list from Metacritic with games between 74-70. I feel that’s the true blue 7 range. 79 and 78-rated games usually only have about 25% of the critics giving it a 7 to bring an otherwise 8 score down some. These games are at least rated by half the critics as 7/10. While I know a lot of people don’t listen to critics and some might feel this game should be rated higher or lower is subjective. Like it or not, critic reviews drive sales and it may be the reason why you might find a few games on this list you’ve never heard of, thought was talked about worse than you remember, or something along those lines.
Radiata Stories – 2005
This game was liked for its sense of humor and almost parody of the genre, but the weak story and repetitive side quests brought the game down some. The series would see a spiritual successor on the DS.
Most Recent Entry: Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology – 2017 (3DS)
Smash Court Tennis: Pro Tournament – 2002 Smash Court Tennis: Pro Tournament 2 – 2004
The game was liked for its realism and decent visuals but was let down by a lack of content. It had a lot of different shot types and a fun career mode, but that’s about it. It wasn’t as good as Virtua Tennis or Mario Tennis. After three entries Namco scrapped the series.
The game was praised for its imaginative design and graphics, but it felt like a bit of a chore to play sometimes. All around rough around the edges, but charming enough to keep you engaged.
EverQuest Online Adventures – 2003
This era of console MMOs had growing pains. Consoles finally had broadband access but lacked storage space to store large open worlds and stream them. While Final Fantasy XI saw major success others wanted to cash in on that. EverQuest was a valiant attempt, but felt dumbed down and streamlined with repetitive quests. The servers shut down in 2012, but you can still play with fan servers.
Genji: Dawn of the Samurai – 2005
Being released late in the console’s life meant people expected great things out of the system. Genji looked good but felt rough around the edges and slightly clunky. It didn’t do any one thing particularly well, but it wasn’t bad either. The series would see one final entry to show the power of the PS3 and that would be lights out for the series due to poor sales.
Most Recent Entry: Genji: Days of the Blade – 2006 (PS3)
Steambot Chronicles – 2006
A very late release on the PS2, Steambot was praised for its customization, but it was brought down by the molasses pace of the game and everything is rolled out at a snail’s pace. The sequel would be canceled and only a smaller portable version would be released later.
Most Recent Entry: Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament – 2008 (PSP)
Tourist Trophy – 2006
Being released so late on the PS2, Polyphony Digital had mastered the hardware. This was the Gran Turismo of superbikes and was a one-shot project for the team. It was praised for its visuals and insanely good physics but had a really steep learning curve even Gran Turismo enthusiasts scoffed at.
Armored Core 3 – 2002 Armored Core: Nexus – 2004
Armored Core‘s home was on PlayStation. The series would see stumbles along the way. The game was praised for its hardcore mech mechanics, but had a steep learning curve and didn’t have a good sense of scale compared to games like MechWarrior. This continued throughout the series alienating new comers and not adding much outside of customization. It would see its final entry in 2013 and hasn’t been seen in the last decade.
Most Recent Entry: Armored Core: Verdict Day – 2013 (PS3, X360)
Way of the Samurai – 2002
Way of the Samurai was well-liked for its story, but had a very low budget and felt clunky and rough through every release. It would get three more sequels before being shelved for the last decade.
Most Recent Entry: Way of the Samurai 4 – 2012 (PS3, PC)
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army – 2006
The Devil Summoner sub-series of SMT is considered the most hardcore. This game was praised for its world-building and atmosphere, but of course, the barrier to entry was high thanks to its incredible difficulty. It also had a boring combat system and overall mediocre game mechanics.
The Atelier series has a huge fan base. There have been over a dozen games in the series and are continuing to be released to this day. Eternal Mana was praised for its alchemical mixing gameplay but had repetitive missions and too much backtracking for most people’s liking.
Most Recent Entry: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream – 2022 (PS4, PC)
Kessen II – 2001 Kessen III – 2005
The Kessen series was the thinker’s Dynasty Warriors. The third and final entry in the series gave you direct control of your troops in battle, but it was criticized for being reduced to silly button-mashing. The second game was praised for its story, but just felt clunky and had too many mistakes. It’s an interesting series to go back to, however, be warned that the game gets repetitive quick and requires some patience.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 – 2007
IN 2007 there were few people still holding on to their PS2s and Ultimate Ninja 2 was late to the party. It felt last-gen, it had a generic feeling of combat, and despite its huge roster, gamers were ready for the next-gen Naruto fighting game. The series would continue for years until its final entry in 2016.
Most Recent Entry: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 – 2016 (PS4, XONE, PC, NS)
Pride FC: Fighting Championships – 2003
THQ was kind of cannibalizing its own sales for the UFC series. Pride FC was the only game and was praised for its gritty realism, but lacked content.
Sled Storm – 2002
When you saw that EA Sports BIG logo it meant quality. These were some of the best sports games to ever be released. Sadly, Sled Storm was constantly compared to SSX and felt dated due to kind of being a remaster of the PS1 game. It’s still a lot of fun but feels like an early PS2 title.
Formula One 2001 – 2001
Sony’s hat into the F1 arena was a successful one. It was constantly praised as having the best physics engine out of the genre, but the series took a long time to gain its footing. This was an early PS2 title so the visuals weren’t very impressive since it was a cross-gen title with the PS1. The series would go on for some time and die on the PS3.
Most Recent Entry: Formula 1: Championship Edition – 2007 (PS3)
Lumines Plus – 2007
While no game in the series has been bad, releasing a PSP game two years late on a system that already received a next-gen release is a bad move. Lumines Plus didn’t add any new content and was already two years old at this point. If you had a PSP or Xbox 360 then this wasn’t worth picking up.
Most Recent Entry: Lumines Remastered- 2018 (NS, PS4, PC, XONE)
Super Bust-A-Move 2 – 2002
While not an inherently bad game, the series was growing stale at this point. It didn’t add anything new to the mix as the formula is already perfect. If you owned any previous version you had no reason to buy another unless you wanted more levels.
Most Recent Entry: Bust-A-Move: Journey – 2017 (AND, iOS)
Cold Winter – 2005
This was one of those cult classic types of games. PS2-exclusive shooters were never really amazing due to the limited hardware needed to top the Xbox and PC, but they really tried. At this point, the game felt dated visually and gameplay-wise. It was praised for its spy theme and great voice acting, but the corridor shooter felt dated compared to Halo 2.
Wild Arms Alter Code: F – 2005 Wild Arms 5 – 2007
Remakes aren’t a new phenomenon. Alter Code: F was a remake of the PS1 classic, but didn’t bring anything new, especially for how late it was released in the console’s life. RPGs were evolving fast and this was left in the dust. Wild Arms 5 felt repetitive and tiresome at this point despite the fun characters and story. The series would get one final entry on the PSP in 2007.
Most Recent Entry: Wild Arms XF – 2007 (PSP)
Xenosaga II: Episode II – Jenseits von Gut und Bose – 2005
Xenosaga is considered one of the best RPG series on the system, but the second game was radically different. It was half the length of the first game but felt like an anime movie rather than a game. The combat system was dumbed down and overall felt like a weird experiment that turned a lot of people away and many didn’t pick up the third game because of this.
Most Recent Entry: Xenosaga: Episode III – Also Sprach Zarathrusta – 2006 (PS2)
The rhythm game plague of the mid-2000s was a nightmare. We had some solid entries, but a lot of cashing in. The DDR franchise was no exception as it found its home on the PS2 for many years until finally dying on the Wii in 2011. SuperNOVA was criticized for focusing on party play over single-player gameplay and fell flat due to this. If you played one game in the series you’ve played them all.
Most Recent Entry: Dance Dance Revolution II – 2011 (Wii)
ESPN Winter X-Games Snowboarding – 2000
A very early title for the system means it didn’t look too impressive. It was praised for its realistic physics, but it lacked content overall. The Xtreme Sports era of the late 90s to early 2000s was beaten to death and peaking at this point. It would go on to receive one more game in the series before being axed.
SingStar 90s – 2007 SingStar Pop – 2007 SingStar Pop Vol. 2 – 2008 SingStar Queen – 2009
Oh man, I remember this series during the rhythm game plague. I had a girlfriend at the time seriously into these games and I just didn’t get it. I was a shy kid who never sang. A lot of games ranged from great to average. None of them were ever bad, but what else can you do with just a mic? These four games were probably the most mediocre of the bunch and seeing as they came out long after the PS2’s life those who were still hanging on were the type to buy these games on a yearly basis. These games were critiqued for not capturing the era/genre they were inspired by and fell flat in that regard. The series finally died off about five years ago.
Most Recent Entry: SingStar Celebration – 2017 (PS4)
Lethal Skies II – 2003
Not quite up to the quality that was Ace Combat,Lethal Skies switched developers with every entry and fell flat in a lot of aspects. It was liked for its content and visuals but felt just average with basic mission types and nothing very exciting. It also had a slow sense of speed compared to Ace Combat. Due to poor sales, this would be the final game in the series.
Gungriffon Blaze – 2000
Always compared to MechWarrior, Gungriffon saw a small spattering of fans, but this early PS2 title didn’t look too hot. It only had five missions so it was over in a couple of hours. This really hurt the game outside of the overall solid gameplay. It would see one final entry exclusive to the Xbox.
Most Recent Entry: Gungriffon: Allied Strike – 2004 (Xbox)
Shadow Hearts – 2001
A much-beloved series that was home on the PS2. The first game had some interesting gameplay with its Judgement Ring system, but it had a shallow story and uninteresting characters. This would later be improved in the sequels. It received two sequels and hasn’t been seen since.
Most Recent Entry: Shadow Hearts: From the New World – 2005 (PS2)
EyeToy: Groove – 2003 EyeToy: AntiGrav – 2004
The birth of motion control craze was born on the PS2. Sony released the EyeToy which was an average device that required bright lights to work. I had only AntiGrav and was most impressed when it did work. Some games were fun and some weren’t. Groove felt really slow and AntiGrav lacked a combo system. Very average, but playable. The whole series died off long after the PS3 came out.
