The 10 Best PSP Games
It's almost time for the PSP to give away to the incoming NGP, but Sony's portable system is churning out some worthwhile titles in what could be the beginning of its last years. As usual, God of War continues to tighten its grip on the top of the PSP hill, but other companies like Square Enix have made some strides this year with Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. While there are plenty of games worth checking out beyond this list, the following round-up narrows down the vast library of titles to the 10 best PSP games that you can buy today.
Check out our updated lists to see where new games like God of War: Ghost of Sparta rank among perennial contenders like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Tekken 6 -- did one of your favorite PSP games manage to break the top 10?
10 | Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Over the years, transferring the fast-paced, frantic action of the Kingdom Hearts series from its PlayStation 2 roots down to handheld titles has met with plenty of mixed results. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is arguably the most successful game to do this yet, with graphics that benefit from the PSP hardware, as well as combat that mixes together elements from various other Kingdom Hearts games. And rather than one main story, you get three solo angles.
Working as a prequel to all the other Kingdom Hearts games, Birth By Sleep tells the story of Aqua, Terra, and Ventus -- a trio of Keyblade wielders. Throughout the game, the groundwork is laid over three different campaigns as the plot explains who these three friends are and how they affect the later roles played by Sora, Kairi, and Riku. As with all the other Kingdom Hearts, BBS has cameos aplenty, with various Disney icons like Mickey Mouse and a few Square Enix characters, revamped gameplay, multiplayer modes, and more brand new worlds to visit.
9 | UFC Undisputed 2010
Ultimate Fighting Championship's follow-up title for UFC 2009 Undisputed is the MMA king on consoles. While decent competition on the PSP has yet to step up to the plate, UFC Undisputed 2010 is already going to make it hard for other competitors to take cage fighting into the portable space. Even though the visuals have been given a weight cut, UFC 2010 on the PSP still possesses a deep roster, varied modes, and several ways to dish out a beatdown.
Like the console versions, UFC 2010 on PSP also boasts a career mode that lets you work your way up through the MMA rankings, training drills to work on your ground game, and title fight modes for a straight shot to the championship belts. For a PSP game, it manages to pack in a substantial amount of gameplay without losing a ton of features. Considering UFC 2010 the sports title you should have if you want to play against a buddy with his own PSP.
8 | Tekken 6
Although it's been compressed into a portable title, Tekken 6 is just as fast-paced as its bigger console brother. While the PSP version doesn't have the technological flex room that can be found with the PS3 or Xbox 360, all of the fighters from the console package successfully make the jump to the smaller screen. Tekken 6 on PSP also trims down the experience by eliminating the "Scenario Campaign" mode, and replacing it with a more traditional story mode that features fighter-specific ending scenes for each character.
Of course, it's clear the polygon count had to be noticeably downgraded, but each of the 41 King of Iron Fist participants still retain their flashy and acrobatic martial arts moves from the console and arcade versions. And once you're done with the main story mode, there's still "Ghost Mode" and a challenge mode to polish your skills. For gamers that like to customize their chosen fighters, you can also spend hours racking up in-game currency in the Arcade Mode. Not only will you gain higher ranks as you clear tougher opponents, but you'll also unlock a wide variety of unique (and weird) costume pieces to stylize your fighter of choice.
7 | Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
An almost pixel-perfect remake of the original PSOne title, Tactics Orge: Let Us Cling Together is possibly the deepest and most engrossing tactical RPG on the PlayStation Portable -- and considering that the PSP's library includes Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions and the Disgaea series, that's staying quite a bit.
In fact, the story alone is a good tread for mature audiences, as the line between good and evil are never explicitly drawn in the sand during the extensive campaign. No matter which of the three factions you play as, the actions you take in the Valerian war are largely up to you -- and with the PSP exclusive "The World" system, you can even retrace your actions in the plot to find new scenarios and plot twists. It's a morality system that predates most modern games, and for the tactical war buff in you, Tactics Orge is just as relevant now as it was when it first released.
6 | Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy
For Square Enix to develop anything like the Dissidia is highly unusual. Character cameos in other video games are one thing, but pitting all of Final Fantasy's most famous heroes and villains against each other in one single action game is another beast altogether. Throwing out the turn-based battle system all together, the Dissidia series' combat is more Matrix than RPG.
