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25 Best PS1 Games of All Time

25 of the best PS1 games of all time

If you’re talking about the most iconic video games of all time, you can’t ignore the library of PS1 games. The original PlayStation delivered some of the most memorable experiences in gaming history. 

From its infamous beginnings as Nintendo’s canceled answer to the Sega CD to the launching pad of the most iconic franchises in gaming, Sony’s debut console has a lot of history behind it. With that history comes a lot of games. While not every game can receive critical acclaim, there are plenty that do.

To honor that history and heritage, we’re going to go over 25 of the best PS1 games ever made. Sadly, that means we’ll have to leave some games off our list that otherwise would have made it. In order to make these difficult decisions, we’ll be using a mixture of critical acclaim, fan response, and personal opinion. Furthermore, the list will be presented in no particular order. We’re not ranking these; just going over 25 of the greatest PlayStation One classics. 

You may agree with the list; you’ll probably disagree. Either way, be sure to keep the conversation going in the comments below. 


Let’s begin!

Final Fantasy Vii Is One of the Best Rpgs Ever Made

Final Fantasy VII is one of the best RPGs ever made
Photo Credit: Square Enix

(Metascore: 92)

It only seems fair to start our list of the best PS1 games with what may be the most iconic one.

Final Fantasy VII redefined what is possible in a video game. An epic 3-disc RPG adventure, FFVII tells a story carried by the strength of its characters. The world-building, turn-based combat, and graphics are all revolutionary for their time as well. 

What’s most impressive about Final Fantasy VII is how it not just fully embraces being an epic story but also lives up to its expectations. The first 3D Final Fantasy is a true tour-de-force that isn’t afraid to push the genre forward. It’s a sprawling, gigantic tale that doesn’t succumb to its own weight. 

There’s a reason why the remake has been so heavily anticipated: the game is indeed that good. 

For Some, Final Fantasy Ix Is an Even Better Rpg

For some, Final Fantasy IX is an even better RPG
Photo Credit: Square Enix

(Metascore: 94)

After the smash success of Final Fantasy VII, XIII turned out to be a divisive game that had its fans and detractors. Final Fantasy IX acts as a return to the franchise’s roots. The results speak for themselves: many view IX as one of the best in the franchise.

Like other great Final Fantasy games, the strengths of Final Fantasy IX are the characters and the world they inhabit. The world of Gaia is a beautiful, medieval-esque realm that throws away the futuristic vibes of more recent games in the franchise. It’s a welcoming environment that’s enjoyable to explore. 

Final Fantasy IX introduces a more simplistic and accessible combat system. Prior games muddied the water a bit too much at times. It fits into the overall theme of a return to basics, resulting in a better game than its predecessors. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 Is an Amazing Sequel to One of the Best PS1 Games

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is an amazing sequel to one of the best PS1 games
Photo Credit: Activision

(Metascore: 98)

How do you improve on perfection? I’m not quite sure, but the team at Neversoft sure knows. 

The recent Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 HD remake reminds us how amazing these games are. Everybody remembers the legendary soundtrack and insane tricks and maps. I’m not quite sure most people recall just how technically sound these games are. 

A big reason why recent releases or other similar titles failed to stick is the gameplay. They don’t capture the magic or feel of skateboarding like Tony Hawk. It’s not just about the style or personality that exists within the game but also the substance and fundamentals. 

We may unfortunately not see a remake of Tony Hawk 3 and 4, but we’ll always have the originals. For me, these games are a core memory.

Metal Gear Solid Offers a Glimpse Into What Will Soon Be Possible From a Video Game

Metal Gear Solid offers a glimpse into what will soon be possible from a video game
Photo Credit: Konami

(Metascore: 94)

Calling Metal Gear Solid ‘ahead of its time’ is an understatement. The original Metal Gear games offered a great tactical-stealth action experience. With the jump to 3D gaming, Metal Gear Solid isn’t just one of the best PS1 games but a cinematic masterpiece. 

