20 Years of Play: The 20 Best Games for the Playstation

Dec
06

20 Years of Play: The 20 Best Games for the Playstation

Happy birthday to the console that changed everything!  We’re huge fans of the Sony’s little grey box of wonder, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation we decided to have a sit down and figure our 20 favourite games for the system.  This wasn’t easy; there are a lot of fantastic games for the PlayStation to the point where narrowing it down to the 100 best games would be a challenge.

As you read, keep in mind that these are what we consider to be the PlayStation’s best games.  Your top 20 list is likely to be radically different from ours and that’s exactly what makes the Playstation so great.  It’s been 20 amazing years, and we sincerely hope there will be 20 more.

Gran Turismo

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Gran Turismo put the Racing Simulation game on the map, and was also the highest selling Playstation game ever. Gran Turismo was such a realistic racing game that you even had to get driver licenses as you progressed through each race series, and you had roughly 140 cars to choose from. The success of Gran Turismo spawned a sequel also for the Playstation, followed by several more installments and spinoffs on the later generation Playstation consoles. Gran Turismo was not only the best Racing game on the Playstation, it was one of the best games period.

Resident Evil 2

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Resident Evil 2 is in many fans eyes the best Resident Evil game of the entire series, and an HD remake is in very high demand. There is no doubt that Resident Evil 2 was the best RE game on the Playstation. Resident Evil 2 featured new protagonists Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, the younger sister to Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield, as they attempt to survive the infected streets of Raccoon City. It really is a shame that an HD remake hasn’t been in the works yet, because Resident Evil 2 does not get enough love, outside of the hardcore fanbase of course. Resident Evil 2 has been ported on several different consoles, but the original Playstation version is hands down the best one.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

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Earlier this week we reviewed the Dreamcast version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and we came to the conclusion that the Playstation version was superior. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater let you control 10 of the world’s best skateboarders, and basically let you do the craziest and most unrealistic combinations of tricks you could imagine. While the combos may have not been realistic, the game physics and animations were. This innovative and groundbreaking gameplay style paved the way for the extreme sports genre, and it all started on the Playstation.

Mega Man X4

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Since the 8-bit days few franchises did side-scrolling action as well as the Mega Man franchise. Although by this point of time gamers were more interested in 3-d rendered games, Mega Man X4 still made a strong impression with its attractive anime-style graphics, action packed gameplay, animated cut scenes and the welcomed new feature of finally playing as Zero through-out the entirety of the game. It may have been pretty simple in design but it was still extremely fun and satisfying.

Vagrant Story

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It’s difficult to make a list of top playstation games without including a lot of Squaresoft titles, but it just so happens that they had a monopoly on making awesome games, and this is one of them. In Vagrant Story you play as protagonist Ashley Riot in a unique RPG which also incorporates both platforming and puzzle-solving elements to its gameplay. Combat is also radically different from traditional games of its genre, allowing you to pause and target individual body parts on an enemy, and then requiring timely button prompts to combo attacks and deal greater damage. There was also a deep crafting system for weapons and armor with a broad range of freedom of customization, with different damage types and elemental affinities which can potentially be improved or changed when combining different items. With appealing vivid graphics to top it off, Vagrant Story is a must for anyone who likes deep and immersive JRPGS. 

Silent Hill

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With Capcom’s success with Resident Evil, Konami attempted to capitalize on the surging popularity of the horror genre and incidentally went on to create the masterpiece known as Silent Hill. Even to this day, few games carry as strong and unsettling atmosphere as Silent Hill. The graphics may be primitive looking and the controls may be a little cumbersome to today’s standards, but it however still holds up pretty well for its artistic style and design. If you want a more thorough explanation check out our retro review.

Crash Bandicoot

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Who could not remember the goofy looking bandicoot created by the legendary studio Naughty Dog? Crash Bandicoot was an attractive platformer game were you guide the titular character through wacky cartoon-like environments, collecting Wumpa fruit, triggering TNT crates to explode and stomping or spin-attacking enemies. It boasted both strong gameplay that was comparable to Mario and amusing off-beat humor along the lines of Earthworm Jim. Its success went on to spawn numerous sequels and spin-off titles, including racing games and multiplayer themed party games.