And to boot, Dissidia adds enough new gameplay tweaks and character additions to make the sequel more than worth it for returning fans. For those who haven't played the first game in the series, Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy also includes the original game, doubling the amount of content in one UMD disc. With Lightning, Tifa, and Yuna joining the returning cast -- including Cloud, Sephiroth, Kefka, Kain Highwind, and Zidane Tribal, just to start -- it's one of the most replayable Final Fantasy games you'll get on the PlayStation Portable.
5 | Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Early in its development, Peace Walker was actually codenamed Metal Gear Solid 5. That fact alone makes an interesting statement about the role that this PSP game plays in the story of Big Boss, a.k.a. Naked Snake, and his eventual creation of Outer Heaven. But while Peace Walker may not be a console release in direct line with bigger titles like Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, this game is much more than a random side project.
Peace Walker makes quite a few changes to the Metal Gear formula that you won't find in a typical Hideo Kojima Production. For one, you don't have to fight this war alone -- with the new "Co-Ops" missions, you can join up with a friend to tackle missions as a team, and even gather up to four players for the boss battles. Being able to effectively cover your friend's six brings a new element of strategy into Metal Gear Solid, and with different sets of equipment for different playing styles, you can choose to be a Rambo-like combatant or a stealthy snake in the grass.
Since Big Boss is also raising an army in this game, you can spend tons of time in Peace Walker recruiting troops for your personal military force. With the new "Mother Base" feature, you can delegate your troops to specific tasks, from medical supplies to intelligence gathering. As long as you keep your army's morale high and their skill sets growing, Snake will reap the rewards with better gear and more mission tools, making Mother Base the key to winning the war.
4 | LittleBigPlanet
LittleBigPlanet, like the real world, is always changing. When it comes to customization, LBP stacks the deck with a deep and intricate level building system that employs realistic physics and varied gameplay. Thousands among thousands of gamers have already constructed many memorable levels from the toolset that Media Molecule has provided, and the PSP version retains a many features that made the console version a Game of the Year candidate.
Even though Sackboy flies solo in the PSP port of LittleBigPlanet, all the tools he needs are intact, despite the fact that this admittedly huge game has been shrunken down to handheld proportions. Rather than try to emulate the full multiplayer experience of LBP, SCEE Cambridge took a different approach by focusing on single-player platforming action, which remains a solid representation of Media Molecule's game. New areas from locales like the Orient and Australia await gamers that pick up the PSP port, and downloading more levels online (or creating your own) is both easier and more user friendly than you'd expect, especially when you explore what the Community Moon has to offer.
Aside from the level building mechanics, LittleBigPlanet PSP also lets you customize your Sackboy mascot in hundreds of ways. With pre-made items like clothing, weapons, and masks, you can give the characters a customized look. And if you want to make a nod to your favorite video game, several developers have also added character models to the mix, ranging from God of War's Kratos to the World Warriors from Street Fighter. Along with that, every creation you make in the game can be posted online via the PlayStation Network community, as well as the LittleBigWorkshop, where you can share level ideas, blueprints, and even tackle challenges against other players. It's a single-player game that shouldn't be played alone.
3 | Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Chinatown Wars on the PSP may not look like more familiar Grand Theft Auto titles such as Liberty City Stories and Vice City, but looks aren't everything. While the DS version makes frequent use of the touch screen to emulate the feeling of hotwiring cars, mixing drugs in your private lab, and etching tattoos into fellow gang members, Rockstar Games had the unenviable option of trying to translate much of the gameplay into the PSP's control scheme. Not only did it work, but Rockstar also transferred GTA: Chinatown Wars to the PlayStation Portable without taking anything away from the DS version.
As the game's title implies, the story of Chinatown Wars focuses around Chinese gang warfare, with protagonist Huang Lee arriving in town after the murder of his father, a Triad boss. Not long after Lee arrives, violence breaks out as various factions in Liberty City try to eliminate each other and take control of the city, which kicks off hours of gameplay that highlight Rockstar's trademark narrative skills. With various mini-games geared toward activities that you'd expect from a real life of crime, there's a lot of variety to be found early on.
