The PlayStation Portable was such a treasure trove of fun games. Often in precisely the sorts of genres that Siliconera readers love! So we thought it’d be helpful to, before the PlayStation Store shuts down on the Vita, give you a rundown of the best PSP games to buy on the store. After all, it may be your last chance!
Here are our criteria:
- It must still be available for purchase on the PlayStation Store in North America.
- It isn’t ported or remastered on a modern platform.
- If the game’s only available digitally, that’s a plus.
- It offers something great or special to today’s players.
Onto the games!
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Many still swear by Tactics Ogre as the best tactical RPG out there. It built the formula that would give Final Fantasy Tactics so much success, but with a standalone world and nuanced writing that made everything a bit more grounded and real. Let Us Cling Together on PSP is the definitive version of the game, with rebalanced progression, new content and an easier way to see all the branches of the game’s story.
Ape Quest is precisely the sort of weird that you can only get on PSN. Released in three download-only chunks in the West, it’s a quirky minigame collection set in the world of Ape Escape. You’ll need to jump through a few more hoops to get this one, though! It was never officially approved for the Vita, even though it runs fine, so it’s only purchasable on the PS3’s PlayStation Store. From there, you can transfer it to your system of choice.
The Eye of Judgment: Legends
Buried under the innovative but finicky camera tech of the PS3 Eye of Judgment game was an intriguing grid-based card game. Legends collects all the cards and adds more, making for a great way to try that out without the big hassle of lighting and trial and error. Is it a bit janky at times? Yeah, for sure. But it’s the sort of game that you’ll want to play for dozens of hours, so it’s a bit easier to fight through the first couple to acclimate to it for the long haul.
While the first two Patapon games have reappeared as remastered editions on PS4, the third game hasn’t. And likely won’t! But that’s too bad, because it’s the deepest and most engrossing of the three. There’s definitely a degree to which Patapon 3 relies upon knowledge of playing the other games, but it uses this base of knowledge and builds upon it to make a satisfying sequel.
LocoRoco Midnight Carnival
Similar to Patapon 3, Midnight Carnival follows two remastered PSP games. What makes it even more special is its download-only status: you won’t be able to get this after the shutdown. The carnival theme adds some extra aesthetic fun, and the gameplay is largely built on the solid foundations of LocoRoco 2. And hey, it holds up really well when upscaled on the Vita! Which, as it turns out, ain’t always easy for a PSP game.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
There’s some debate about whether Portable or FES is the best way to experience Persona 3. One has gameplay updates! One has more content! But both offer a great Persona game, and both are going to be a lot harder to play when the PlayStation Store shutdown kicks in. (And hey, there’s something to be said for a game of this length being on a handheld.)
Valkyria Chronicles II
Though it’s largely considered the weakest entry in the Valkyria Chronicles franchise, this second game has a lot going for it! It offers tons of hours of gameplay. It iterates on the formula in interesting ways. And hey, it even has some multiplayer content? Mostly, it’s more Valkyria Chronicles, and you should probably want that.
The follow-up to the PS3’s Echochrome, this game plays with time more than perspective. You use remnants of your past selves to get through environments. Combined with the monochrome aesthetic, and it’ll scratch your puzzle itch in a way that Boxboy! has over the past decade.
The PSP had a cornucopia of quirky tactical games that really messed with the formula. But Jeanne d’Arc? Nah. It’s a very traditional strategy-RPG, but its gameplay balance and solid writing make it a great example of why that template works so well. Level-5’s signature aesthetic flair carries the game well after its technical era, and its nostalgic trappings make its quest one worth playing.
Sweet Fuse: At Your Side
According to otome expert and Siliconera Editor-in-Chief Jenni Lada, “Who wouldn’t want to go to uncle Keiji Inafune’s amusement park, become trapped inside with characters designed by Ace Attorney Art Director Tatsuro Iwamoto and get angry to make proper progress in dangerous situations?” Sweet Fuse is a standout in the otome genre on a platform full of ‘em. And it showed up late enough in the PSP’s life — and early enough in the Western genre’s growth — that a lot of people probably missed it.
Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time
Wayfarer of Time‘s intuitive real-time battle system is really something special. So is its deep, layered narrative! While it has the trappings of a traditional JRPG that will feel nice and comfy, the moment-to-moment is distinct and engaging. A port of the Japan-only Growlanser IV, this version’s the only way to play it in English. And did we mention that it’s really quite good?
Sony did such a good job in the PSP era with funding and publishing weird little projects. Patchwork Heroes is definitely one of those, a download-only action-strategy game from Acquire. The paper-like aesthetic is charming. The battles work like super-advanced Qix: you destroy airships by cutting them apart and blowing them up, while avoiding lots of obstacles. Give it a try!
Brandish: The Dark Revenant
For a while, it seemed like this game would never make it to the West. Long a side project at XSEED, Brandish: The Dark Revenant showed up on PSN so long after the PSP’s demise that it was essentially marketed as a Vita game. Still, better late than never! (And that goes for you downloading it, too.) This remake is widely regarded by Brandish fans as the best way to play.
What do you think are the best PSP games on the PlayStation Store? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! And check out more of the handy PlayStation Store guides we’re sharing as the PS3 and Vita shutdown dates approach.