Here's our pick of the top 50 underappreciated PlayStation One games for the console that changed home gaming as we know it...
Sony's original PlayStation was launched in Japan in 1994, hitting the rest of the world in 1995, and it proceeded to revolutionise the console market. It took a pastime that was seen as exclusive to geeks and children, and turned it into a true mainstream phenomenon. PlayStation made gaming 'cool', and it brought with it a huge catalogue of games, introducing us to all-time classics like Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Wipeout, Resident Evil and many, many more.
However, for all the critically and publicly acclaimed titles the unit had, it also had a whole selection of underappreciated releases. Some of these are titles that may not be for everybody, but still offer superb entertainment to many, and others are simply great, but failed to shine due to poor advertising or low sales. These facts don't change the quality of these titles, and here we're going to take a look at our own top 50. Of course, being a list of underappreciated games, these are titles that range from obscure, cult classics to games that just didn't sell, despite being good releases in their own right, so don't expect to see acclaimed titles like the aforementioned Metal Gear or Final Fantasy VII here. Let's not waste any more time and get to it...
One is a fast-paced shooter in which you play an amnesiac with a gun arm on a mission to find out his identity. He attempts to discover the answer across six levels, and is constantly pursued by the police and military.
One is an early example of the 2.5D title, and as the player runs through the various 3D rendered worlds, the camera zooms around automatically, giving the game a more cinematic feel. Action is thick and fast, and boss battles are challenging, often requiring special tactics to defeat.
One received pretty high scores on its release back in 1997, and is still held in high regard by fans.
49. Rampage World Tour
If you're an old school gamer who was around in the 80s, you'll no doubt remember the classic arcade title, Rampage. Starring three B-movie monsters – George the giant gorilla, Lizzie the dinosaur and Ralph the giant werewolf, the game simply tasked players with one goal, and that was destruction of various cities.
Rampage World Tour on the PlayStation is a more up to date take on the classic, with better visuals, new locations spread around the world, and new power ups. The core gameplay, however, remains the same, and allows players to smash buildings, eat civilians and mash enemy tanks. It's simple, yes, but still as fun as it was back in the 80s.
48. (c-12) Final Resistance
Clearly inspired by a certain Arnie-powered killer robot, (c-12) Final Resistance is a third person shooter that sees players take on the role of cyborg soldier, Riley Vaughan, as he attempts to fight invading aliens who want the planet for the abundance of carbon.
Okay, so the story is a bit of old guff, but the actual game is very good, and takes place in various ruined cities and war torn environs. Riley can utilise a range of weapons, including a powerful sniper scope, and he has to complete various other tasks alongside killing invaders to proceed on his mission.
Visually impressive for the PS1, (c-12) Final Resistance came out of the respected SCE Studio Cambridge, which would go on to become Guerrilla Games, of Killzone fame, making this an early example of things to come.
47. LSD: Dream Emulator
Without a doubt the most bizarre game on this list, and possibly of all time, LSD: Dream Emulator is as messed up, and drug induced as it sounds. Based upon the creator Hiroko Nishikawa's own dream journals, the game lets you explore totally random and weird worlds, and was sadly, only released in Japan.
As with most dreams, these worlds make little sense, and by touching any object, be it a person, creature or even a wall, you'll jump from one dream scape into another. Hitting people and certain objects makes your dreams stranger and stranger, and there are actually some genuinely scary moments to be witnessed. Dreams are measured in four categories – upper, downer, dynamic and static, and after a set time you wake up, able to carry on with another, new dream, advancing the game's day count by one. Eventually you can replay your dreams, unless you run into a a man wearing a grey hat and trench coat, who can take this ability away.
It may not look all that attractive, in fact it's downright primitive and ugly, but that's not the point here. There's not even any real goal, all you do is simply wander around tripped out worlds, over and over. For some reason, this is very addictive.
46. In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood is a third person adventure with some action elements. Players take on the role of MI6 agent, John Cord, who infiltrates the fictional Russian state of Volgia. Unfortunately, he's captured and tortured, and this leads to him losing his memory. So yes, you've guessed it, it's your job to help him escape and to ultimately remember his past and the events that lead to his capture.
The game mixes in a lot of puzzle and stealth elements into the third person adventure, and the story is actually very interesting, keeping you ploughing along, despite some awkward action sequences. The high-tech spy setting and decent visuals are paired with some solid voice acting, and whilst it isn't recommended for pure action fans, adventure buffs should seek it out.