The transition from a 2D to a 3D gaming environment did more than give Mario a platforming wonderland. It allows for an experience never seen before in a video game. There is no better example of that than Metal Gear Solid. 

In addition to delivering a more intimate and engaging stealth experience in a 3D environment, the storytelling is doubly enhanced. 

The series has gone to new heights since the PS1 release, but they all owe it to the ground Metal Gear Solid broke back in 1998.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Is Absolute Perfection

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is absolute perfection
Photo Credit: Konami

(Metascore: 93)

Trying to find a flaw in Symphony of the Night is the job of a contrarian. Few games even today have matched the gameplay, story, and atmosphere that it offers. 

It’s hard to even figure out where to start. The gameplay is at the top of its class. Narratively, Symphony of the Night offers a pleasantly surprising amount of twists and turns for a 1997 game. The visuals are beautiful, vibrant, and alive. 

Maybe we start with the soundtrack, which still rivals as one of the best ever heard in a video game. It helps complete the entire package, resulting in a true symphony of a gaming experience. 

Other future releases in the “Metroidvania” genre have done well to push the genre forward. Still, they all owe it to Symphony of the Night.

Parappa the Rapper Is One of the Most Beloved PS1 Games

PaRappa the Rapper is one of the most beloved PS1 games
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metascore: 92)

We’ve talked about some true classics on our list thus far. While PaRappa the Rapper is another bonafide gem, it’s also a unique experience unlike most other games on the PlayStation console.

One of the first true rhythm games, PaRappa allowed players to live out their musical fantasies. While you didn’t have to actually rap out the lyrics, there’s a chance you did anyway. The game’s catchy songs and hooks helped spread the title’s appeal. 

With gameplay focusing solely on keeping the beat, it opened up to a whole new potential audience. It lacked the complexities of some of the prior games on this list, instead focusing on delivering an entertaining and enjoyable experience.

While the genre has expanded since PaRappa the Rapper’s original release in the late 90s, few games have been able to match its charm, appeal, and hook. 

Gran Turismo Helped Define What a Racing Game Could Be

Gran Turismo helped define what a racing game could be
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metascore: 96)

A common theme on our list of the best PS1 games is helping to shape a game’s genre. Billed as “the real driving simulator,” Gran Turismo lives up to those expectations.

Simulation racers weren’t an entirely new concept, but this is one of the first releases in a 3D world. Gran Turismo is also the first time we’ve seen physics introduced in a racing game. The rest, as they say, is history.

No other racing game delivered the same realism that Gran Turismo does. Even looking back today, the gameplay and visuals hold up surprisingly well. It’s another example of a PlayStation One game that helped shape the future of its genre. 

Gran Turismo 2 Somehow Outperforms the Original

Gran Turismo 2 somehow outperforms the original
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metascore: 93)

The legend says that the original Gran Turismo was an unexpected success. Developer Polyphony Digital set out to make the sequel “an even better product.” They succeeded. 

Despite a release plagued with technical errors, Gran Turismo 2 delivers everything a sequel should. Perfecting the formula instead of reinventing the wheel is the name of the game here. The sequel delivers more of everything: more cars, more tracks, more races, and just flat out more everything. 

It didn’t break the same ground as the original, but Gran Turismo 2 still deserves a mention among the best PS1 games. It’s a racing classic that shows you don’t always have to innovate

Chrono Cross is a beloved cult classic and one of the greatest PlayStation one games

Chrono Cross is a beloved cult classic and one of the greatest PlayStation one games
Photo Credit: Square Enix

(Metascore: 94)

We’ve already talked about quite a few JRPGs on this list and for good reason. The PlayStation One is a great console for them. We’re going to talk about more, starting with Chrono Cross.

Taking place in the same world as the Super Nintendo’s Chrono Trigger, 1999’s Chrono Cross received widespread acclaim upon release. While it differs from its predecessor in key ways, that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The game’s story is complex without being too confusing, offering plenty of entertainment value and replayability. The impressive lineup includes 45 different party members, all of whom bring something to the table. 