Most Recent Entry: EyeToy Play: PomPom Party – 2008 (PS2)
God Hand – 2005
This is another cult classic. There are many fans of this game due to the studio behind it. Clover Studio is known for Okami and all of their games oozed charm and originality. God Hand was just clunky and rough around the edges, but the over-the-top action and humor reeled some players in.
Soul Nomad & The World Eaters – 2007
A very late release from NIS, Soul Nomad was considered Disgaea for babies. It also emphasized room strategy over combat and many didn’t like that. It at least had a lot of charm and has a small dedicated following. It was later released in 2021 with an HD upgrade.
Primal – 2003
Primal has a huge following and had a lot of hype behind it. It was a AAA story-driven game that was praised for its characters and story but was a confusing mess of lock and key puzzles and gameplay that was mostly uninteresting. It’s not a bad game but didn’t live up to the hype.
Star Wars: Racer Revenge – 2002
Racer Revenge was a highly anticipated sequel to the above-average pod racer. Sadly, the game felt, sounded, and look dated from the start. It felt fast and controlled well, but that was about it. It was later released for PS4 in 2016.
Tribes: Aerial Assault – 2002
Tribes have a large fan base. The open map FPS multiplayer shooter was a huge success. It tried to achieve the same thing on consoles and Aerial Assault got the job done. It looked great and felt like Tribes, but the lack of online play and voice chat meant couch competitions were needed. The series would see its final entry a decade ago.
Most Recent Entry: Tribes: Ascend – 2012 (PC)
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault – 2006
At this point in time, the PS3 was around the corner and the SOCOM series was exhausted. The first three games were great, and it was still a fun multiplayer shooter. In fact, it was the only shooter that was popular online on PS2 that could match Halo numbers. Combined Assault felt like an expansion to the third game and only included 10 maps. It didn’t do anything really new. The series would finally come to an end in 2011.
Most Recent Entry: SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs – 2011 (PS3)
Bujingai: The Forsaken City – 2004
A one-shot action adventure that star the Japanese musician Gakt. I actually played this one myself and while it oozed style it didn’t match the smooth controls of Devil May Cry. It was a clunky game with poor-level design. It looked good but fell flat everywhere including a nearly non-existent story.
Siren – 2004
I personally love any horror game from the 90s and mid-2000s. There’s a certain charm that lets the clunky gameplay work with the scares. Siren had the scares and interesting story, but the course the clunkfest it was and its slow pace scared gamers away. It would later get a better-received episodic sequel.
Most Recent Entry: Siren: Blood Curse – 2008 (PS3)
The Getaway – 2003
The Getaway was a AAA-hyped-up blockbuster with a cinematic story. While the story wasn’t anything special, the acting was praised and the gameplay was ambitious. It just wasn’t much fun to play. It felt stiff and overly serious in places. It also pushed the PS2 way too hard. It belonged on the Xbox. Surprisingly, the sequel faired a bit better, but the series died after that.
Most Recent Entry: The Getaway: Black Monday – 2004 (PS2)
Ys: The Ark of Napishtim– 2003
Ys is an RPG that needs no introduction. It’s one of the most beloved series out there. The Ark of Napishtim was a highly anticipated sequel but fell flat due to its short length and formulaic gameplay. It’s not bad, but nothing groundbreaking, and didn’t push the series forward. It later got a remaster on PSP.
This was an expansion of the original game and it was never released on Xbox. Asking full price for a game that came out 6 months prior made people turn away. However, the series lives on to this day and is an incredibly popular Musou game.
Having released late into the PS2’s life, the Tales Of series trucked on. Many games in the series are all over the place, but by this point the series was growing formulaic and stale and fans wanted a refresh of the series. It still lives on to this day.
Most Recent Entry: Tales of Arise – 2021 (PS4, PC, PS5, XONE, XSX)
Silpheed: The Lost Planet – 2000
Silpheed didn’t get too many games, but the PS2 entry was praised for its stunning visuals, but lacked exciting gameplay to follow. Many kept saying it felt better in the arcades than at home. The series got one final entry as a paltry mobile game in 2011.
Most Recent Entry: Silpheed Alternative AM – 2011 (AND)
Super Dragon Ball Z – 2005 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi – 2005
The Dragon Ball Z series was a yearly mega-hit and still is. These two games were PS2 exclusives and offered a great cast and the feeling of the show, but lacked gameplay, variety, and depth.
Most Recent Entry: Dragon Ball: The Breakers – 2022 (PC, NS, XONE, XSX, PS4)
Legend of Kay – 2005
Legend of Kay has a cult following. It was a light-hearted mascot platformer of the day but felt like it was geared toward kids too much and had an awful performance and camera. The Anniversary release is a bit better.
Most Recent Entry: Legend of Kay Anniversary – 2015 (MAC, NS, PS4, PS3, WIIU, PC, X360)
Yes, it was released very late in the PS2’s life and it might be why it was reviewed so poorly. However, I absolutely loved this game’s soundtrack. The Japanese operas were amazing. I have the limited edition hanging on my wall to this day. Despite the amazing soundtrack and interesting characters, the game dragged on too long and there wasn’t enough exploration. The first game was welcomed thanks to its simple combat and fun item farming but also suffered from a lackluster story. It felt very linear. The series would come to an abrupt end in 2014.
Most Recent Entry: Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star – 2014 (PS3, Vita)
The King of Fighters 2000/2001 – 2003
A lack of overall content is what hurt this compilation. It also didn’t have an online play which was expected on the console at this point. It’s still a solid port of the arcade game just not up to snuff for a console game.
Most Recent Entry: The King of Fighters XV – 2022 (PC, PS5, PS4, XSX)
G1 Jokey 3 – 2003
For some reason, horse racing games had a following. My own sister was one of them and loved Gallop Racer. While I never got into the games they did look interesting. G1 Jokey was the rival to Gallop Racer. This game was much harder to get into and had a steeper learning curve. It looked great, but many kept comparing the two. The series came to an end in 2011.
As an early PS2 game the particle effects were impressive but all we had was a fireworks sandbox with little gameplay or variety. It looked pretty, but that was about it.
The Red Star – 2007
The Red Star was a sleeper hit that was released late in the PS2’s life. It wasn’t anything special. Just a decent beat ’em-up with multiplayer that was released for only $20. It was later released for PSP, PS3, and iOS.
Dynasty Warriors is a game of spotting the difference. An incredibly popular Musou series. In fact, it’s considered the best in the genre. However, these two games came out in the same year. Come on Koei. Despite the sheer amount of content in each game if you’ve played one you have played them all. The series lives on today albeit with much lower quality.
While praised for its unique take on dice rolling and math. The game was rather one note and lacking in the visuals department. It’s one of those unique PlayStation games that you can only get on these systems.
Sega SuperStars – 2004 Sega SuperStars Tennis – 2008
Yep, you know the drill. A gimmicky set of mini-games for a motion device that’s fun for a couple of hours and gets old quickly. Sadly, this one didn’t even offer multiplayer. The series died off a few years later as a tennis game. It’s fun for kids but that’s about it. It would later spawn a sequel that was cross-gen and fell flat compared to other mascot tennis games.
Arc the Lad; Twilight Spirits – 2003
Arc the Lad is a cult favorite PS1 RPG. The PS2 entry was highly anticipated and while it excels in storytelling it doesn’t offer anything but average gameplay and a lack of memorable dungeons. Overall, it’s still a solid entry but there are better RPGs on the system. Sadly, the series would come to an abrupt end and hasn’t been seen since.
Most Recent Entry: Arc the Lad: End of Darkness – 2004 (PS2)
Disney Golf – 2002
If you like Disney and golf this is your game. While it looked colorful and even sounded the part, the game was very arcade-like and too easy for adult gamers. It’s still charming and relaxing enough to play for adults.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – 2002
The Gundam license has been used for games since the 8-bit era and continues on to this day. This particular PS2 exclusive just so happened to be almost great. Its strategy elements were praised, but the action was clumsy with terrible AI. It’s worth a look for hardcore fans.
The game had shallow combat and gameplay, but creating your own creatures and watching them come to life had a lot of charm. If you can look past the average combat then you have one of the most unique games on the system. This game oozes that signature PlayStation charm.
CMT Presents: Karaoke Revolution – Country – 2006
Well, take it or leave it with the title. This was Konami’s challenge to Sony’s SingStar and it was quite popular for a while. It relied on the gimmicky motion controls of the time but died out eventually in 2011.
The series made a radical reboot on the PS2 and was loved quite well. It looked good, played fast, and had some crazy combos, but the game was insanely hard. I remember renting this as a kid and turning it in the next day. It was brutal after the second stage. A cult classic and well-loved among fans.
Most Recent Entry: Shinobi – 2011 (3DS)
Bloody Roar 3 – 2001
The Bloody Roar series has never been considered great. A fun series for newbie fighters. The third game looked amazing at launch but was too simple compared to other 3D fighters at the time. The series lived on for a couple more years and we haven’t seen it since.
Most Recent Entry: Bloody Roar Extreme – 2003 (Xbox)
MotoGP 4 – 2006
The game came out too late and was overshadowed by the previous game’s impressive Xbox outing. While the Xbox was long dead by 2006, the weaker system tried its best and the physics were great, but the super bike scene was hyper-competitive around this time. Thankfully, the series still lives on with lots of ups and downs.
This game was a surprise when it was released. Being an obvious Mario Kart clone the Star Wars IP was the last anyone would think that could create a good kart racer. The game had a great sense of speed, felt and looked like a Star Wars game, and was a lot of fun. There just isn’t a lot of content.
State of Emergency – 2002
The game was praised for it’s frantic and chaotic action, but had repetitive missions and was very one-note. It has a cult following because of Rockstar’s name attached to it. It saw a late sequel that fell under everyone’s radar.
Most Recent Entry: State of Emergency 2 – 2006 (PS2)
P.T.O. IV: Pacific Theater of Operations – 2003
This marine strategy game is quite bland, but the tactics themselves work well. It’s not an exciting game, and there’s a very small niche group of gamers who like these types of games. This was an attempt at a reboot for the series that failed pretty hard. It should have been on PC or Xbox.
