Leading up to 2004, Sony shrunk its current hardware into a handheld unit. This meant taking PlayStation media on the road, so we could travel with the likes of Solid Snake, Ratchet & Clank, Sora, and so many other PlayStation mascots. By 2005, the concept became reality when the PlayStation Portable (PSP) landed in consumers’ hands. Its library of tiny-disced games took a bit to build up, but by its discontinuation in 2014, the PSP had amassed just over 1,900 games. We’re here to remember the best PSP games, and pay tribute to those that really helped sell the idea of a handheld PlayStation console.
Sony may have since stepped away from the handheld market after the disappointment of the Vita, but we still have the memories of enjoying these twenty gems. Whether we were shoveling cake into our faces or building an army through rhythmic battle cries, we won’t soon forget the best games on the PSP.
The Best PSP Games
20. Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake
Developer: Titan Studios Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Imagine if the flag in “Capture the Flag” was replaced by a princess. And then that princess had a significant weight problem. That’s ultimately the concept behind Fistful of Cake, the handheld version of the PS3 title.
Players take control of one of several fantasy-inspired classes, from a sword-wielding Warrior to a magical Mage, to rescue their robust princess from behind enemy lines. Each match is a round of chaos as players go tit for tat, slaying one another and making minimal progress with their overweight royalty.
Fistful of Cake expands upon the PS3 version with an expanded single-player story, four new multiplayer modes, and six additional levels. The concept may sound ridiculous, but it’s the best kind of ridiculousness.
19. Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Developer: Nihon Falcom Publisher: Xseed Games
Often, the PSP didn’t get completely original titles, but instead remakes, rehashes, or re-releases of older games. The Oath in Felghana is a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys using gameplay elements from The Ark of Napishtim.
When an evil presence threatens the people of Felghana in the wake of the events of Ys II, Adol Christin and company spring into action to save the town and vanquish the villainy. It’s a simple concept, but it delivers a memorable handheld experience.
Action role-playing games did fairly well on the PSP, and Ys was no outlier. The streamlined mechanics from the sixth entry allowed Nihon Falcom to focus primarily on building an engaging combat system. Though not developed specifically for the handheld, as the game was released five years earlier on PC in Japan before ever hitting Sony’s PSP, the remake translated well into the handheld space.
18. Burnout Legends
Developer: Criterion Games Publisher: Electronic Arts
Take to the streets in one of the most destructive racers to come to gaming. Burnout set the stage for a forward-moving, street-level demolition derby, where the goal is to knock out your opponents and cross the finish line before other drivers. Legends just shrunk the experience down a bit for the PSP while still delivering on the high-octane hilarity.
Players have to both know how to navigate city streets and leverage the weight of their vehicle to demolish the competition. Every crash and maneuver to trick the opposition into oncoming traffic is incredibly satisfying – even more so than finishing in first.
Legends may have ultimately been a remix of the larger Takedown that was released on consoles, but it held up well on the small unit.
17. Tekken: Dark Resurrection
Developer: Eighting Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release a Tekken game onto your console, and it’s almost a guarantee that a community of players will flood to it.
Dark Resurrection may have simply been a port of a console and arcade launch, plus a few added perks, but Eighting handled it so well that not only is it one of the best PSP games to release, the handheld port helped pad Namco’s bottom line in 2007.
Along with the core Tekken fighting experience, the PSP version of Dark Resurrection featured a Dojo, where ghosts of other players posed a unique challenge. It also ran at a smooth 60 FPS and featured game sharing, so players only needed one copy of the game when duking it out over ad hoc.
16. Ridge Racer
Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco
One of the biggest appeals of the PSP was being able to take fan-favorite games on the road. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, God of War – they all made use of the handheld landscape and provided hours of fun.
But it was titles like Ridge Racer that we would pop in more frequently when we wanted something simple and quick to jump into while we played PlayStation portably. And who can forget that iconic E3 2006 moment?
