When making a top 10 list for any gaming console, a couple of questions come to mind. Should the list focus on what is generally accepted as being a great PS1 game or what the writer perceives to be a great PS1 game, regardless of the norm? I believe that no list should be the same, though similarities may be found. That being said, here is my list of the best PS1 games from the viewpoint of a RPG (Role Playing Game), FPS (First Person Shooter), and Strategy gamer.
10. Suikoden II
Suikoden was one of the first PS1 RPGs to make it to North America. The second installment addresses many of the problems from the first game, but it doesn’t stray very far from the concept of the original. Suikoden II did not receive the best initial response, which led to a limited amount of copies being produced. This, combined with an increase in demand, makes it the most expensive game for PS1 today.
9. Final Fantasy 8
Ask around about Final Fantasy 8 and you’ll hear mixed opinions. The character development is lacking, and the main character is a stereotypical mess. Admittedly, it’s hard to follow up on Final Fantasy 7. The combat system incorporates its’ own materia-like system, but it was mostly ill-received . Despite the mounting complaints, FF8 is a worth playing if you are a Final Fantasy fan. Would I recommend this title to a first time player of the series? Not so much.
8. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Not being a big fan of sports games, I still found Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater to be strangely addicting. Along with a free roam mode, there is a career mode in which you complete objectives to unlock the next stage. Throw in a great soundtrack to go along with it all and you have a complete game. As complete as a skateboarding game can be, anyway.
7. Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
Harvest Moon is a farming simulation game where you are tasked with bringing a run down farm back to its former glory. Sounds fun, right? Actually, you would be surprised how addictive it really is. Harvest Moon: Back to Nature for the PS1 largely expanded off its predecessor for the SNES, adding many more crops, events, and objectives. If you played the original, you’re going to love this. If you didn’t, I would still recommend it as a timer killer.
6. Chrono Cross
Chrono Cross is the PS1 sequel to Chrono Trigger for the SNES. However, don’t let that pull you into the game if you’re looking to build on the story of Chrono Trigger. I believe this was one of the main reasons the game was received so poorly, since fans have been yearning for a continuation of Chrono Trigger for years. That said, the stories are not completely unrelated. One character in particular plays a huge role in both of the titles. Chrono Cross sports a fun combat system and a ton of characters. You can’t get them all in one play through either, which is good for replay value. All in all, the game is a good one, but I would have preferred it to be named something different.
5. Resident Evil 3
Resident Evil has been a cult classic for years. Something about the idea of a zombie infestation just grabs at your attention. In Resident Evil 3, zombies are perhaps the least of your problems due to the construction of Nemesis, a bio-organic weapon created by Umbrella. The addition of a nearly indestructible being really added some points to the thrill factor.
4. Final Fantasy 7
Revered by many as the greatest RPG for PS1, Final Fantasy 7 has definitely made its mark on the genre. FF7 paved the way for the genre in many respects and set certain standards. The storyline is unmatched, the battle system is thoroughly fun and challenging, and the characters have depth for the most part. The only problem is that the game loses appeal before the end and the story begins to lose clarity. I realize that many will probably disagree, but FF7 secures spot 4 on the Top 10 PS1 games list.
3. Breath of Fire 3
Breath of Fire 3 was the first installment of the series on PS1, and the greatest thus far in my opinion. I tried to play the previous titles to no avail, but I was thoroughly enjoying this one. The graphics are pleasing and add a lot of appeal to the game. The character development is superb, but I believe that should be expected with any less than 5 playable characters. The story does feel drab for the first hour of so, but it becomes a non-issue as soon as you get into the thick of it.
2. Silent Hill 2
The Silent Hill series is one I simply could not stomach in my younger years (the back alley scene in the beginning of Silent Hill 1 comes to mind). That being said, it is an amazing psychological horror game that will test your nerves. The storyline of Silent Hill 2 is absolute gold with an even more incredible back story involving a religious cult which used to conduct strange ceremonies in the town. You can look online and find endless discussions about the story, most of which are inconclusive to some extent. The general consensus is that the town of Silent Hill calls individuals who are unable to cope with the ‘skeletons in their closet’ so to speak. Once there, their own personal fears are materialized and they are forced to confront them. The addition of Pyramid Head really makes this game shine in the horror category, and the other inhabitants give a feel for how the ‘dark’ Silent Hill operates: something that was only slightly touched on in Silent Hill 1 for the PS1.
1. Final Fantasy Tactics
FFT is one of the few PS1 games that I still pick up and play. You take the role of Ramza, a young noble involved in a War between two major armies. Ramza is tasked with creating a battalion after graduating from cadet school. He initially fights on the same side as his older brothers and recently deceased father (The Hokuten), but as the story progresses he address conflicts with the war. Upon seeing how the common people are treated and neglected, Ramza is unsure who can be trusted and decides to step down and enlist as a mercenary. However, after being tasked with escorting a Princess, things start to go sour. Both of the factions want the princess and will stop at nothing to capture her alive. The turn of events force Ramza back into the middle of the war, this time as an independent unit. He continues to discover the atrocities of his own brothers, the church, and the war itself as the story continues. Needless to say, this is probably my all time favorite game. The story is immaculate, complete, and it closely resembles a medieval setting as opposed to the normal fantasy style. As far as character development, Ramza is also probably my all time favorite as well. He’s a young, naive warrior of noble blood who is forced to realize the true implications of the war. However, unlike most of the nobles, Ramza has a bleeding heart toward the common folk. The combat system mixes RPG and strategy elements which is amazing for some, but others may find it boring if they like fast paced battles. The job system is a masterpiece and will keep you busy for much of the game in itself. Along with the completeness of the job system, it is completely customizable, meaning that any character can change their job and assign whichever skills they have learned from previous jobs. However, these are just a couple of reasons why FFT secures the number 1 spot on the top 10 PS1 games list. Bottom line: If you haven’t played Final Fantasy Tactics and you enjoy a compelling and involved story, you need to check it out.