Resident Evil Outbreak – 2004
The Outbreak series was an interesting concept. While it’s better received today as back in 2004 we had just been blessed with Resident Evil 4 so any game that went backward was looked down on. The online component, visuals, and improved controls were appreciated but the story was uninteresting.
Suzuki TT was considered a low-budget effort at the superbike craze of the mid-2000s. While you had the end of Tourist Trophy and MotoGP, this was at the lower end. Its authenticity was appreciated, but it had twitchy handling and only a single track. The series went on for a few more years though.
Most Recent Entry: Suzuki TT Superbikes: Real Road Racing Championship – 2009 (PS2, PS3)
Sub Rebellion – 2002
This weird exclusive was well-liked for its challenging gameplay, but low production values plagued the game and it felt quite generic. It’s still a fun shooter and unique to the system.
Gallop Racer 2001 – 2001 Gallop Racer 2004 – 2004
Gallop Racer was the gold standard for horse racing games. Yeah…well…if that’s your thing. My sister was really into this series, and while it was very niche, the series continued on for a few years and was praised for fun betting systems and being able to breed your own horses.
.hack//Outbreak: Part 3 – 2002 .hack//Quarantine: Part 4 – 2003
At the halfway mark people were tired of the padded-out nature of the .hack series. While it’s a beloved series today the game was split up into four parts that would take around 20 hours per game to finish. You really had to love the anime or the gameplay here to truck on.
Most Recent Entry: .hack//G.U. Last Recode – 2017 (PS4, PC)
Wizardry: Tales of the Forsaken Land – 2001
An early PS2 game that took the PC games and brought them to consoles. It’s buried under an awful UI and dated gameplay, but fans of the old dungeon crawler will get lost in the world here. Just push past the ugliness and there might be a gem in there somewhere.
Most Recent Entry: Wizardry: The Five Ordeals – 2021 (PC)
Dual Hearts – 2002
This is an Atlus game so you know there’s a cult following. This one-shot PS2 RPG was unique and quirky but was marred by technical problems such as heavy slowdown and other issues. It’s still charming and has that unique PS2 feel to it.
Enthusia: Professional Racing – 2005
This was Konami’s attempt at a Gran Turismo killer. If the game were put on Xbox it might have done better. Everyone praised the game for the effort put into it, and I clearly remember seeing this game hyped up in magazines, but falling flat due to a lack of content. The career mode was over fairly quickly compared to other racing sims at the time.
Hot Shots Tennis – 2007
Releasing very late in the system’s life no one really paid attention to this series anymore. The game was light-hearted and fun, but too easy. The series would get one final game on the PSP a few years later.
Most Recent Entry: Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip – 2010 (PSP)
Killzone – 2004
Oh boy, this game needs no introduction really. This was the infamous Halo killer. One of the most hyped-up games in video game history. I remember getting this game for Christmas of 2004 and was ready for it. Sadly, the game fell flat quite a bit, however not all was lost. The game did look good for the underpowered system despite the low framerate. The weapons were unique, and the Nazi-Esque dystopian world was praised, but the story and character fell flat. The game suffered from long reload animations that were impressive, but unnecessary. It was far from the fast-paced and tight gunplay that was Halo 2. Online play was decent and fun, but this game was very slow. The weapons had weight which was good, but the gray color pallete was also not very appealing. It was also very short on top of all of this. In the end, it was an impressive effort and Guerrilla went on to be one of Sony’s flagship developers and the series did improve.
Most Recent Entry: Killzone: Shadow Fall – 2013 (PS4)
AirBlade – 2002
Namco made an attempt to throw their hat into the Xtreme Sports ring. Everyone wanted that Tony Hawk fame. While the game looked good and had its own style, it just didn’t have the same flawless gameplay as the Tony Hawk series.
Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 2 – 2008
The better of the two volumes, and the final game in the series. Sadly, SNK hasn’t returned to the full Fatal Fury game formula and has focused on The King of Fighters ever since.
Okage: Shadow King – 2001
Considered a dumbed down RPG for kids, Okage oozed charm and had pleasant visuals, but also had a clunky menu system and was seen as too easy. It’s still an early PS2 with that unique PlayStation feeling.
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – 2008
This was NIS’ answer to the Atelier series. While better than the first game, it’s a game that’s better than the sum of its parts. Not a single thing is done very well, but if you love your anime JRPGs then this is something that might be worth your time. This would end up being the final game in the series after a port to the PSP.
Growing up, I wasn’t into Star Trek, and I also didn’t have a gaming PC. The computer we had for the family was for website development and it didn’t run any type of 3D applications well. PC gaming was pretty much out of my mind until the mid-2000s, but I also passed this up on PS2. I just felt Star Trek was a boring grown-up show and didn’t care at all. I now love the series and have caught up to halfway through the Voyager series so the characters and flow of the story actually made sense to me.
You play as a brand new Hazard Team thrown together by Tuvok to surgically strike enemy ships. The Voyager gets stuck in space and can’t repair itself or warp out due to something dampening its engines. It’s your job to find out what this is. It plays out just like a Star Trek episode. There is great voice acting from the show’s cast which is really nice. There are a fair amount of cut scenes, but of course, this isn’t anything stellar or memorable. It’s interesting enough to get you through the five hours it takes to finish the campaign and that’s all.
What is nice is the Star Trek experience is here. Weapons that feel like they fit in the universe, you get to explore parts of the ship, and it’s nice to see a 3D interactive world of something you see on TV a lot. Missions are varied thanks to the environments that change up. Sadly, there are no worlds you are plopped down in. Just lots of different types of ships and a few different enemy types. These range from Klingons that we all know to new original species just for this game. This is a typical id Tech 3 shooter with nothing special to it. Enemy AI is pretty dumb and the game is extremely linear. There are no puzzles or thrills. Just blast your way past wave after wave to get to the next cut scene.
There are two different types of ammo types. You pick up ammo crystals for one and regular blue energy for the other. There are nine different weapons in the game including your phaser which has unlimited ammo and does the least amount of damage. The weapons, while original and cool looking, aren’t anything special and their alt-fire modes are pretty bland. I understand this was the early days of shooters, but Half-Life proved you can have a small arsenal and make them have weight and feel unique. It got to the point that I just stuck to two different weapons at all times because the enemies are just bullet sponges. They swarm you head-on and don’t take cover or dodge or strafe. I could stand in one corner and just knock them all out and advance to the next room. The game is fairly easy because of this.
There are only two boss fights in this game and they are both pushovers because you can exploit their dumb AI. Throughout most of the game you have AI companions that do a decent job killing everything, but they usually just stand around and can’t die anyway. There is a single stealth section that felt completely pointless as the AI is so dumb you can walk right behind them and they won’t notice you. Gameplay-wise there’s literally nothing else. Just lots of elevator switches and control panels to press.
Visually the game looks the part artistically. You won’t mistake this for another game, but the graphics themselves are obviously really dated and didn’t look the best even when it was released. However, you know what you’re getting into with a two-decade-old game. It still looks clean and there is a lot of detail in making this look and feel like Star Trek. It’s worth a short play-through on a late-night gaming session, but it’s mostly forgettable.
***My guide made it to the sidebar of r/PSP subreddit. Check it out!***
“Come Out And Play”
March 24, 2005, was a very important day to me. It was one of the most memorable as well. In 2004, when I saw an article for the reveal of the PSP, I lost my mind. It looked so futuristic. Sony created a handheld? No! It was mind-blowing and shook the entire game industry to its core. Sony daring to challenge the almighty GameBoy and DS line? Nintendo was no longer the dominant handheld maker now.
I saved up my allowance for 6 months to get the Value Pack launch unit which I still have to this day. I remember waiting in line at Game Crazy 30 minutes before they opened along with a few dozen other excited people. I remember the employees playing their system inside (I remember talks of Lumines) and I also remember putting down my final deposit and coming up a single cent short. I didn’t want to lose my place in line so I had my youngest sister run out to my mom for a penny when the guy behind me gave me one. I remember the joy and sheer contained excitement when I saw my box get scanned and handed to me. Thankfully we lived a few blocks away so when I got home I tore the box open (not literally) and I had Ridge Racer to play. I remember the sheer beauty of the LCD display and the widescreen picture blowing me away.
The look of the system is striking still to this day, but in retrospect, the PSP had a rough life and there were a few issues for each iteration as not a single one was perfect. This is a guide on info for each iteration, their strengths and weaknesses, custom firmware, hacking, settings, and various other things regarding the system in 2022. The PSP has a vast library of games and I honestly prefer it over the Vita. It held strong from 2005-2009 before sales and releases declined greatly. During those four years, the system saw some amazing things happen to it.
The PSP-1000 was the launch unit. This is my favorite unit out of any iteration. Not just because of my nostalgia for it, but it’s the only one that feels truly solid and well built. It has more aluminum parts, a stronger UMD door, and a bigger battery. Overall, the 1000 unit will feel the most solid in your hand. The biggest weakness is the ghosting on the original LCD. These screens were pretty new back in the day so no one really noticed the ghosting. What was there to compare it to? LCD TVs were insanely expensive as well as monitors for PCs. This stemmed from the panels having a low refresh rate. There were also issues with dead pixels. Sony had to send reps out to nearly every game store to explain to them that they won’t warranty out screens with dead pixels as this was expected with the technology at the time. My launch unit had a few, but some people had full lines out of the box.
If you find a launch unit they usually came with the value pack box. While this is meaningless today, it was a great deal back in the day. Most units are loose however and they used to have the most hackable motherboards, but that’s irrelevant today.
Best build quality of any unit
Best UMD door
Most compatible with every custom firmware
Terrible screen with ghosting, dead pixels, and dull colors
Lacks the larger RAM that newer systems have
No USB charging
No TV Out
How do I make it a better experience?
IPS Panel Mod
You can easily make this PSP the best out of any unit by just modding the IPS screen. Sadly, this isn’t exactly a drop-in mod. You need to solder a bridge between two points on the motherboard otherwise the screen will be shifted to the left and off-center. They are at least cheap being less than $25 and are a breeze to install. It takes all the ghosting and “screen door” effect away and makes it the best panel out of any unit. The below shot is my board variation, but there are two others I will also list.