45. Crusader: No Remorse
Also available on the Sega Saturn and PC, Crusader: No Remorse is an isometric shooter that few people have ever played. It may have blatantly stolen its main character design from a certain Star Wars bounty hunter, but the gameplay here is great.
Developed by Origin Systems, the game mixes shooting and puzzles within a rich and detailed world. As the crimson-clad hero, the Silencer, you have to infiltrate various facilities, bypassing security systems, hacking computers and taking out guards to achieve your ends. To do this you have a range of weapons and abilities, and you can destroy a lot of the objects in the world.
The controls are a little clunky, and take some getting used to, but the slower-paced combat and flexible approach to completing your objectives is great.
44. Rapid Reload/Gunners Heaven
A blatant clone of Treasure's Mega Drive classic, Gunstar Heroes (even the characters are treasure hunters), Rapid Reload is, nonetheless, a great side scrolling shooter packed with action and some memorable boss battles.
Like Gunstar Heroes, the game features different ammo types, including a flame thrower and homing shot, and characters also have a grappling hook to help them navigate the six levels.
Rapid Reload was originally part of the first wave of PlayStation titles released, and although it didn't push the platform technically, it was, and sill is a great early outing, and the gameplay holds up today.
43. Fighting Force
Fighting Force isa 3D scrolling beat 'em up in the same style as Sega's Street of Rage, and earlier classics like Final Fight and Renegade. In fact, it was originally planned as a Street of Rage title, but was later re-branded.
It features four different characters, which their own strengths and weaknesses, and alongside the usual melee combat, players can utilise weapons, guns, and the environment, and different paths through the game can be chosen.
The game arrived to fairly average reviews on release, limiting its potential, and despite a sequel on the Dreamcast (which was fairly poor), it quickly vanished. The original is still held in high regard by fans, though, and it's one of the first 3D beat 'em ups of its type, which makes it well worth a punt.
42. Wargames: Defcon 1
Although the only thing similar to the 1983 Matthew Broderick flick is the name and the inclusion of NORAD and WOPR, Wargames: Defcon 1 is a great game anyway, so it doesn't matter if you like the film or not.
The story takes place 20 years after the film, and sees NORAD doing battle with the WOPR forces, which, like its digital buddy, Skynet, wants to eradicate mankind (why do computers need to be so bloody evil all the time?)
An action strategy title, players control various units on the battlefield directly, able to jump from one to another at will. Units not under player control can be given basic orders, including forming up on the player vehicle, and the two sides have vastly different forces, with NORAD having traditional tanks and aircraft, and WOPR sporting sci-fi mechs and advanced vehicles. Of course, the game also taunts you if you lose, asking if you prefer a nice game of chess. Nice.
41. Intelligent Qube / Kurushi
A simple, but devilishly challenging puzzler. Kurushi sees you trying to stay alive by destroying blocks that are continuously rolling towards you. You do this by highlighting areas of the floor to detonate, and timing the blast to hit the cubes as they roll over the them. Some blocks can cause larger explosions and chain reactions, and others need to be left alone, otherwise you lose a part of the floor you're standing on. It sounds simple, but this is an addictive and tough title.
40. Bloody Roar
What's more fun than playing a larger-than-life selection of martial artists with over the top special moves? Playing a larger-than-life selection of martial artists with over the top special moves who can transform into animals, of course!
Bloody Roar may not be the best example of the combat genre, and other games like Tekken and Soul Calibur do a better job mechanically, but Bloody Roar's animal transformation and brutal specials create a supremely satisfying and enjoyable scrapper. Where else can you pit a mole against a tiger and have a good, balanced fight?
Even though it isn't as polished as Namco's offerings, Bloody Roar plays very well, with decent combo systems, and as each character has a human and animal form, the range of moves and tactics open to player is impressive. Well worth a look for beat 'em up fans.
The Myst series as a franchise is far from underappreciated, but on the PlayStation it hardly made a splash. True, the slide-show puzzler has always been about as divisive as you can get, with console owners being far from the game's original core demographic, but as a game in its own right, few can hold a candle to the brilliant puzzles and superb atmosphere Cyan Worlds' titles ooze.
Both Myst and Riven appeared on the PlayStation, and for those looking for a truly challenging brain bender, this is a good choice. The mysterious island and the worlds that follow all contain some of the most bizarre landscapes around, dotted with tough puzzles, and solving the game requires all of your grey matter, and this changed little on the PlayStation.
