Top 10 Playstation 1 Games - The Best of the Best

The Top Playstation 1 Games on Sony's First Ever Console

Sony achieved a number of firsts with its iconic video game console, including the first commercially successful CD-ROM based machine, and the first truly capable of rendering 3D games. This was also the first entry by Sony into the video game marketplace, at a time when Sega and Nintendo were clear leaders having already released several generations of consoles.

Sony's Playstation 1 console ultimately drove their competitors to move from cartridge based games to disks due to the reduced manufacturing cost, extra capacity and the ability to stream video as well as CD quality music and audio. It also started a 3 way battle for share of video gamer's wallets, which ultimately caused Sega to cease production of console hardware.

Sony succeeded despite the already saturated video game market due to the number and quality of the games available for the format, and gave birth to some classic franchises that are still alive today, such as Tekken, Metal Gear and Resident Evil.

In my list of Top 10 Playstation games, I will be looking at the best of these titles, those that should be in every owner's collection.

Metal Gear Solid for PS1
Metal Gear Solid for PS1 | Source

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear was originally released for the Famicom (also known as the Nintendo Entertainment System) as a 2D action game, built around the use of stealth tactics to infiltrate buildings and achieve covert objectives.

With the advanced hardware of the Playstation, Metal Gear Solid improved on the original formula with it's 3D graphics, cinematic cut-scenes and huge amounts of in-game dialogue. Playing the mysterious agent "Solid Snake", your mission was to investigate and ultimately destroy the weapon known as the Metal Gear. With constant communication with your base to provide the backstory and ongoing mission briefings, Snake had to rely mainly on stealth to progress past armies of guards without triggering alarm to achieve his objectives. End of level bosses provided variety and challenge, not to mention some level of amusement, with names such as Revolver Ocelot and Pyscho Mantis making it through the translation from the original Japanese.

The Playstation 1 hardware enabled Konami to create a classic game, that through the graphics and audio, supplemented by a great story, helped generate a sense of emotional investment in the character of Snake, providing a much deeper gameplay experience.

The game went on to spawn a number of sequels across various Sony consoles and handhelds, with over 30 Metal Gear games released at the time of writing.

Tekken 3
Tekken 3 | Source

Tekken 3

Previous hardware generations had their popular fighting games, such as the Street Fighter series launched on the Genesis (Megadrive in Europe) and Super Nintendo, but the Playstation enabled fighting games to move into the 3D arena with Tekken. The original Tekken game was a revelation, with multiple characters each with their own move sets and physics, all rendered in stunning (for the time) 3D.

Tekken 3 was the last game to be launched on the Playstation 1, and an incremental improvement on the previous 2 games. The roster of characters was expanded to include 23 characters including 6 carried over from Tekken 2, some of which were unlockable. The graphics as well as the players unique movement sets were improved, including the ability to dodge "into" the screen. As a fighting game it allowed for a huge amount of variability in play, whilst not penalising new players too heavily, making it the ideal party game.

Although Tekken 3 was great as a single player game, it was better with 2 players, and it was always the game I turn to when friends came over. Despite later versions on more recent consoles, Tekken 3 remains my all time favourite fighting game and therefore the best on the Playstation 1 console.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

The Castlevania Series Continues on Playstation 1

Konami's Castlevania series had previously appeared on Nintendo hardware as a Gothic themed 2D platformer, first with the Famicom (NES) and then the Super Nintendo console. Given that the Sony Playstation 1 platform was built from the ground up to run 3D games, it was an unusual machine on which to launch a Castlevania title, the 14th game in the series.

Castlevania : Symphony of the Night, whilst still at heart a 2D platformer, deviated from the linear approach of the series to date by allowing your character Alucard to freely explore the castle, unlocking new areas along the way. There are also RPG like characteristics, with experience gained allowing Alucard to level up, improving attributes such as health and magic. The graphics were exceptional, one of few classic 2D sprite-based games on the Playstation 1 platform, and the audio was also excellent, an eclectic mix of different musical genres that was also released on CD.

At launch the game had limited critical acclaim, and did not initially sell in huge numbers, but over time the game has become a cult classic amongst fans of the series, and as such still fetches high prices at auction. A top Playstation 1 game, if a little more difficult to obtain than other titles, it is well worth the investment.

At launch the game had limited critical acclaim, and did not initially sell in huge numbers, but over time the game has become a cult classic amongst fans of the series, and as such still fetches high prices at auction. A top Playstation 1 game, if a little more difficult to obtain than other titles, it is well worth the investment.

