Following in Nintendo’s footsteps, Sony have announced their own mini console, the PlayStation Classic. This tiny nostalgia bomb will come with twenty pre-loaded games for the price of $99.99 here in the U.S. and there’s no need to dig out those old memory cards as saves are handled internally, games can be suspended, and the OPEN button switches discs for the longer titles, making this an appeasing new toy.
As someone who owns way too many original PS1 consoles and is still building his collection, I want to embrace that sense of freedom and ignore the limitations on this new device for a moment, looking at some games that I would personally put on this machine if it was completely customizable. These aren’t just some of my favorites, but games that would be good to take traveling and have a ton of replay value. The five games that were already announced for the mini aren’t too shabby, but these are titles that will part me from my money a lot quicker.
10. Bushido Blade
I’ve always loved fighting games, and I mistakenly took Bushido Blade as a typical one for the genre at first, but the title quickly demonstrated how it stood out from anything else like it at the time, and so much more to come. Visually, the game felt so right in its 3D environments even though movements took some getting used to, but it’s a unique and rewarding series of swordplay mechanics added a level of tension I had never experienced competitively before. It only takes a single misstep, or the opponent finding one true strike to end the match in a shower of blood. This is the game that taught me to read my opponents, and my wife and I still have an ongoing feud on its hallowed grounds.
Not only am I a fan of the character, but I was hugely into the animated series at the time, which this game took so much of its inspiration from. To seal the deal though, hearing those lines of narration from Stan Lee and web-swinging for the first time had me hooked on the game for sure. It’s a phrase being thrown around a lot lately with this game’s younger brother recently hitting it big on the PS4, but this may be the first title that ever made me actually feel like I was Spider-Man. I’ll never forget staying up late one night to beat this thing, that horrible amalgamation of Doctor Octopus and Carnage chasing me, and feeling so rewarded with that end credits scroll and the guest appearances at the end. This is one that I want to own as many times as possible and will always hold a special place in my heart.
8. Twisted Metal 2
There really aren’t enough good car combat games, which is an evergreen statement. I love the series for sure, but Twisted Metal 2 dominated my life as a multiplayer arena game for all of high school. So many days after classes I would skip my homework and hang out with friends in Dwight’s basement facing off against the likes of Axel, Mr. Grimm, and Minion while listening to Metallica. Combat was all about learning the stages and finding the right car: Thumper or Spectre for me. This new entry had many solid gameplay improvements, and may have been the peak of the series, as it remains the best selling title in the franchise.
7. Mega Man X4
As much as I love the Blue Bomber’s original adventures, the X series was always a bit more of a personal favorite. I used to think that nothing could beat those first two games, but was pleasantly blown away by the graphics of a new entry on the PlayStation with its rich music and incredible anime cutscenes. The story and universe for these characters had never felt so alive and full. For many, this game is also the last great entry into the series and boasted some wonderful boss fights. Next to the first one, I think Mega Man X4 has some of the most fine-tuned gameplay fans can get. Whether it is as X or Zero, the more I play the game, the less trouble I have figuring out, what am I fighting for!!!
6. Parasite Eve
A friend purchased this game expecting a more traditional survival horror experience, and I completely got why after seeing the initial cutscenes. Based off of a Japanese horror novel, Parasite Eve isn’t just notable for being SquareSoft’s first M-rated game or gore-laden monster transformations. This is a game that turns people off or sells them on its combat, having random encounters and pausable turn-based battles while still trying to feel like an action RPG. My friend who bought it wasn’t a huge fan, but we finished it and enjoyed the story, however I didn’t truly appreciate the mechanics until playing it again many years later. The atmosphere in Manhattan works, Eve is a fantastic villain, and even the side characters kept me intrigued. Now I just need to finish the Chrysler building…
5. Silent Hill
I knew almost nothing about this game when I picked it up, other than that I needed another horror series in my life, and it became one to rival Resident Evil for me over the years. Harry’s adventure to find his daughter in what seemed like a new and creative world was just what I needed, playing over the weekend with the light off in my room and doing my best not to lose my way in the desolate town as I battled horrendous creatures and tense boss encounters. Every cutscene and piece of eerie music seemed perfectly placed to hold my attention, as I couldn’t wait to learn more about this new terrifying world. The fog may have been placed to hide its flaws, but I found it amazing for the atmosphere, and figuring out that all of the street names were taken from horror authors on my own was something so satisfying at the time. Halloween coming up is a good reason to revisit Silent Hill, but I can always find time to play this game again and go for one of the many endings, even the UFO one.
4. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
This foray into feudal Japan intrigued me from the initial premise alone: being a ninja assassin. There is a lot more to it though. I’m not saying that the story is necessarily good or easy to follow and that the voice acting is anything but laughable in spots, but the game is memorable for those things and more. Stages felt well-crafted, the music stands out, the supernatural mysticism that is weaved in later on works, and that opening black and white cutscene feels like a beautiful tapestry. Tenchu was a good blend of stealth, item use, and swordplay in its combat with some one-on-one boss encounters that mixed together well, even if they showed a few flaws separately. I would replay each stage so many times, approaching it like a puzzle for how to handle each set of guards, wanting to become a better ninja, not a novice. The game has a lot little details I love, like how NPCs treat the two different playable characters differently, and just some genuinely creepy aesthetics. Even though there are other good games in the series, this one always holds the most replay value for me.
3. Resident Evil 2
I played the previous game mostly at friends’ houses and with a few Blockbuster rentals, so when Resident Evil 2 came out I saved my money and made sure I wouldn’t miss out. This is the game that most likely sealed my love of the survival horror genre and helped me to appreciate tank controls. This title was massive for the time, two characters with multiple playthroughs and modes like Tofu to keep me trying to improve my gameplay. I was hooked from that first cutscene, watching it multiple times before I actually started playing, and clung to the eccentric police station that was now my playground. There were so many moments that had me in awe, like figuring out how to beat the alligator boss, discovering the underground lab, and that final scene with Ada. The second epic adventure managed to stay fresh though with Claire’s playthrough and her run-ins with Chief Irons genuinely made my skin crawl more than the zombies. I cannot wait for the remake of this game, but no matter how it is, I can assure everyone that I will be returning to the original often as well.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
It’s hard to say much about a game that has come to epitomize a series, even one as large as Castlevania. This is an entry that took the best working parts of the previous games and expanded upon them with a huge graphical update, allowing Alucard his time in the spotlight with an extensive item and weapon selection system. It was a lot to take in when I first picked up Symphony of the Night, but the countless hours I poured into it afterwards was well worth it. Not only did the game feel massive, but the focus on backtracking and exploration never felt old. My surprise upon discovering the second castle and running to talk to my friends at school about it was worth the price of admission alone, not to mention the ‘incredible’ (memorable) voice acting. The game wasn’t marketed much in the U.S. but became a massive hit and changed so much for the series and many other games that used it as inspiration. The title has been re-released on numerous platforms across console generations and now it has again on the PS4 along with Rondo of Bloom, allowing more people the opportunity to play this great quest.
1. Final Fantasy VIII
I discovered the series with the American version of Final Fantasy III, setting the bar, and the most recent predecessor at that time had shown that newer technology was allowing them to set a higher standard, but it was Final Fantasy VIII that truly felt like an epic adventure tailored for me from start to finish. I fell in love with the world, its mix of technology, magic, floating cities, and space, where the time travel aspect felt important and thought out—even if the plot gets muddled at the end. Each of the characters evoke strong feelings, as I came to trust in Quistis, rely on Zell, and feel sorry for Irvine and Seifer. I caught on to the draw and junction systems quickly, while Triple Triad felt so rewarding. Although I beat the game in my youth, I kept learning more about it as the years passed, and even now feel like there is more hidden under the layers. I can always play this game, and it left such an impression on me to the point that I used a piece of the music from it in my wedding. It’s not only my favorite Final Fantasy game, but the only one (almost) I actually care if they remake.
One of the more interesting and stylistic games that kept me coming back with its sense of humor. This is a title that made me realize how much I appreciate games that change-up their mechanics and playstyles almost seamlessly. Really, it’s about that sniper mode.
Sir Daniel Fortesque is quite the character, and he has a fun and crazy adventure that can get quite difficult, mostly because of the camera. Its Tim Burton inspired Halloween themes stick out in the minds of most, and I cannot wait to see how it looks in the remaster.
Metal Gear Solid
From the moment I was shown the trailer I was intrigued, and the game lived up to that expectation and felt like something truly unique. Over the years, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I’m not a huge fan of the rest of the series though, and that my wife is better at the first one than I am.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
This engaging world kept me captivated from the moment I saw it, with RuptureFarms and its numerous creatures and technology, I knew I had to rescue as many Mudokons as possible. There is a bit of a learning curve, but I realized the game was something special when the loading screen told players to, “get over it.”
It’s a fun third-person action game that was my introduction into 3D stealth games and led me to some of my favorite titles. I feel like the genre outgrew the series, but the desire to give it another shot is strong and I remember having fun with it.