Clocked

The best PSP games of all time: 15 games that made greatness portable

The PSP (PlayStation Portable) is one of the most underrated, but also fondly remembered consoles ever made. And as fans will attest, it had some truly incredible games released on it. Here are the 15 best PSP games.

The PSP was Sony’s first attempt to break into the portable gaming market in a big way, and releasing it alongside a solid collection of PSP games was of critical importance. That said, during the course of its 10-year lifespan the quality of the best PSP games grew exponentially.

One of Sony’s key strategies was to create exclusive titles for the PSP that couldn’t be played anywhere else. Many of these exclusive PSP games were also directly related to established properties on the extremely popular PlayStation (and its predecessor the PS2).

best psp games
Image: LocoRoco 2 / Japan Studio

Therefore, fans of iconic Sony IPs such as Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Ratchet & Clank and Twisted Metal had to get their hands on a PSP if they wanted to play all their favourite franchise’s games. This, as one can imagine, was highly successful at driving sales for the portable gaming unit.

All good things come must come to an end though, and Sony officially discontinued the PSP in 2014 (although used devices still fetch more than their RRP on Amazon). Although, looking back at this list of the best PSP games, one can’t help but feel the market is ripe for another Sony handheld device.

psp games
Image: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII / Square Enix

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

No Sony console is complete without its own Metal Gear Solid entry, and Peace Walker more than adequately fulfils this role for the PSP. Featuring the stealthy action on which the series built its reputation, as well as a truly outlandish plot, Peace Walker is a must-play title for fans of mastermind creator Hideo Kojima.

Speaking of which, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the first time Kojima experimented with base-building mechanics (which he would further explore to great effect in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain). Essentially, Peace Walker was one of the main reasons to get a PSP, and is undoubtedly one of the best PSP games ever made.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta

The titular Ghost of Sparta is of course series protagonist Kratos, well and truly before he received a much-needed makeover in 2018’s reboot of God of War. Despite being a bit of an edge lord, this iteration of Kratos is actually a lot of fun to play as.

The game’s story involves Kratos’ search for his brother Deimos; a quest that gives you more than enough opportunity to put your combat skills to the test. I think it’s probably safe to say that combat in a portable game has never been this much bloody fun.

Lumines

A unique puzzle game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez, Tetris Effect) that combines psychedelic imagery and incredible sound design to great effect. While difficult to describe, Lumines is also incredibly difficult to forget, and is one of the most influential PSP games to be ever be released.

If you want a game that you can pickup and play, without much focus on story or characters, then Lumines is the PSP game for you.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

As great as the later instalments in the Grand Theft Auto series are, I’ve always had a soft spot for the characters, vibe and music of Vice City. Maybe it’s the sunshine that, no matter how many pedestrians you accidently massacre on the way to your objective, keeps me in a positive mood. But really, it’s probably the ’80s and all that that decade encompasses.

If you feel the same then Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. And let’s be real: running from the cops is the perfect portable gaming activity to do while bored on public transport.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Before Final Fantasy VII received the full remake treatment there was Crisis Core; a gift of a game that gave players the chance to return to the iconic world of Cloud Strife and his ragtag crew of environmentalist freedom fighters. And I think it’s fair to say the game’s themes have only grown more pertinent with time.

The gameplay loop of Crisis Core chooses to forgo the slow, methodical RPG systems of the original game and present a more streamlined product. You perform short missions, which is perfect for gaming while on the run, in favour of the near-endless narrative of Final Fantasy VII. One of the best looking games on the PSP too.

Daxter

If you played Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy on PS2, but found yourself growing a bit tired of Jak, then Daxter should be right up your alley! All jokes aside, Daxter takes place during the events at the beginning of Jak 2, giving it some added weight for fans of the series.

There is loads of the classic platforming/action gameplay that Naughty Dog excels at, and the wacky cast of characters keep the whole thing ticking along at an exciting pace. The perfect PSP game to play with your younger siblings/children looking over your shoulder.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood lay dormant in its coffin for years as an exclusive to the long-forgotten Turbo-Grafx 16 CD/PC Engine console. However, after years of hype regarding how good it was, it was remade and repackaged in a deluxe bundle under the Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles title.

