The PSN 100: PlayStation Classics
25 PlayStation Classics you must buy on PS3 before they close th- oh. Nevermind.
The PSP/PS3/Vita digital stores aren't about to go the way of the dodo. Sony have made me look like a fool and this whole PSN 100 endeavour a waste of time by backtracking on their pledge to shut down the PS3 and PS Vita digital stores. Well, I suppose the PSP one is still going, but... yeah.
Nonetheless, here's a list of PlayStation classics that are digitally available on PS3 and that you really ought to consider getting while they're available. I've already done the PSP, the PS Vita and native PS3 titles. This'll make 100 games, total.
This covers both the US and Japanese PlayStation stores for PS3, so you'll need to set up an account for them if you don't already have one. Don't worry, it's easy, just remember you'll need to use PSN credit top-ups for the correct region. Play-Asia sell Japanese PSN credit at a reasonable price.
Bravo Music (PS2, JP)
This ace little rhythm game that casts you as a conductor was released in the West as Mad Maestro with a rather compelling mechanic that saw you pressing the DualShock 2’s pressure-sensitive buttons either lightly or firmly depending on the notes you were hitting. Here, on PS3, this feature has been axed and the game re-coded to become about which face button you push, instead, which makes it different but just as enjoyable.
Castlevania Chronicles (PS1, US)
A remake of the Sharp X68000 Castlevania, this is one of the best games in the series as far as I’m concerned. Amazing visuals and sound, a perfectly balanced but rigorous challenge, and the entire original game included if you don’t fancy the Arranged mode and want to pop back in time. Bloody brilliant game.
Chippoke Ralph no Daibōken (PS1, JP)
The Adventure of Little Ralph is a gorgeous and difficult 2D platformer with beautifully smooth visuals and a nice European aesthetic (though not a European playstyle, to the relief of you all). It’s very arcadey and feels like something straight from the SNES, which makes it all the more surprising that it’s a 1999 release, four years into the PlayStation’s life.
Chulip (PS2, US)
Yoshirou Kimura (formerly of Love-de-Lic) brings up this utterly bizarre game about kissing. It’s extremely odd and characterful, but truth be told the esoteric gameplay (find the right time/circumstances to kiss everyone!) will not be broadly appealing. Still, I can only recommend giving it a go as it’s pretty cheap and you might get a kick out of it. Yes, I said a kick.
Contra Shattered Soldier/Neo Contra (PS2, US)
Side-scrolling and top-down Contras respectively, both these entries in Konami’s run-n’-gun saga are absolutely brilliant, if nails hard. Shattered Soldier remains breathtaking in places with its insane set-pieces and occasionally stunning graphics, while Neo is simply a well-designed and fascinating oddity.
Einhänder (PS1, JP)
This attractive 2.5D shmup from the then-Squaresoft is great to look at, surprisingly diverse in its content and packs a meaty challenge. You’ll use your ship’s special arm (WOBBLY ARM) to grab “Gunpods” from fallen enemies, gaining from them special weapons with a limited supply of ammo. Good stuff and a rare action game from Square.
Future Cop: LAPD (PS1, US)
Crowd control situation! Setting aside murky politics, this game is the evolution of EA’s excellent Strike series, pitting you (and, optionally, a friend) into the cockpits of transforming police mecha. There’s also a versus multiplayer mode called Precinct Assault that seems to prefigure MOBAs like League of Legends by quite some years. Still as fun today as ever.
God Hand (PS2, US)
This isn’t a game I’ve put a terrific amount of time into yet, but everyone’s always singing its praises so of course I had to include it here. A larger-than-life anime brawler, God Hand is the epitome of a cult classic. Brought to you by Okami’s own Clover Studio and directed by Shinji Mikami! Maybe it’s time I get stuck into this one.
Gradius V (PS2, US)
Treasure does Gradius. Oh, you need more? It’s a whistle-stop tour of the entire series, overdosed on steroids to throw an absolutely brutal gauntlet of brilliant complex stages and multi-phase boss battles to the party, with a focus on the general notion that this ain’t your daddy’s Gradius. Best explosions in any game, too. Masterpiece.
Gunners Heaven (PS1, JP)
Released in Europe as Rapid Reload, this is a vastly inferior knock-off of Treasure’s Mega Drive icon, Gunstar Heroes. It’s very difficult and very stiff, it’s also ceaselessly interesting and rare enough to be worth your attention at the paltry asking price. And it's not even the last Treasure rip-off on this list!
Harmful Park (PS1, JP)
Gorgeous, cartoony anime shooter that sees you play through an amusement park filled with danger, not unlike the sort that Scooby-Doo might pay a visit. The big hook for this one is that you have all your weapons available at once (like Radiant Silvergun) and must pick and choose the best for each situation. Extremely good Parodius-ish fun.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1, US)
Big-eared freaky cat thing going on a 2.5D puzzle-platforming adventure. Klonoa’s got to use his enemies to propel himself around and rescue all his friends from their bubble prisons. Charming and attractive game, wherein every “Vision” feels unique and interesting. Also insanely expensive on the physical market.
