Here’s the full list of our Editors’ picks for the best PlayStation games of all time.
As we near the fifth year anniversary of the North American launch of PlayStation and the upcoming launch of the system’s successor, PlayStation 2, we here at IGNPSX have been spending a lot of time thinking about the system, its impact on the industry, and the games that have been released on it.
When you consider certain information tidbits, such as PlayStation’s installed base of more than 27 million units in North America (27.11 million as of March 31, 2000), the system’s overall 7.9 to 1 software-to-hardware ratio — which is higher than any console system in the history of videogames, and total software shipments exceeding 234 million units, it’s funny to think about the state of affairs five years ago when Sony was considered just an outsider trying to break into Sega’s and Nintendo’s turf.
In the year 2000, in the eyes of many, PlayStation is videogames. In fact, based on studies of name recognition among young adults, PlayStation is the most recognizable brand name in the area of interactive entertainment and only comes behind Coca-Cola and Nike on the overall scale of things. Let’s face it, PlayStation is huge and it has earned its spot among the gaming elite, thanks to a variety of factors, including fantastic marketing, plenty of hype, and most of all, games. And, there have been a whole lot of games for that matter. Since its launch in September of 1995, there have been a grand total of more than 800 games released for the system.
That brings us to where we are today; we have decided to put our heads together and come up with what we believe are the Top 25 Games of All Time on PlayStation. Given the large amount of games on the system, the wide variety of titles, and the personal differences of opinion among our editors, this was actually an extremely daunting task — and one that we took very seriously.
In putting together our list of the PlayStation’s best, we took many different things into consideration. We measured factors such as how the game ranked against others in its genre. We looked at the game’s overall depth and replay value, while also taking into account its innovation and the impact that it made at the time of its release. And we also measured the overall timelessness of the title (i.e. – would we still play the game today?). In some cases, the timelessness of one game gave it an edge over the innovation of another, while in others the impact that a particular game made gave it an edge over the stronger points that another game had over it.
And after taking everything into account, including our own personal likes and dislikes, we’ve come up with what we believe are the Top 25 Games of All Time on PlayStation.
- Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Synopsis: Originally released in September 1998, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is a third/person perspective action/adventure game that was commonly referred to as a assassin/ninja simulator. Unlike most of today’s games, stealth and puzzle solving were the focus of the game rather than storming around hacking and slashing people like a barbarian. The game featured 10 very challenging levels of gameplay.
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Synopsis: When it was released back in November of 1997, Super Puzzle Fighter II managed to steal away the lives of many gamers around North America. The game features cute, super-deformed characters from the Street Fighter and Dark Stalker games, Street Fighter II-like combos, and intense, strategy driven gameplay. The best way to describe this game to someone who’s never played it is that it is damn fun.
- Final Fantasy Tactics
Synopsis: In January of 1998, Sony Computer Entertainment America unleashed Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy Tactics onto the North American market. While based on the Final Fantasy brand, it was a turn-based strategy game rather than a strict RPG. It featured a very complex storyline and offered hundreds of hours of gameplay. Easily one of the best games in its genre on PlayStation and worthy of the Final Fantasy moniker.
- Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Synopsis: Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is Game Arts remake of its classic role-playing game that was a huge success on Sega CD, titled Lunar: The Silver Star. However, unlike most remakes that have been appearing on PlayStation, Lunar actually featured many enhancements over the original, including fully animated cinematic cut-scenes, additional secrets, and a slightly altered storyline. Lunar shipped to stores in June 1999 in North America.
- Medal of Honor
Synopsis: First-person shooters haven’t quite managed to achieve the same prominence on consoles as they have on the PC platform. However, with the release of EA’s Medal of Honor in November of 1999, the PlayStation was blessed with its finest first-person shooter — a game that made many PC owners envious of their PlayStation brethren.
- Crash Bandicoot: Warped
Synopsis: Crash Bandicoot served as PlayStation’s mascot and the system’s answer to Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo’s Mario. Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the third action/platform game in the series on PlayStation and was arguably the best of the bunch and one of the most polished platforming experiences on Sony’s little gray wonder. Crash Bandicoot: Warped was released in November of 1998 in North America.