The fact that it is now once again relatively difficult to find and play only adds to the game’s mysterious history. Rest assured though, if you do get your hands on a copy, you are about to experience one of the best PSP games ever made.

Monster Hunter Freedom

The almost episodic nature of the Monster Hunter games make them perfect for portable devices; they are easy to pick up and almost as easy to put down (well, sort of if you catch my drift). There is something enormously addictive about slaying giant beasts, and this game really leans into that energy.

Due to the console it’s on, Monster Hunter Freedom probably isn’t the game that first comes to mind for most fans of the series. It is, however, a fantastic example of what has made the series an international phenomenon.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable

An updated version of the well-received Persona 3. While some content was cut due to the storage constraints of the PSP, Persona 3 Portable more or less makes up for it with some nice gameplay tweaks and a few new narrative turns.

For starters, the PSP edition allows players to choose the gender of their character, which has a few unforeseen consequences throughout the game. Even more importantly, at least for series fans, the developers added a number of beloved character cameos to the game; making is essential for fans of Persona 4 in particular.

Jeanne d’Arc

Do not go into Jeanne d’Arc expecting a historically accurate account of the notable French revolutionary, who met a famously grisly end at the hands of English during the Hundred Years’ War. Rather, this game centres on a young heroine who, after seeing her village massacred by the demonically aided English, seeks revenge.

So if your looking for history lesson you should probably give this one a miss. If on the other hand you’re in the market for a charmingly addictive JRPG (with a little bit of a French connection) then Jean ‘Arc should be your first port of call. A true forgotten gem, and one of the best PSP games to rediscover.

Secret Agent Clank

Performing a similar trick to Daxter (as seen above), Secret Agent Clank casts the sidekick of the Ratchet & Clank series in a game all of his own. And if you know anything about the Ratchet & Clank series, then you know how damn good an idea that is in the first place.

Featuring the great platforming and nifty combat of the series’ main games, Secret Agent Clank ups the ante when it comes to the jokes and provides a riotous little adventure.

Ape Escape: On the Loose

Do you remember Ape Escape? At one point the cute ape-catching adventure was being heralded as Sony’s answer to Super Mario‘s continued dominance of the platformer genre, yet these years it appears to have been all but forgotten.

Nonetheless, that shouldn’t distract from the fact that it was a piece of pure and unbridled genius when it was first released on the PS1. Ape Escape: On the Loose brought that experience to a new generation of gamer; specifically the PSP audience, where it remains the best way to play the original (yet improved) game.

Gran Turismo PSP

When you’re in the mood for a driving game not much else will scratch the itch. Thankfully, Gran Turismo PSP took the winning formula of the classic racing simulator and made it playable almost anywhere.

At the time, the graphics of Gran Turismo PSP were unprecedented, bringing a level of polish and fidelity to a handheld device that Nintendo just couldn’t match. A landmark title in racing games, and a deserving inclusion on any list of the best PSP games.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

The Kingdom Hearts series is a PlayStation classic, combining the winning characters of Disney with Square’s RPG knowhow.

Birth By Sleep focuses on the intricate lore of the game’s world and gives players a brand-new trio of heroes in the form of Terra, Aqua and Ventus. Expect a rewarding main narrative, classic Final Fantasy-like combat and a host of Disney fan favourites. Only available on the PSP.

LocoRoco 2

If this list was organised in order of my affection for each game then LocoRoco 2 would be far closer to the top of this page. This wacky platformer is chock full of charm and ingenuity, and really comes across as a breathe of fresh air to the genre.

Developed by Sony’s iconic, and unfortunately now defunct Japan Studio, LocoRoco 2 serves as a powerful reminder of how important it is to save space for creativity and new ideas in the gaming industry. Because as great as a new Far Cry 6 might look, it’s games like LocoRoco 2 that raise the bar.

Read more: