The original Sony PlayStation (or PSX) had well over 1,250 games, officially anyway. This 32-bit console launched just as the 3D craze in gaming was taking off; unfortunately, the technology of the day wasn’t quite ready to deliver that immersive 3D experience. Because of this, many of the games on the PSX look absolutely horrible by today’s standards.
The control schemes of early 3D games – often referred to as “tank controls” – are another reason releases from this era are not as fondly remembered as titles from the 2D 16-bit era. It didn’t help that 2D games were also quite rare during this period. So, for every game like Final Fantasy 7, there are about three or four games like Bubsy 3D – okay, maybe not that bad.
When asked about great shoot-'em-ups for the PSX a lot of gamers will first mention Einhänder – which is an awesome game that also still holds up well. According to many shoot-'em-up enthusiasts, Einhänder was surpassed in nearly every way by G-Darius from Taito.
G-Darius has very responsive controls, fluid animation, large and well-designed bosses, and an excellent ambient soundtrack that is great at eliciting an emotional response from the player (usually fear and apprehension). G-Darius also has a branching level design, so it will take more than one playthrough to experience the whole game. The only negative with this game is the difficulty might be a little too high for casual gamers.
9 Final Fantasy Tactics
Before gamers in North America got their first chance to play a game in the Fire Emblem series they had Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSX. This is a squad-based tactical role-playing game from the masters of RPGs – Squaresoft (now Square Enix). The game allows for a huge roster of characters from which players can assemble a team.
Most characters can be trained in any of the 20 classes, or jobs as they are called in this game. The player can then arrange different jobs and job abilities together. Squaresoft went for a more cartoonish style rather than a realistic look; consequently, the graphics still look great.
8 Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid might be the best looking 3D game on the PSX. Although very crude by today’s standards, the game's graphics are still quite detailed and distinctive. This game is so good it has six official sequels and an army of offshoots.
Many of these subsequent games were incredible, but almost none of them were able to catch lightning in a bottle as Metal Gear Solid did. This game is also credited with bringing the stealth adventure into prominence. The cutscenes and storyline alone are enough to warrant a playthrough – not to mention the nearly infinite ways in which a player can go about completing the game’s objectives.
7 Street Fighter Alpha 3
Due to Sony designing the PSX to primarily handle 3D games, the PSX was not the best console for porting 2D fighting games. By the end of the console’s life, however, developers had learned a few tricks to get more out of the PSX hardware.
The result, at least for Capcom, was being able to bring a near arcade-perfect port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 to the PSX. This version actually has more playable characters than the arcade; the PSX version features 34 characters while the arcade version only has 28. The loading times between fights were also surprisingly short, lasting about seven seconds on average.
6 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
This entry should be a surprise to no one. This is the most famous Castlevania game ever made and probably the most fun. Everything about Symphony of the Night is perfect – well, everything except the voice-acting.
Symphony of the Night is absolutely beautiful, has great sound effects and music, presents a challenge without being too difficult, and has precise controls. While there have been several remasters of this game released throughout the years, the original still holds up well. Maybe better than any other PSX game. If this game had included on the PlayStation Classic mini console the system probably would have sold much, much better.
Unfortunately for Xenogears, it was never able to get out of the shadow of Final Fantasy 7. This is despite many considering it to be the better game. Xenogears, from Squaresoft, is a sci-fi role-playing game that has a very intricate, far-reaching plot.
The game takes the player across the game’s world, into space, and eventually other dimensions. Xenogears arguably looks better than Final Fantasy 7 and has much more varied battles-types. This is another famous PSX game that got left off the PlayStation Classic console’s lineup.
4 Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a grid-based 2D side-scroller set in an alien world. Being grid-based means the game is less action-based, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and more of a puzzle game. Abe’s Oddysee has crisp graphics and great environmental sounds.
The controls in Abe’s Oddysee are about as good as a grid-based side-scroller gets, and doesn’t lead to as many accidental deaths as in games like Prince of Persia or Flashback. The sequel, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, also holds up well when compared to modern 2D side-scrollers.
3 Mega Man X4
There are too many Mega Man games to mention, but one that is generally highly regarded is Mega Man X4. This game easily rivals the other 2D games on this list in terms of graphics and sound quality. The difficulty is just about right; something Capcom has had trouble maintaining in with other Mega Man games.
The controls are what one would expect from a Mega Man game: perfection. If a player dies in this game, it is probably not a “cheap” death that can be blamed on poor level design or controls. The anime cutscenes also still look fabulous, even if their voice-acting rivals Symphony of the Night in awfulness.
2 Tekken 3
Tekken 3 is perhaps the most impressive 3D fighting game from the sixth console generation. The characters models still look great, and the controls are tight and responsive. This fighting game does something that a lot of modern fighting games fail to do: run at a constant 60 frames-per-second. This gives the animation a very fluid, realistic feel to them.
The fact the arcade game was ported so well to the PSX is nothing short of amazing. Tekken 3, along with Final Fantasy 7, probably sold more PlayStation Classic units than all the other games on it, combined.
Skullmonkeys is the sequel to a point-and-click adventure game called Neverhood; which was released on the PSX but only in Japan. Skullmonkeys is an action side-scroller that uses stop-motion claymation for its animation and game assets. This gives Skullmonkeys’ graphics an almost timeless quality to them.
The controls are surprisingly good for a claymation-based game. The ambient music combined with the digitized sound effects gives the game a very creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, Skullmonkeys will set players back about $75 - $100 depending on its condition.
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