My Top 20 PlayStation Games

By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief

I’ve decided to cap our PS1 tribute week with my own personal list of favorite games for the system. I know we typically do a top five on Friday, but this topic was too big to contain to just five games (and it seemed fitting to do a top 20 for the 20th anniversary). But if you really want to be a purist, just skip over #20 – #6 and pretend it’s a top five.
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#20 – Colony Wars: Red Sun

CW Red Sun

A fantastic trilogy all around, but the third installment was my favorite of the bunch. In addition to the excellent gameplay and great story, the visuals – namely the size and scale of the game’s massive enemy ships – still impresses to this day. This and Rogue Squadron are the only two space flight combat franchises I have ever been able to enjoy.
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#19 – Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Crash 2

The third Crash game was the perfect example of a game having too much variety, and the core platforming stages suffered as a result. Crash 2 hit that sweet spot between expertly-polished platforming action with just enough variety to keep things interesting rather than distracting. Jak be damned, this is Naughty Dog’s best platformer ever.
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#18 – Tekken 3

Tekken 3

I wish I still had the time and the patience needed to enjoy fighting games, but I simply don’t anymore. Back when Tekken 3 hit the PS1, though, the game absolutely ruled my life for an entire summer – probably the last fighting game to hook me that deeply. Virtua Fighter 2 is still my favorite 3D fighter, but Tekken 3 is right there with it.
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#17 – Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus

Abe's Exoddus

A lot of the games on this list share a theme: being part of a genre I don’t usually love but being the exception. I generally get to a point in these types of puzzle-solving games that I get stuck and just don’t care enough to keep at it, but Oddworld‘s story and characters are so compelling that there was no sticky spots that weren’t worth the persistence.
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#16 – Driver

Driver

I assume this game has aged much worse than probably any game on this list, but that doesn’t change how freaking awesome Driver was when it came out. Few games – driving or otherwise – felt more cinematic at that point than Driver‘s thrilling 70’s cop movie-style car chases, and the physics were some of the funnest of any car-based game to date.
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#15 – Tomb Raider 2

TR2

With Tomb Raider turning into Uncharted and Prince of Persia morphing into Assassin’s Creed, games based purely on traversing huge areas and solving environment-based puzzles sadly seem to be extinct. But back when that was still enough to build a game around, TR2 was the genre at its best, in my mind second only to PoP: Sands of Time.
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#14 – R4: Ridge Racer Type 4

R4

In addition to being an absolutely gorgeous game with an amazing soundtrack, R4 represented the perfect balance between drift-heavy arcade-style racing and the added depth needed to flesh out a full home game package. The RR series has spent the 16 years since unsuccessfully trying to replicate that accomplishment.
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#13 – Time Crisis

Time Crisis

Light gun games have experienced various spikes in popularity but it has always been a relatively fringe genre, with the PS1 era probably seeing it at its most popular. Time Crisis was the signature game of that renaissance, with its brilliant cover mechanic being the genre’s biggest innovation since, well, the introduction of the light gun itself.
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#12 – Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

I was never much of a PC gamer, so the FPS genre largely passed me by prior to Goldeneye. But it wasn’t until Medal of Honor that I saw just how deep and affecting an FPS could be beyond just blasting away wave after wave of enemies, and dated tech aside it still holds its own next to any other game called Medal of Honor or Call of Duty.
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#11 – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Soul Reaver

This is one of the first games that I was super excited for that experienced years of delays, so it had a lot to live up to for me. And it completely delivered and then some. It took the basic mechanics of Tomb Raider and transformed – and improved on – them into an epic Gothic adventure with technologically trickery that just shouldn’t have been possible on the PS1.
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#10 – UmJammer Lammy

UmJammer Lammy

UmJammer Lammy at #10 and Parappa not even on the list!? Look, I love that rappin’ pup just as much as anybody, but Lammy is just the better game in just about every way, including the two ways that matter most: gameplay and song quality. Beyond that, Lammy is a better and more fleshed-out character and her story contains 100% less “sexy constipation.”
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#9 –  Silent Hill

Silent Hill

I always liked the Resident Evil games, but they never fully clicked with me. I figured maybe survival horror just wasn’t my thing…until I played Silent Hill. That’s when I realized that I just preferred my horror games psychological and disturbing rather than campy and zombie-ridden. Also, abandoned hospitals and schools are just scarier than well-lit police stations.
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#8 – Tomba

Tomba

Tomba is exactly the kind of weird, quirky game that is a big part of why the PS1 is my favorite system of all time. Part 2.5D platformer, part Metroidvania, part action/RPG, and part caveman-who-bites-pigs-on-the-back fever dream, Tomba is the type of adventure that is tough to define but impossible to hate for anyone who spends even five minutes playing it.
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#7 – Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix

Fear Effect 2

“Wait a minute, isn’t that that lesbian game?” A fair assumption if you’ve never played the game and only saw its misguided softcore porn ad campaign (thanks Eidos). But if you looked past the smutty ads and gave the game a shot, you found one of the most well-crafted “RE-style” games on the system, with the best collection of puzzles any game of its type has ever had.
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#6 – Final Fantasy VIII

FF8

Honestly, I believe that FF8 is an overall superior game to FF7, and its only 8‘s less-memorable cast of characters that keep it from being the game I like better of the two. That said, FF8 is a phenomenal game that had the unenviable job of following one of the most worshiped video games in history and managed to rise to the occasion spectacularly.
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#5 – Twisted Metal 2

