The PlayStation 1 enjoyed a very successful lifecycle and allowed newcomer Sony to enter the video game industry in commanding fashion. By the end of its run, the PlayStation had 1,284 titles released in North America, giving it one of the vastest game libraries in console history. The PlayStation was home to some of the most influential games of all time and gave rise to several new genres such as survival horror and rhythm-based games. In order to celebrate the outstanding quality of the PlayStation, here are the 10 best games ever released for the console. How well they hold up today is weighed equally with the lasting mark they left on the industry.
10. Xenogears (1998)
It’s a true testament to the quality and depth of a console’s library that when discussing the PlayStation, one of the best Japanese Roleplaying Games (JRPG) of all time is often forgotten. However, Xenogears is absolutely one of the best games on the console and holds up better than expected when judged in today’s landscape. Xenogears represented yet another epic RPG from developer Squaresoft, who had an uncanny knack throughout the generation for releasing top-notch quality games. Despite releasing so many titles on the console, Squaresoft was always able to keep its games feeling fresh and unique from the others, and Xenogears was no exception. Xenogears contained a twist on the classic battle system in the form of a combo attack system. Stringing together a series of different physical attacks, the combo system is simple yet innovative. Xenogears shines throughout the lengthy experience and is an essential game for everybody to experience.
9. Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000)
One of the finest adventure games of all time, Spyro: Year of the Dragon contains absolutely massive worlds that beg to be explored. The third Spyro the Dragon title in Insomniac’s beloved series, Spyro: Year of the Dragon was the culmination of two outstanding efforts on the console that brought a significant amount of findings and experience for the development company. While the character’s future would become highly questionable, Insomniac’s final ride with the franchise and the final time the franchise would appear on the PlayStation 1 was a runaway success. Witnessing how far the quality of the series has deteriorated today can cause severe depression, but fortunately, Spyro: Year of the Dragon has the appeal to overshadow future Spyro efforts and is one of the best PlayStation titles ever released. With a myriad of mini-games and an incredible amount of variety throughout the game, Spyro: Year of the Dragon never gets stale and will remain a timeless classic forever.
8. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1999)
Widely regarded as the best 2D fighter of the generation and one of the very best fighting games of all time, Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a gaming juggernaut that brings an authentic arcade experience to a home console. During this generation, Sony’s PlayStation was digging its heels into any avenue it could exploit. Seeing value in various new genres, the PlayStation made some risky moves in bringing adult-themed games to the console and creating new genres. However, the idea of bringing classic fighting games back into the fold was further advancement in gaming technology than anybody could have anticipated. With the Nintendo 64 lacking an outstanding 2D arcade fighter, and the Sega Saturn (which had previously housed the best games in the fighting genre) being nearly defunct, the PlayStation stepped up and topped its own Tekken 3 with the fabulous Street Fighter Alpha 3. It was an outstanding port of the 1998 arcade hit and proved consoles could support an identical experience to the arcade.
7. Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)
Final Fantasy Tactics is a worthy competitor to both the Fire Emblem and Shining Force series for the title of greatest turn-based strategy franchise of all time. The first offering in the series arrived on the PlayStation in North America during 1998, and it became evident very early on that it was an incredibly special game. Strategy RPGs remained an untapped resource in North America as there weren’t that many of them to be released. In fact, the Fire Emblem series remained exclusive to Japan until 2003, when the seventh main game in the series was translated and released in North America. Final Fantasy Tactics attempted to enter the genre by flaunting the name “Final Fantasy” in its title. Following the enormous success of Final Fantasy VII, this was an effective strategy to have audiences look at the game. Fortunately, Final Fantasy Tactics doesn’t rest on its laurels by cashing in on a name. Instead, it contains the deepest, most emotional story ever told in a strategy RPG, offers a seemingly infinite amount of characters to recruit and has addictive, rewarding gameplay.