Metal Gear Solid

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Hideo Kojima’s stealth action epic will forever leave a strong impression on the unsuspecting gamers that first experienced it’s unique cinematic gameplay. Snake’s mission to infiltrate the nuclear weapons facility in the Alaskan archipelago was compelling not only to play, but to watch, featuring an intricate storyline of conspiracy and morality with the most professional voice acting seen in a video game since… well ever. The concept of sneaking around enemies instead of relying on brute force was a fresh and exciting new twist on the action genre, and undeniably paved the way for future espionage themed titles in the future.

Legend of Dragoon

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Developed in-house by Sony Computer Entertainment, Legend of Dragoon initially polarized critics at the time of its release but has garnered an enormous cult following over the years since, and for good reason. This robust JRPG features fun gameplay with the unique additions system, which required specific and timed button prompts for moves, a feature that arguably made the gameplay much more engaging than typical turn-based RPGS at the time. The story was broad in scope if not a little derivative, and the graphics and effects at the time were pretty impressive. It’s a big mystery why Sony hasn’t capitalized on its grown popularity and attempted to make a new entry in the series, especially when fans have gone as far as making petitions for it.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

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The game that reinvigorated the franchise, SOTN is considered by many as the best game ever made in the series, which may be arguable, but it is certainly an amazing one in its own right. Although only showcasing 2-d animated graphics with side-scrolling type of gameplay (which was considered archaic at the time), its presentation was still however appealing, and the gameplay was very deep and rewarding, even including addictive RPG-like elements such as leveling-up and equipping new items. It introduced many new innovations to the series, which has carried-on into many future installments, although some hardcore fans of the series may feel mixed about this drastic deviation from the original style of gameplay, its strong impression and continuing influence is still undeniable.

Final Fantasy Tactics

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Combining both RPG elements and strategy, Final Fantasy Tactics was an untraditional but stellar title in Squaresoft’s ongoing Final Fantasy series. The story was pretty intricate, featuring grounded moral themes and political intrigue, while the gameplay was extremely addictive, featuring the ability to recruit numerous characters which can be customized and changed with the game’s job system. There are roughly 20 jobs or classes characters can be changed into, which all level independently from their own levels in battle. Eventually characters permanently learn unique abilities through their selected job, which can potentially be mixed with other abilities learned from other jobs, allowing the freedom and creativity to customize your characters as you will. The three-dimensional, isometric view was also an interesting twist to Final Fantasy’s turn based battles, as you moved your units one by one on a grid-based map, where elevation and obstruction in the environment can play an integral part to victory. Still renowned today by hardcore RPG fans, Tactics is an engrossing game that like many other noteworthy examples of its genre has and will stand the test of time.

Parasite Eve

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Squaresoft’s equivalent to Resident Evil, Parasite Eve was a horror themed RPG which had you take on the role of NYPD detective Aya Brea, who experiences supernatural events in the wake of an opera actor named Melissa Pearce who is genetically changing from mitochondria. It was unique both for the story’s subject matter and gameplay, with exploration and combat taking place on the same screen. You were also allowed to freely move your character during combat, to dodge attacks as you waited for your time gauge to fill to perform an action. The game also had a memorable new game plus feature, with new unlock-able areas and a new endgame boss to face. It was one of Squaresoft’s most successful mature-rated games to date.

Crash Team Racing

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The Playstation equivalent to Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing pits beloved mascot Crash Bandicoot against 14 other characters from the series. CTR featured 4 player multiplayer matches, but required the Playstation multitap. The gameplay was very similar to Mario Kart, but had more of a storyline that could be played during Adventure mode. Sadly this was the last Crash Bandicoot game developed by Naughty Dog, but we hope to see a comeback on the Playstation 4.