The History of PSP Hacking
Out of respect for the community I wanted to put a little history behind the PSP hacking scene. I was there from day one. I remember the Japanese 1.0 firmware PSPs had already been easily hacked and Sony had fixed this between the US launch with the 1.50 firmware that the launch units shipped with. There was the MagicGate swap in which you had to swap your sticks in the middle of loading a specific file to exploit a loophole. Dark Alex was the father of PSP hacking and without him, we wouldn’t be here today.
He created the first ISO compressor called DAX ZISO due to the very small storage sizes for Memory Stick PRO DUOs back in the day. Remember, readily available MicroSD card converters from China weren’t a thing yet. You had to get either a genuine Sony card or a cheaper SanDisk or Lexar card. When the PSP launched it only had a 32MB card for saves. That was it. Eventually, 64/128/256MB cards became available and then after the first year, 1GB cards were around $70-$80. 2GB cards and even 4GB were available but they were $200+. It’s stupidly absurd to think about in 2022, but that was the state of removable storage media in the early 2000s. For a teenager with broke parents, I had to save all of my allowances to finally get a yellow 1GB SanDisk card and I remember ordering it from Newegg and it came in a giant box. I was stoked. I could finally put a single compressed PSP game on my memory stick. Yeah, laugh it up, but without insane compression methods, we couldn’t even play a single full-size game.
The Pandora battery was something I never explored as I didn’t have the knowledge or know-how and was too scared to destroy my precious PSP that I had saved up for 6 months to attempt. This allowed you to restore a hard brick no matter what firmware you had used the battery’s PCB. Dark Alex teamed up with the incredible Prometheus Team to create this magic.
From the PSPDev Wiki about JigKick batteries:
JigKick (also widely named Pandora) Battery is a PSP battery with its serial number changed to 0xFFFFFFFF.
You can either Hardmod a battery or Softmod it.
Hardmod is when you make a JigKick Battery by opening it up and removing a pin, this can be done to ANY battery.
Softmod is when you make a JigKick Battery by using a program. But it has to be suitable. New Batteries cannot be softmodded.
He also created the PSAR dumper used to unpack and decrypt Sony’s firmware. The creation of the TA-082 motherboard was a headache for the scene and was used in PSP-2000 models for 2.71. The great HEN CFW was created for these boards. Owners of this board could breathe a sigh of relief. He also created an Update Flasher that users could easily jump between 1.50 and 3.11 firmwares.
Dark Alex was involved in legal issues with Sony and he left the scene right around its peak but emerged with team M33 to create the M33 firmwares most of us all remember and used the most.
6.61 PRO Infinity 2.0 Custom Firmware
Installing custom firmware to play ROMs, emulators, and homebrew, as well as the quality of life hacks, is a breeze these days. I remember when the first hack was available with firmware 1.50 at launch so we could play videos on our 32MB memory cards.
Tech James has a super easy tutorial video you can follow. You just simply download a few files and drag and drop them onto the memory card. It’s super simple.
Essential Custom Firmware Plugins
Once you install the custom firmware above, you will want some plugins to help with the quality of life for everyday PSP use. This won’t cover niche things like RemoteJoy or oddball hacks. These plugins are quick and easy and just make using the PSP a nicer experience.
Here is a link to a Google Drive folder with all the below plugins. For a great source of almost every CTF theme available, you can visit PSPunk
This is essentially the biggest and most popular plugin for the PSP. CXMB allows you to use custom themes and is a good way to figure out how to install every other plugin. I will post Tech James video below as it’s a great tutorial.
Game Categories Lite
This is one of the most useful plugins ever made, and it only became useful after removable storage expanded and got larger. I don’t recommend an SD card over 64GB as the read speed of the PSP is very slow.
CW Cheat is basically a Game Shark or Game Genie for hacked PSPs. It also works on PS1 games. Here is a link to a video tutorial (embedding is disabled on this video) for a more in-depth guide. CW Cheat has always been troublesome to work with as it’s different for each firmware.
Want to take screenshots of your games? Well, look no further.
Always wanted more than just the three standard (or four on hacked PSPs) brightness options? This gives you fine-tuning from 0-100 and allows you to set stages and even a default brightness upon boot in a config file.
This allows you to use Sony built-in software emulator to play PSX games. It’s an incredibly finicky plugin and needs exact versions for each firmware. When you load your game you will be presented with pretty much every version of POPs from previous firmware. There’s no reason to select anything but 6.61 unless there’s a compatibility issue.
This simple plugin expands the clock on the XMB to show the day of the week, extended time, and various other clock-related things via a text edit.
PSP CustomHome + PSPStates
This mod simply is a combo mod. One allows you to change various things when you press the home button and the other allows save states when pressing the home button. The two work in tandem and can be incredibly useful.
MicroSD to Memory Stick Pro DUO Adapter
One of the first things you need to do is get a MicroSD adapter. They’re cheap on eBay or Amazon for less than $10 and it allows higher capacities than the MSPD came in. These aren’t made anymore and can be quite expensive due to camera collector’s so the adapter is needed. A 64GB one should be sufficient and allow you to put 50-60 games on it. More than enough. Higher capacities aren’t recommended as it slows down the XMB UI by having to read all the games when you open the games folder. It can sometimes take a couple of minutes if you have any more than this just to open the folder. Also, avoid dual-slot adapters as they are awful and of low quality. It also doesn’t matter what speed the SD card is. Even the slowest SD card is 10x faster than the read/write speed of the PSP these days. What will matter is using a USB 3.0 or lightning adapter to transfer stuff to the SD card, so you want a fast card for that purpose.
There’s an issue with PSPs having swelling batteries that started a couple of years ago. If you have an original battery do not throw it away! You can mod the battery using the good Sony board inside and swap out the cell. Aftermarket batteries today are pretty terrible and barely work, but if you have an original it’s like finding gold. Here’s a guide on how to do the cell swap yourself.
If you don’t have an original battery there are a few Chinese brands floating around such as Ostent, Cameron Sino, Tomee, and Insten are the big names you will see. The best one to get is the Cameron Sino battery for any unit with my own testing and some other research by the community, however, there isn’t enough info to designate a definitive battery brand. Mileage has varied wildly and this is still a weird and challenging issue the community is tackling. There’s a PSP battery guide on the subreddit with people actively doing testing. The general consensus is that they are all pretty much garbage with charges lasting less than an hour, to dead on arrival, to leaking, to just not charging at all, and reporting stupidly inaccurate battery life. But, some people claim great results.
There were a ton of accessories for the PSP. The most noteworthy ones are listed below, but you also had the same stuff that the Gameboys had. Magnifying lenses, various cases both hard and soft, rubber grips, screen protectors, various charging cables, AV out cables (2000 and up), grips, stands, cleaning cloths, car adapters, UMD holders, you name it. The list goes on, and most of these are still easy to find today thanks to Chinese sellers.
Official Sony Soft Case
The case that came with the 1000 Value Pack is the one I use on my unit. These held up well over the use due to not using cheap vinyl or plastic. It won’t survive a big fall, but it helps keep dust and scratches off the unit.
The official white wrist strap came with the launch Value Pack and many people said it made the PSP look like a “woman’s purse”. While their insecurities within themselves clearly reflect the look of their handheld console, it’s a striking accessory with well-made leather. These also held up well over the years.
Logitech PlayGear Pocket Case
I had this case for quite a while and it was popular because you could print out inserts for the inside of the case. I printed up tons of these and made my parents mad because I used up the ink a lot. Fun Times.
Camera Go!/Chotto Shot
The PSP was the first handheld system to do AR with the Chotto Shot from Japan. Only a few games support this, but it was cool to take photos on your PSP back in the day. It turned it into a cheap point-and-shoot.
There were two camera models released. The better camera was released in Japan as the Chotto Shot and was 1.3 megapixels while later on the Camera Go! was released in Europe and the US with a measly 0.3 megapixels for Invizimals. The Japanese camera is more sought after and can fetch higher prices.
One of the strangest accessories for the PSP was an unofficial GPS receiver I believe it came with a UMD for the software and required a subscription, but this was the kind of potential the PSP had and no one really carried it. It was truly a swiss army knife of potential thanks to the accessory port, disc drive, expandable storage, wifi, and power. It’s a shame no one took advantage of this.
External Battery Chargers
External battery chargers were big back in the day as people would buy multiple batteries. After a while, third-party batteries started cropping up. They were bigger and offered “battery cover extensions” as well as various snap-in grips or backpack packs so you would game for 10 hours I guess. I never understood the extended battery thing. It’s not meant to be played for hours on end by design. The PSP got four hours of life on the most demanding games (I remember getting four hours playing God of War: Chains of Olympus and nearly beat the game before my battery died), but they were there if you needed them. I personally just swapped out a second third-party battery at my job and got 6-8 hours on two standard-size batteries.
In 2022 your best bet would be to buy a regular battery bank with some sort of barrel jack or USB mini-B adapter as all the accessories back in the day have long gone bad. I also wouldn’t use the official Sony wall charger unless you’ve re-celled an official Sony battery.
Yep, these were a thing and they were everywhere. There were so many different types, and I’m not sure if Sony even released an official sound system. I personally had the Logitech one as it was the sturdiest and had pass-through charging. These were made because of the PSP’s UMD video and MP3 player capabilities, but most of us at that point had an iPod or another MP3 player. The PSP was a pretty basic and crude MP3 player even after all of its updates. The UMD video format quickly died and I never could understand this even back in the day. I watched two DVDs rips on this thing and gave up. The visible screen matrix made watching movies at sub-480p really annoying and it was eye-straining. However, you now see more UMD videos on retro game stores than games. In 2022, these are nothing more than cool weird thrones to sit your PSP atop of.
