Sony’s debut handheld the PlayStation Portable, or PSP for short, may have been overshadowed significantly by the juggernaut that was the Nintendo DS, but it still had a very respectable library of games. Because the attach rate wasn’t as high as perhaps Sony thought it should be, many of its games eventually found their way to home consoles, whether through ports to the PlayStation 2 and even more recently the PlayStation 4 with the release of Konami’s Castlevania Requiem collection.
Though you can probably play a lot of the PSP’s best games without ever owning one – or even its follow-up the PS Vita – there are still some terrific games from the system that have never came to a home console of any kind. Here’s a list of 10 PSP games that would benefit from a home console rerelease to introduce them to a whole new audience of players.
10) ROCK BAND UNPLUGGED
During the great music video game craze that happened at the start of the millennium, companies like Activision were trying to get their games on anything that could house them, even handhelds. For Guitar Hero, Activision developed a peripheral that slotted into the Game Boy Advance slot of the Nintendo DS that became troublesome after Nintendo migrated to the DSi and DSi XL models that didn’t have that, but with Rock Band, Harmonix brought something far more intuitive to the PSP.
Rock Band Unplugged played more like the companies previous games Frequency and Amplitude where the goal was to keep various parts of a song active by hitting the correct sequence of buttons and activating part of a song. In the case of Rock Band Unplugged, the player used the d-pad and face buttons to hit colored buttons in the same way they hit buttons on a plastic guitar or drum, and when one of the four tracks: guitar, bass, vocals and drums were performed well enough, they would play on their own and the goal was to keep all going until the end of the song by switching back and forth with the shoulder buttons.
Unplugged was very similar to Rock Band Blitz which was released on consoles, but it was far less chaotic and also very fun. Best still, you didn’t need a group of people to play it so you could play at your own leisure. The music game genre is dead now, but a simple game in the vein of Rock Band Unplugged could help keep it alive somewhat as its barrier to entry is very low. All you need is a console and a controller.
9) CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII
Given Square-Enix’s propensity to rehash content, it’s very surprising that the PSP prequel to one of the most beloved games of all time, Final Fantasy VII, has never come out on a console. Crisis Core fills in the story of a character named Zack Fair who is hinted at in Final Fantasy VII proper and Zack is a far more likeable character than the far more melodramatic Cloud. It’s because of this that Crisis Core can be enjoyed even those who couldn’t get into Final Fantasy VII.
Crisis Core is also a bit more accessible in its design too. There are still spells you can cast and ability giving and enhancing materia to equip, however the game is an action-RPG akin to Square-Enix’s own Kingdom Hearts series and not a turn based RPG like the game in which it’s a prequel of. Kingdom Hearts had an entry on the PSP, Birth by Sleep, which eventually found its way into one of the many compilations that have stream lined that series leading up to the next numbered franchise in the series, so maybe Square-Enix is holding off on updating Crisis Core until they’re ready to release their remake of Final Fantasy VII.
8) METAL GEAR AC!D 2
Konami’s Metal Gear Solid franchise went hand and hand with the PlayStation brand, and when the PSP launched, it too got a Metal Gear game but not one players expected, nor even knew they wanted. For fear that a stealth-action game wouldn’t work on the PSP – though Konami would eventually tackle the genre with games like Portable Ops and Peace Walker – Konami made a spin-off series that focused on cards and deck building called Metal Gear Ac!d.
The first Ac!d was a decent proof of concept, but it was its terrific sequel that proved that this spin-off could exist alongside traditional Metal Gear Solid action games. What the sequel brought over the original Ac!d was its visuals. It switched from an art-style that had less in common with a Metal Gear Solid game and more like a cel-shaded one like Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that helped give the series its own identity.
Secondly, Ac!d 2 streamlined the first game’s rough mechanics. Movement and action in the Ac!d series was determined by cards, and in the first title, you couldn’t even turn your character around without wasting a card doing so. In Ac!d 2, you could see what your move looked like before you made it, and it helped make the game look so much more playable.
Card games have seen an resurgence as of late with titles like Hearthstone and Gwent. Konami has already shown they are willing to resurrect their PSP library with the release of Castlevania Requiem so now’s a good time for Konami to revisit this odd, but still very enjoyable, part of Metal Gear’s legacy.
7) RESISTANCE: RETRIBUTION
With its lack of a second analog stick, shooters didn’t ever feel right on the PSP, but that didn’t stop developers from trying. One of the better attempts was in the Sony Bend (upcoming Days Gone) developed Resistance: Retribution, a game set between the first and second entries in the series created by Insomniac Games that started on the PlayStation 3.
When it came to shooters on the PSP, the default control scheme was normally one that was common on the Nintendo 64 where you would move a character with the analog stick and aim with the face buttons. Retribution does this, however what made the game work was that it had a very generously sized ridicule which made it easier to lock onto enemies, and when firefights died down, you still had the option to zoom in and aim for more precise headshots.
For a handheld outing from a development team that wasn’t responsible for the original game, Retribution still managed to feel important and tell a story that you wanted to see through to the end, and while the game felt good, there was always the sense that it could feel so much better when played with a controller that had two analog sticks. Sony has not been shy about putting together compilations, remakes and remasters on the PlayStation 4, and it’s surprising that Resistance hasn’t gotten that same treatment. Should it come back somehow, hopefully its PSP sibling will come with it.
Save Sly Cooper, Sony’s trio of PlayStation 2 era platforming action franchises made appearances on the PSP, but all but one of them lived and died on the PSP: 2006’s Daxter. Daxter was a big game for the handheld at the time, being the first real 3-D platformer developed for the device and with a known brand no less. Like Resistance: Retribution, Daxter’s story was sandwiched between the original Jak and Daxter and its grittier follow-up, Jak II, detailing what the title character was doing between the events of the two games.
