Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Top 10 Playstation Portable (PSP) Games Debate and Reveal

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For this month, Jam and Fred are discussing the top 10 games for the Playstation Portable (PSP). Despite being an emulation and piracy machine from the moment it released, the PSP is not only an impressive piece of hardware but it also provided a library of great software. Clearly some games stand out on both our lists but what was most impressive were the rock solid titles that one of us never even knew existed.  If you look at the full article you can see our top 10 without listening to the podcast.


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mega_man_powered_up_box10. Mega Man: Powered Up: In a title that Fred had no idea existed, this is a complete remake of the original game with updated polygonal graphics (2.5D) and exploding with cute.  Even better, original designer Keji Inafune was in charge of this project as well and used to make a title that aesthetically was more in line to what he originally wanted on the NES.  Unfortunately it did not perform well and the chibi style (small body, big head, all cute) was also poorly received by both longtime fans and kids alike.  Jam swears by it and Fred loves Mega Man, which makes this our number 10.

corpse_party_logo9. Corpse Party: The visual novel genre is booming these days, but at the time this mature ghost story of a bunch of kids trapped in a school where murders are taking place fascinated Fred.  Not completely like a visual novel, the game also features top down 16-bit sprites as you navigate the students throughout their travels and try not to get them killed.  With branching paths, five episodes (all inclusive), and multiple endings leading to the coveted perfect ending, this is a Japanese ghost story done right.

locoroco_box8. LocoRoco: We’re all used to the traditional platformer, but what about a game where instead of moving the protagonist you move the entire world instead?  LocoRoco broke through the puzzle platformer genre when it premiered on the PSP in 2006 and joins the select few games that offer a unique flair to Sony’s portable.  Don’t let the simplistic controls – mostly based on only two buttons to rotate the world left or right – fool you, this can be a demanding puzzle game.  With LocoRoco’s ability to gain size, shrink down, and split apart you’ll be having to use all its skills at your disposal to reach the end of an addicting title.

gurumin_a_monsterous_adventure_box7. Gurumin: A Monsterous Adventure: This action adventure title from Nihon Falcom Corporation (the company who gave us Ys) takes bright graphics, 3D rendered monsters, and an action platformer to create a complete package that has stolen the hearts of the cult scene.  It all revolves around a young girl who goes to live with her grandfather while her parents are away and ends up finding a world of monsters that can only be seen by children.  The adventure takes you through a sea of challenging levels that focus heavily on combat, resulting in you customizing your character’s outfit and headgear to get ahead.  Not only that, but there’s plenty to do upon completion as new difficulties and modes are made available.  Apparently this is a game fans repeat multiple times.  It’s most known on Steam these days, where it received a port, but the original premiered for most of us on the PSP.

obscure_the_aftermath_psp_box6. Obscure: The Aftermath: It’s quite difficult to bring the feel of classic slasher horror movies into video games based purely on the concept that these movies are campy and unrealistic, which makes it fun to watch people picked off by a series of horrors.  On the other hand, when you are the person potentially being picked off, it’s not nearly as fun and can make a hilarious scene in a movie turn into a tense frantic scene in a game.  Obscure: The Aftermath (Obscure II originally) takes the events of the first game in high school, moves them to college, and has all the graphic violence and gore of a horror movie without the aggravating challenge like Illbleed on the Dreamcast.  The fact that it’s been faithfully moved to portable consoles makes Obscure: The Aftermath the definitive way to play this game on the PSP.

zhp_box5. Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman: As a massive fan of the roguelike genre, Fred has grown up enjoying the endless dungeon crawl of games like Shiren the Wanderer and Mystery Dungeon whenever they manage to make it over from Japan.  Z.H.P. builds upon this formula but makes the game a bit easier and a lot more accessible to the average gamer with its battle system.  That’s not to say come hour 30 or 40 you aren’t going to get that classic roguelike challenge, but it starts you off nicer than most.  As a niche Japanese title with poor sales, you’re going to have a challenge finding this in tangible form, it lives on thanks to the PSN and even works on your Vita.  It never received a port, either, which makes Z.H.P. one of those must have games for the PSP.