KOF Maximum Impact 2 (PS2, JP)
I’ve talked about this one before and I stand by every word. No, it’s not the best 3D fighter on the market, but it is one of the most rewarding, with a constant stream of unlockable costumes, characters and ream upon ream of SNK fanservice content. No, not that kind of fanservice content, settle down.
Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol. 1 + Vol. 2 (PS1, JP)
A clutch of classic Konami MSX games, basically presented as-is. If you can tolerate flickery, entirely un-smooth scrolling, there are some marvellous shooters here (Nemesis and sequel) as well as many other titles which I basically just consider a bonus. I really like Nemesis, you see.
LSD (PS1, JP)
Infamous, mental “dream simulator” that has you trudge around randomly-presented and absolutely nightmarish locales in search of any kind of meaning. Like a creepypasta, but actually real. The developers of this one must have been on acid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory/Maximo vs. Army of Zin (PS2 US)
Basically a 3D take on Ghosts ‘N Goblins, Maximo is an under-rated gem often pilloried for its difficulty but in reality not any tougher than, say, half a Dark Souls. Paying to save your game will grate on some but you should always have enough coins to do so. This is a hugely enjoyable linear action adventure, and its sequel ups the ante with more enemies on screen and an amped-up moveset.
Mega Man Legends/Mega Man Legends 2/The Misadventures of Tron Bonne (PS1, US)
These three games memorialise the lesser-known Legends sub-series in the Mega Man legacy – two superb action RPGs and one bizarre spin-off full of genuinely fun mini-games. Legends 2 in particular holds up with quite some aplomb, a majestically designed challenge rich with features and upgrades – but all are worth buying.
Memorial Series Sunsoft Vol. 6: Battle Formula / Gimmick! (PS1, JP)
Gimmick! It’s Gimmick!! It’s the only way to legally buy a copy of Gimmick for less than infinity jillion moneys!!! One of the great NES games, inventive from start to finish, challenging, thoughtful, pastoral. There’s no other way to buy this game without giving up your mortgage and pension or selling a kidney! Oh, it also includes Battle Formula, whatever that is. Who cares?
Panzer Bandit (PS1, JP)
Another game biting Treasure’s style, Banpresto’s Panzer Bandit is essentially a PlayStation take on seminal Saturn scroller scrapper Guardian Heroes. Great sprites and a lovely sense of impact to your blows. It’s enormous fun and a real shame that Sony’s hardline stance against 2D games prevented its localisation. Assumedly.
Rakugaki Showtime (PS1, JP)
It’s those Treasure lads again! Rakugaki Showtime is a 3D arena battle game that shines in multiplayer, with a chaotic take on dodgeball that’s reminiscent in a way of modern versus title Lethal League. Once among the rarest PlayStation games, its PSN version makes this little obscurity entirely more available to curious players.
Rockman: Power Battle Fighters (PS2, JP)
The two arcade Mega Man titles are packaged together here – an added bonus in the old PS2 Mega Man Anniversary Collection, here sold separately on the Japanese PSN. They’re good, too, but the second one sort of invalidates the first by being superior in effectively every way. Still a cool package that deserves to be on your PS3.
Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 26: Dynamite Deka (PS2, JP)
It’s Die Hard Arcade with an absolute ton-load of insane new modes and an inexplicable recreation of Sega’s ancient game Periscope that you have to play to earn continues for the main game. A brilliant and ram-packed effort that gives a superb game the treatment it deserves. Those QTEs are a bit tricky if you don't know the Japanese, though...
Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 33: Fantasy Zone Complete Collection (PS2, JP)
M2's compilation of Fantasy Zone titles includes everything you could ever want from the series, right the way down to a brand-new and hidden version of the original game that recreates the feel of the Famicom port. There's also a new remake of Fantasy Zone II created on Sega's System-16 architecture. A sublime example of the retro compilation, just like pretty much all of the later Sega Ages 2500 entries on PS2.
The King of Fighters XI (PS2, JP)
Never, re-released, KoF XI was the first mainline game to drop the year from the franchise’s title, and the first to be released on the Atomiswave platform. It’s a great port, too, with seven additional characters from the earlier NeoGeo Battle Coliseum making an appearance here. Basically every KoF is on the Japanese PSN, but this is the most appealing one in my view simply because of its scarcity.
Thunder Force V: Perfect System (PS1, JP)
No, it's not as good-looking as the Saturn version, but try buying that on a (relatively) contemporary system. A smooth, enjoyable horizontal shooter, this one makes up in atmosphere what it may lack in originality. I found it bleedin' difficult, too, even by shmup standards - but some of the enemy mecha you face are really cool. Shout-out to the one with wings. Stupid robotic wings. Which I then shot off.