The top 50 underappreciated PS1 games
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.