Variant: A PSP console that has a different shell color or a unique design Bundle: Standard color PSP systems with pack-in games and content Note: Every video game-specific system usually came in a bundle with the game. These bundles won’t be listed to reduce redundancy
Photos for variants are thanks to consolevariations.com
“Dude Get Your Own”
This unit was the first iteration of the system. It was also dubbed the Slim & Lite as it was 30% smaller and fixed the screen ghosting issue as well as having a brighter screen and video output. There were more colors and pack-in bundles with this version, probably more than any other. This was the peak of the PSP life cycle so Sony really pushed it hard. There were over a dozen colors combined from all regions as well as super rare and more interesting special versions in Japan. If you don’t want to mod your 1000 screen then this is the next best option as it doesn’t feel as cheap as the 3000. It’s a good middle ground if you really want a large variety of colors.
Smaller and lighter
Brighter screen with no ghosting
Extra RAM for faster load times from UMDs
Larger variety of versions and colors
Build isn’t as high quality as the 1000 model
“Everywhere Just Got Better”
I wound up skipping the 2000 when they came out and got a 3000 unit shortly after release. The 3000 unit was the last regular PSP to be released and had a lot of cost-cutting measures. It was an extremely cheap feeling, but had the best screen and offered USB charging. The 3000 is the most readily available unit on the second-hand market and the one you will find like new more frequently on eBay from Japanese sellers. However, there were still awesome special editions mostly released in Japan that were available. Like my Monster Hunter Portable 3rd one.
Even smaller and lighter
Best and brightest screen of the three and better contrast
Incredibly cheap and light feeling
Terribly flimsy UMD door
Some can see scan lines on the screen
Smaller battery than the 1000 unit
How do I make it a better experience?
Same as the above minus the screen mod. The 3000 unit is pretty much ready to go without any issues. Horray!
Most of the same accessories worked from the 1000 unit minus some batteries and very specific grips and battery pack snap-ons.
Also known as the PSP Street, the E1000 unit was released in PAL regions only and is the least liked system of them all. Sony stripped a lot of features, including wifi, which isn’t a big deal today, but back then you couldn’t play multiplayer games at all with this thing among other cut features. These are only sought after by collectors mostly. It’s also the most expensive to buy because of the limited quantities that were produced. Unless you collect, don’t bother with this unit.
Same screen as the 2000
Smaller and slimmer than the 1000 unit
Cheap build quality
Lacks color variants
No USB charging
No brightness setting
No shell swaps
How do I make it a better experience?
Same as the above minus the screen mod. The E1000 is pretty much ready to go without any issues. Horray!
Also known as the N100 model, the PSP GO cut a lot of features in favor of a sleeker and more radical form factor, but it was too little too late. Sony claimed there would be some sort of program for UMD owners to get a digital version of their games, but they couldn’t figure it out and it failed. The GO is incredibly expensive these days due to its unique form factor and is usually mostly in pretty rough condition. It also requires different settings when hacking with custom firmware due to the internal storage. There was also the change in removable media format to the Memory Stick Micro which are pretty much insanely priced these days. Sadly, there’s no alternative to the external storage option and no adapters have ever been made. You’re stuck with just the 16GB.
To help stave off angry fans, Sony launched the PSP Mini program that were small download only games. A couple of months later support was added for PS3 and then at launch for the Vita. There were quite a few Mini games released, but most were pretty terrible.
Solid build quality
Extremely fun and unique form factor
Docking station available
16GB internal storage
Double internal RAM for faster UMD load times
Smaller screen size
No UMD drive
Uses a new proprietary charging port
New external removable storage format is incredibly expensive and only went up to 32GB
No current simple way to adapt external storage
Only two colors
No shell swaps
How do I make it a better experience?
Replace Scratched Up Lens
These units usually come with really scratched-up lenses, but the problem is that they are glued to the LCD underneath. Thankfully, LCD replacements are cheap on AliExpress and cost around $15. You can also easily get the backside of the shell replaced as well, but currently, there are no front faceplate replacements.
Everything else is the same as above minus most of the accessories. The PSP had an official cradle/base (which I have myself) to turn the system into a desk clock and grips, but that was about it. The cradle goes for a ton of money these days and is probably the most expensive and sought-after accessory for the PSP. There are two variants floating around. A seemingly genuine one with a barrel jack plug and TV-Out and a possible Chinese knock-off that feels light and plasticky with a USB mini-B port.
If you didn’t already guess the PSP launched with proprietary optical disc media. This was a flaw in the PSP design as it used up more battery life and more moving parts=more failures, and it also created longer load times, but there was no other cheap way to gain gigabytes of storage. The Nintendo DS cards maxed out at 512MB and this wouldn’t do for Sony. They needed something that prevented them from charging $50+ for games and making manufacturing an expensive nightmare for publishers. To also prevent pirating, Sony was future-proofing their system in that regard as well along with the proprietary removable storage. The PSP UMD or Universal Media Discs (universal they were not) were small GameCube size CDs inside of plastic housing. Sony claimed this helped protect the disc from scratches, but others were saying this was to prevent disc copying as they couldn’t be inserted in any disc drive. And it worked. There were no issues with pirating PSP games…physically anyway.
Not long after custom firmware came around people started ripping discs straight to their hard drives via USB. In the pirate community, there’s no if, but when, and it didn’t take long. Within months ISO files of PSP games were floating around the internet forums and various torrent sites. Was this an oversight on Sony’s part? Probably.
Unless you want to physically collect PSP games there’s no reason to even bother using your UMD drive. In fact, not using it will preserve the drive from wear, but if you have a UMD, it’s good to pop one in here and there and make sure it still works and to prevent parts from sticking. Some UMD drives are starting to have horrible grinding or scraping noises due to the lubricant drying up. A simple application of lithium grease on the worm drive usually helps with this. The drives got cheaper as you moved up the line. The 1000 unit has the most solid drive with a full metal slot while the 3000 is just a door you smash onto the UMD and is mostly plastic.
The Best Mainstream Games
So, let’s open up with the games most people will recommend first or what most mainstream gaming sites like IGN’s top 25 or something will always recommend. When you Google “best PSP games” these are the ones that will most commonly pop up. Think of this as your starting list to get your appetite wet before diving into the “hidden gems”.
The 3rd Birthday (All Regions) – It’s okay. A spiritual successor to the Parasite Eve series on PS1. It’s a confusing and convoluted story with somewhat overcomplicated gameplay, but it was one of the last AAA budget PSP games and one of the last releases in general. It also looks damn good. Overall, it’s worth playing for its weirdness.
Ace Combat Series (All Regions) – A definitive mix of arcade and sim dogfighting. These were spin-offs from the PS2 series. Both look great and play exceptionally well.
After Burner: Black Falcon (All Regions) – I don’t care for this game, but it was really popular when it was released due to the many arcade game fans.
Ape Escape/Academy Series (All Regions) – Ape Escape: On the Loose was a launch title for the PSP and sold very well. The typical mini-games and charm are here that you loved from the PS1 games.
Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines (All Regions) – A very faithful spin-off of the first game. It really feels like a full-fledged mini Assassin’s Creed game with an entire small open area to explore and the same great gameplay we loved from the first game. It looks great too and is considered to have one of the better stories of the AC series.
BlazBlue Series (All Regions)– Some of the best-looking fighters on the PSP. These were faithful ports from the PS3 versions. They were packed with content and looked amazing and ran very well.
Burnout Series (All Regions) – Easily regarded as one of the best racing games on PSP due to the blistering framerate. Legends was a technical marvel back in the day and were one of the most anticipated post-launch titles for the system. Both games look great and feel like faithful ports of their console counterparts.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory (All Regions) – While a very rudimentary WWII shooter in the same style as Finest Hour or Frontline, Roads to Victory isn’t a terrible shooter, but it’s incredibly basic. A quick play-through is satisfying as there aren’t many shooters on the PSP due to that pesky single analog nub.
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (All Regions) – A highly regarded remake of Rondo of Blood, this is some of the best 2D platforming you will get on PSP.
Coded Arms Series (All Regions) – This isn’t the most exciting series, but it’s heavily talked about as it was the first-ever first-person shooter on PSP, and I pre-ordered it. Despite how generic it is, and the procedurally generated levels, it plays well and has solid controls and visuals, it’s just basic.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (All Regions) – Oh man, Final Fantasy was at its peak hype was back in the mid-2000s. The Final Fantasy VII saga (that feels like it’s still going on today) was all about a Japanese mobile game, the movie, and this game. There’s a large divide with some people flat-out hating the game, but it’s worth a try even if you aren’t a Final Fantasy VII nut. It has some of the best visuals the system has to offer as well.
Crush (All Regions)- A puzzle game being talked about a lot? This is by far one of the most unique puzzle games released on PSP or ever to be quite honest. Use both 2D and 3D planes to solve puzzles by “crushing” the plane you are on to reach new platforms and pathways. It’s a must-play for any puzzle fan.
Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (All Regions) – This is one of the best fighting games on the system and was a fantastic and surprise launch title. It’s a port of the Dreamcast game and does an amazing job as well. A must-have for any fighting fan.
Daxter (All Regions) – It’s no surprise that a new Jak and Daxter game popped up on the PSP as the series was still going strong around this time. In fitting irony, tiny Daxter has his own adventure on PSP. It’s a solid and charming platformer and will make any Jak and Daxter fan happy.
Dead Head Fred (All Regions)- A weird and bizarre platformer that fits the PSP ecology. While the camera is a bit of an issue, the game oozes charm, character, and fantastic voice acting. It’s a fun romp that looks great too.
Death Jr. Series (All Regions) – An incredibly unique platformer series that had charm and fun characters, but had camera issues that knocked it down a few pegs. It still has that “PSP DNA” that many games helped form in the early years of the system’s life and is worth a play.
Disgaea Series (All Regions)- There were two PS2 ports to the PSP and all to critical acclaim plus an original title. If you love Final Fantasy Tactics or turn-based strategy games then these are for you. Disgaea is well known for its humor, eccentric characters, and crazy story.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy Series (All Regions) – Of course, pretty much anything Final Fantasy is going to be talked about and recommended quite a bit. The Dissidia series is strange as it was almost a Super Smash Bros. clone but with Final Fantasy characters, and of course, it was over-complicated. It’s a weird game, and with this one, unless you like Final Fantasy, you probably won’t get into this. Tons of fan service.
