The year is 1994, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is sitting pretty as the console of choice for the discerning gamer. Things are about to change, though; the 3D era is fast approaching, and before long, the SNES’ 2D pixel art will look positively ancient (although it will quickly reappear as fashionable nostalgia). Yes, it’s fair to say Sony’s PlayStation took the world by storm, and that’s not just because of its graphics. Here are the top 25 PS1 games of all time.
25. Chrono Cross
If you look around forums and other fan discussions, you’ll find that Chrono Cross is a somewhat controversial prospect. Many think that it took the solid grounding built by Chrono Trigger and ruined it thanks to some strange narrative directions. If you treat Chrono Cross as a standalone experimental sequel, though, it works; its layered combat, range of party members, and excellent music make it worth a look.
24. Silent Hill
The original Silent Hill hasn’t aged quite as well as you’d hope, but it’s still a great survival horror game. The story of Harry Mason’s descent into madness as he searches the titular town of Silent Hill for his daughter isn’t quite timeless, but its panicky, nervy atmosphere laid the groundwork for excellent sequels like Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4: The Room.
23. Grand Theft Auto 2
If you’re a child of the 3D Grand Theft Auto era, then the top-down PS1 titles will look quaint to you (although they were the inspiration behind the PSP’s GTA: Chinatown Wars). However, at the time, it was hard to overstate just how revolutionary GTA and its sequels were. They were go-anywhere sandboxes in an era of restrictive linear gaming, and their gleeful sense of anarchic mayhem would prove influential.
22. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is a stealth period piece that still holds up as a unique and intriguing gaming experiment. Playing as either Rikimaru or Ayame, you needed to use all of the ninja tricks at your disposal to avoid or dispatch enemies, including your blade, traps, and other methods. Sneaking around Tenchu’s huge, open-ended levels felt rewarding and tense.
It’s hard to imagine this now, but back in the days of the fifth console generation, console loyalties were often pretty solidly divided. If you didn’t have a Nintendo 64, you had a PlayStation, which meant that if you didn’t have Zelda, you had Alundra. This top-down action-adventure title boasted dungeon exploration, combat, and plenty of abstruse puzzles to try and figure out.
20. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
When Capcom remade Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in 2020, the studio forgot one of the most important elements of the original: the giant, hulking monstrosity of the title. Some of the organic terror of Nemesis made it to the Resident Evil 2 remake, but in the original PS1 version of the third game, knowing the monster could break through the door at any time and mess up your day was truly terrifying.
19. The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Please, please, Embracer Group, if you’re reading this, find it in your hearts to reboot Soul Reaver or create a new game in the franchise. Raziel and Kain are two of the most iconic characters in gaming history, and Soul Reaver’s unique, atmospheric blend of Metroidvania exploration and third-person hack-and-slash combat would feel welcome in today’s gaming industry.
18. Jumping Flash
Jumping Flash wasn’t a launch title for the PS1, but it did showcase what the console was capable of. It’s a first-person 3D platformer at its core; you must leap around a series of abstract worlds, dispatching enemies and picking up collectibles as you go. Today, Jumping Flash’s strange perspective and weird jumping physics feel strange, but get past that initial hurdle and it’s still great fun.
17. Final Fantasy VIII
Often considered the “black sheep” of the Final Fantasy series due to its shift in perspective and experimental gameplay mechanics, Final Fantasy VIII remains a story that must be experienced. As Squall Leonhart, you must navigate a world of political intrigue and academic drama, one that’s markedly more realistic than previous series entries have been.
16. Crash Bandicoot
The original Crash Bandicoot isn’t the best of the series, but it’s still a highly playable platformer with oodles of charm and character. Crash’s levels are markedly more linear than those of its rival, Spyro the Dragon, but that helps to give the game a focus that Spyro can sometimes feel like it’s lacking. Later games would up the variety, but this first Crash Bandicoot is a challenge that’s not worth missing.
15. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
“Hello.” Hello.” “Follow me.” “Okay.” Was ever a more iconic exchange spoken between two video game characters? Abe’s quest to rescue the Mudokons is relentlessly dark, but it’s also very funny, largely thanks to the bumbling, comic qualities of the Mudokon people. The sequel, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, is good too, although it suffers a little from diminishing returns.
14. Gran Turismo 2
The PS1’s new 3D capabilities made it a perfect fit for realistic racing games, and although it now seems laughable to call Gran Turismo 2 “realistic”, it was the height of graphics tech at the time. The gameplay was nothing to be sniffed at, either, with responsive cars, plenty of challenges, and a funky soundtrack to keep everything ticking along at a good pace.