The series’ staple drift racing worked well on the PSP, and the handheld’s ad hoc and Wi-Fi capabilities allowed for relatively smooth eight-player multiplayer. As a launch title for the PSP, Ridge Racer was a well-rounded experience that showed a bit of what the handheld could do, setting the stage for other racing games deserving on the PlayStation Portable.
15. Lumines: Puzzle Fusion
Developer: Q Entertainment Publisher: Ubisoft
There’s always one game at a console’s launch that players jump into warily, assuming they’ll be sorely disappointed. Lumines was probably that game for the PSP’s release, largely because it seemed like nothing more than a Tetris clone. And yes, it does bear some similarities to the classic puzzler, but game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi sought more than to reinvent the wheel.
Puzzle Fusion takes the root concept of Tetris (line up shapes to clear the board) and adds color and dynamic soundtrack to enhance the user experience. The result was a series of follow-ups and proof that the PSP could work with a variety of genres.
Also, a delightfully fun game that helped pass the time on flights and long drives. Lumines was most recently seen with a remaster in 2018, but the original PSP version still holds up very well.
Developer: Ready at Dawn Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
For four entries starting in 2001, it was mostly about Jak, an elfish hero who embarks on many adventures. Though his sidekick, Daxter, was often along for the ride, it wasn’t until the PSP’s aptly titled release in 2006 that the fictional ottsel took the center stage.
After getting separated from Jak, Daxter fulfills his role as an exterminator and embarks on his own misadventure. Ready at Dawn did a very good job of adapting the secondary character into the main character role, even going so far as to develop an assortment of modifications for Daxter’s extermination tank.
The platformer was a delightful romp with a lot of heart, earning its place on this best PSP games list. Sadly, however, it was the penultimate game in the series to release, with 2009’s oft-forgotten Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier being the final Jak and Daxter game to date.
13. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
Developer: Bend Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Everyone knows Solid Snake and Sam Fisher, but how many remember Gabe Logan? Star of the Syphon Filter series, Gabe faced off against quite a few threats, and in Dark Mirror, he’s once again facing a chemical threat that could kill millions if in the wrong hands. And, of course, it’s in the wrong hands, so it’s up to Gabe to uncover who’s behind the creation of Dark Mirror and put a stop to them.
The skilled agent could have very easily not fit in on the PSP. However, Dark Mirror is a gem in the third-person shooter category. The stealth segments should probably be frustrating, but Bend Studio did a fine job matching the gameplay to the handheld so it didn’t feel like an awkward port.
Dark Mirror spawned one more PSP release before the Syphon Filter series, unfortunately, vanished forever. Hopefully some sequel news will filter through one of these days.
12. MediEvil: Resurrection
Developer: SCE Cambridge Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
For some reason, Sir Daniel Fortesque didn’t make a big enough splash to warrant a long-running series. But what we did get of the skeletal hero, we certainly enjoyed. Especially Resurrection, the PSP re-imagining of the original game, which was released seven years earlier on the PS1.
Though Resurrection follows the original’s narrative quite a bit, SCE Cambridge threw in a few extras to really make this feel like an updated experience. Chief among the new features are arcade-style minigames and a sub-plot following the “Anubis Stone.” That’s not to say Cambridge didn’t get a little creative with the core story, as even some elements from the original were drastically altered.
Resurrection’s gameplay was rough around the edges, but the overall experience was plenty entertaining. MediEvil emerged again with a remake on PS4 in 2019, so we may see Sir Dan again in the future.
11. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Publisher: NIS America
It was always fascinating when a port of a PS2 game landed on the PSP. There was a 50/50 shot that it would either be terrible or something completely elevated, complete with new content and all-new ways to enjoy the experience. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness falls under the latter category as a port of PS2’s Hour of Darkness.
Though it retains Hour of Darkness’ expansive roster of characters and engaging story, it goes on to include an entirely new game mode. Etna takes the spotlight in a quirky new mode where she’s the main character. Additionally, Afternoon of Darkness added new boss fights, a multiplayer mode, a 16:9 format to better fit the game to the PSP, and some options to change language and remove battle animations.