Riven was, and still is, the hardest of the series, and ups the ante when it comes to mental callisthenics, and is every bit as absorbing as the debut title, Myst.
It seemed like a big release for its time, coming from Shiny Entertainment, creator of Earthworm Jim, but on the PS1 it didn't really get out of the starting blocks. This is a shame as, although short, MDK was a great third person shooter, packed with humour and unique features for the time.
As heroic janitor, Kurt Hectic, you have to save the earth from invading aliens, and you use the powerful coil suit to do so. This suit allows Kurt to glide long distances and take out his foes both a close and long range, thanks to a powerful arm machine gun which can be slotted onto Kurt's head to form a sniper rifle.
It's a very quirky title with impressive visuals at the time of its release, and some interesting missions and mini games. It spawned a sequel, but many fans still say the first is the best of the two.
37. Jade Cocoon
This is an RPG that combines some of the more traditional RPG elements with creature training and evolution. The protagonist, Levant, is a Cocoon Master, able to capture and tame Minions. These creatures can be used to fight for Levant, and can be fused together with other Minions to create more powerful beings that inherit the skills of the paired creatures.
Battles mainly consist of plentiful use of elemental powers, with the various abilities having strengths and weaknesses against others. Fire attacks beat wind, for example. Minions possess these elemental powers, with more powerful, new generations of creatures having more than one. The graphics are good, the audio design great, and the game world is expansive, making for a unique, well-rounded RPG.
36. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
The first game in the Blood Omen series, preceding the more well known instalments like Soul Reaver, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is not a 3D action adventure like it's followers, but is a top down action RPG. It features full voice acting (some of which is unintentionally humorous), and simple, but enjoyable hack and slash world-roaming and dungeon-crawling.
The game is an origin story, depicting the series' main antagonist, Kain's rise to power as he hunts down and slays the Circle of Nine. As well as his martial skills, Kain also possesses various magical abilities, such as shape-shifting, and he attains more skills and items as he progresses, similarly to Nintendo's Zelda series.
With the game's setting of Nosgoth set to return to modern systems soon, this debut outing of the series is one to check out.
35. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
Part of the Mega Man Legends series, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne casts players as the titular anti-heroine, and features various gameplay styles, including 3D action, puzzles and strategy. Using her robotics and army of Servbots, Tron wis on a mission to raise money to pay off a family debt, which means making money in any way possible, usually by stealing.
Tron's army of Servbots is a big feature of the game, with each one having their own personality, and they can be improved by undergoing training minigames. The visual style is the same as the other Legends games, and it's a gleefully colourful and enjoyable robotic romp, even if it strays far from the usual Mega Man style of play.
Galerians is one of the more interesting Resident Evil clones, and focuses not on traditional, scour-the-area-for-every-single-bullet play, but instead features the use of mind powers. As protagonist, Rion Steiner, a boy who wakes up with no memory, players explore the hospital Rion wakes up in, and by using special drug can utilise his psychic powers to combat foes. If Rion takes too much damage, he can unleash a powerful, but uncontrollable assault, killing foes instantly.
Still satisfying the survival horror mechanic, Rion needs vials of drugs to fuel his powers, of which there is a limited amount, so conservation is still needed whilst navigating the world and solving puzzles.
Galerians was originally lost in the fever surrounding Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but genre fans should certainly check it out.
33. Tobal 2
Sadly, Tobal 2 never got a release outside of its native Japan, which is a shame as it's one of the better fighters on the system. It might not have the mainstream appeal of the Tekken and its ilk, but the core fighting engine of Tobal 2 is one of the best of the generation, and the combo system is fast and fluid, all running at an impressive 60fps. There's even an RPG-style quest mode spanning several dungeons to add more longevity to the core fighting. This combat doesn't need all that much help, though, with around 200 characters to choose from, and a fully 3D fighting arena. A quality title that's a must import for the genre's fans.
32. Tempest X 3
For the handful of people who bought an Atari Jaguar (and the few who didn't immediately take it back to the shop), one of the best games for the system, and an all-time classic arcade title, was Tempest 2000. Tempest X 3 is basically the same game, but for the PlayStation.