DJ Max Series (All Regions) – Originally released in Korea and Japan this was a fantastic rhythm game with addicting gameplay and music videos playing in the background. It replicates the Japanese rhythm arcade experience in handheld form. It blew up with many people importing the games and it finally came to the US with DJ Max Portable 3 and Fever. There are many versions and collector’s editions released in Asia territories.
Dragon Ball Z Series (All Regions) – Yep, Dragon Ball Z fighting games were a huge hit on the PSP and most were damn good and looked great too. I remember my cousin being obsessed with these games on his PSP back in the day.
Echochrome (All Regions) – This debut made everyone go nuts at E3 2006. Essentially this is MC Escher: The Game. A very clever and unique puzzle game based on perspective kind of like Crush. The strikingly simple visual style helped push sales and is considered one of the best puzzle games ever made.
FIFA Series (All Regions) – This series is generally considered strong the PSP. The last few entries were mediocre, but 09 and 10 were the best.
Final Fantasy Series (All Regions) – I’m talking about the core Final Fantasy RPGs here and not the spin-offs. Some people regard the ports of Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 4 to be the best out there in terms of content and sprite work. These ports were fantastic and a lot of people’s first time experiences with these games. There was also an ambitious 3D game called Type-0 that was only released in Japan until it was upgraded to HD for home consoles. It looked stunning. There was even an amazing port of Tactics as well. The PSP was a fantastic home for Final Fantasy.
God(s) Eater Series (All Regions) – This Monster Hunter clone based on the anime was wildly popular on PSP. I couldn’t really get into it, but there is a solid game here, and the series went on the other consoles thanks to its popularity. One trivia fact is that the title was changed to Gods (plural) for the West as to not offend religious folks.
God of War Series (All Regions) – Well, you can’t have a Sony console without a God of War game showing you what it can do and then no one ever topping it and making you upset. Chains of Olympus was probably the single most anticipated PSP game ever next to Gran Turismo. I pre-ordered it the day it was announced and played through the entire game at work on launch day. It was gorgeous, it felt like the PS2 games, and it was the first game to overclock the PSP to 333MHz achieve what it did. Ghost of Sparta somehow topped all of this and is considered one of the best games in the series.
Gran Turismo (All Regions) – As stated above, Gran Turismo was a myth, a legend. The one PSP game to come out and somehow unlock hidden power no one would ever be able to achieve. To have the ultimate racing sim in the handheld form to never be topped again. While it took the entire life of the PSP for the game to come out, what we got was a solid racing sim that felt like the PS2 games we grew to love. The game upset people due to a lack of a career mode. It felt like Sony said, “Meh, just release it anyways the PSP is nearly dead”.
Grand Theft Auto Series (All Regions) – This is probably the most played PSP series by far. When Rockstar announced a “port” of GTA3 for PSP it drove sales up and people lost their minds, but how would it work with only one analog nub? Well, it kind of didn’t, but it was still faithful to the PS2 game. The later side story was well received and the DS port of Chinatown Wars was fantastic. There was a long rumor of a San Andreas Stories that never saw the light of day.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Series (Japan) – The popular rhythm game saw the same treatment as DJ Max. Lots of people importing. The series has grown to become a fantastic and addictive game and has spread to many other consoles. The PSP versions had great visuals, catchy Japanese pop tunes, and overall addictive rhythm gameplay that only seemed possible o the PSP.
Hot Shots Golf/Everybody’s Golf Series (All Regions) – The Hot Shots series saw a lot of love on the PSP. Both entries are solid entries and tons of arcade golfing fun.
Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier (All Regions) – The last entry to the beloved Jak & Daxter series was on PSP and PS2 despite the PS3 being out for some time at this point. It wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the original trilogy, but it was a fun game and well worth a playthrough.
Jeanne d’Arc (All Regions) – Considered by many to be the best turn-based strategy game on the PSP and one of the best ever made. This original game had a great story, deep strategy, and just overall tons of content.
Killzone: Liberation (All Regions) – While many expected a first-person shooter killer app we got a top-down shooter instead, but a damn fine one at that. The game feels like Killzone and looks great too. There is some strategy to the game, and while the story is lame, it’s all about the fun gameplay.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (All Regions) – Yeah, this was to be expected. The mid-2000s was the peak of Kingdom Hearts and this was easily one of the most anticipated games for the system. It look fantastic and was actually a lot of fun and felt like its PS2 counterparts.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Series (All Regions) – A much-beloved port of the two chapters and they are great on PSP. This is by far one of the best JRPGs on the system due to its wonderful story and great characters.
LEGO Series (All Regions) – The LEGO series was a huge hit on the PSP thanks to its portability. Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars all made it to the system and they looked nearly as good as the PS2 games. These are some of the finest platformers on the system even if you don’t care about the IPs.
LittleBigPlanet (All Regions)- One of the only PS3 series to make it onto PSP, this game had it all. Downloadable levels, a level editor, and a vast campaign and it looked fantastic. It’s one of the best 3D platformers on the system.
LocoRoco Series (All Regions) – The tiny yellow singing balls were a huge hit for the early days of the system. The quirky Japanese gameplay was bright and fun and the game looked great too. While the physics got a little weird, the series is part of what makes up the “PSP DNA”.
Lumines Series (All Regions) – The launch title that really helped set the standard for the “PSP DNA”. It was a much talked about game with its unique rhythm and puzzle gameplay mash and was also an instant hit. The series later went on to continue on other systems.
Madden NFL Series (All Regions) – Of course one of the most popular sports franchises of all time wouldn’t miss the opportunity to cash in on the PSP. This is one hit-or-miss series on this system. The quality is all over the place so the best thing to do is try them all.
Manhunt 2 (All Regions) – One of the most controversial games on the system due to Jack Thomspon’s violent video game crusade of the mid-2000s. The game was censored blurring out kill scenes that were later patched out for those with hacked PSPs. It’s a solid stealth horror game and one of the most violent on the system.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Series (All Regions) – Top-down dungeon-crawling superhero games were all the rage in the mid-2000s and Marvel was doing them the best.
Me & My Katamari (All Regions) – Riding off the success of the first two games on PS2 this was a solid entry to the franchise and worked surprisingly well despite the lack of a second analog stick. It’s one of the best “PSP DNA” games out there.
Medal of Honor: Heroes Series (All Regions) – The other WWII shooter. Surprisingly this series had the more solid foothold on PSP and the most solid entries. Quick and fun objective-based first-person shooting action. Both games back to back are a ton of fun.
Mega Man Series (All Regions) – Capcom hit the ball home twice in a row with two solid platformer entries. Both are considered some of the best entries in the franchise.
Metal Gear Ac!d Series (All Regions) – Hideo’s card-based strategy spin-off was received with mixed reception, but strategy fans loved it. The first game is really rough but improves with the second. The series shipped with weird 3D glasses too.
Metal Gear Solid Series (All Regions) – Probably one of the most popular games on the system and a huge seller. Peace Walker was an official entry while Portable Ops was more of a handheld tailored affair with a follow-up re-release. This is seriously one of the best series of games on the system and helped define the PSP for what it is today. Not to mention the stunning visuals.
MLB: The Show Series (All Regions) – Probably some of the best sports games on the system and the most consistent with quality. Sony’s exclusive licensed baseball game was a huge hit on the PSP and looked good doing it.
Monster Hunter Series (All Regions) – The Monster Hunter series blew up in the mid-2000s thanks to strong entries on the Wii. Portable 3rd is considered one of the best games in the series, but sadly never made it the West. These games are best played in Ad-Hoc co-op. I had many fun nights with a co-worker playing Portable 3rd.
Mortal Kombat: Unchained (All Regions) – Being a massive Mortal Kombat fan I was stoked to hear the announcement of Unchained. A port of Deception with all content intact? Sadly, there were to main factors that kept this game from achieving the greatness of Deception. No online play and horribly compressed sound. It is still one of the best fighters on the system.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge (All Regions) – Considered by many to be one of the best-looking PSP games and one of the best racers on the system. The fast-paced arcade action was a ton of fun and sadly was the final entry in the franchise.
NBA Series (All Regons) – Now there’s a lot of different developers under the NBA license. There was EA’s NBA Live and Street, 2K’s NBA 2K series, Midway’s Ballers and Sony’s own series. The entire license was all over the court in terms of quality. I actually enjoyed Street quite a bit as I loved the console series, but there’s qualities to them all and you should give them all a shot.
Need for Speed Series (All Regions) – These were probably the most popular racing games on the system and sold a butt-ton because Need for Speed was the Call of Duty of racing back in the day. Neither entry is amazing, but they all have their qualities and are all worth checking out
Patapon Series (All Regions) – The Patapon series was part of the PSP’s DNA and was incredibly unique and there wasn’t anything else like it on other systems. A turn-based strategy game fused with rhythm-based gameplay was addictive and fun and was a huge hit. I personally got frustrated with the first game and never continued, but I do want to go back and try again. It has striking visuals and cute characters.
Phantasy Star Portable Series (All Regions) – Phantasy Star was a huge hit on the GameCube and continued on the PSP. While most popular in Japan, the series had an online co-op, but the single-player campaign was also there. It’s a fun pseudo-MMO and the closest we ever got to one on the PSP.
Prince of Persia Series (All Regions) – The Prince of Persia franchise was at its peak in the mid-2000s with The Two Thrones having just been released and the trilogy concluding. The PSP received a fantastic port of that game as Rival Swords, and a decent albeit buggy port of Warrior Within. There was also a port of Forgotten Sands that was completely unique for the PSP.
Pro Evolution Soccer Series (All Regions) – There were many entries on the PSP, and like all the other yearly sports titles, the quality varied. It’s best to play them all and find out which one suits your taste the best.
Pursuit Force Series (All Regions) – A surprisingly short-lived series, it was so popular the game got a fun sequel. Tons of popcorn Hollywood action scenes and great visuals. Nothing to really complain about.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (All Regions) – One of the few mainstream puzzle games. Puzzle Quest kickstarted the match 3 RPG mash-up genre we know today on mobile phones. It was incredibly addictive as I remember clocking in 30 hours on the campaign before completion and I couldn’t put it down.