What may be most memorable with Chrono Cross is the battle system, which was made to avoid grinding and repetition. The uniqueness and complexities of the combat system may seem daunting at first, but they encourage being proactive as well.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Is Near-Arcade Fighting Perfection for the Playstation One

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is near-arcade fighting perfection for the PlayStation One
Photo Credit: Capcom

(Metascore: 93)

When it comes to fighters, PS1 games have two gold standards. The first should come as no surprise. Street Fighter Alpha 3 is yet another rousing success from Capcom.

Backed by a robust and balanced roster of characters, Alpha 3 delivers a perfect arcade port to the home console. Combat is as close to fighting perfection as we can get. The crisp 2D graphics and visuals are an absolute delight.

There isn’t much Street Fighter Alpha 3 does in terms of new ideas, but it also doesn’t have to. This is Street Fighter, after all, an all-time classic. By focusing on what works and including a bevy of characters, that’s how a great game was made. 

Tekken 3 is not just a great fighter but also one of the best PlayStation One games ever made

Tekken 3 is one of the greatest fighting games ever made
Photo Credit: Namco

(Metascore: 96)

While Street Fighter perfected the 2D fighter, the Tekken franchise handled the 3D space. The result is a fighting game that transcends the genre. Never mind the best PS1 games, Tekken 3 is one of the best games ever made. 

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but Tekken 3 helped pave the way for the fighting games we play today. The updated roster and usage of the 3D environment helped create a memorable and addicting fighting game experience. 

Other 3D fighters were popular around the same time, but none of them had the same impact as Tekken 3. Whether in the arcade or at home on PlayStation one, this was the fighting game.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a Naughty Dog classic and one of the top tier PS1 games

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a Naughty Dog classic
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metascore: n/a)

While Super Mario 64 showed what is possible with a fully 3D platformer, Crash Bandicoot took a different approach. Blending precision platforming, challenge, and personality, Crash Bandicoot is a stylish, difficult, and enjoyable experience.

The sequel, Crash Bandicoot 2, is the preferred choice for my wife. That’s a good enough reason for me to put it on this list. It’s even near the top of our list of the Crash Bandicoot games ranked

Thanks in part to refined gameplay, building upon the original’s foundation, and improved graphics, Crash Bandicoot 2 delivers a premier gaming experience. It’s not always forgiving, but it’s still a lot of fun. 

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver features one of the most modern gaming experiences of all the PlayStation One games

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver features one of the most modern gaming experiences of all the PlayStation One games
Photo Credit: Eidos Interactive Limited

(Metascore: 91)

A sequel to 1996’s Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Soul Reaver is an incredibly ambitious title. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and directed by Amy Hennig, Soul Reaver delivered a modern gaming experience over twenty years ago.

The game’s well-written story is enhanced by phenomenal voice acting from a cast headlined by Michael Bell. The complexity of the level design encourages players to actively think on their toes. Its nonlinear nature may have been off-putting back in the day, but compared to, say, FromSoftware games, it’s right at home. 

Later ports would ultimately fail to do the game justice. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is one of the best PS1 games and deserves either a remaster or a sequel today. 

Vagrant Story is unfairly slept on as one of the best PS1 games

Vagrant Story is unfairly slept on as one of the best PS1 games
Photo Credit: Square Enix

(Metascore: 92)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the PlayStation One features a great RPG.

Vagrant Story is unlike the other RPGs on the PS1, though. Its visual style is unique, going all-in on 3D environments and character models. The gameplay follows suit as well; developer Squaresoft isn’t afraid to let Vagrant Story be its own thing, for better or worse.

The gamble pays off for the better. The clever writing and story, deep and complex combat systems, and intricate story all work wonders. At launch, it was offputting, especially compared to other available RPGs on a console flush with them. 