Jeff Minter's trademark acid trip visuals and a thumpingly brilliant soundtrack accompany the eye-melting action, and the result is a digital, high score-seeking drug. As simple as it is addictive, Tempest's gameplay hasn't aged one bit, and this is clearly evident in this version of the game, which is straightforward, reflex-challenging bliss.
Created by Insomnia, the team responsible for the Resistance series, Disruptor is a great early example of a non-N64 console FPS title that worked well, with decent controls and steady challenge.
Disruptor is a traditional corridor shooter at heart, with a range of decent weapons and psi powers accompanying the bullet-slinging. It looks pretty good for an FPS release at the time of the PS1, and although it does little all that differently from other similar period entries in the genre, psi powers aside, it's one of the best FPS releases on Sony's debut platform.
30. Vandal Hearts
This was one of the first tactical RPGs to arrive on 32-bit, and is very similar in gameplay to Sega's Shining Force series. Unlike Shining Force, Vandal Hearts is an isometric game with much better visuals. Players take turns moving their units around the grid-based battlefields, which feature varying heights and terrain types. Units can attack and use abilities, and when all have had a turn, the enemy units have their go.
It's an RPG game of chess, where the outcome isn't simply decided by higher levels or even a player's manual dexterity, but instead well planned out tactics and strategies. This makes Vandal Hearts a very different RPG experience to the majority of similar titles on the PlayStation, and one that should be very welcome to players looking for a more mental role playing challenge.
Want to play Zelda on your PlayStation? Well, although impossible at the time of release and today (you never know now, though, with Nintendo's current issues), there's always a great alternative in Alundra.
Clearly a blatant Zelda clone for Sony's console, Alundra is a top-down action adventure with light RPG elements. It features the same hack and slash combat as Nintendo's series, as well as item gathering, and adds in the ability to explore other people's dreams and nightmares. There's also a heavy puzzle element, some of the most difficult in the genre.
Ehrgeiz is a dream game for many PlayStation owners. Not only is it a cross between Tekken and Powerstone, but it features Final Fantasy characters battling it out in full 3D. Yes, fans actually get the chance to wield Cloud's Buster Sword and to play as the iconic Sephiroth.
It isn't as smooth as competing fighters, but this is a fighter that's sold on the strength of its characters, and for Final Fantasy VII fans, this is more than enough. Sadly, though, it didn't do all that well commercially when it released.
Alongside the combat modes, the game also features a quest mode, much like Tekken's later instalments that are crammed in as a side show. This boasts a long dungeon crawl-style of play, complete with item looting and a hunger status. Other minigames are also featured, further bolstering the longevity of the title.
27. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
Now a cult series of wacked-out RPGs, the Persona series also found a home on the PS1, and Persona 2 is a great example of what the traditionally off-the-wall series has in store. Played via third person, with random battles and the persona system that grants new strengths and abilities, it's a different, but no less absorbing role player.
Personas can be levelled up with use, and new personas are acquired by gathering tarot cards and attracting demons. The rumour system is intriguing, and new rumours can be collected with various outcomes if the player pays for the rumour to become fact. Quriky? Yes. Great? Most definitely.
26. Heart of Darkness
This was quite the hype monster back before its release in 1998, and it took six years to develop. It includes an impressive orchestral score (one of the first games to do so), FMV cut scenes and some of the best graphics around at the time. It also plays well, and features a myriad of ways for the main protagonist to die, some actually pretty grim to be honest.
Sadly, the game didn’t live up to its lofty ambitions, and partly due to a very short length, it didn't do all that well at retail. This is a shame, as it's still great, and it could have been a decent series if the developer, Amazing Studios, hadn't gone bankrupt.
Apologies: we had to do that annoying thing where we split the article over two pages. As regular readers know, we only do this on very long pieces here, and have no urge to get you to click 50 times to see the entirety of a list. Hopefully you'll forgive us the one. Here's the rest of the countdown...
25. Suikoden II
The second game in the series, and another excellent JRPG for the PS1. Suikoden II doesn't try to follow many of its stable mates by using flashy 3D or technical prowess. Instead, it simply goes for pure, traditional JRPG 2D quality, and sees you recruiting a myriad of characters to aid you in your fight.
The storyline is one of the better to be found in the often poorly-translated JRPG genre, and the purposely traditional design focuses fully on gameplay, and it doesn’t disappoint.