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (All Regions) – One of the biggest profile games for the system, Size Matters smashed down on the Earth with a bang. It was everything we loved in the series and somehow managed to make playing with one analog nub fine. It looked great and captured all the fun from the PS2 games.
Resistance: Retribution (All Regions) – Another high-profile Sony exclusive. With PS3 games doing well, the PSP version was a third-person shooter and controlled well and looked amazing. While the story was nothing special it was the great gameplay that made this stand out from the crowd and show the PSP could do shooters.
Ridge Racer Series (All Regions) – One of the most high-profile racing games of all time just due to the fact that it was one of the biggest launch titles for the system and a return to a dormant franchise. The game looked stunning, probably the best-looking game at launch, and I remember picking up my pre-order two days before the PSP launch and reading the entire manual over several times. It was exciting and played so well. Perfect controls and tons of content. A sequel was released everywhere but in the US and was mostly just an upgraded version of the first game with new content.
Rock Band Unplugged (All Regions) – This was one of the oddest games to release on the system. A game that is normally totally reliant on external peripherals, but somehow made the game work by switching instrument tracks and using the same button timing system as other rhythm games on the PSP. It was tons of fun and was a full Rock Band experience with DLC songs and all.
Secret Agent Clank (All Regions) – Two Ratchet features on a portable?! It was crazy talk. Like Daxter, Clank got a pint-sized adventure all on his own and actually was overall better than Size Matters. The charm was there, the more interesting gameplay, and it just felt tailor-made for the PSP.
Shin Megami Tensei Series (All Regions) – These were probably some of the biggest RPGs on the system. Person 3 Portable FES was a direct port of the PS2 game with added features and content. It was, and still is, the definitive Persona 3 experience. There were both PS1 ports and a Devil Summoner game exclusive to Japan.
Silent Hill Series (All Regions) – It was a huge surprise that the PSP would get two Silent Hill spin-offs. Shattered Memories was a reimagining of the first game with more action and less horror, and Origins was a traditional game and was fantastic and looked stunning. I enjoyed the crap out of Origins and plan to back to it again.
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Series (All Regions) – SOCOM making a showing on the PSP was brave. No one thought it could work, but it was one of the most popular franchises on the system. With four entries, more than even the home consoles, the series was rock solid. Playing through all Fireteam Bravo games will give you a fantastic tactical shooter experience.
SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny (All Regions) – Nearly every high-profile fighting franchise made it onto the PSP. Broken Destiny was a full-fledged original entry and featured Kratos as a guest fighter. It looked great and played well, but sadly there was no online play.
Star Wars Series (All Regions) – There were quite a few Star Wars games on the system from LEGO to three whole Battlefront games!. There were also mediocre ports of The Force Unleashed and a Clone Wars game. Overall, the quality was all over the place, but you should check them all out.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (All Regions) – Considered by many as the definitive version of the game, the PS1 port is a fantastic entry and looks great to boot. It was the only Street Fighter game we got and thankfully it was a good one. Japan got Zero 3 which was a favorite for importers.
Syphon Filter Series (All Regions) – Syphon Filter is one of my favorite video game series of all time. I played the hell out of the first two games as a kid. My dad and I would rent it every weekend until we eventually just bought them and memorized every enemy placement, weapon, and could eventually get through each game without ever getting hit. The level design was just so fantastic, and when the series got revived for PSP I was so stocked. It was a pre-order for me and I even wrote my own walkthrough guide for them both. That’s how much I love this series. It showed how to do shooters right on the PSP despite its limitations. These are considered the best shooters on the system bar none.
Tactics Ogre: Lets Us Cling Together (All Regions) – Despite the strange name, Tactics Ogre is considered by many to be superior to Final Fantasy Tactics in both story and gameplay. While this game didn’t sell very well it is one of the most beloved PSP exclusives mainly because it’s a remake of the SNES game. If you want to sink into a deep game with a lot of story this is one of the best on the system to do it.
Tekken Series (All Regions) – Tekken 6 and Dark Resurrection are one of the best fighters on the PSP. The visuals are stunning, the controls are great, and it’s just an overall solid 3D fighter which there weren’t many good ones on the system.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour Series (All Regions) – Just like any sports franchise on the PSP the quality was all over the place. While Tiger Woods 07 would be considered the best overall, you need to try them all to really find out what you like. They’re still solid titles on the system with some great graphics and packed campaigns.
Tomb Raider Series (All Regions) – Both Tomb Raider ports are some of the best on the system. These are nearly identical to their PS2 counterparts with fantastic controls and excellent visuals.
Tony Hawk Series (All Regions) – Underground 2 Remix was an amazing game on the system. It ran well, looked good, controlled perfectly, and was packed full of content. I played this game religiously when I was able to pick it up for cheap. It’s just one of the best games on the system. Period. Project 8 was decent, but not the kind of quality that Remix was.
Twisted Metal: Head-On (All Regions) – An ambitious launch title for the PSP. Just one more franchise to come out of the woodwork for the little system that took the world by storm. It was one of the only online infrastructure games back in the day as well.
Valkyria Chronicles II (All Regions) – Sadly, the sequel to the popular strategy game was a PSP exclusive and has remained so. An odd choice for sure, but it’s one of the best strategy games on the system and is rock solid all the way around.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (All Regions) – A port of the PS1 game, Lenneth is one of the best RPGs on the system. It has beautiful art, fun characters, and stellar gameplay. The PSP was truly an RPG lover’s dream machine and has some of the highest quality ports of any system to date.
Wipeout Series (All Regions) – Wipeout Pure was one of the best launch titles for the PSP and featured a hidden web browser for DLC. I remember leeching off of a neighbor’s Wifi (we didn’t have any wifi devices in 2005 yet) and just thought it was so school despite how terrible the experience was. The series was colorful, had a great framerate, and just looked good.
WWE Smackdown vs RAW Series (All Regions) – I’m not a wrestling fan by any stretch of the measure, but this was a very popular series on PSP. 2006 suffered from insanely long load times on the UMD and every entry has varying levels of quality in different areas like any other sports series. Play them all to find your favorite.
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (All Regions) – Seriously, this is one of the best dungeon crawlers on PSP and there aren’t many. Tons of characters, content, and the graphics were great.
Ys Series (All Regions) – 2D 16-bit RPGs were a staple for the PSP thanks to many ports from the SNES. Ys had a few solid entries on the system.
The Best “Hidden Gems” or Underrated Games
I want the term “hidden gems” to go away. This term just isn’t relevant anymore as every single retro game from niche and obscure to the mainstream has been documented and probably reviewed numerous times on YouTube. Even the Phillips CD-i and Nokia N-Gage aren’t obscure or hidden anymore. If they were then they wouldn’t be $400 on eBay because they would be “hidden”. This term was more relevant 15 years ago when you walked into a retro game store and someone suggested said game to you. You then took it home and realized how fun it was and why you overlooked it. That’s a hidden gem.
Thanks to the internet that term lost all meaning and the same goes for “underrated”. I prefer the term underappreciated. Underrated in terms of critical reception maybe, but most gamers cherish the underdog so nothing is really underrated anymore, but can still be underappreciated because a casual onlooker may not like the screenshots or understand it from a first glance. Games like Gunpey or Beaterator for PSP may be new to you but just Google those games. Tons of YouTube videos, and top-something lists with them in it. Because of the internet, nothing can truly be hidden anymore. Once something is dug up everyone rushes to go buy it to stick it in their collection.
The following games are underappreciated due to one factor or another. Not enough marketing, low budget, low print run, bad release timing, too hard to understand at first glance, not a big hit with critics, a niche genre, or many other reasons.
7th Dragon Series (Japan) – A fun Japanese-only RPG with great graphics and fun gameplay. There is a fan translation patch available.
Activision Hits Remixed (All Regions) – Fans of 8-bit consoles will have a blast here. Well emulated classics for Atari 2600. Includes 44 games.
Adventures to Go! (All Regions) – A really good dungeon crawler that wasn’t American made.
ATV Offroad Fury Pro (All Regions) – Probably the best in the MX/ATV lineup on PSP in terms of visuals, physics, and content. It was a rock-solid well-balanced racing game, but other entries are worth taking a look at too.
Beatorator (Europe) – A well-made music creator from Rockstar Games and producer Timbaland
The Bigs Series (US) – Usually left in the dust by EA’s MLB series, The Bigs was a better baseball game on PSP, but sadly just couldn’t find the sales to keep it up.
Bleach: Heat the Soul Series (Japan) – While incredibly redundant this was a smash hit on PSP in Japan and attracted many importers. There are subtle differences between all seven games so playing them all is the only way to find out what you prefer.
Bomberman (EU/JP) – While it didn’t have any online replay it was the most faithful in the series for consoles up to that point and was a solid entry.
Brandish: The Dark Revenant (US) – Released very late and long after the death of the PSP (2015!) Brandish gave us one last dungeon crawler that was surprisingly fun and well made.
Brave Story: New Traveler (All Regions) – This was actually quite a high-profile RPG since it was released early in the PSP’s life, but no one paid attention. It had great visuals, fun combat, and an entertaining story.
Brothers in Arms: D-Day (All Regions) – While the game was a big clunky it had fantastic visuals and played quite well. All three major WWII shooter players made it onto the PSP, which is quite a surprise in hindsight.
Bust-A-Move Deluxe (All Regions) – This is one of the coziest puzzle games on PSP. While it doesn’t do anything new or exciting it delivers the same great Bust-A-Move gameplay we all love with bright colorful visuals.
Buzz! Series (Europe) – No, it’s not a game about Kevin McAlister’s brother. A Europe exclusive franchise, Buzz! is a fun trivia game series for people who love that kind of thing. No crazy button peripherals here, but multiplayer is a blast.
Cake Mania: Baker’s Challenge (US) – If you love time management games like Diner Dash then this game is up your alley. It was released as part of the “PSP Minis” library.
Capcom Classics Collection Series (All Regions) – A good amount of classic Capcom games were released on two different UMDs. Games like 19xx, Street Fighter II, Ghosts and Goblins, Mercs, Exed Exes, and many others were well put together and run great here.