Twisted Metal 2 Brings More Vehicular Mayhem to the Playstation

Twisted Metal 2 brings more vehicular mayhem to the PlayStation
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metacritic User Score: 85)

Sometimes, you don’t need a grand RPG adventure or cinematic experience to deliver one of the best PS1 games. Sometimes all you need is a little mayhem. Enter Twisted Metal 2.

The follow-up to 1995’s Twisted Metal delivers improved characters and expanded levels. While the game isn’t the greatest visually, you’re not playing this franchise for the impressive graphics. You play Twisted Metal to blow stuff up and that’s something Twisted Metal 2 is very, very good at. 

A diverse selection of weaponry goes well with the aforementioned roster and level expansion. It allows for a greater variety in terms of gameplay, delivering many memorable moments and unforgettable memories.

Twisted Metal 2 isn’t the most complex game, but it’s one of the more fun ones on the original PlayStation.

Ape Escape is one of the most unique games on the PS1

Ape Escape is one of the most unique games on the PS1
Photo Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

(Metascore: 90)

Ape Escape is the perfect example of a simple idea enhanced by its gameplay. Capturing apes sounds like a super tedious concept. Thanks to some ingenious controls and level design, Ape Escape is a top-tier platformer.

The first game to require the DualShock controller, Ape Escape takes full advantage of analog controls. The result is a platformer that, at times, feels as revolutionary as Super Mario 64 when it comes to controlling and exploring your character. 

The visual style and gameplay setup do well to elevate the game from novelty to an all-time classic. It may not be the most exciting sounding of the best PS1 games, but it very well might be the best. 

Resident Evil Is One of the Most Influential Games Ever Made

Console exclusive survival horror game
Image Credit: Capcom

(Metascore: 91)

So many of these PS1 games lay the foundation for their genres, don’t they? Anyway, here’s Resident Evil, which lays the foundation for the survival horror genre.

Are some of the game’s “quirks” dated by modern standards? Absolutely. Is the voice acting, at times, comical? You bet. There’s no denying this, but there is also no denying what a landmark game Resident Evil is. 

Quirks aside, everything about the game works wonders. It sets the mood and atmosphere in ways few games can, delivering genuine scares and moments of fright and horror. 

Despite the 2002 remake ranking above the 1996 original on our list of best Resident Evil games, you never forget your roots. Resident Evil is a landmark title for a reason. 

Resident Evil 2 surpasses the original in virtually every way to deliver one of the best PS1 games

Resident Evil 2 surpasses the original in virtually every way to deliver one of the best PS1 games
Photo Credit: Capcom

(Metascore: 89)

I truly feel like a broken record. 

So many franchises were born on the PlayStation One. They helped pave the way for future releases in the series, as well as their genres as a whole. As influential as those original games are, there are times when the sequel surpasses the original.

Resident Evil 2 is, yet again, one of those times. 

The sequel improves upon the original in virtually every way. The atmosphere, story, gameplay, and graphics are all better than the first release. While franchise mainstays Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker were present in the original, the sequel introduces Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. 

Syphon Filter Is an Excellent Take on the Stealth-Action Genre and One of the More Unique Playstation One Games

Syphon Filter is an excellent take on the stealth-action genre
Photo Credit: 989 Studios

(Metascore: 90)

Many original PlayStation franchises have enjoyed long-term success. Syphon Filter, unfortunately, is not one of those franchises. Don’t blame the original, though.

Released in 1999, Syphon Filter is a third-person stealth-action game. It borrows elements from some of the more successful games in the genre, particularly Goldeneye 007. The influences are seen throughout, delivering a game that pays homage to games like Goldeneye while still carving its own path.

A highlight of the game is the enemy AI, allowing for a high level of replayability thanks to their varied behavior. Having an impressive arsenal of gadgets and weapons also helps. 

Tomb Raider Creates Its Own Genre and Becomes One of the Best PS1 Games Ever Made

Tomb Raider creates its own genre and becomes one of the best PS1 games ever made
Photo Credit: Eidos Interactive, Inc

(Metascore: 91)

Lara Croft debuted for the PlayStation in 1996 and became an instant superstar. 