24. The Legend of Dragoon
A Sony published RPG, and one that was initially criticised for being overly generic, The Legend of Dragoon has become a cult classic for PS1 fans. The game is a clear product of the Final Fantasy era, and has many similar features, including random encounters (which can be avoided if the player wishes).
Although it apes a lot of FF features, The Legend of Dragoon also has some unique features, most notably the Additions system that features user-input combos to open up more powerful attacks. Characters can also transform into the titular Dragoons once they acquire a Dragoon Spirit.
Many fans of the game actually consider The Legend of Dragoon to be superior to the Final Fantasy series, such is its impact, and this definitely makes this a game to seek out if you're looking for some classic PS1 RPG action.
23. Rival Schools
One of Capcom's most overlooked releases, Rival Schools is a great example of the 3D one-on-one brawler. Set in typically colourful Japanese-style schools, complete with dodgy schoolgirl underwear flashing, combatants vary from martial artists to sports players, and you pick two of them at a time. One is your actual combatant, and the second is used to the game's team-up special attacks.
Rival Schools only uses four attack buttons, which was odd for a Capcom title, but the fighting system works well, and is surprisingly deep and satisfying. The characters are all interesting and different from the usual selection of overused world warrior archetypes, and the introduction of the 'vigor' meter allows access to more powerful moves as you fill it up during a fight. It also includes launch moves that open up air combos and juggles. Great stuff.
Klonoa is a lesser-known 2.5D platformer, and to genre aficionados it's one of the best on the system. It features a striking art style and a main character who can pick up and throw his foes at each other, or use them as stepping stones for higher jumps.
This is wrapped up on some of the most well-implemented platforming on the system. It's a shame the game is a little short, even for a platformer, but while it lasts, it's gold.
21. Silhouette Mirage
Treasure is one of the the most acclaimed developers of the 16 and 32-bit era, and it made a big name for itself by creating off the wall titles with distinctive twists. Silhouette Mirage is one of those titles, and it's a side scroller that plays like a mash-up of two other Treasure titles, Gunstar Heroes and Ikaruga.
The main twist of the game is the main character, Shyna's, split abilities. Using both Silhouette and Mirage powers you have to attack your foes with the opposite power, similar to Ikaruga's polarity-switching mechanic. Silhouette enemies are defeated by Mirage, and vice versa. The added twist is that to use each power, you need to be facing the right direction.
This produces a very interesting and quirky take on side scroller play, and being a treasure title, it packs in great visuals and a well-balanced difficulty. It's also very challenging for completionists, as you have to complete the game numerous times with only a handful of continues to unlock all of the secrets.
20. Jumping Flash
One of the PlayStation's launch titles, and still to this day, one of the best. It was one of the first ever attempts to create a first person platformer, and for the most part, it worked. This is big praise as even now, very few games that have attempted the same thing have got it right. Oh, and you play as a robotic rabbit named Robbit, which is nice.
The game features bold, colourful worlds to jump around in three dimensions and sports a rather unique interface, complete with radar and an auto view tilt when you jump, so you could see where you were going to land. It mixes this platforming with first person shooting of a sorts, and item collection goals with boss battles.
The game plays well, even with the PS1's limited tech, and it set the stage for 3D platformers to come when it first arrived, so deserves praise if only for its precursor status.
19. Tomba 2/Tombi 2
A 2.5D platformer of the Metroidvania-style, this is another often overlooked, but trend-setting title on the PS1, despite the protagonist having bright pink hair. As the feral hero, players explore the large environments of the game, jumping in and out of the background and breaking the traditionally linear platforming mould. Plays can also choose where they want to go at various points. Some areas of the game open up with top-down areas allowing more freedom, and there are tons of missions to try out, over 100 in total.
The variety in the game is pretty good for a platform title, and in order to fully complete it, you have to finish every challenge, which is quite tricky. Each completed mission grants adventure Points, used to open reward boxes scattered around the world.
Taking a page out of Mario's book, Tomba can also wear various power-up suits that give him different abilities, such as a flying squirrel that allows gliding, and pig suit that lets him talk to pigs. This, and its prequel were also amongst the first titles to utilise then now standard DualShock control method.
18. Silent Bomber
Imagine Hudson Soft's Bomberman series, only faster, with open levels and more anime hair, and you've got Silent Bomber. This is a great fast-paced, top-down action title in which you complete missions by running around like a loon, jumping and wall climbing, whilst throwing and detonating bombs to blow up your foes and objectives.