Afternoon of Darkness wound up being a port that nearly matched the quality of the source material.
10. Valkyria Chronicles II
Developer: Sega CS3 Publisher: Sega
Though Valkyria Chronicles launched on the PS3, its sequel landed exclusively on the PSP, borrowing many elements from the original. Chronicles II may add new class types and, of course, a new narrative, but Sega CS3 opted to not try and change the formula that worked so well for the console release. As it turns out, going familiar was the better option this go-around.
Chronicles II sends players to 1937 E.C., two years after the original and the end of the war between Gallia and the Imperial Alliance. There’s a very brief peace before the Gallian Revolution Army takes up arms to execute an ethnic cleansing. There may be some uncomfortable parallels to real history here, but they work to create an immersive experience.
Valkyria Chronicles II was well-received enough to continue the series for an additional five entries, though it remains one of the most beloved.
9. Wipeout Pure
Developer: Studio Liverpool Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
In 1995, Psygnosis introduced players to a fast-paced futuristic racer that was still seeing new releases as recently as 2021. Among the 12 titles that were released over the life of the series is Wipeout Pure, a handheld take that landed on the PSP as a launch title to showcase some of the power of Sony’s new console.
There’s a story built into the Wipeout series, but all that matters is that you’ll be cruising down futuristic tracks in an anti-gravity racing league. Wipeout Pure is an attractive game that was easy to play despite the smaller screen. It fit well on the handheld and helped solidify a pretty solid launch library. Wipeout Pure was also the first game on the handheld unit to allow for downloadable content.
Beyond all that, though, Pure is just an exceptional racer that showed the power of the PSP at a time when many doubted it.
8. Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
There’s nothing quite like hunting down monsters on the go, and Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite provided players with that opportunity. Serving as an expansion to Freedom 2, Freedom Unite was brimming with monster-slaying content, from new Felyne fighters to additional missions and equipment. Best of all, it increased the roster of monsters to hunt and added the “Epic Hunting Quest” mode to extend the time spent in-world.
Freedom Unite captured the thrill of Monster Hunter despite the smaller screen of the PSP. It was easy to write off a handheld iteration of the popular series because the game’s scope just didn’t seem to fit the console’s size. However, Capcom did a fantastic job carrying the best of the series over and making it relatively easy to navigate.
Like most of the series, though, there were some control gaffs that took a little to get used to, but the overall experience was exactly what Monster Hunter fans grew to know and love.
7. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
Developer: Atlus Publisher: Atlus USA
Like many PSP ports we’ve covered in this list, Persona 3 Portable wasn’t just a simple copy and paste of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. In many ways, it was a bit of a rework as it introduced the option to play as a female protagonist. Because of the game’s narrative, the decision also came with some story changes and alterations to some elements of the game.
Persona 3 Portable also changed up the battle system with inspiration pulled from Persona 4. Some of the biggest changes to the combat are a guard feature and the fact that allies will stand in to absorb fatal blows if it means keeping the protagonist alive. Additionally, if players aren’t pleased with the AI, they could take control of all playable characters.
In many ways, Persona 3 Portable felt like the definitive edition of the PS2 release.
6. LocoRoco 2
Developer: Japan Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
In platforming games, we’re so used to playing as the plucky protagonist, leaping and dodging our way across perilous environments.
LocoRoco changed things up a bit, instead putting players in the proverbial shoes of the planet all this action unfolds on. The formula worked so well that Japan Studio returned with a game that, mechanically, uses the same concept with a few changes to add depth to the experience.
Using the PSP’s shoulder buttons, players tilt the world to help the titular critters cross and avoid various dangers. The little LocoRoco come together and fall apart depending on the needs of the scenario – and it’s up to you to problem solve your way to the end. LocoRoco was a unique way to tackle a platforming game, and LocoRoco 2 just did a little better with additional traversal options, new abilities, and more.