Ridge Racer Type 4
Ridge Racer Type 4 | Source

Ridge Racer Type 4

Ridge Racer began life as an arcade game by Namco, a 3D racer that featured Japanese style "drifting" as its central driving mechanic. As the first popular console capable of arcade quality 3D graphics, it was a logical choice for release on the Sony Playstation 1.

Ridge Race Type 4 is (rather obviously) the fourth Ridge Racer title for the Playstation 1, with each game an improvement on the last, and this being the pinnacle of the series. The previous games had ever improving graphics, but were criticised for having little variety in the tracks, something that was remedied in Ridge Racer Type 4, with 8 different tracks available. There was also a Grand Prix mode that allowed you to progress your career with different teams and better cars available to drive as you rose in the driver rankings.

As well as having improved gameplay, Type 4 featured an iconic art style and modern music that set the game apart from previous entries in the Ridge Racer series.

Gran Tourismo is often sited as the best racer for the Playstation, but for pure arcade driving perfection I prefer the Ridge Racer series, the Top Playstation 1 game being Type 4.

Resident Evil 2 Box Art
Resident Evil 2 Box Art | Source

Resident Evil 2

The original Resident Evil game for the Playstation 1 introduced the concept of "survival horror" to a worldwide audience, with it's story of zombies on the rampage in the fictional Racoon City. The series relies on building tension during gameplay by making the player characters vulnerable, with limited ammunition available as you creep through claustraphobic corridors, and the always present fear of a surprise Zombie attack around every corner.

The game used complex background graphics that were pre-rendered, providing a level of detail that couldn't be achieved in real time, allowing the graphics engine to focus on the player and zombie characters. Your performance in the game was reflected in your movement, with zombie damage resulting in a pronounced limp which slowed your progress until you get medical treatment.

In this installment, the Umbrella Corporation which is behind the original Zombie plague have developed an even more extreme biological weapon, and as a newcomers to the city which is almost totally infected, your mission is simply to escape. With complex puzzles, and a switching system that allowed you to play the game from the perspective of 2 different characters, the game provided a great amount of variety and replay value.

Resident Evil 2 was hugely popular on release, selling almost 5 million copies, one of the highest selling releases on the platform, and a must have game for any Playstation 1 owner.

Final Fantasy VII Battle Scene
Final Fantasy VII Battle Scene | Source

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy is a Role Playing Game (RPG) series which until Final Fantasy VII was based on the Nintendo hardware platforms, the move to the Playstation being prompted by huge amount of the storage space available on the Sony CD-ROM. Final Fantasy VII follows the usual RPG formula of exploration, turn-based battle and character improvement, but added 3D characters and video cut-scenes that elevated the series to another level.

Like the Resident Evil series, it made use of pre-rendered backgrounds to improve the graphics, and for the first time 3D characters in both the local maps and the battle environments. The video cut-scenes provided an amazing level of exposition, moving the story forward rather than just being bolted on to the game as an afterthought. There was also an excellent soundtrack which was later released a series of 4 CD's.

Set on the industrial planet of Gaia, main protagonist Cloud Strife must join forces with an eco-terrorist group to battle the Shinra Corporation, and the evil Sephiroth, to prevent the planet's destruction.

Selling around 10 million copies worldwide, the game is credited by many for taking the previously niche RPG game format to a mainstream audience outside of Japan, and is still the biggest selling game in the Final Fantasy series.

Crash Bandicoot 2
Crash Bandicoot 2
Crash Bandicoot - Sony's PS1 Mascot
Crash Bandicoot - Sony's PS1 Mascot | Source

Crash Bandicoot 2

With Sony looking to steal market share from established competitors Nintendo and Sega, a platforming mascot was needed to take on the might of Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. What they came up with was definitely unexpected, and that was Crash Bandicoot.

Mario had coins, Sonic had rings, but Crash had to collect apples to progress through each of the gorgeous 3D levels. Alternating between standard platforming sections and "Indiana Jones" style chasing sections where you need to run continuously towards the player, there was a huge amount of variety to the levels, not to mention significant challenge. Crash Bandicoot was hard, really hard, and much trial and error would be needed to complete the most difficult sections.

The second game in the series improved on the first in every way, with improved graphics and audio, based around a plot to prevent the destruction of the earth - this time aided by his former nemesis Dr Cortex.

Crash Bandicoot 2 is a great platformer, and a classic Playstation 1 game that helped establish the marsupial as Sony's mascot for it's first console.