It features a character upgrade system, big boss fights, some great set pieces and some pumping audio driving the action along, and the quick fire bombing holds up throughout.
17. Star Ocean: The Second Story
On a platform that's so well endowed with RPGs, especially of the JRPG persuasion, it's easy for truly great titles to get lost in the mix, and Star Ocean is one such example. Although overshadowed by other, more recognised tittles, Star Ocean: The Second Story is one of the best RPGs on the system.
Underneath some great, and lovingly polished presentation the game has a solid combat system, a massive quest, a unique item creation tool, and multiple endings. The series has jumped ship to various platforms since, but this is one of the best, and it's well worth seeking out if you still have your PS1, and are a fan of classic JRPGs.
16. Puzzle Bobble 4/Bust-A-Move 4
Most gamers are well aware of the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series of games, and the slew of clones that have carbon-copied the series into obscurity, especially on mobile devices. Taito's franchise was the first, though, and most would agree, the best.
Puzzle Bobble 4 on the PS1 is one of the best examples of the series too. With well over 600 levels and new pulley/scale system game mechanics, this is also one of the finest puzzlers on the platform, period. Both a story and arcade mode are present, along with puzzle mode, challenges and more. You can even use the level editor to create your own challenges. Chain reactions are also introduced in two player matches (and 1P Vs CPU). The various modes and excellent two player challenges make this a no-brainer for puzzle fans.
15. Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo
With Street Fighter dominating the genre, Capcom decided to broaden the series' horizons by creating Puzzle Fighter. Like many of the best puzzle games, the core gameplay is simple, matching coloured blocks, and dropping blocks on your opponent, but it features cutesy versions of popular Street Fighter characters, and special moves based on the fighting title.
As with many popular puzzlers, the game has been cloned (it was itself based on Capcom's Pnickies), most notably in Mortal Kombat: Deception. It's also been ported to modern consoles via PSN and Xbox Live, but the PS1 version is one of the best, and despite bearing the Street Fighter name, could have done much better.
14. Legend of Legaia
Consistently brought up in underrated discussions by fans, Legend of Legaia is one of the most fondly remembered titles on the platform by genre fanatics. One of many examples of fine JRPGs on the system, it features a turn-based combat system that allows players to choose the type of attack by selecting left or right attacks, as well as high and low. Depending on the equipment used, these attacks can be greatly affected. High and low attacks can be useful in different situations, with low attacks missing flying enemies, for example. Characters can also team up with powerful entities called Ra-Seru, which augment their abilities.
Although not entirely revolutionary, Legend of Legaia is a great RPG that ticks all the boxes needed to produce a winning formula, and it remains a firm fan-favourite to this day.
A technical powerhouse, and a perfect game to show off the power of the PlayStation, G-Police was one of the most impressive releases on the system in its day. Developed by Psygnosis, the game puts players in control of agile Police craft in a sci-fi setting.
Utilising unique (at the time) vibration features alongside some truly impressive visuals, G-Police is one of the hardest games on the platform. Some may argue that this is due to clunky controls, but fans weren't, and still aren't put off, and the game is still a firm favourite, and can even be bought for the PS3 via PSN.
12. Colony Wars
Although the space setting isn't quite as technically impressive as G-Police's fully rendered cityscapes, Psygnosis' Colony Wars is arguably the better actual game of the two. It also spawned two sequels in Vengeance and Red Sun, but the series faded away, which is a shame.
A space combat sim, Colony Wars features smooth space dogfights, and a non-linear mission structure, with mission failure not always leading to a game over, but instead changing the progress of the missions, a nod to the classic, genre stable mate, Wing Commander.
The game features a number of possible endings, making for increased replayability, and there are few similar titles of this genre as good on the PS1.
11. Bishi Bashi Special
Long before Nintendo's Wario developed a taste for tiny, bite-size minigames, Bishi Bashi Special was shaking soda bottles and wasting mechanical pencil lead on the PlayStation with style and content that could only come from Japan.
One of the best party games ever made, especially if you use two PlayStation mult-taps to enable eight player support, there are few times when button mashing is so much fun, even in the wake of motion-controlled silliness. What makes it all the most enjoyable is the bizarre nature of it all, and the crazy selection of challenges, something of a rarity at the time of release for western audiences, only served to make the whole thing more of a post-pub staple for drunken gamers, a trend that continues for fans today.
