It wasn’t that long ago that the PSP felt like a revolution for the gaming world. Rather than having gameplay restricted to their house, gamers had the option to tote their favorite console around.
Even if it’s been a while since the PlayStation Portable first made a splash in the gaming world, there are still plenty of great games to come out of this era. Check out some of our favorite picks.
Burnout: Legends takes the high-velocity racing of Burnout 3: Takedown and adds several tracks and gameplay modes from the first two Burnout titles to create a deep, extremely enjoyable package for racing fans. Legends brings back fan-favorite tracks and modes like Pursuit, where players can take control of a police car and try to take down illegal street racers before they escape.
All told, the game includes 95 unlockable cars, 18 distinct maps, and nine unique race types (including the ever-popular Crash, where you simply fly into intersections and try to rack up huge property damage bills). It’s enough to keep your thumbs busy for days.
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood released in Japan in 1993 to critical acclaim, but an English version of the game was never made — well, until 2007, when Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles made its way to the PSP. Chronicles included both Rondo and its celebrated sequel, Castlevania: Symphony of Terror, in one incredible vampire-slaying package.
In Chronicles, you play as protagonists Richter Belmont and Alucard, and try to navigate perilous 2D, side-scrolling castles and dungeons in an effort to take down Dracula. Old-school Castlevania fans and newcomers alike should enjoy the game’s excellent soundtrack and updated visuals.
A mobile side-story set between Jak and Daxter and Jak II, one of the most iconic gaming franchises of all time, went mobile with this 2006 release, which brings the focus back to pure, unadulterated platforming. Daxter is a front-to-back romp full of personality and humor that perfectly complements the light, skill-based platforming that dominates the gameplay. The PSP’s visuals are a bit dated at this point, sure, but Daxter‘s vibrant colors and subtle details inject the game with a ton of flair. Add in some mini-games that lampoon popular movies, and you’ve got yourself a pretty nice handheld game.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Fans of the Final Fantasy series will feel right at home in this real-time action prequel to the original PlayStation classic FFVII. As protagonist Zack Fair, a member of Soldier and a minor character in FFVII, you’ll search for missing Soldiers Angeal and Genesis, and learn about the truth behind the Shinra corporation.
The game features real-time combat, creating a seamless experience, and emails that Zack receives throughout the game provide additional context and a greater sense of immersion. Crisis Core is built exclusively for gaming on the go, too, as dozens of short side quests provide entertainment for the bus or train ride home.
God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Everyone’s favorite combo-droppin’, god-slayin’ combat machine returned for 2008’s God of War: Chains of Olympus and 2010’s God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Both games, made by developer Ready At Dawn, feature a clever adaptation of God of War‘s control scheme and are among the most visually impressive titles made for the console.
In Chains, we get to see Kratos during his 10-year service to the gods of Olympus, as he attempts to rescue Helios — who, ironically, he would later kill — and save the Greek pantheon from Morpheus, the god of dreams, and Persephone, the queen of the underworld. Ghost of Sparta follows Kratos after the events of the original God of War, as he searches for his lost brother Deimos and confronts Thanatos in his domain of Death. Steeped in Greek lore, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta provide tons of insight into the life of Kratos before the events of God of War, making them must-plays for fans of the series.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
Just because you don’t have a car doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun on the road! Thanks to Rockstar Games, you can steal cars and stage epic shootouts with the police — all from the back seat of a public bus. Liberty City Stories, a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III, follows Antonio “Toni” Cipriani as ascends the ranks of the Italian mafia in Liberty City. Vice City Stories, a prequel to Vice City, centers around soldier Victor Vance as he builds a crime empire in Miami-esque Vice City.
Those familiar with Grand Theft Auto won’t see much difference from the console titles in terms of gameplay or features, though they play out on a smaller “portable” open world. The series’ distinctive charm still comes through, though, from the humorous cutscenes to cops that just don’t know when to quit. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you won’t want to miss out on these two PSP games.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Though we have now played Kingdom Hearts III — and even the massive expansion Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind — they were little more than a twinkle in Square Enix’ eye when Birth by Sleep came out in 2010. At the time, this PSP side-story gave fans of the series something to tide them over in the meantime — and some reassurance that the series was still alive and well.
Birth by Sleep brings back the popular combat system from Kingdom Hearts 2 with some welcome additions. Notably, the Command System allows players to customize a Command Deck for combat and a Focus bar that replaces the old MP (magic point) system. The plot follows Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, three apprentice Keyblade wielders, on their journey throughout several Disney environments.
Where the original Lumines captured audiences with its unique blend of rhythm and strategy, the follow-up brought big-name artists such as Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott into the fray. This simple-yet-challenging puzzle game looks like Tetris at first glance but packs so much more into its sleek package. The player keeps their board clear by creating square shapes using solid colors; each stage has two sets of colorful blocks that drop in four-block-boxes with randomized patterns.
The game synchronizes a sweeping bar that moves across the screen from left to right with a number of musical tracks, composed of varying speeds. The speed of the beat determines the speed of the bar, which, in turn, determines how fast you’ll need to create your squares to keep the board clean. The game is set up so that you’ll need to complete tracks in a linear fashion to unlock the next track, which is an annoyance for some and an obsession for others. Either way, the game is perfectly suited to the short periods of play time that mobile gaming affords.
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
Gamers will rejoice that Sony’s Ratchet and Clank series is available on PSP due to Developer High Impact Games engineering its duplication. In their most recent mission, Ratchet and Clank attempt to rescue a young girl named Luna, who has been trapped by the Technomite tyrant Otto Destruct.
In the latest installment, gamers can work with some new bells and whistles. Ratchet has a host of new weaponry, and Clank gets some brain-spinning new puzzles – all while keeping the classic charm and great gameplay of the original series. Size Matters supports all the features you know and love, like titanium bolts, skill points, and the R.Y.N.O. Best of all, Ratchet & Clank works for all different sizes of consoles.
Secret Agent Clank
As the supreme underdog, Clank has capture fans’ imaginations over the years. So it’s no surprise we eventually got a game with Clank’s backstory, and it truly delivers. Secret Agent Clank follows Clank through a TV show in Up Your Arsenal, which also happens to be the series’ third release. One of the best parts is when we get to see Clank pull a James Bond and work on the infamous Eye of Infinity gem theft case.
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