Tomb Raider helped define a new genre of video games. Part platformer, part shooter, part action/adventure, part puzzle solver, there’s a little something for everyone here. The game was visually impressive upon release, though obviously, things have aged just a tad bit. 

What’s still impressive today is the atmosphere and presentation. Tomb Raider absolutely nails what it’s like to, well, raid tombs.

Presumably, anyway; I’ve never done anything of the sort.

The best part of the game is that it’s on the PlayStation One, delivering an epic cinematic experience. 

Silent Hill is a haunting experience that earns its place as one of the best PlayStation One games

Silent Hill is a haunting experience that earns its place as one of the best PlayStation One games
Photo Credit: Konami

(Metascore: 86)

Like Resident Evil, Silent Hill is the start of a multimedia franchise. 

Speaking of Resident Evil, many have compared Silent Hill to the original survival horror game. Unlike Resident Evil, Silent Hill offers a different take on the genre. 

Silent Hill delivers more of a psychological horror experience. It’s not just about an endless zombie onslaught or jump scares here. The game’s environment and atmosphere, combined with the 3D environments over pre-rendered environments, do wonders for the game. 

While the sequel is often regarded as one of the best games ever, don’t sleep on the original. 

Final Fantasy Tactics is a rightfully beloved classic and one of the best PS1 games ever

Final Fantasy Tactics is a rightfully beloved classic
Photo Credit: Square Enix

(Metascore: 83)

If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of my friends talk about how amazing Final Fantasy Tactics is, I’d be a very, very rich man. 

Tactical combat and RPGs are often a match made in heaven. Case and point, the Fire Emblem franchise. It’s confusing as to why Final Fantasy hasn’t taken this approach as often as it should, especially considering how strong of a game Final Fantasy Tactics is. 

The wide selection of jobs in the game helps to keep combat lively. Players are given plenty of options to truly take control of the battlefield as they see fit. Some see the limited size of the battlefield as a drawback, but the smaller scale opens up more options due to how developers utilize terrain.

When it comes to story and characters, Final Fantasy Tactics delivers in the way you’d expect from a PS1 RPG, earning its place among the best PlayStation One games. 

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins offers an experience few PlayStation One games can match

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins offers an experience few PlayStation One games can
Photo Credit: Activision

(Metascore: 87)

Before the days of Sekiro, there was Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. While it lacks the brutal combat difficulty of a FromSoftware game, it packs satisfying action and top-notch stealth gameplay. 

The strength of Tenchu is the mood and atmosphere that persists throughout the game. Its difficulty doesn’t come from the game’s encounters but instead the importance of stealth. 

Combined with an impressive soundtrack and impressive 3D environments, Tenchu is one of the most quintessential PS1 games. It has its fair share of quirks, but that only adds to its charm. 

Driver Offers a Thrilling Action-Movie Style Experience

Driver offers a thrilling action-movie style experience
Photo Credit: GT Interactive Software Corp.

(Metascore: 87)

The Driver franchise would ultimately fall short compared to what Grand Theft Auto would do. The original PlayStation release, Driver: You Are The Wheelman, still somewhat resembles what GTA would become. 

While it lacks the open-world freedom to explore in and out of a car, the original Driver still lays the foundation for what would eventually come. Developer Ubisoft Reflections does a great job of paying homage to the car chase sequences of famed action movies that heavily inspire the video game. 

On the surface, the concept of having a game based solely on driving from point A to point B isn’t necessarily exciting. Still, the atmosphere, tension, and excitement fully translate, even with the limitations of the PlayStation One hardware. 

Suikoden Ii Is a Strategic Role-Playing Classic That Earns Its Cult Classic Status

Suikoden II is a strategic role-playing classic that earns its cult classic status
Photo Credit: Konami

(Metascore: 82)

Can you actually believe that upon original release, Suikoden II was docked for employing a 2D sprite art style over 3D graphics? Thankfully, retrospective opinions have given the game the praise it deserves. 