TM2

This was literally the game that finally settled for me whether to buy a PS1 or a Saturn, and it remains one of my favorite head-to-head action games of all time. There’s something that I find lacking about competitive FPSes, and taking that basic premise and putting the player in cars just seems to give it that spark that it needs to be that much more fun.
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#4 – Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

Klonoa

3D platformers (that weren’t made by Nintendo) were still finding their way in the 90’s, and 2.5D was the perfect compromise between tight 2D gameplay and the added depth – figuratively and literally – that having that third dimension allowed. The original Klonoa still remains my favorite platform game that doesn’t feature a ‘shroom-addicted plumber.
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#3 – Final Fantasy VII

FF7

As a Sega kid in the 16-bit era, the FF series completely passed me by and I only cared about FF7 because of the completely inescapable hype bonanza surrounding it. I bought into said hype, and within the first few hours I was calling myself an RPG fanatic and claiming FF7 one of the best games I’ve ever played, a sentiment which sustained for my entire playthrough – and beyond.
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#2 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

SotN

I try to resist using such grand, hyperbolic terms as “masterpiece” when describing a game (or anything else that isn’t Bayonetta’s backside), but SotN mostly definitely deserves it. It’s hard to imagine how a game this expertly-crafted, finely-polished, and brilliantly-designed didn’t take 20 years to make, but it’s definitely easy to see why Konami – or anyone else – hasn’t been able to top it.
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#1 – Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid

“Well it’s 3am, I have to get up for work in 3 hours, and I just finished another playthrough of Metal Gear Solid. Should I go to bed? Yeah…but let me play just a little bit into my next playthrough first.” Fast forward an hour into said playthrough and I’m finally – reluctantly – dragging myself to bed. This cycle would repeat night after night for weeks. That sums up how I felt about this game better than anything else could say. When people ask me what are my favorite types of games, the simplest answer I can give is, “I’m a hardcore Nintendo fanboy…and also Metal Gear.”
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6 thoughts on “My Top 20 PlayStation Games

  1. Tomb raider 2 is the ps1 game that’s in the most need of a current gen re-make, IMO. Especially now that RE2 is getting one. Well, okay, maybe second after the Mega Man legends games, but tomb raider is more realistic since Square Enix hasn’t stopped making TR games.

    I would have put Intelligent Qube on the list, my favorite ps puzzle game, easily.

    Honestly though, this is my least favorite gen. The games have just aged so badly. You like it because it’s the gen you cut your teeth on, but it’s objectively worse than the gen that came before and after it, especially if we aren’t bringng the n64 into the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m pretty confident in saying that PS1 is my favorite console, and I find a lot of the games are still playable today. People like to talk about how well 16-bit games have aged, but in supporting that argument they tend to only talk about the biggies like Zelda 3, Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World, and so on. A LOT of 16-bit games have aged pretty badly. Maybe not visually, which admittedly is where PS1 games struggle when viewed today, but a lot of 16-bit games are just really hard to play now from a mechanics/difficulty/etc standpoint (like your beloved Donkey Kong Country I’m sorry to say). Not terribly long ago I was playing Jumping Flash, which is a PS1 launch game no less, and other than looking a little rough I found it plenty playable and still fun.

      It’s also interesting that you assert that N64 games have aged so much better than PS1 games. Again, other than the obvious go-tos like Ocarina or Mario 64, N64 games are just as rough as PS1 games are for the most part. In fact, a lot of PS1 games have aged even better because so many go for more artistic, abstract visuals like Parappa, or they are pixelated like 2D fighting games, whereas pretty much all N64 games are 3D polygonal worlds and characters which age worse than anything (and if you’re being truly fair, you’d compare N64 games as they were to PS1 games as they were, not N64 games on VC or whatever that are automatically smoothed out and made to look crisper. The N64 blur has aged FAR worse than the PS1 graininess, I feel. (Based on what I know about you, I suspect I’ve played N64 games ON an N64 and PS1 games on a PS1 far more recently than you have so I feel I’m in a more informed position to make that statement).

      By the way, I would also say that I “cut my teeth” on 8 and 16-bit systems as I didn’t even get a PS1 until I was 17. So my love of PS1 shouldn’t be dismissed as blind affection for my “first” generation as a non-child gamer, as I would give that honor to the 16-bit era (and more specifically, the Genesis).

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    1. Truthfully I just never got around to FF9. I’m still planning to though.

      As far as FF8’s draw system, the actual drawing part was tedious but I LOVED just having a set number of spells and knowing exactly how many I had to use rather than the annoying cycle of “spell spell ether, spell spell ether.” I liked only having to keep track of HP in battle rather than MP as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I broke the game when I learned that enemies level up when you do. I would draw magic and then run away, to avoid getting exp. My team became uber whilst the enemies stayed weedy. It gets even easier when you get the summon that disables random encounters.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I really liked both FF9 and FF8. I feel sad you disliked the junction system. :(. I really think that it was a good idea of square to put up some stat building in their character other than equipment collecting. However, I really do wish they do more of FF9 series, going back to what the series was about. Loved the story and the skill level up system. I’d really be psyched to see a remake of FF9 in CGI. Haha

      Liked by 2 people

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