10. Um Jammer Lammy
A sequel of sorts to the more famous Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy follows the same formula as the previous release, but has a focus on guitar playing, rather than rapping. Like Parappa, Lammy has to play various songs alongside her teachers with players reproducing button presses as instructed.
The game is more difficult than Parappa, which puts many off, but it's the superior of the two as it not only has a more in-depth challenge, but also a two player mode and Parappa remixes. Once again, it makes for a brilliant party game, post pub or otherwise, and few games, even the original Parappa, can match its psychedelic visuals.
9. Ghost in the Shell
Based on the popular anime, Ghost in the Shell is a third person shooter which puts players in the cockpit of a powerful, wall-climbing, 'Fuchikoma' tank. This tank is impressively agile, offering the kind of freedom of movement few others games possessed at the time of release. Many levels see you jumping and climbing around increasingly more complex landscapes, and this is necessary as the enemy can be very dangerous, so you need your agility to get the drop on them.
Ghost in the Shell is widely considered to be one of the best anime tie-in games, even if it didn’t originally sell all that well, and was missed by many. Whether of not you like anime or the series the game is based on, this is a great action shooter regardless.
8. Bushido Blade
As with a lot of underappreciated titles, Bushido Blade is a game that takes a famliar genre and attempts to do something differently. This time it was to replace fisticuffs and flashy special moves with realistic, insta-death sword fights.
Although it may not have worked from a commercial standpoint, hence its inclusion here, Bushido Blade's combat was, and is both rewarding and addictive. It does away with the ability to button mash your way to victory, and instead features a combat system that requires genuine skill and perfect timing, especially when going up against another human opponent.
Perhaps its focus on a more realistic and low-key setting, coupled with the rather mundane characters, compared to the competition at least, did it no favours initially, but overlooking this yields some truly brilliant combat packed with depth.
7. Die Hard Trilogy
The only thing better than one John McClane is three of him, and that's just what Die Hard Trilogy delivers, and it does so in a very impressive way.
Spanning the first three Die Hard movies, Die Hard Trilogy features three different games in one package, all of which are great. Die Hard is a third-person action-shooter, Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a Virtua-Cop shooting gallery (with light gun support), and the jewel in the crown is Die Hard: With a Vengeance, which is a challenging, checkpoint-lead driving game.
All three titles are full games in their own right, and the mixture of styles make for a long-lasting challenge, and what a challenge it is. The on-rails Die Hard 2 is enjoyable, but both Die Hard and Die Hard: With A Vengeance are very tricky, with the latter being the hardest of the three. This challenge is always on the right-side of fair, though, and for its time, this was a very impressive compilation. And it's Die Hard, which just never gets old (until Die Hard 4.0, anyway).
Directed by Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima, Policenauts is very similar to the previous, excellent Sega CD title, Snatcher. Like the previous game, this is a point and click interactive comic of sorts, with shooting segments. By clicking on the environment, the protagonist, Jonathan Ingram, can analyse items and converse with people in order to investigate the circumstances surrounding his wife's death.
Unlike Snatcher, which was a cyber-punk story set in Neo Kobe on Earth, Policenauts takes place primarily in space, on the colony Beyond Coast. Also like Snatcher, it's one of the first games to feature such high quality voice acting throughout, and also sports FMV cut scenes.
The game has never been released outside of Japan, and was initially only available on NEC PC-9821, 3DO, Sega Saturn and PlayStation. However, a fan-made English translation has since surfaced online.
5. Vib Ribbon
Released in Japan in 1999, and everywhere else in 2000, Vib Ribbon is one of the most original titles you're ever likely to play, and is one of the best examples of the music genre. You don't even need a cheap, plastic guitar.
Using either the supplied music, or your own, your goal is simple, to guide the enigmatic protagonist, Vibri, along a straight line that warps and shifts along with the music. As the music plays, the line changes, generating obstacles that can be avoided with well timed, and correct button presses. The obstacles are generated in time with the music, which means that the style and tempo of music you use can actually affect the difficulty.
Classical and chill out music may be relatively simple and sedate, whilst heavy metal or dance music can produce the kind of obstacle avoidance test that could tie your fingers in knots.
The gameplay is as simple as it gets, but is brilliantly implemented, and although Vibri is made up of basic, vector-style lines, he's a charming and likeable character, and evolves or devolves depending on your progress, much like the later, PS2 and Dreamcast music title, Rez.
