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The PS1 launched in late 1994 and was a global success, going on to sell over 100 million consoles. It also played host to some of the greatest video games of all time, so we’re going to look at those that are still worth playing today.
This list features some undisputed classics, like Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid, along with a few unexpected entries that shouldn’t be overlooked. Without further ado, here are the PS1 games you should play today!
20. Toy Story 2
Back before film tie-in games became mindless microtransaction cash-grabs, Toy Story 2 was a fun and colorful platforming adventure. Following the story of the film, interspersed with clips from it, it’s great fun to roam around as Buzz Lightyear in places like Andy’s house and Al’s Toy Barn. However, you will need to forgive the occasionally frustrating controls. To infinity, and beyond!
19. Croc: Legend of Gobbos
There’s no doubt that 3D platformer Croc: Legend of Gobbos was inspired by Super Mario 64. In fact, it was originally pitched to Nintendo as a Yoshi game. That didn’t work out, so developer Argonaut Software turned it into their own creation. Croc, a backpack wearing crocodile, is on a mission to rescue his furry friends the Gobbos. Roaming across delightful environments and packed full of collectibles, Croc is a worthy adventure for the PS1.
18. PaRappa the Rapper
PaRappa the Rapper is considered to be the first proper rhythm game. That fact alone would make it worthwhile playing, but it’s still an enjoyable game to play, even if the gameplay is a bit dated by modern standards. With unique 2D artwork, you must tap buttons in time to lyrics in order to achieve a “cool” rapping rank. There’s even sections where you can freestyle to impress the teacher.
17. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
If you can forgive the blocky and unintentionally funny character models, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a wonderful action-adventure that will appeal to all fans of the boy wizard. You get to play as Harry and do everything you’d want to: collect house points, play Quidditch, cast spells, and more. All together now: “Flipendo!”
16. Twisted Metal 2
Board your ice cream truck and get ready for some manic vehicular combat in Twisted Metal 2. Select a vehicle and arena, then dive into battle with others as you fire projectiles at them in order to be the last one standing. Battling in multiplayer is fun, but so is the story mode that will put you in contact with wacky characters in places like Hong Kong and Paris.
15. Gran Turismo 2
After the success of the first Gran Turismo, a sequel was developed that stuck closely to the formula with some nice improvements—so closely that you can entirely skip the first. There’s nearly 650 vehicles to unlock here, which was a record number at the time, and 27 global tracks to drive on. Each car feels different and it’s a thrill to whizz around recognizable courses.
14. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Raziel is a former vampire, now creeping the shadows in order to destroy his creator. This 3D action-adventure is crammed full of hours of gameplay, playing out an enticing gothic story with some great voice acting. The level design is inspired, switching between realms and requiring dexterity and brains to solve puzzles.
13. Worms Armageddon
The Worms series has spawned countless games, but Worms Armageddon is still considered by many to be the best. You control a team of worms in a fight to the death, on floating islands made out of things like fruit or spacecrafts, using zany weapons like flying sheep or holy hand grenades. It’s bonkers and hilarious fun that will keep you entertained for ages.
12. Suikoden II
Suikoden II is an RPG that didn’t sell particularly well on release, partly because it stuck to 2D when others were moving to 3D. However, it’s now considered to be one of the best RPGs to grace the PS1. It has well fleshed out characters, a lovely story, and satisfying combat. Start with the first game if you can, for the benefit of the continuing story, but the sequel is superior.
Rayman is a limbless hero who sets out to save his world from the villainous Mr. Dark. Traversing various worlds like The Dream Forest and Band Land, this side-scrolling platformer is full of charm and is relentlessly difficult. Rayman can make his fists fly, use his hair as helicopter blades, and bounce around on giant plums. It’s one of the best selling PS1 games of all time and rightly so. It spawned a popular franchise, but start here with the original.
10. Silent Hill
Harry Mason is a regular guy looking for his missing daughter in the town of Silent Hill. However, his discovery of a cult sends things spiraling into the sinister. Silent Hill will scare you psychologically and has five different endings to discover. Though the fog was used to mask hardware limitations, it only ends up adding to the atmosphere. Play this with the lights on.
9. Resident Evil 2
The people of Raccoon City have been turned into zombies, so you must take control of Leon and Claire to get them out alive. Each main character has their own storyline, with gameplay centered around exploration and combat. Prepare for the rush of adrenaline as you use both your brain and brawn to dispatch the zombies.
8. Ape Escape
Ape Escape is considered by many to be the best 3D platformer that graced the PS1. It was the first game to require the use of the DualShock controller, with the two thumbsticks something we all take for granted nowadays. The distinct levels and visuals of Ape Escape are great, there’s an assortment of fun weapons to use, and the soundtrack is chock full of up-tempo catchiness.
We’re edging closer to the year 2052, when futuristic racing game Wipeout is set. In the game, you compete in an anti-gravity racing league, where the tracks have no regard for physics, and collect weapons like mines and rockets to slow down your opponents. The controls are a bit tricky to master, but soon you’ll be gliding into first place with joy.
6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
You might know Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for its superb soundtrack, but it’s also a downright excellent skateboarding game. You can play as loads of famous skateboarders, performing tricks across large urban environments to earn the most points. It stands the test of time thanks to the wide variety of addictive gameplay modes and tight controls.
5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Although it suffered from poor sales on release, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is now rightly recognized as a classic. Fans of the series loved the platforming, and this entry cleverly blended RPG elements in. The game focuses on Alucard, half-human/half-vampire, as he explores Dracula’s castle. With superbly clever non-linear level design, this deserves your attention.
4. Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy is probably the most well-known RPG series of all time. The fact that this, the eighth installment, launched on the PS1 gives you an idea of how long it’s been going for. You follow a young group, led by Squall Leonhart, as they set out to defeat a sorceress. It opens fantastically and continues to be thrilling until the end, boosted throughout by its excellent audiovisuals.
3. Tekken 3
Tekken 3 is one of the best selling fighting games of all time and it still holds up, hence why it was one of the games included on the PlayStation Classic. On its release it smashed all other fighting games out the park thanks to the amount of combos and moves, the great art design and sound, and genuinely enjoyable side modes. It also introduced now-iconic characters to the series like Jin Kazama and Ling Xiaoyu. Even if you don’t think fighting games are for you, give Tekken 3 a go.
2. Metal Gear Solid
The impact Metal Gear Solid had on gaming can’t be understated. Not only did it turn into one of the biggest franchises, but it’s also credited with bringing the stealth genre to the mainstream. Taking control of Solid Snake, you sneak around unseen, with the ultimate aim being to stop nuclear terrorists. Get the popcorn out for this one too, since the lengthy cutscenes and complicated plot make it part-game and part film.
1. Tomb Raider II
You can’t go wrong with any of the first three Tomb Raider games released on the PS1. They cemented their star, Lara Croft, as a pop culture icon. That said, Tomb Raider II offers improved movement, weapons, and save functionality over its predecessor. The plot follows the Dagger of Xian, an ancient weapon used to command armies, and sends Lara on a thrilling, lush globe-trotting adventure that is packed with riveting puzzles.
Revisit the Classics by Playing Remastered Games
These PS1 games will keep you busy for a long time, but there’s more out there. Gems like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon haven’t been listed, but only because they recently got remastered for modern platforms.
With updated graphics, audio, and controls, remastered games are a great way to revisit the classics. For some shining examples, check our article on the remastered video games worth playing again.