6. Crash Bandicoot: Warped (1998)
Despite receiving overwhelming praise, the first two Crash Bandicoot titles on the PlayStation were flawed games. While still quite fun, the horizontally-scrolling levels seemed to always want to burst into fully open 3D environments, and the series seemed to be a victim of the console’s limitations in hardware. Crash Bandicoot: Warped proved that these limitations didn’t exist when a developer had experience producing content for the console, and it offered one of the finest classic platforming experiences of all time. Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the third title that developer Naughty Dog released on the console, all of which were Crash Bandicoot titles. Whereas their future PS2 series Jak and Daxter would incorporate massive gameplay changes between titles, the Crash Bandicoot series didn’t deviate much and instead offered a similar experience throughout each title, except with refined controls and improved level design. Not many people anticipated developer Naughty Dog later elevating their work to greater levels and becoming one of the best third party developers in the world; however, with the quality they were able to deliver with Crash Bandicoot: Warped, it should have been obvious they were a very special company destined for greatness.
5. Final Fantasy IX (2000)
Final Fantasy IX makes old be new again, as the developers at Squaresoft take a stroll down nostalgia lane and deliver an authentic throwback experience drawing from the gameplay and overall spirit of classic Final Fantasy titles released before the series moved to the PlayStation. Final Fantasy IX successfully pleases die-hard fans of the series as the game plays just like a classic Final Fantasy title would, and even contains similar visual cues and artistry. Of course, Final Fantasy IX also happens to be a title released late during the console’s lifespan and is therefore one of the most visually striking games of the generation. The highly impressive FMV cutscenes hold up today, and while they are no longer as breathtaking and jaw-dropping as they were during the year 2000, they manage to remain gorgeous and are fully functional. It’s clear, even for those that never experienced Final Fantasy IX during its initial release, that Squaresoft was able to push the PlayStation to its absolute limits in order to bring forth this legendary game.
4. Resident Evil 2 (1998)
The original game may have invented the survival horror genre, but the sequel Resident Evil 2 is the one that claims the title as the best Resident Evil on the PlayStation. Resident Evil 2 takes place two months after its predecessor and offers a pure survival horror experience. The game is truly terrifying with certain scenes and surprises still giving seasoned players shocks. Resident Evil 2 offers different scenarios for each of the playable iconic series characters: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield (sister of Chris Redfield of the original game). This has the effect of giving the game extended replay value. With an HD remake confirmed, it’s time to get excited about Resident Evil 2 once again.
3. Metal Gear Solid (1998)
Metal Gear Solid is a masterpiece that is one of the most influential modern games of all time, as well as one of the very best video games ever made. It gave rise to one of the most gripping and enjoyable series and revolutionized stealth gameplay everywhere else. A cinematic tour de force, Metal Gear Solid proved that plot-driven games can still contain action as well as stellar gameplay. Metal Gear Solid presents an excellent case to be the best PlayStation game of all time, which is a remarkable feat considering the quality of its competition in the PlayStation library.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was the biggest sleeper hit of the decade. The game initially suffered from limited commercial success; it was only years later that it became a cult classic and mandatory gaming for any serious player. When Symphony of the Night was initially released, three-dimensional video games were the rage. A 2D side-scrolling game such as Symphony of the Night was dismissed during this heightened craze on 3D environments. Fortunately, the game has become quite popular in the years that passed and more people have gotten to enjoy this fantastic title. The series borrows even further from Metroid’s gameplay than ever before, with Symphony of the Night stressing exploration and non-linear design. It’s the best Castlevania title ever made and simply one of the best games overall. The graphics that audiences once believed were archaic have aged tremendously well and still look fantastic. Many other games that pushed the system’s capabilities looked great at the time, but now find themselves in need of an HD remaster. Symphony of the Night looks as great as it did during 1997, proving it will continue to age gracefully.
1. Final Fantasy VII (1997)
Final Fantasy VII engrossed audiences and popularized JRPGs in North America. There’s a reason that Final Fantasy VII was as influential as it was. An addictive materia system deepened the game by allowing all nine playable characters to become magic users. Furthermore, the customization allowed in the materia system is unparalleled and some wicked combos can be created. A simple yet successful materia combination includes one that circumvents death by casting “Phoenix,” a summon spell which brings every party member back to life, and casting it as that party member dies, thus immediately springing back to life. The main game is easy enough that it never requires players to exploit materia, but the system is so addictive that players won’t be able to help themselves while fiddling away within the materia menu. With a highly sophisticated plot that involves many twists and turns, exceptional mini-games such as snowboarding and a motorcycle chase, and even optional bosses, Final Fantasy VII’s gameplay continues to stand tall today.