Hello Retro Folks,
Ready to resume our journey through the 10 best PlayStation 1 games? It is time to find out the top 5 positions!
As I explained in the first part, I decided to make this list in order to do justice to one of the best consoles ever created, but picking the above mentioned 10 titles was no easy task.
PlayStation 1 changed video games forever with its high-quality, varied library of games and cutting-edge approach to game development and concepts.
That is what makes singling out just ten titles as the “best” so difficult. Of course, everyone has their own ideas about what is the best PS1 game, with some going the traditional route, while others reach into the PS1’s deep cuts for obscure titles that are less loved but no less great.
With thousands of games on tap, the magic grey box cannot be beaten when it comes to sheer volume but also for absolute quality.
If there is any one retro system that you should delve into and discover its library of titles, that is Sony’s first video game console, without a doubt.
Without further ado, let us see the best it has to offer:
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5. Tekken 3 (Namco 1998)
There are lots of things I like about Tekken 3, with the main one being its lore. The characters are rock stars, their look is beyond cool and their fluid movements did create suspension of disbelief back in the day. The gameplay is fast-paced and fits both the game style and the story.
In hindsight, some of the animations could have been improved, but if you get past that, you will find a gem in the rough. The roster is very large, maybe one of the best in the series, and every fighter has a different moveset and a different fighting style. Some can even use weapons. You also have great locations to play on, and numerous tournaments that you can enter.
Personally, as The difficulty escalates – I find myself struggling to beat Paul at some of the latter levels. Oddly enough, the same goes for Retro James.
Looking back, playing against friends was pure Nirvana, I loved how dynamic everything felt.
Tekken 3 definitely brings back memories and the cool thing about it is that my then friends second my sentiments. Like I have said many times, fighting games are not my cup of tea, but just like Gran Turismo 2 for simulation racing games, Tekken 3 is another exception proving the rule.
4. Final Fantasy IX (Squaresoft 2000)
I know that this is not the only Final Fantasy on this list, but quite simply, it is my favorite episode of the series. 😉
Zidane’s journey through two worlds holds a special place in my gaming heart.
FFIX has everything any Rpg fan expects to see: great story, lovable/hateful characters, excellent visuals (quite realistic and impressive for the time), huge improvements to the combat system… And the list could go on.
Apart from the superboss Ozma, Kuja and the (not so) Friendly Yan, the majority of the other enemies are maybe a little bit bland, however the game as a whole is super fun and has aged very well.
The RPG elements shine, and you really feel great exploring the world, getting new equipment and so on.
Maybe the world map could have been bigger, but I realize I am speaking as a fan, in the sense that I would have liked the game to last longer, with more locations to visit.
Last but not least, the animations are next level, and the story itself has some really funny moments (some humor never hurts). All that and more secure Final Fantasy IX a spot in my top 5 picks.
3. Crash Bandicoot: Warped (Naughty Dog 1998)
Crash Bandicoot: Warped got a remaster too, but the original is still the best you can play out there. That is because it runs super smooth, and brings in that great notion of nostalgia while also being very immersive. This game looked great at the time, and it holds quite well even now.
You rarely get to play a platformer featuring so many varied stages! It was called PlayStation’s Mario Bros for a reason, back in the day.
It does not take a lot of time to help Crash and his sister Coco collect 25 crystals, thus preventing the villains (Uka Uka and Dr. Neo Cortex) from conquering the world, but that alone is not going to stop the evil duo’s ambitions. In order to get the true ending, our heroes must also gather all gems and all gold relics on every time trial level.
Arm yourselves with time and patience, this is not going to be easy one bit. You can even collect all platinum relics actually, but that is just for the sake of it or for bragging rights, if you prefer.
Yes, just like many of you I died a ton of times trying to get past most of the attackers, not to mention to get all the platinum relics (I talked about that here), but this game is five stars and it continues to provide a lot of fun just because it is different and very intense.