- Syphon Filter
Synopsis: Released on February 17, 1999, Syphon Filter received initial comparison’s to Konami’s Metal Gear Solid because of some external similarities between the two games. But, in truth, the two titles weren’t really anything alike and Syphon Filter never suffered from the comparisons because it went on to become an amazing success on the retail front thanks to good word of mouth and advertising.
- Final Fantasy VII
Synopsis:The RPG genre was never really considered a mainstream or popular genre — that is, until the release of Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation. With FF7’s historic release on PlayStation in June of 1997, role-playing games were finally given the respect that they deserved and the RPG genre is now one of the most significant and defining on the system. Following the story of Cloud Strife, gamers were taking on a fantastical journey that encompassed three CDs and over 40 hours worth of gameplay.
Synopsis: On October 26, 1999, North American PlayStation gamers were given what fans of the Sega Saturn had been hoping to get for years — a English version of Game Arts’ masterful role-playing gem, Granida. It was considered the pinnacle of traditional role-playing games on Sega Saturn and featured some of the best character development in any game of its kind on any console. Grandia is true epic that no RPG fan should be without.
- Parappa The Rapper
Synopsis: Parappa The Rapper made a big splash when it was released in the United States in November of 1997 for a variety of reasons. First, it was a sign that the days of American gamers missing out on all of the quirky Japanese titles were nearing an end. And second, it was an extremely original title that was a departure from the cookie-cutter games that were being released on PlayStation in droves. The game was a simple timing-based game with memorable music and addictive gameplay. It’s one of the PlayStation’s most original titles to day.
- Madden NFL 2000
Synopsis: The John Madden series of football games have been a fan favorite of videogame players for years, and EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2000 marked the 10th installment in the heralded series. The game featured classic Madden gameplay, an improved framerate, and more gameplay modes and features than you could shake a stick at. The solid gameplay combined with the excellent franchise mode and historical and customized scenario game modes helped make it one of the best Madden games ever developed.
- Silent Hill
Synopsis: Released in February of 1999, Konami’s Silent Hill was its first in the survival horror genre and was highly touted as the company’s answer to Capcom’s Resident Evil. However, the game managed to distinguish itself from RE by concentrating on adventure style gameplay and a heavy emphasis on character and storyline. It was commonly thought of as one of the scariest games on the system and had what was arguably one of the best stories on the system.
- Wipeout XL
Synopsis: The original Wipeout received praise as being a groundbreaking game and it was one of PlayStation’s early system sellers. In addition to being a great game, it was also considered a cultural phenomenon because of its use of elements of popular culture, such as techno music and designer logos. The game’s sequel, Wipeout XL, was a substantial improvement over its predecessor and was oft considered the PlayStation’s best racing game of the time. It had it all; great graphics, competitive computer artificial intelligence, excellent track designs, cool music, and an amazing sensation of speed.
Synopsis: In Driver, Reflections release what was considered one of the most comprehensive, deep, and thoroughly pleasurable driving experiences on PlayStation. The game put players in an urban-adult environment where big Afros and big-ass 8-cylinder engines ruled the day. It featured several gameplay modes with its story mode, called Undercover, was the meat and bones of the game. In this mode, players took on the role of an undercover cop who must take on these various missions to uncover the game’s bad guy. What really made the game great was the developer’s attention to the car’s physics. While it had an arcade style to it, the driving was pure poetry in motion. Driver was released on July 8, 1999.
- Tekken 3
Synopsis: As the third game in the Tekken series that was released on PlayStation, Tekken 3 stood as the pinnacle of 3D fighting games. The game featured one of the best opening FMV sequences that have ever graced a videogame and its fighter list consisted of some of the coolest pugilists that have ever graced a fighting game. And as with all of Namco’s arcade-to-PlayStation conversions, the home version was a vast improvement over its arcade brethren. Namco released Tekken 3 in North America in April of 1998.