Disney/Pixar Cars Series (All Regions) – Yep, I’m dead serious. The Cars series was pretty solid on PSP and offered a fun arcade racing experience. It looked good and played surprisingly well. Because of the kids-only relationship with Cars, no one really gave it the time of day.
Chili Con Carnage (All Regions) – A crazy over-the-top third-person shooter with lots of humor injected in. It had an unfair checkpoint system, but other than that, it was a solid action title.
Class of Heroes Series (All Regions) – A “labyrinth crawler” with surprising depth and a fun cast of characters. You’ll definitely sink dozens of hours into the entire series.
Crash Series (All Regions) – Crash Bandicoot didn’t do too well after his PS1 outings. The Crash games that came after were mediocre to just okay at best. The PSP Crash games are decent fun, but nothing amazing. They scratch that itch for a platformer and a kart racing game on the PSP, but nothing more.
Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars (All Regions) – A fun and faithful port of both Dreamcast games. While the graphics haven’t improved much it will satisfy the arcade racing craving you might have. There was even online multiplayer at the time.
Crimson Gem Saga (All Regions) – A sequel to Astonisha Story, and a much better game overall, and it offers some wonderful characters and turn-based strategy gameplay. If you finished up Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics then this could be your next time sink.
Dante’s Inferno (All Regions) – A cut-down version of the console game content-wise, but the gameplay is rock solid and feels similar to God of War. The console version was short enough as it was, but some boss fights are stripped down to cut-scenes instead. Despite that, the gameplay itself holds up for a few hours of fun.
Dead to Rights: Reckoning (All Regions) – Released alongside the console game Dead to Rights II, the series had one last go before finally disappearing into the ether. It’s a decent third-person shooter all around.
Def Jam: Fight for NY – The Takeover (All Regions) – Def Jam: Fight for NY is one of the best fighting games ever made. Hate the hip hop part of it all you want, all though it features tons of “golden era” hip hop artists from the 90s-mid 2000s, The Takeover was released a year after the console versions with great visuals, solid controls, and tons of content. Easily one of the best fighters on PSP.
Diner Dash: Sizzle & Serve (All Regions) – A port of the DS version, this is Diner Dash greatness through and through. While the DS version is superior thanks to its touch screen controls, it works fine here.
Downstream Panic! (All Regions) – A mix between LocoRoco and Worms. This is truly one of the most unique puzzle games on the system and was criminally overlooked.
Driver ’76 (All Regions) – A prequel to Driver: Parallel Lines for PS2, this is a fun and action-packed driving game. Lots to really like here.
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony (All Regions) – a big boy dungeon crawler on a handheld? Many were skeptical, but it really shined and is one of the better dungeon crawlers on the system albeit very rudimentary and basic.
Every Extend Extra (All Regions) – Tetsuya Mitzuguchi was at his peak in the mid-2000s. Riding off the success of Lumines his next music-based game didn’t make as large of a splash but was still excellent. This is a bigger version of a freeware game he released for PC back in 2004. He also went on to create the excellent Meteos for DS.
Exit Series (All Regions) – A very unique puzzle-platformer that had that “PSP DNA”. The game was colorful and tons of fun and had downloadable levels. One of the better puzzle games for the system for sure.
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake (All Regions) – While this was better played with other people, Fat Princess is a cartoony and whimsical tower defense-like game that fits well on the PSP.
FlatOut: Head On (All Regions) – This is what all FlatOut fans wanted. A good portable experience. Spectacular crashes, a great sense of speed, and awesome graphics. It’s one of the better racing games and was sadly completely overlooked by most.
Football Manager Handheld Series (Europe) – If you love spreadsheets you will love this game. Jokes aside, there are many fans of the Football Manager series and it’s pretty decent on the PSP despite the control limitations. If you want some deep strategy involving your favorite sport there’s nothing quite like it on the system.
G-Force (All Regions) – A surprisingly good movie tie-in. No joke. While the game is easy it has charm and will keep you interested until the end.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (All Regions) – Like the anime or not, this was only the second FPS game to be released on PSP right after Coded Arms and before Metroid Prime: Hunters on DS came out. This one kind of did it better. It had a less generic feel to it and did well for the hardware’s limitations.
Gitaroo Man Lives! (All Regions) – A faithful port of the PS2 game. This quirky Japanese rhythm game is in the same lane as Parappa the Rapper. Great tunes and a fun game all around.
Gladiator Begins (All Regions) – A sequel to the PS2 game Colosseum: Road to Freedom this really took me by surprise. I didn’t even see this one come out until years after. It’s a solid Gladiator sim and has solid controls and great visuals.
Gradius Collection (All Regions) – There weren’t many shmups for the PSP, but Gradius Collection is probably the best. Five Gradius games on one UMD and all run great. What more could you want?
Grand Knights History (Japan) – Sadly, this never saw a western release just like Princess Crown, but there is a complete fan translation. Vanillaware has a unique art style and fantastic 2D gameplay. This turn-based strategy game oozes color and personality and is one of the best on the system.
GripShift (All Regions) – One of the best arcade racers on the PSP. Fast-paced action, crazy tracks, and the level editor was a huge hit.
Guilty Gear Series (All Regions) – Three solid fighters on PSP and were all upgrades to previous entries in the series, but that’s okay. Great visuals, excellent controls, and overall just added on to the solid lineup of great 2D fighters.
Gun: Showdown (All Regions) – A stripped-down version of the console games, but not in a negative way. They took the best parts of the console games and stuck them on the PSP. There isn’t an open-world here, but it’s best you will get to Red Dead Redemption in portable form.
Gunpey (All Regions) – Another of Tetsuya’s weirdness, but more on the Rez end of bizarre. It doesn’t meld the magic of music and puzzles like Lumines did, but you should play this more for its oddball magic than the gameplay.
Gurumin: A Monsterous Adventure (All Regions) – This is seriously one of the best action games on the PSP hands down. It received raving reviews, but no one paid attention because of its quirky Japanese exterior and cutesy visuals. I think we’ve all learned that cute visuals don’t make a bad or easy game. Incredibly charming and addictive throughout.
Half-Minute Hero (All Regions) – Probably the most unique and original JRPG on the system. You literally have to beat the game in 30 seconds. Level-up, battle, buy equipment, and more all within a 30 second time limit. It’s hard to explain, but it’s something that must be experienced. It’s also pretty funny.
Hammerin’ Hero (All Regions) – It may be simple, but its charm is what will get you. This is one solid platformer with that fun Japanese flair from the early 2000s.
Harvest Moon Series (All Regions) – Three games came to the PSP, and while not critical successes they are decent sim life fun. A PS1 port also made it over. If you already love the series or want something similar to Animal Crossing this is the closest you will get.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (All Regions) – A hilarious FMV game based on the Adult Swim show. There’s tons of humor and video game cameos thrown in. It’s really short but super entertaining.
Hexyz Force (All Regions) – The story won’t blow you away or have you weeping tears, but the gameplay and item management here is stupendous. A really fun tactical RPG that was sadly missed by most.
Hot Pixel (All Regions) – Yep, you guessed it. This is the PSP’s answer to WarioWare. Lots of fun and silly microgames and just as much of a blast as the WarioWare series. It’s too bad no one bought it.
The Idolmaster Series (Japan) – These were huge hits in Japan ending up in the second spot in the sales charts upon release. There are three different versions with different lead idols, but what’s inside are super addictive and charming rhythm games in the same spirit as the Hatsune Miku series. Thankfully there are fan translations now.
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (All Regions) – This original Indiana Jones title is a stripped-down version of the PS2 game, but it’s rock-solid action with great visuals.
Infected (All Regions) – This was one of the first post-launch releases and was highly anticipated. This third-person shooter had a unique gameplay loop and online feature. Shooting a hole in a zombie would allow you to use your blood and infect others and start a chain reaction to rack up points.
Jackass: The Game (All Regions) – This was based on the movie at the time and featured acting from the original cast. The mini-games are fun, the action is dumb, and it’s pretty hilarious and was done surprisingly well.
James Bond 007: From Russia with Love (All Regions) – The only James Bond game that made it to PSP. Various developers have been able to perform amazing feats of programming for handheld Bond games and the PSP looks fantastic and plays well.
Juiced Series (All Regions) – Another really fun arcade racing series. Looks good too.
Justice League Heroes (All Regions) – One of the few good dungeon crawlers on PSP. Marvel had one of the best and DC’s take isn’t too bad. Great graphics help too.
Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (All Regions) – A Japanese game that made a surprising debut in the West. Kenka Bancho is a fantastic beat ’em up with lots of boss fights and plenty of action.
The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga (All Regions) – For a system that didn’t have the best D-pad for fighters it sure did get a lot of them. This is a fantastic collection of Kind of Fighters games from the past and they run well and look great. It had a bunch of extra content to unlock too.
Kingdom of Paradise (All Regions) – This game is reminiscent of PS2 action games of yesteryear such as Genji, Onimusha, and others of its ilk. It’s a bit clunky, but still fun and captures that moment of nostalgia.
Knights in the Nightmare (All Regions) – A really high-profile SRPG on DS ported to PSP and was well done. Be warned that the game has a steep learning curve and can be hard as balls. There are multiple endings and should be great for people wanting a deep strategy game to sink into.
Lemmings (All Regions) – A fantastic port of the original game with 36 new levels and the ability to download user-made levels. While that isn’t possible anymore what’s here is awesome. If you love deep puzzles this is a game for you.
The Lord of the Rings: Tactics (All Regions) – Another good strategy game on PSP. It’s crazy how many good strategy games this system got. The game looks good and is a strange one-off game for the system that you can’t get anywhere else.
Lunar Series (US/JP) – The Lunar series was ported with care and quality. The first game was released only in the US while the second game was Japan exclusive. It’s a real shame there was no Western release, but they are both excellent games still.
M.A.C.H.: Modified Air Combat (Europe) – This air combat sim was exclusive to Europe and played well and looked great. There were a surprising number of combat sim games on PSP and this was among the best.