The PSP was one of the systems I spent the most time growing up with. I saved up for it with an allowance over the course of 9 months, hacked it to death, bought nearly every iteration, and broke one of them. It was a vital part of my teenage years and I spent hundreds of hours glued to it in my room after school and on weekends. I still play the PSP to this day and I am still discovering great games I missed out on. Below are the top ten I loved the most growing up with, and while these may not all be amazing to some people, these are the ones that meant the most to me.
10. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords — Who would have thought that match three puzzle games could be so damn addictive and good? I was working during this time and it kept me going through dozens of long and boring shifts. I spent 40 hours in this game and grew fond of match 3 puzzle games. With RPG elements combined with Bejeweled-style gameplay, there was a lot going on here. With dozens of side quest, and entertaining story, and great visuals, this is one of the most underrated PSP games out there.
9. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII — While I wasn’t big into the FF7 reboot series Square announced, I was following it and respected it. Crisis Core was a PSP exclusive and sold units like hot cakes. I remember waiting in anticipation for this game as it looked gorgeous and played really well. While the story was forgettable, and the game was short, it’s still worth playing if you are a Final Fantasy fan or just want a fun action game.
8. DJ Max Portable 2 — DJ Max was series that didn’t get any attention here in the states as it was a Japan and Korea exclusive. I followed the DJ Max scene closely and fell in love with the rhythm game as it is still the best on the system. While we finally got DJ Max 3 and Fever, Portable 2 has the best K and J-Pop tunes out of all of them. There were three spin-offs known as Hot Tunes and Clazziquai, and Black Square, but they were mostly forgettable. If you can find a copy online grab it as you will be hooked like I was.
7. Tomb Raider Anniversary — While I couldn’t play this on PC I risked playing it on PSP and it turned out to be an exact port of the PS2 version with all controls and content in tact. This is a seriously overlooked game which is a shame as it plays really well and looks amazing on the PSP. From start to finish the game will keep you interested and remains one of the best action games on the system.
6. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix — This game is also overlooked a lot despite being a definitive edition of THUG2. Everything from the game is included plus and extra level and more music. The game played flawlessly and was seamlessly transitioned to PSP. I spent dozens of hours playing this game and still go back to it this day.
5. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories — Probably the single most anticipated game on the system it made a huge splash in the game industry and sold PSP more than any other game. Having a living breathing GTA world in your pocket was unheard of at the time. Sure we have all the GTAs on mobile phones, but this was a huge technical achievement for Rockstar back in the day. While the visuals looked dated, and the controls were fidgety, the game played just like a GTA game. Vice City Stories improved the series and Chinatown Wars was probably the best of the three. With this version, I will never forget how awesome it was to play a GTA game in the palm of your hand.
4. Ridge Racer — This was the first game I ever played on the system and was pre-ordered with it. The game looked fantastic and played so well. This is considered a “best-of” for the series and was the last great Ridge Racer. While it doesn’t quite hold up today, it’s still worth owning if you’re a Ridge Racer fan or love the amazing racers on PSP.
3. Burnout Legends — This was a personal favorite as I was so excited for it. I had a poster of it in my room and couldn’t wait for the game to be launched. I was highly skeptical, as was everyone else, but the game held a steady 30FPS and was fast paced and felt just like Burnout 3. This is probably the best racing game on PSP, but the entire genre dominated the handheld.
2. God of War: Ghost of Sparta — While Chains of Olympus was one of my most anticipated games for the system, Ghost of Sparta blew my mind away as being the single best looking game on the system. It seriously looked like a PS2 game and there was detail in this game that was never seen in any other PSP game. The combat was better, the story was bigger, and is still regarding as one of the best games in the series.
1. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror — While Logan’s Shadow is superior, Dark Mirror was the most played PSP game for me as I even made a full walkthrough for it. The game is the best shooter with the best use of controls and that’s being able to strafe with the D-pad and aim with the nub. It felt reversed from other controllers, but I quickly adapted. Sadly, most shooters on the system wouldn’t allow you to swap controls. The game was full of secrets, and the story was great for hardcore Syphon Filter fans like myself. Sadly, the series hasn’t been mentioned since Logan’s Shadow and completely missed a PS3 game and hopefully will be rebooted on PS4.