And we have arrived here, the final countdown, my top ten games on the PSOne and I think it is a representative list that will keep even the most hardcore fans happy!
To celebrate the Playstations 20th birthday I have been going through the huge library picking my favourites; last time I picked my 20 – 11 which can be found here; and I know for a fact that you are all sitting there with bated breath, wanting to know what I think is the best game on the system, good news is I wont keep you any longer.
Lets do this!
10. Tenchu Stealth Assassins
While ‘Metal Gear Solid’ gets all the plaudits for pioneering stealth gameplay, it was not the only stealth game on the system. ‘Tenchu Stealth Assassins’ was another superb example of the genre and in some ways it even outstrips its more lauded contemporary! For a start the levels are truly 3D (none of this stealth on a glorified 2D plain business) and there is a real openness to the missions presenting the players with multiple choices on how to proceed.
The music in ‘Tenchu’ was also utterly superb (which shouldn’t be a surprise as it was developed by Sony Music Entertainment); drawing on the influence of Feudal Japan composer Noriyuki Asakura created a beautiful and haunting score that sets the tone perfectly.
‘Tenchu Stealth Assassins’ is still very playable, and is well worth playing.
9. WWF SmackDown!
While ‘WWF Smackdown!’ was not as good a wrestling game as the N64s ‘No Mercy’ it represents something much more important to wrestling fans, it was the closest representation of the beloved sport that video games had ever seen.
Where ‘No Mercy’ was a slow, technical and reversal based wrestling game, ‘Smackdown!’ injected some pace into proceedings – the game revolved around strikes and grapples and they are both expertly executed here. With some tactical use of finishers it is entirely possible to recreate a wrestling match that is a very close approximation of what was on TV at the time.
When we combine this with the stellar graphics, varied roster, hilarious taunts and hugely impressive Titantron video samples and entrance music this was the WWE in the attitude era. This was the WWE in the brightest segment of its history – this is one of the greatest wrestling games ever and given the variable quality of WWE games since, this is still a premiere wrestling experience!
8. Tomb Raider 2
While not as revolutionary as the original Tomb Raider, its sequel did everything precisely 1,000,000 times better! The graphics were a huge leap forward, the controls were tightened up which minimalised the frustration and the levels were much more varied, with less obtuse puzzles and as a result the game was much more exciting!
‘Tomb Raider 2’ also struck the perfect balance with Lara’s globe-trotting, vehicle usage, shooting and puzzling that subsequent entries into the series completely disregarded. ‘Tomb Raider 2’ was the perfect iteration of the original formula, and as a result this is still the best Tomb Raider!
Play it yesterday!
Everyone has a favourite car chase, be it from ‘The Blues Brothers’ or ‘Bullit’ and Reflections gave us the chance to not only take part in a classic chase but also to create them!
What Driver is, at its core, is an homage to the great chase movies of the 70s and it wears this influence proudly on its sleeve. As Tanner (an undercover cop) you are tasked with gaining the confidence of and infiltrating a criminal ring by completing the tutorial, that was so difficult it made many people gave up on the game. Complete it though you are treated to one of the finest chase games ever created.
Everything about ‘Driver’ screams high budget, the graphics were mind-blowing (a heavily modified ‘Destruction Derby 2’ engine) and the vehicle handling was absolutely brilliant – It was based on the movies and while there was a real weight to the cars they happily drifted for you. Damage was realistic and localised on the impact zone and slides would cause your hubcaps to spin-off and go their own way.
While the game was undoubtedly difficult, it was incredibly rewarding to complete a mission (a driving dark souls?)…this is all incredible when you realise that this is only half the game, a challenge mode waits for you and the imperious director mode! Director mode allowed you to take a saved replay and play with the camera angles and speed of play, with practice you could literally make replays that had the drama and excitement of a hollywood movie.
6. Silent Hill
One of the scariest games ever made.
Undoubtedly fueled by the success of ‘Resident Evil’, Konami unleashed its own vision of true horror upon an unsuspecting PSOne audience, the horror here was very different from Capcoms jump-scare laden franchise and took on a much more psychological horror.
‘Silent Hill’ had the design and graphics to disgust and terrify! The environments were familiar to its audience and yet they had their meanings completely subverted, what should be safe for the players (schools, hospitals etc) were all of a sudden dangerous and extremely disturbing – blood dripped from walls, enemies that were inhuman in appearance maintained an unnerving humanity (such as children).
The sound direction not only contributed to the fear, but it intensified and created its own scares. With a score by Akira Yamaoka, who opted for an industrial soundtrack created with objects and sounded like noise seeped under the player’s skin, it infiltrated the mind and unnerved you from within – soon it was raising goosebumps by itself, its unrelenting nature never gave you a second to regain comfort and as a result playing ‘Silent Hill’ even today is a stressful experience. Apparently when they first heard it Konami execs originally though the soundtrack was bugged until Yamaoka explained the direction.
‘Silent Hill’ is an absolute classic and perhaps the scariest game ever made.