Developer: Pyramid Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
It can feel good to be a god, at least depending on what universe you’re in. For the deity of Patapon, an entire race of tiny cyclops worship them, singing their tribal songs as they march across colorful and stylistic backgrounds.
Of course, what would a game be without a little danger? In Patapon, it’s either hungry beasts or rival armies, all of which threaten the numbers of your growing tribe. Follow on-screen prompts like a rudimentary rhythm game to attack or defend your position. Before the fight, you’ll outfit your army with three different units, pulling from the typical roster of fantastical units like a sword-and-shield warrior, cavalry units, archers, and more.
Patapon was nothing short of addictive and really kept players engrossed with surprisingly deep, strategic gameplay and the rhythmic pounding of a tribal drum.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Developer: Rockstar Leeds Publisher: Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto games are not by any means small. A game like Vice City Stories really showcased the power of the PSP, which proved time and time again that it was more than capable of rich narratives and deep adventures. While some developers went the easy route with linear experiences, Rockstar went above and beyond, recreating the world of Vice City and thrusting players right back into it.
It’s like you never left as you’re immediately dragged into the inner workings of the city’s criminal underbelly. Serving as a prequel to Vice City, Vice City Stories shrunk the scope a little while still remaining quite broad. One of the best parts of Vice City Stories is that it depicts the growth the city underwent leading up to the events of Vice City. Some buildings under construction in Vice City Stories are completed in Vice City. It’s not much, but it helps depict a living, breathing world.
Vice City Stories suffered a little from general gameplay hiccups (as is to be expected for a portable open world game in 2006), but it otherwise did the long-running series proud.
3. God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Developer: Ready at Dawn Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Maybe one of the most exciting titles to land on the PSP, Ghost of Sparta isn’t some weird spinoff that loses focus of the core series. It is, through and through, a God of War game, right down to the god-slaying and bad guy butchering.
Kratos is back in the fourth chronological release in the series, taking place between God of War and God of War II. Equipped with the devastating Blades of Athena, Kratos rips and tears through the gods of Olympus on what feels like an impossible quest.
While Ghost of Sparta doesn’t progress his slaughter of the pantheon too much, it does give a bit of backstory to Kratos and his brother, Deimos. The game also establishes more about Kratos’ relationships, but those details are best left unknown until you dive into the hack ‘n slash enjoyment of God of War.
2. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions Publisher: Konami
Snake Eater introduced players to a young Big Boss before he was corrupted by his own ideals and turned into Metal Gear’s villain. Peace Walker picks up after Snake Eater and further expands upon Boss’ rise to power in a handheld experience that does a great job of managing the sheer narrative scope of the Metal Gear Solid series.
As the leader of the Militaires Sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders), Boss oversees Mother Base in an entirely new way to enjoy Metal Gear. Strategy is needed to be successful in Peace Walker, as embarking on stealth missions is only half the battle. Boss must also manage his people, assigning them specific roles or sending them out into the field for side missions.
Peace Walker feels like the framework for what The Phantom Pain became, and on top of being one of the best PSP games, it’s definitely one of the greatest Metal Gear games to date.
1. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix
Back in 1997, Square released a game that would effectively absorb the time of so many PS1 players. Final Fantasy Tactics was a strategic RPG that deserved every ounce of praise it received. The War of the Lions is a return to that classic title, complete with visual and mechanical upgrades.
Players oversee a team of heroes and assign them unique jobs that grant different abilities or stats. Every decision is crucial to how the game will play out, and a choice made in mission 5 could really lose the game for you in mission 20 if you’re not careful. It’s all about thinking of the future with each choice to better guarantee a victory in each mission with minimal losses.
The War of the Lions is, in most ways, an improvement over Final Fantasy Tactics while retaining much of what made the game so good, to begin with. If you want to make a portable tactics game, let The War of the Lions be your guide.
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