Final Fantasy VII

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What can we say, really?  The one and only, Final Fantasy VII is the game that introduced RPGs to the western masses and probably the single most important game released on the system.  At the time there was nothing else like it, and it ushered in the era of the “cinematic” game.  Of course, that’s not to say that FFVII is only here because it was an influential game.  It’s on this list because it’s one of the PlayStation’s best games and anyone who has played it can tell you exactly why.

Tekken 3

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3D fighters were a staple of the PlayStation, and they don’t get any better than Tekken 3, making it no surprise that’s Namco’s fighter has gone on the become the second highest selling fighting game of all time.  Lauded by critics of the time as a near perfect fighting game, Tekken 3 took the series to new heights.  Tekken’s highly technical gameplay was tweaked to perfection, and appearances by new characters and stages made this better than either of its predecessors.  If you’re going to play only one 3D fighting game on the Playstation, make sure that Tekken 3 is it.

Megaman Legends

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Bringing Megaman into the third dimension and turning it into an action RPG is one of those concepts that seems like it would be a complete disaster, but somehow it just works.  The action heavy gameplay combined with RPG elements created one of Playstation’s most unique (and best) games.  Megaman Legends is extra special in that it’s simple, solid color graphical style holds up well today, and the story is still as interesting as ever.

PaRappa the Rapper

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The OG himself. One of the original rythym games, PaRappa the Rapper has an abundance of charm with its characters made from paper cutouts and eccentric storyline. Tapping buttons to the rythm of an anthropomorhpic dog’s raps is just as weird as it sounds, but it’s undeniably fun. PaRappa features some of the most unqiue and iconic characters in PlayStation history (who could forget Grandmaster Onion?) and is certainly one of the craziest games to ever grace the system.

MediEvil

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Maybe not the most famous game Sony has ever created, but it’s certainly one of our favourites.  MediEvil is an action-adventure game that follows the adventure of Sir Daniel Fortesque, a knight that journeys to free the land of Gallowmere from the evil Zarok.  Only Sir Dan has been dead for centuries.  It’s a gothic themed adventure that features a lot of humour and a cast of very funny and charming characters, as well as the requisite puzzles and an amazingly large variety of weapons and enemies.  Other than it’s sequel and a PSP remake, there’s not a lot of games like MediEvil, and perhaps that’s why we love it so much.

Tomba!

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Tomba! is a game about a wild, pink haired boy chasing down pigs to retrieve stolen jewellery.  If that doesn’t pique your interest, what if we said that it was a 2.5D sidescroller that took heavy inspirations from the Metroid series?  It’s a quirky platformer that is a whole lot of fun to play, and latching onto enemies and riding them around the level is a great mechanic.  The jumping mechanic is different from other platformers and takes some getting used to, but once you figure it out and are able to swing around Tomba‘s colorful world you’ll find that it was all worth it.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

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Simply put, Soul Reaver has one of the greatest storylines ever seen in a videogame, contains some of our favourite characters in any form of fiction, and has undoubtedly he best voice acting of the generation.  It’s a sprawling, labyrinthine action-adventure that, amazingly, features a seamless world almost completely devoid of load times.  The combat featured plenty of options, and the dual world system (where the player would constantly lose health in the Material Plane) was a neat twist that always kept you on your toes while exploring.  Puzzles sometimes got a little difficult but the sense of satisfaction upon completing them was like nothing else.  Soul Reaver was on a whole other level compared to most games at the time, and we sitll hold it in very high regard,

Those are we think are the 20 best game son the PlayStation, but what about you?  What classic PS games do you love that we didn’t list here?  Share the love!

About Josh Gilbert

Josh is the Co-founder and a Senior Writer for Controller Crusade, and loves all things related to video games. He is a retro games collector trying to recapture his childhood one game at a time, and he also has a major dude crush on Nathan Drake. You can contact him via email at jgilbert@controllercrusade.com or on Twitter @joshgilbert11.

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