- R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
Synopsis: It’s undeniable that the original Ridge Racer was one of PlayStation’s first big system pushers. Regardless of what you thought of Ridge Racer as a game, you had to agree that it was an excellent port of the arcade version that showed the true potential of Sony’s 32-bit wonder. Released in May of 1999, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 was the fourth installment of the game on PlayStation and was by far the most polished.
- Street Fighter Alpha 3
Synopsis: 2D fighters have always seemed to suffer on PlayStation because of the system’s lack of a significant amount of video ram, but with the release of Street Fighter Alpha 3 in May of 1999, Capcom proved that it was the king of 2D as it made the system do what nobody thought possible — an amazing port of its arcade fighting game. Street Fighter Alpha 3 features a long list of characters, excellent character animation, and classic 2D fighting gameplay. Pure gaming bliss (blue shadows or not).
- Ape Escape
Synopsis: Released in June of 1999, Ape Escape is arguably one of PlayStation’s most original platform titles. The game exclusively used Sony’s Dual Shock controller and required the player to use both analog sticks to control the game’s hero. Ape Escape is the story of a band of rogue monkeys that escape from the amusement park and mistakenly break into a genius professor’s laboratory. They find the inventions called the Peak Point Helmets and instantly become intelligent, with a particularly ingenious simian named Specter running the others. In a theme reminiscent of Planet of the Apes, these little creeps plan on changing history so that apes rule the world and humankind becomes the special attraction at amusement parks. The premise was damn cool…and more importantly, it had monkeys!
- Final Fantasy VIII
Synopsis: Released on September 9, 1999, Final Fantasy VIII made a big splash on the retail front and quickly became one of the fastest selling games of all time. With an epic storyline and some of the best looking graphics ever seen on PlayStation, Final Fantasy VIII stood as one of the best RPGs ever released on console.
- Vagrant Story
Synopsis: Generally overshadowed by other games in Square’s vaunted 2000 software lineup, such as Legend of Mana, Final Fantasy IX, and Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story has proven to be one of the company’s best games. It features an extremely cinematic presentation, intriguing storyline, and an impressively deep battle system. It’s one of those unique titles that only come around every once and a while.
- Resident Evil 2
Synopsis:Resident Evil 2 was one of the most hyped and eagerly anticipated sequels of its time. And when it was finally released in January of 1998, gamers across the country found out that all the hype and anticipation was well deserved. Taking place a few months after the first game, the game let you choose between using Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, each with different story paths that actually affected the story of the other character when you played the game the second time. It was a brilliant sequel that still stands as the best Resident Evil game on PlayStation.
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Synopsis: Released in September of 1999, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater started the skateboarding craze that probably won’t die down any time in the near future. It was the first game that truly captured the pure grit and radical feel of skateboarding, giving skateboarding fans (and the wannabes) a chance to do things that they’ve always wished that they could do. It was a genre-defining game that only comes around once in a while. It’s true gem.
- Gran Turismo 2
Synopsis: Gran Turismo 2 made a big splash when it was released on December 17, 1999 — becoming one of the year’s best selling games despite only being out for a mere two weeks. The game conveyed sheer brilliance and is the premiere racing game on the system. It featured over 500 licensed vehicles, tons of tracks, and just provided what was a phenomenal racing experience.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Synopsis: The Castlevania series is one of the most enduring and well-liked in the history of videogames. The game has appeared on a wide variety of platforms, with its start being on NES. The PlayStation’s Castlevania, which was titled Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, stayed true to its roots as it was your standard 2D side-scrolling adventure game. It was released on October 2, 1997.
- Metal Gear Solid
Synopsis: Created by the legendary designer of such all-time classics like the previous versions of Metal Gear, plus Snatcher and Policenauts, Metal Gear Solid was released in October of 1998 as one of the system’s most hotly anticipated games of its time. The game, which followed the exploits of Solid Snake, was an action/adventure game that relied heavily on using stealth and had a presentation that was superior to anything else on the platform. It not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded it in many ways.