My PSP Lite gets a lot of use. I spend quite a bit of each day commuting on the bus and the PSP has a broad set of utilities. Even though the PSP is, at its core, a gaming device, I primarily use it as a portable video player. The screen is one of the best and the price of memory is low enough now that it is quite reasonable to get a 4 gig card which holds several hours of decent enough quality video as well as all your game save data and a couple downloaded games from the Playstation Store. Additionally, since many of the busses in
10. Tekken: Dark Resurrection is a near perfect port of the Tekken 5 arcade game. The game is seriously gorgeous and plays perfectly on the PSP. I am particularly a fan of Devil Jin who is some sort of emo cosplaying and/or devil angel. Jin is supposedly the grandson of the main bad guy in the series Heihachi Mishima who is an elderly gentleman with amazing combat skills and perfectly styled ‘hair wings’. Jin is very angry with his grandfather for some reason presumably unrelated to the ‘hair wings’ and that is why he is so emo. The PSP is perfectly suited for fighting games. One of the weaknesses of the PSP is the lack of a second analogue controller. However, most fighting games, Tekken: Dark Resurrection included, are played optimally without analogue controls. The fighting system is quite deep and feels perfectly responsive. The only real negative is the lack of an online multiplayer mode. It is a very excellent game but it is overshadowed by its console and arcade brethren. Oh and you can play as a freaking fighting Panda. How awesome is that?
Other recommended games in the genre on the PSP: Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max
Recommended games on other systems: Tekken Tag Tournament (PS 2), Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii), Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter (PSX), SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium (NeoGeo Pocket Color)
9. Burnout Legends is awesome racing fun! It seems like the racing genre is a bit weak on the current generation of consoles which might be why Burnout Legends feels like a throwback to the classic Burnout Series. The game packs all the arcade style over the top racing and crashing of the Burnout series into the PSP. The graphics are very nice and the controls are decent. It takes a bit of time to adjust to steering with the analogue nub but fortunately racing games don’t require two analogue controls. Unfortunately the game brings nothing new to the table. Sure there are fiery wrecks that undoubtedly result in the deaths of hundreds of innocents and the twisted wreckage of broken dreams of illegal street racing fame as husks of tuners pirouette in a ballet of destruction but… This is basically exactly what you can get from the main Burnout series on consoles but trimmed down for the PSP. It’s a great game but available in a bigger better console form.
Awesome racing games on other systems: Mario Cart (NDS), Burnout 3: Takedown (PS2, Xbox, 360), Gran Turismo 4 (PS2), Colin McRae: Dirt (360, PS3, PC)
8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, I played it and was like, “Holy crap it’s Grand Theft Auto on PSP!” The game has different missions from its console brethren which gives it a leg up. I’m a total slut for Rockstar Games and am counting the day until GTA 5 is released. I used to dress up as CJ when I played San Andreas. Seriously we had matching berets and black turtlenecks, Sara will vouch for this. [Editor’s note: He did dress up like CJ. It was embarrassing.] Not all of their games are fantastic and some feel like experiments for their next Grand Theft Auto game however I will always love Bully, and will never forget San Andreas. The personalities of the games are amazing and unfortunately Vice City Stories stumbles a bit here. It seems like they might have put their B-list writers on this one. The game does not quite live up to the rest of the series. That said there is a cameo from Phil Motherfucking Collins culminating in a Phil Collins concert.
Sweet open world games on other systems: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, Xbox, PC), Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (PS2, Xbox), Assassins Creed (360), Fable (Xbox), Crackdown (360)
7. Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is the best first-person shooter on the PSP. We are in a bit of a FPS golden age right now with bajillions of FPS being released at a near constant rate. The PSP is possibly the worst console for FPS games because it has no second analogue stick. Hence moving and looking have to be dealt with another way. Medal of Honor managed to create a control scheme that feels very useable. I would say something funny about the game here but that would demean the sacrifice that the brave men and women that recreated the entirety of WWII in video game form gave. Never forget… Most importantly the games are fun and they offer awesome multiplayer options online.
Shooting games that rock on other systems: Call of Duty 3 (PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox, 360), Bioshock (360), Metroid Prime Hunters (NDS), Goldeneye 007 (N64), Gears of War (360), Orange Box (360, PS3), Resident Evil 4 (Xbox, PS2, NGC, Wii)
6. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was originally released on the PSX and continued and expanded on the classic Castlevania game-play while at the same time ushering in a new era of Castlevania design philosophy that has continued to flourish all the way onto the Nintendo DS. The game feels classic and modern at the same time. I could go on at length about how this is the near height of Castlevania game-play artistry and design by bringing open world exploration and collection to Castlevania, refining controls and creating beautiful 2D art. That would miss the point that number six on the list is a ten year old game that can be officially played on no less then six consoles. Seriously is there anything original on the PSP?