13. Syphon Filter
Metal Gear Solid may have had the oddball appeal, but Syphon Filter was the more grounded, realistic alternative. It played like a Tom Clancy novel, complete with hi-tech spy gadgets and an in-depth political plot. With a range of real-world locations to visit, each of which offers a new stealthy challenge, Syphon Filter is still a great PS1 stealth game to this day.
12. Medal of Honor
While the PS1 was perhaps not particularly well-placed for first-person shooters, Medal of Honor remains a classic that spawned a successful series all its own. The brainchild of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Medal of Honor is a classic war epic wrapped in the trappings of an FPS, and it features plenty of varied mission objectives and stages to explore.
11. PaRappa the Rapper
If you’ve got a love for old-school hip-hop and cartoony, ridiculous characters, PaRappa the Rapper will appeal to you. It’s got a goofy, corny aesthetic that matches well with its silly storyline, and its rhythm-action gameplay, while simplistic, is compelling right to the end. Sequels would follow, but for our money, the first PaRappa is still where all of the magic resides.
10. Final Fantasy IX
Many hold up Final Fantasy IX as their favourite game in the series, and it’s not hard to see why. The game’s charming, quaint fantasy setting and return to old-school Final Fantasy values belie a surprisingly dark and involving storyline, and Final Fantasy IX also has some of the best characters in the franchise, insecure and adorable black mage Vivi chief among them.
9. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
What more is there to say about Symphony of the Night that hasn’t already been said? Konami’s gorgeous, sprawling 2D platformer has incredible music, excellent visuals, and a massive world to explore. There’s also a shocking second-act twist that expands the game in fascinating ways, but only if you manage to follow an esoteric series of objectives that’s very hard to figure out on your own.
8. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
This is Naughty Dog’s maximalist platforming epic. Where Crash Bandicoot was a lean, focused affair and Crash Bandicoot 2 introduced a few extra mechanics, Crash Bandicoot 3 throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. Submarine stages, aeroplane levels, on-rails tiger vehicle sections…they’re all here, and they make for a fantastically varied and fun adventure.
7. Final Fantasy Tactics
The PS1 was the console of choice for JRPG fanatics, and nowhere was that more evident than in Final Fantasy Tactics. This is a truly huge and imposing game, one that took dozens of hours to complete even if you completely ignored every sidequest on offer (which you shouldn’t, as there are some fun surprises to find). The PSP overhaul is perhaps more polished, but the original has a charm all its own.
6. Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 took everything the first game did and refined it, resulting in a cleaner and better game. New protagonist Leon Kennedy would become a series mainstay, and some of Resident Evil 2’s most fascinating enemies made the game feel like a true homage to Cronenbergian body horror. The recent remake is a smoother way to experience the story, but this old-school tank-controls horror is still worthwhile.
5. Spyro the Dragon
We know that Spyro the Dragon’s two sequels are often more well-liked than the original, but as far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t get better than this. Spyro 2 and 3 upped the complexity, but the first game’s massive levels and collectathon gameplay make it a more straightforward affair than its successors. Stewart Copeland’s soundtrack lends a sense of cheeky forward motion to the whole thing.
4. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Skating fans and neophytes alike flocked to this excellent skateboarding game. It mixed the best of arcade-style sports gameplay with a realism that was unprecedented at the time; Hawk and his compatriots looked as authentic as anything ever had, making us feel terrible every time he faceplanted because we’d missed a trick or a grind rail. The Tony Hawk series would never be this good again.
3. Tekken 3
The PS1 era often seemed to be about stuffing as much as you possibly can into a game to see what you could get away with, and that’s evident in Tekken 3. This game has a huge amount of unlockable characters, a single-player Streets of Rage-style sidescrolling mode, and plenty more, and it’s got a robust 3D fighting engine at its core as well.
2. Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojima’s massive, influential sci-fi epic feels just as relevant as it did back in 1998. Solid Snake’s journey through the island of Shadow Moses is hilarious, touching, and tense in equal measure, stuffed to the gills with varied boss fights, interesting gameplay tweaks, and lengthy Codec conversations that somehow feel comforting rather than boring.
1. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII’s place at the top of this list should have been obvious from the start. Cloud and company’s story has an epic sweep that feels both intimate and large-scale. The first time you step out from the confines of the already-huge Midgar to realise just how massive the world really is…well, it’s difficult to describe without getting a lump in our throats. The remake had better come through on its remaining parts.