The game world in particular is awesome and the great blend of 2D and 3D in these levels makes the experience absolutely worth it. If you have never played Crash Bandicoot: Warped, then you are failing to collect the most precious gem of the game: the game itself!
2. Metal Gear Solid (Konami 1998)
One of the most powerful franchises to debut on the PlayStation was Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, a title that married gameplay and cinematic style like no game before it. A master of narrative in a video game and a pioneer in breaking down the fourth wall between the player and the game, Hideo Kojima and his team produced a veritable masterpiece with Metal Gear Solid and it shows even today.
An art style that simultaneously did justice to the ink print concept art while evoking the ephemerality of a water color painting. Gameplay was tight and stealthy with just the right balance of challenge and reward to keep people hooked.
Taken as separate parts, Metal Gear Solid is without a doubt a “good” game but, as a whole, it becomes something else entirely. The soundtrack and the way it melds with the in-game environments speaks to the level of game engineering at work here. Nothing is excess, nothing is unneeded.
And that is hard to do when you have multiple endings in play. It all works together seamlessly and, if any one part were to go away, it would not be the same game. Spawning a line of legendary titles, Metal Gear Solid is still a touchstone for many fans and gamers.
Whether you know about its long cinematics, its winding story, or its stealth action gameplay, nearly every person involved with video games knows about this installment in Hideo Kojima’s collected works.
Calling this title a must-play game goes without saying, but recreating the groundbreaking energy it infused into game development is simply impossible.
International Superstar Soccer Pro 98 (Konami 1998)
If you need an addictive soccer game that is addictive by any definition but plain by modern standards then look no further than International Superstar Soccer Pro 98.
When you keep in mind that this game came out in a world before massively online multiplayer for consoles and consider that a lot of the fun in playing it was with friends and loved ones, you really get some sense of just how awesome this game is.
The perfect title to get into soccer games, ISS Pro 98 holds up because its core concept is without flaw. It is safe to say that the release of this game officially started the Fifa vs Pes rivalry. Enough said!
Tomb Raider (developed by Core Design, Published by Eidos Interactive 1996)
Some might think that this is a top ten game but I do not really feel that way. Why? There is little doubt that Tomb Raider is a groundbreaking title, but there were better games that came later and did the same thing.
To put Tomb Raider in the top 10 just because it was the first would seem to be an injustice to some other games but, nonetheless, I have to recognize just how massively influential this game was.
Crude by modern standards, it was a revelation when it was released and truly underlined how much of a “next generation” system the PlayStation was.
XenoGears (Squaresoft 1998)
Where do I begin with XenoGears? Easily one of the most complex plots in all of video gaming, XenoGears was a masterpiece then and it is a masterpiece now, but it is definitely not for everyone. It is almost like the perfect combination of manga, anime, and JRPG that Chrono Trigger was on the SNES but it is something more than that.
It has a cinematic feel and is as epic and plodding as the best novels or films. The gameplay is spot on and makes sense within the world’s logic. Basically, it has all of the elements of a top 10 game but again, it is just not for everyone.
Some gamers might be able to take pieces of the game and enjoy them in isolation such as the soundtrack or a synopsis of the story or artwork from the game, but the title itself is a serious undertaking even for dedicated, hardcore fans of JRPGs. It is a journey worth taking, though, and one that I cannot help but recommend but it is a kind of “gamer beware” situation.
When it came out, there were no massive guides on the Internet explaining everything so there was a lot of making sense of everything on your own. And it was tough. Maybe playing the game now would be much easier for someone and I doubt any magic is lost in the process, but I am sure that it is just as committed of an experience now as it was then.
Onto number 1, now…
1. Chrono Cross (Squaresoft 1999)
How do you follow up one of the best games of all time? You do not.
You make an entirely new game that ends up being the best PS1 game ever!
That is basically what the team behind Chrono Cross did and – despite their excellent effort – it is still a controversial decision today.