Must play side scrollers on other systems: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (NDS) Castlevania: Symphony of Night (PSX, Sega Saturn, 360, PS3, PSP), Super Metroid (SNES, Wii), Gunstar Heroes (Genesis, Wii), Super Mario 3 (Nintendo)
5. God of War: Chains of Olympus is the third in the series of the most excellent third person over the top fighting action game series God of War and the first developed by Ready at Dawn studios. The game is actually a prequel to the first and second games but manages to stuff almost all the action, bastardized Greek myths, violence, frontal nudity, and badassery of the God of War series on the PSP. The controls are dead on and the graphics are amazing. The story is interesting and plays on the pathos established in the earlier games. There is a bit of a schism in the action fighting game world. There are basically two camps, the Ninja Gaiden camp, who believe that your fighting games should be amazingly difficult, technically challenging, and boob free and the God of War camp that believe that the games should be amazingly fun, look really cool and have maximum full frontal nudity. I fall into the latter. God of War: Chains of
Games on other systems you should play before you consider GoW:CoO: Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PS2, PC), God of War (PS2), God of War II (PS2), BMX XXX (Xbox but only for the bad CGI boobs)
4. Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is stealth action done perfectly on the PSP. I really enjoyed the Syphon Filter series from its earliest incarnations on the PSX. Unfortunately Syphon Filter did not age all that well until it appeared on the PSP and all the sudden it was freaking amazing! Even the name of the main character Gabe Logan which started to sound silly before the game came to the PSP took on a new sheen. Like he was one half the angel that signals the end times and another half Huge Jackman (the tough Wolverine not the wussy Kate & Leopold Jackman). The voice work is great, the graphics are beautiful, the game-play is perfect, the story engaging, the AI is quite decent, and the level design is boss. The game keeps true to its roots but feels like a refinement in every possible way. Additionally it has some decent multiplayer options to keep things fresh after the campaign is done.
Rad stealth action on other systems: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2), Tenchu Stealth Assassin (PSX)
3. LocoRoco is happiness in game form. The Playstation brand represents to me, among other things, innovation and originality. The PSP library largely fails on this count. LocoRoco is one of the few great games on the PSP that really innovates and is truly original (the list until now is entirely sequels and ports). The game is basically a side scrolling platforming game however, instead of playing as the main character, the player is put in the role of the planet that the heroes of the game, the loveable singing LocoRoco, inhabit. The LocoRoco are moved about by tilting the planet they are on with the R and L buttons. They need to be guided thru the levels to find more of their kind so that they might thwart the evil Moja. I am not sure exactly how the LocoRoco are supposed to thwart the Moja but I suspect it is thru song. The LocoRoco constantly sing and the songs are all super catchy. The game oozes personality and is oh so fun. It is not the most quirky or original game on the PSP, that honor goes to Patapon, but it is a close second.
Games that innovate and/or are quirky on other systems: Katamari Dalmancy (PS2), Elite Beat Agents (NDS), Wario Ware Touched! (NDS), Super Mario Galaxy (Wii), Mr. Driller (GBA, Wonderswan), Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
2. Jeanne d'Arc, is a totally excellent role playing game on the PSP. I don’t understand why there are not more RPGs on the PSP. The PSP seems like the perfect place for RPGs. I personally do not want to spend the time for a full length level grinding RPG at home when I could be doing something more productive or less of a time sink however, when I have an hour to kill on the bus I absolutely love a good RPG. Oblivion on the 360 I hate but if it was on the PSP I would love it. Jeanne d’Arc is a fictionalized account of Joan of Arc done as a tactical RPG. The game is dense but approachable and features a combo system that is original and interesting as well as a unique ability system that is most similar to the materia system from Final Fantasy VII. The art is lovely and has several animated FMV sequences that give extra punch to some parts of the game. The game has a nice ramp up and is quite challenging towards the end. Plus one of the characters in the game is a frog and they turn out to be British. How ironical is that in a game that features the French?
Some of the best RPGs on other systems: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (NDS), Beyond Good & Evil (PS2, Xbox, GCN), Final Fantasy X (PS2), Chrono Trigger (SNES), Earthbound (SNES), Fire Emblem (GBA), Xenogears (PSX), Final Fantasy VII (PSX), Front Mission 3 (PSX)
1. Daxter is the freshman Ready at Dawn outing on the PSP and is amazingly good. 3D platformers in general rank among my least favorite games and yet Daxter is so masterfully done that it justifies the purchase of a PSP, hence the existence of the PSP Daxter Entertainment Pack which comes with a copy of Daxter and a sexy silver PSP. Yes, yes, yes, the best game available on the PSP is another entry in a long established Playstation series but it is tremendous amounts of fun. Somehow the game takes the annoying sidekick from the Jak and Daxter games and manages to make him really funny and likeable. If I had not played Daxter and met Daxter in the real world I would probably stomp the vermin to death and then stomp a bit more just to make sure. Poor smooshed Daxter… Most importantly the game is very fun and well designed. I would gladly sit on my couch and play this game instead of an alternative game on the 360.
Similar recommended game on PSP: Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
Other games you could be playing instead: Super Mario 64 (N64, NDS, Wii) Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2), Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2), Conker: Bad Fur Day (N64), Psychonauts (Xbox, 360)
So that is the definitive top 10 PSP game list, one clogged up with sequels and ports which is rather unfortunate. Perhaps Sony will take a clue from Nintendo’s success with the DS and attempt to bring some original IP and gameplay to the PSP. Somehow I suspect not, even though Patapon and LocoRoco are good signs. It seems very fortunate for Sony that Blu-Ray has emerged as the dominate high definition format because they have seemed to have lost quite a bit of the Playstation magic in the transition to the current generation of gaming hardware. Being stuck, as it were, between a proverbial rock (Microsoft) and a hard place (Nintendo) has not been easy for the Playstation brand as they commit one PR blunder after another. Perhaps nervousness at Sony is inspiring them and their developers to play it safe? Regardless the PSP, while building a strong library, has rather failed to bring much of anything new to the gaming public. I love my PSP and drag it around with me all the time, I just never play it when I have a home console at hand. The same could not be said of the Nintendo DS which truly offers a unique experience that can only be had on the DS. If you do your gaming at home pick up one of the recommended games on other systems. If you already own a PSP or spend a lot of gaming time away from your home consoles and decide to purchase a PSP, go buy the games from the top 10 list. You will be happy with awesome, if unoriginal, fun time.