Combining that beautiful art style with an impressive roster of characters and engaging tactical gameplay, Suikoden II is an RPG masterpiece. It brings the best parts of the genre to the table: strong characters, a memorable story, and engaging combat.

Part of what makes Suikoden II a great game is that it has the markings of a timeless classic for any interactive media. The story themes and narrative beats are able to appeal to any demographic, regardless of era. Add in the fact that it avoids some of the tedious trappings of other JRPGs, and you have an easy recipe for one of the best PS1 games ever. 

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of great PlayStation One games. If we tried to truly get all of them, we’d be here all day. While we tried to get the best of the best, I’m sure there were some that had to be left off. 

What did we miss? Be sure to keep the conversation going in the comments below!

Author

Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

23 Comments

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  1. The golden age of Squaresoft. They never missed the mark on PS1. Thank you for including Vagrant Story. Ehrgeiz, Bushido Blade, and Parasite Eve also deserve mention.

    • Abe’s Odyssey should have been on the list. Can’t think of another game like it at the time and it’s dark, funny, creative formula and the graphics is something that was waaaay ahead of its time along with its extended version after Abe’s Exodus. Compared to a lot of PS1 games it’s a gripping game that’s not predictable and feels like there’s a real challenge element there. And I can’t thinking another game at the time, off the top of my head where there was alternative ending depending on how you played the game

  2. Let’s not forget Sony’s introduction into gaming software with Legend of Dragoon. Also Xenogears and Legend of Legaia that introduced me to unlocking and discovering moves through different button combinations.

  3. So you’re just gonna exclude Spyro entirely, huh? Yeah, you know what? You’re right. Never mind that it was the PS1’s answer to Super Mario 64 and it did some of the things it did a lot better than Mario 64 did. Never mind that Spyro 2 is one of the best 3D platformers ever made. Never mind that it was one of the two big mascots for the entire console alongside Crash.

    My god, what a blunder.

  4. The fact Legend of Dragon wasn’t mentioned baffles me! It has such a better storyline than half the RPG’s on this list if not all of them!

  5. Abe’s Odyssey should have been on the list. Can’t think of another game like it at the time and it’s dark, funny, creative formula and the graphics is something that was waaaay ahead of its time along with its extended version after Abe’s Exodus. Compared to a lot of PS1 games it’s a gripping game that’s not predictable and feels like there’s a real challenge element there. And I can’t thinking another game at the time, off the top of my head where there was alternative ending depending on how you played the game

  6. Let’s not forget Xenogears. It was one of the best RPGs ever. It had giant robots, a lot of philosophy, and several good characters that were very memorable. I would love to see a remake of Xenogears.

  7. Great list..many of my favourite games on there….glad to see my all time number one game suikoden 2 squeeze into your list as well…..it’s a tragedy that it’s better known for its high sake price than by the Rpg experience it is

  8. Ummmm some of them shouldn’t have made the list. But the following should have made it- parasite Eve, bushido blade, kingdom hearts, legend of dragoon, resident evil 3, final fantasy 8, chrono trigger remaster, grand theft auto started there, Medal of Honor, mega man legends, cool boarders, soul blade, army men, nhl face off, odd world, FF9, Gex, Dino crisi, star ocean, ninja shadow of the darkness. I could go on i agree with 95 percent of your picks though. Like ff7 is by far the best then RE2 and metal gear solid

  9. Soul blade or soul calibur. What a revelation in fighting games this was. Awesome weapons and the ability to unlock new weapons in each character’s story mode. Whilst I don’t disagree with most of the games in the top 25, this for me should be up there

  10. Need for Speed High Stakes!! Pink slips on your memory card taking it to the homies house risk it all!

  11. I personally don’t like some of the games on the list like Driver, Parappa the Rapper and GT1 and 2, I think only one of the GTs would be enough.

    I missed Xenogears, Parasite Eve and Dino Crisis on the list.

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