Daxter differentiates itself from the other entries in the series with the title character’s tool of choice: a bug sprayer. You still need to do a lot of platforming like Jak to make it through the adventure, but Daxter stands out from his partner with a bug sprayer which has various nozzles that can be swapped out to help him both clear gaps and solve puzzles. Similar to Rare’s Conker’s Bad Fur Day, there’s also dream sequences wherein Daxter will star in parodies of films of the time that maybe wouldn’t translate that well now, however the rest of the game was a fun platformer that found success on the PSP and could also find success at the right price point on a newer console like the PlayStation 4.
5) POWER STONE COLLECTION
Both Power Stone and its sequel debuted on the Sega Dreamcast before being collected onto one UMD for the PSP, but this same collection deserves to be brought out again for a new generation. Power Stone and its sequel, Power Stone 2, can be compared to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. in that it’s a chaotic, arena fighter with a cast of colorful characters battling in stages full of over the top items but played in full 3-D instead of on a 2-D plain.
Collecting the titular Power Stones allows whatever character your using to transform into their powered up form, and matches often come down to chaotic hunts for these stones. Stages in the original Power Stone took place in a static level, but in Power Stone 2, levels would transform at an instant, leading to battles where you’re suddenly fighting your opponents in the air before landing in the area where the fight will conclude.
Both Power Stone games are very expensive games to buy for the Dreamcast, and while the PSP game contains both, the fun in the series is stripped away as it’s difficult to play multiplayer on a handheld. Power Stone has a very dedicated fan base, and when new entries in a series like Marvel vs. Capcom is announced, people hope to see characters from Power Stone make their debut in them. Capcom has done great work collecting and remaking games from their hit franchises this generation, and it’s time they dug into something a little less well known, but still loved nonetheless.
4) MEGA MAN: MAVERICK HUNTER X
In 2006, Capcom started the year by releasing two Mega Man remakes on the PSP, the first of which was a reimagining of the original Mega Man X sub-titled Maverick Hunter X. Maverick Hunter X has a lot in common with the game that came out on the SNES, but there’s enough different about it to make players who’ve ran through the original to death get a few surprises. For example, power-ups are moved around: the dash boots are found in Flame Mammoth’s level and the story is expanded upon both with dialogue exchanges between X and Sigma’s mavericks before fights and new anime cutscenes. Some of these scenes which are set before the events of the original Mega Man X can be found in the Mega Man X Legacy Collection which released this summer.
Maverick Hunter X also allowed you to play as the Boba Fett look alike villain Vile, a series first, and he plays very differently from X and it makes you rethink a lot of the strategies that you’ve relied upon for decades. Maverick Hunter X in a way is a game before its time, as it arrived before the boom of retro remakes that showed up on the PS3 and Xbox 360 like Capcom’s own Bionic Commando Rearmed. Maverick Hunter X is a far better game than the later entries in the X series and it more than deserves to exist on dedicated consoles and PC.
3) CASTLEVANIA: THE DRACULA X CHRONICLES
Technically this already exists on consoles, but not fully. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles released on PSP in 2007 and consisted of a 2.5-D remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, the original Rondo, and Symphony of the Night. Castlevania Requiem omitted this part in its translation to PlayStation 4 – though it still uses its key art – and that’s a shame because like Maverick Hunter X, it offers enough differences to deserve its place with those games. Alternate paths are moved around, there’s new collectibles that can be found within levels, and the difficulty is altered to make things fairer in some parts, yet harder in others. If Konami wants to win some goodwill with fans, they could add this as a free update to Castlevania Requiem, or also as DLC even at a low cost.
2) MEGA MAN POWERED UP
The second Mega Man remake released on PSP is not only the better one, but it’s also one of the best entries in the series and criminally underrated. It wasn’t even made available as a digital download, so the only way to play it now is via the original UMD which isn’t an option for certain PSP’s and the PS Vita.
Mega Man Powered Up is a remake of the original Mega Man on the NES, but it’s also so much more than that. Levels layouts are changed, two new robot maters: Oil Man and Time Man are added, boss weaknesses are mixed up, and if you beat a robot master with your regular weapon, you can then play as them through the entire game. The new art direction which makes Mega Man and the robot masters chibi sized is also too adorable for words.
Powered Up also featured challenges for Mega Man and all the robot masters, and on top of all of that, you could collect building tools within levels to create your own stages. This essentially meant that Mega Man Powered Up was Super Mario Maker years before that game was ever released. Capcom has sat on this gem for far too long, and either it, or a full on remake of its ideas need to happen sooner rather than later.
1) PS ONE CLASSICS
This is cheating a little as you can play PS One Classics on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, but purchase history should be something that carries over to the PlayStation 4. One of the best features of the PSP was the ability to download original PlayStation games and carry them with you. Some games played better than others, and the lack of two analog nubs meant that a game like Ape Escape couldn’t be played at all, but it still didn’t change the fact that you could play the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII and Mega Man 8 on the go.
Remakes like the upcoming Resident Evil 2 from Capcom and retro consoles like the PlayStation Classic are good, but all original PlayStation games that were purchased on other devices should move forward to the PlayStation 4, and similarly be able to be bought for the first time for people who switched to the PlayStation brand after playing on the Xbox 360 last generation. Games like Mega Man Legends, Parasite Eve, Silent Hill and Crash Team Racing among countless others are just languishing on the PS3 and PS Vita and need to find a new home on the PlayStation 4.
Are there any PSP games you feel should be moved to a proper console?