5. Crash Team Racing
Enter the best racing game on the Playstation 1 (and frankly of the entire era); enter ‘Crash Team Racing’ (henceforth CTR).
Naughty Dog knew that differentiating its game from the rest of the genre would require technical finesse and they delivered in spades; they did things that no other company could (not even Nintendo) everything in the game was polygonal (unlike Mario Kart 64) and there was no slowdown (unlike Diddy Kong Racing) and the actual racing was competitive and played brilliantly (unlike every other kart racer). They also innovated the genre by adding an in-depth narrative and introducing the turbo boost; which added a nice tactical aspect to the already tight and responsive racing.
All of this praise would be for nothing if the tracks were no good, but thankfully they are all varied and incredibly well designed – the battle arenas are also much better than anything Nintendo has ever created for Mario Kart – high praise indeed.
Naughty Dog had created a game that revered its past while surpassing them in every department. My siblings and I bought a multi-tap specifically for CTR and we lost years of our lives playing this game religiously well into the early 2000s.
CTR is an example of gaming perfection.
The greatest Zelda game Nintendo never made!
You are Alundra, a dream-walker, who has to use this “gift” to free the world of Inoa from nightmares so bad they are dying from them. While this is standard RPG fare storywise, it is merely the set-up and it leads the player into a story that is beautifully told. Exploring real issues and philosophical questions such as life and death and the meaning of each Alundra will make you think about everything. With its moral ambiguity – it will test your beliefs as much as your dexterity.
In true Zelda fashion Alundra never speaks, this allows the player to put themselves into the character, this is our story. And the combat is real-time, much like A Link To The Past, and the graphics are just beautiful, exquisitely detailed character sprites inhabit a world that is full of minute details – it has also aged significantly better than FF7!
For my money this is the best RPG on the system, well worth a play, and the story is well worth experiencing!
3. Tony Hawk Pro Skater
More than any other game on the system, this game defined a generation, and it is an an example of video gaming perfection!
I remember playing the OPSM demo of this game for weeks, everyday I would play it with MrJohnSherry for several hours; just playing the first level over and over again. The excitement for its release reached a fever pitch and when we got our hands on the finished product it was euphoria. We were soon busting out 1,000,000+ point runs and replaying the game infinitely, maxing out everything.
Neversoft created a game that was utter perfection, the graphics were great, the physics and controls were perfect and the gameplay. Oh my the gameplay! Being high score runs condensed into two-minute runs, was utterly addictive and gaming nirvana. I do not think I have played a game this finely tuned since.
Neversoft also handpicked an amazing soundtrack with huge names in music (in 1998) and containing 13 massive hits! To this day I cannot hear Goldfinger’s ‘Superman’ without proclaiming it “my kickass song” and launching into a nostaglia fueled rendition whilst dreaming of perfect runs in THPS!
THPS had absolutely everything, and is infinitely playable today (and is possibly my favourite on this list).
2. Resident Evil 2
Like ‘Tomb Raider 2’ this is the perfection of the originals formula. It may not be as iconic as the original but it is undoubtedly the better game.
I’ve spoken at great length about my love for the series and that has not changed – but my love has not blinkered my judgement, this is the second best game on the PSOne! With it’s perfectly paced narrative (with hugely improved voice acting), memorable locales and characters and genuinely innovative features like shared world data between characters, this is earned!
The scope of ‘Resident Evil 2’ was ten-fold that of the original, and the RCPD building is a fitting setting for the game, we saw the streets of Raccoon City fall into disrepair and eventually made our way to the secret underground labs. Each environment is lovingly created and logically laid out – the majority of the scope though is set in the 4 possible play-throughs (2 for Leon, 2 for Claire) in which items can be left for the other characters and bosses tackled by the other. The amount of replayability this lends to RE2 is staggering and that is before we unlock the hidden characters and campaigns.
RE2 highlights what the PSOne was all about, innovation, iteration and perfection.
Absolutely brilliant game and one of my all-time favourites!
1.Metal Gear Solid
And here we come to the best game on the PSOne. A game that was like no other, another game that had me playing the demo over and over again, a game that from the first 30 seconds, was a very special game.
Everything Kojima created here reflects the PSOne era gaming scene, companies were willing and able to take risks, originality of ideas was heralded and applauded and seemingly every marquee game was full to the brim of memorable moments. MGS had killer graphics, an unbelievable storyline, the best boss fights in the series and a beautiful soundtrack.
Not only all that but Kojima put in several fourth wall breaking moments that made the game feel more than just a set of CDs; the famous Psycho Mantis memory card reading trick was good but having to use the back cover to get Meryl’s radio channel was a stroke of genius (and a great anti-piracy measure). The fact that Konami has never saw a need to remake the game (Twin Snakes not withstanding) shows how much they got perfect here; and rest assured MGS is as clsoe to perfect as you get in gaming.
MGS is quite simply one of the greatest games of all time, and truly the best game on the PSOne.
Any games in my top ten you wouldn’t have had?
Do you agree with my choices?
Any games I left out?
Tell me in the comments below!