dracula_x_chronicles_box4. Dracula X Chronicles: Most fans of the Castlevania series or those that were early adopters to the Playstation will remember the release of Symphony of the Night, but fewer were aware of the game’s true predecessor Rondo of Blood thanks to it’s Japan only PC-Engine CD release.  Dracula X Chronicles updates the visuals, adds an English localization, and was the first time American gamers could officially enjoy Rondo of Blood (Dracula X) without the compromises of the SNES release or spending hundreds of dollars to import systems and games.  Couple that with the unlockable original Symphony of the Night before it was available as a PSOne title and this was a hell of a bundle.  Sure, the original Rondo of Blood eventually released on the Virtual Console (with no localization) and Symphony of the Night has since released on everything, but to have this collection first and on a portable was huge at the time of release.

crisis_core_ffvii_box3. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: For a huge number of contemporary gamers, Final Fantasy VII was the first introduction to the traditional JRPG way back in the days of the original Playstation and ushered in the library of great titles that followed.  Crisis Core acts as a prequel to the beloved FFVII and introduces an active battle system, meaning you wits are much more significant when making the decisions of what to do next in the “queue” system.  Fred has personally been waiting forever to get his hands on a game such as this with his personal interest in non-turn based RPGs as of late, so Crisis Core strikes him as something he must play.  It’s also a great experience and fun to play according to Jam.  Living up to the name of the original, receiving fantastic review scores, and only available on the PSP this was a clear choice for number 3.

half_minute_hero_box2. Half-Minute Hero: Of all the games on this list, Half-Minute Hero understands that you are on a portable console and that your time is not only limited, but important.  That’s why each game you will play takes exactly 30 seconds.  Now it’s not quite as simple as that given that you will be manipulating time to get to the final boss and conquer the game in half a minute, but in the end it crams the feel of Final Fantasy into extremely short intervals.  With different game modes that act as a traditional JRPG, a real time strategy (RTS) title, an action title, and even a shmup, there’s no lack of content that you can play in bite sized pieces with Half-Minute Hero.  If you own a PSP and don’t have this title, you need to get it.

mgs_peace_walker_box1. Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker: The premise of this title sounds like a bet: can you bring the look of Metal Gear Solid 4, the setting and time period of Metal Gear Solid 3, and integrate co-op on a portable console?  Peace Walker proves you very much can.  Previous Metal Gear titles on the PSP attempted to grab the feel of the console games and for the most part failed to capture it or opted for an alternative type of game like Metal Gear Ac!d, but Peace Walker proved it could be done and did it in spades.  Kojima’s team re-creates an engrossing story that is now a necessity in the MGS cannon, somehow managed to pull off a dual analog control scheme with only one nub, and created large scale boss battles that you always wanted at least one friend with you.  It was a massive game on a small console, something rarely seen in the portable landscape, even today.  Peace Walker not only utilized all of the features of the PSP, but created a full scale large budget title that good use of these features instead of feeling gimmicky.

Written by Fred Rojas

June 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in podcast, PSP, Top 10

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4 Responses

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  1. Pretty good list! I second your choice with Crisis Core: FFVII. Replayed this game so many times, yet it was always a blast to play.
    Aside these 10 games, do you have any honorable mentions?

    omarbanzai

    June 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    • We do, but unfortunately you will want to listen to the podcast. We actually start with 40 games and reduce them down to this list. Also if you have one, give us your top 10!

      Fred Rojas

      June 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

  2. And of course, nobody mentioned Daxter, the greatest platformer that ever graced the system. Or the 2 Syphon Filter titles, Dark Mirror and Logan’s Shadow, the best SF games in its series, and rock solid 3rd person shooters in their own right.

    Andrew

    June 9, 2015 at 6:01 am

  3. PSP games are horrible on the Vita, so I’ve avoided playing them altogether. Fortunately, I picked up a Darth Vader PSP at a garage sale last week and have discovered what a wonderful machine this was. Played on their native console, many of my free PS+ games for the PSP have proven to be outstanding on the hardware they were meant to be played on. I look forward to listening to this episode to see what you two deem cardinal titles in the library. Can’t believe I missed this episode!

    brian mulligan

    June 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm


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