You see, bringing back the magic of the original team that made Chrono Trigger was impossible. Combining the talents of Akira Toriyama and others just was not going to happen again. To call the developers a “dream team” is an understatement, it is to the credit of the follow-up game that they realized this. Nonetheless, Chrono Cross is an amazing journey that is on par with the original in multiple ways.
The music is astounding (Mitsuda at his best), the artwork is unique and charming, and the 3D graphics are appropriate for the game. Whether you are looking for a serious RPG with multiple pathways to the end or you need something fun and old school, CC is one of the more modern titles to come out of the PlayStation era. It is adaptable and transitional as it spans the worlds of 16-bit and 32-bit JRPGs, but masters them both.
As the sequel to Chrono Trigger, however, it will never be without controversy. Should fans of CT play this game? Even the most die hard ones should at least give it a shot! It is not the exact same type of game, but the quality is there and it never stops from minute one until the end. There is a bit of an old school learning curve but there is also that classic payoff in the end.
Speaking of endings: after beating Chrono Cross for the first time, I played it anew once a year, until I saw all of its multiple endings. In terms of longevity, it is the Rpg that I have competitively played the most in my life (from 2001 to 2011).
Serge and his quest through parallel worlds – in order to break the veil of secrecy over his existence – haunted me for years, and made me wonder how free we really are.
Definitely, no shortage of food for thought.
Another ranking in the books – and so many gems unearthed
I truly believe that the magic grey box is one of the best consoles ever made, and the games on this list make a strong case for that. These are undoubtedly some of the best titles that most of us retro-ers have ever played. Being able to enjoy and still have fun with them today is a total privilege to me.
Personally, I liked just how creative game developers were, mainly focusing on stories and portrayal of characters. Nowadays too many games are created with graphics in mind, and it is not unusual for them to lack substance.
Instead, the above PS1 classics have outstanding stories combined with amazing gameplay, which make them a must-play for anyone willing to explore the retro gaming world or simply looking for great gaming experiences.
Alright retro folks, another journey to the past is over! Do you have any titles that you think should be added? Please let me know in the comments below, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts.
Till next retro list!
Wow another blast from the past – I love the articles you have on this site mate! 🙂
This was my first ever ‘proper’ console (I don’t class the Atari as ‘proper’!). I had all of the games you cover here, and many others you have not…but there is only one genre-bending game in my opinion that opened so many doors for other game makers at the time…
This was such an important game, from a graphical point of view and camera angle point of view – I remember sitting there with three of my mates playing through it for the first time, and we were all blown away.
I can vividly remember the first underwater part of the game – I had to hide there to avoid the attentions of a bear. The AI of it all, and the different third person views were extraordinary to me.
In my book, it probably opened the door for companies like Bethesda to come out with their Elder Scrolls worlds (and Fallout of course!).
It is so nice of you to say that Chris, thank you very much. Comments like yours are definitely an energy boost!
I totally agree with you, that is why I named it in my honorable mentions. Tomb Raider was revolutionary and paved the way for a new generation of games.
Thanks again for being such an avid reader of my blog, till next retro ranking!
I was addicted to ISS Pro 98, playing that game for hours on end and even if someone were to give me a console and the game again, I’d probably be playing all day and all night. I’m not much of a soccer fan, but soccer video games have always captivated me, and they would to this day.
I never really played action games at the time, though, but again, I’d definitely be one to give these games a go if I happened to get my hands on them and the PS1. Being someone who prefers retro games over modern, I’d have a blast here.
Hello Todd, thanks for leaving another comment on my blog!
I can perfectly relate to that… Not only do I love soccer in real life, I am also a massive fan of soccer video games. You might remember my post about the top 10 retro soccer games.
You know what, The Pes series has always appealed to me over Fifa, but Fifa 98 RTWC was just special, that is why I ranked it 6th (please check Part 1) on this list. Iss Pro 98 was a lot of fun, of course, but its Electronic Arts’ counterpart had that certain something.
Thanks again for stopping by, stay tuned for more retro posts!