4. Future Cop LAPD
A criminally (if you'll forgive the pun) overlooked gem of a game. Future Cop LAPD is a great sci-fi action title that sees you control a powerful law enforcement mech, that can transform into a car, on a series of missions. The gamepley somewhat resembles that of EA's Strike series (which is well overdue a return), and the entire campaign can be played in split-screen co-op.
Alongside the main content, there's also a basic strategy game included, complete with unit building. This can also be played by two players. Great value and a great game.
3. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Considered by many fans to be the best of a long running series, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is a Tomb Raider-inspired Gothic adventure in which you play Raziel, an-ex vampire lord who now stalks the world devouring souls looking for revenge against his former master, the titular Kain.
Created by Crystal Dynamics, who ironically now heads Tomb Raider, the game takes plenty of inspiration from Ms Croft's outings, including a heavy focus on block puzzles and environmental navigation. Unlike Tomb Raider games of the period, however, Soul Reaver features a large, open world with no loading times, a big feature at the time of release. This world is split into various regions, each ruled by a different vampire clan, the leader of which Raziel has to locate and defeat in order to acquire new abilities. Raziel can also switch from the living and dead planes, and this serves as a major puzzle and plot device.
This all amounts to a brilliant mixture of Tomb Raider and Metroid, with areas opening up once Raziel acquires the powers needed to access previously closed-off zones. Throw in some Zelda-style combat and all sorts of supernatural abilities (which also make for some very impressive puzzles) and you have a fantastic fantasy adventure.
2. Parasite Eve 2
While Resident Evil and Silent Hill may have captured all of the mainstream attention in the survival horror genre, on the PS1 back in the day there was another series that was every bit as good, if not better according to its fans. This was Parasite Eve, and it mixed Resident Evil-style survival horror with RPG elements to create a very different take on the genre.
Parasite Eve II is the highlight, and stars returning protagonist, FBI agent Aya Brea. She's once again investigating outbreaks of Mitochondrial creatures, in events set two years after the first game.
Unlike the first title, PEII features a real-time battle system, reminiscent of Resident Evil, and this is tempered by the Parasite Energy system that grants Aya special, magic-style abilities. Although it's certainly a survival horror, complete with puzzles and pre-rendered environments, there's a larger emphasis on combat, and here you also need to level Aya up, improving her abilities and customising her weapons. This is important, as later enemies became increasingly more and more deadly, and unprepared players can be unceremoniously destroyed if unprepared.
The far deeper gameplay and great presentation arguably make Parasite Eve II the superior title to Resident Evil, so it's strange that is sold relatively poorly.
1. Vagrant Story
It's crazy to think of a SquareSoft RPG title as being underappreciated, given that the PS1 was arguably one of the finest hours of the company, but the sublime Vagrant Story is just that. It is a very different kind of RPG for the traditionally turn-based JRPG producer, but one that's blissfully refreshing, and difficult.
As elite Riskbreaker, Ashley Riot, your mission is to infiltrate the creepy, abandoned city of Lea Monde in pursuit of cult leader, Sydney, who's kidnapped the Emperor's son. The city is populated with all manner of beasts and monsters, along with powerful bosses, and along the way we also discover Ashley's troubled past.
What sets Vagrant Story apart from its RPG brethren is the overall style. Instead of a traditional turn-based approach used by the likes of Final Fantasy, here the game fuses both turn-based and real time with action-adventure exploration and puzzle solving.
Combat is essentially turn-based, but is more fluid. You can move around during combat, which flows seamlessly with exploration, eschewing random battles, and you use a unique targeting system to strike various enemy body parts. As you fight, your 'risk' meter fills up. The higher it gets, the less likely your hits are to connect, but critical hit chances are increased. With careful timing, you can string together attacks endlessly, using your own custom move set, and a full counter attack system is in place.
Outside of combat, Ashley can craft his own weapons, and all of these gain experience (affinity) against specific enemy types as they're used. There's also a hefty dose of block-based puzzling, all wrapped up with a visually impressive, very different style, and a good story with strong characters.
The game is very tough, requiring the mastery of all of the game's systems in order to survive. You could say this was the Dark Souls of its time, and it's the go to game for RPG fans wishing for both a unique experience and a big challenge. Sadly, these strengths didn't turn out to be enough when it released, and any hopes for a sequel were dashed.
This article originally appeared in 2014. But all the games listed are still ace.