Actually, the PSP port of Chinatown Wars sets itself apart even further from its DS counterpart in a few ways. For one, the classic top-down perspective that harkens back to older Grand Theft Auto titles takes advantage of the extra real estate that's provided with the PSP's widescreen. Even though it's largely a difference of inches, the visuals and controls are supported by the larger screen. Along with updated graphics and a modified control scheme, Chinatown Wars on PSP also contains extra missions that expand on the original version, with bonus content exclusive to the PSP port. If you're a PSP owner and a GTA fan that hasn't rolled with the Triads yet, Chinatown Wars can be found anywhere for $20 or less -- so get it before it's rare.
2 | God of War: Chains of Olympus
Kratos may have made a name for himself on the PlayStation 2, but his PSP adventures also feature high production values that make Chains of Olympus one of the best PSP games on shelves right now. Crisp graphics, detailed art design, and the series' trademark combat all come together quite impressively in this prequel, as developer Ready at Dawn provides the famous Spartan with a backstory that expertly sets the scene for the first God of War.
Going back to the early days of his servitude to the Gods of Olympus, the story starts with Kratos obliterating the entire Persian army (in true Spartan fashion) and revolves around a mysterious plot to destroy the world. Throughout the narrative, several characters come into play that are later seen in God of War III -- such as Helios, Zeus, and Persephone -- while Kratos faces task after monumental task in order to restore order to the world. References to future events in the series also hold extra meaning for gamers who have already played though the main God of War titles, giving this side story a great deal of importance to the overall saga.
1 | God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Introducing yet another blood-filled backstory to the tragic tale of Kratos, God of War: Ghost of Sparta brings new weapons and magical abilities to the PSP. Complete with a handful of extra modes for series fans, the story in Ghost of Sparta reveals much about Kratos' childhood, his family, and the dark and violent prophecy that brought him into conflict with Olympus itself. Not only is this a much bigger game than the already impressive Chains of Olympus, developers Ready At Dawn clearly push the PlayStation Portable to its graphical limits with this title.
Screen-filling bosses are just part of the increased polish, as the enemy encounters really let the Blades of Chaos fly. There's blood, broken bones, and miles of flesh to carve through to get to the game's final conclusion, and true to form, it's just as exciting as the console titles. Kratos may be smaller on the PSP, but he's every bit as violent and angry as a God of War should be.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Retelling a story that most Final Fantasy fans are intimately familiar with, Crisis Core expands upon the story of FFVII in an RPG experience that provides a glimpse into the past of Zack, Sephiroth, Cloud, Tifa, and Aeris. Designed with a similar art style shared by the movie Advent Children, Crisis Core forgoes the blocky characters and still-frame environments of the PSOne title for full 3D animations and character models.
Fans of the series can agree that Wipeout Pulse brings a futuristic, polished theme to racing games that's unlike anything else. With a wide range of circuits and tracks set to a futuristic setting, it's still the best PSP racing game around. Thanks to the crisp visuals and solid music, when it comes to futuristic speed, you can't do much better than this.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
If Capcom's accomplished one thing with their Monster Hunter series, it's definitely the feeling of being a rugged adventurer, living off the land and collecting raw items and materials to get by. It may never be as popular in the United States as it is in Japan, but Freedom Unite remains a gem for PSP owners, albeit an undiscovered gem.
Electronic Arts has always prided the Burnout series on rampant destruction, and that's no different in Burnout Legends. Even though it's a PSP title, over 100 cars can unlocked over tons of modes like World Tour and Crash, and being the most haphazard driver on the road will only get you farther. If you prefer fender benders to force fields and missiles, this racer won't disappoint.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
Even though it inspired more variations on Bejeweled-style combat than we can count, Puzzle Quest is still one of the best PSP games you can get, even so many years after the fact. Successfully mixing RPG character building with frantic pace of puzzle action, Puzzle Quest's intricate combat system goes way beyond simply matching the colors. If for some reason you haven't come across this game yet, feel free to hunt it down at your local store and get hopelessly addicted.
LocoRoco / LocoRoco 2
Interestingly, you don't really "control" the LocoRocos (the game's ridiculously cute little blobs) at all, but the environment that surrounds them. By turning the world itself upside down, you can move the ground around the LocoRocos as you tilt and manipulate levels in order to get them from one area to another. It's easy enough for casual players but provides plenty of difficult challenges as you progress to the later levels.