Wipeout XL aka 2093
Wipeout XL aka 2093

Wipeout XL (aka Wipeout 2097)

The original Wipeout released for the Playstation 1 introduced gamers to the futuristic world of high speed anti-gravity racing. Your rocket powered racer hovers just above the surface of the track, and must be piloted as much as driven around the 3D circuits, which include banked corners and acceleration zones which must be hit to get the best times. Using air brakes allowed corners to be negotiated at huge speeds, ensuring the breakneck pace could be maintained around the entire circuit.

Expanding on the formula of the first game, Wipeout XL (known as 2097 outside the US) ramped up the speed and the quality of the graphics, as well as adding weapons that could be used against competitors, resulting in an adrenalin-fuelled blast of a racer. With cutting-edge design, and a soundtrack by artists such as The Prodigy, Underworld and The Chemical Brothers, Wipeout XL felt like a grown-up racing game, a world away from the likes of Mario Kart or Micro Machines.

With Wipeout 3 receiving mixed reviews due to increased difficulty without any real new features, Wipeout XL remains the favourite in the series on the Playstation 1.

Ape Escape
Ape Escape

The DualShock Controller

The original playstation controller was great, but lacked analog input as well as any kind of vibration feedback, something that modern gamers expect as standard. This was remedied by Sony in 1987 when they released the DualShock controller, which included not 1 but 2 additional thumb sticks for analog control, as well as an integrated rumble feedback mechanism.

Ape Escape

Ape Escape was a great game that developed a cult following, without being a household name or featuring recognisable characters. What it did do was justify the investment in a DulaShock controller, which was the only way to play the game.

Your task is to capture a swarm of robotically-enhanced monkeys using your monkey net, controlled by swiping one DualShock stick whilst moving with the other. The monkeys were incredibly agile, and would require repeated chasing and swiping before being caught. In other sections of the game you would be required to control vehicles, again with the analog sticks, such as a rowing boat with independently controlled oars.

This is a game that is truly defined by its controller inputs, long before the Nintendo Wii was released, giving you a feeling that you had to learn how to move, and giving a sense of achievement when you finally got the hang of it.

The game had sequels on the Playstation 2 and 3, as well as a Sony PSP release, but the original Playstation 1 release is still playable today and a must have title.

Tomb Raider 2
Tomb Raider 2

Tomb Raider Legacy

There have been 10 games released in the Tomb Raider series at the time of writing, including a HD remake of the original version released for the Playstation 3. The game has also been the subject of 2 films, with Angelina Jolie starring as Lara Croft.

Tomb Raider 2

The was the second in the series of games starring titular heroine Lara Croft, and improved on the 3D acrobatics and puzzle solving of the original, resulting in a game that sold over 8 million copies worldwide.

The game was set in China, with the objective of discovering the fabled dagger of Xian, an artefact capable of bestowing the owner incredible power. The basic movement and control mechanics were the same as the first game, but with added weapons and more numerous enemy characters, as well as the ability to drive vehicles. The difficulty was ramped up, with more complex puzzles, encouraging exploration of each level to uncover its secrets. Lara was also given a makeover for the second game, with multiple outfits and improved graphics and animation.

Looking at the game today it does seem to suffer from pixelated graphics, but at the time this was cutting edge 3D, and unlike anything else available on any platform.

Guncon Games

Many games were released for this classic PS1 peripheral by Namco, such as Time Crisis and Point Blank, but unfortunately they do not work with modern LCD or LED TV screens, as they were reliant on cathode-ray technology.

Playing the Playstation 1 Today

Over 100,000 Playstation 1 consoles were sold over the lifetime of the console between 1994 and 2005, many of which are still working today. There were 2 main versions of the console, the original rectangular version, and the PSOne that was slightly smaller and allowed a portable screen to be attached.

Unlike earlier games such as the Atari 2600 which needs to be modified, you can still play either of the Playstation 1 consoles using modern LCD or LED flat screen TVs using the component output cable. You can also play most Playstation 1 games on the successor console, the Playstation 2, due to it's backward compatibility.

So why not fire up your old Playstation, or if you don't have one, there are plenty of second-hand models still available to buy, and for less than the price of a new PS3 game, you can secure a classic piece of video gaming history.

Top Playstation 1 Games - What's your favourite?

What's your favourite Playstation 1 Game?

  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Crash Bandicoot 2
  • Tomb Raider 2
  • Wipeout XL
  • Ape Escape
  • Tekken 3
  • Ridge Race Type 4
  • Castlevania - Symphony of the Night
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Other (please add to comments)
See results without voting

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Comments 15 comments

cfin profile image

cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

I agree with all of them, except crash 1 and 3 were better (just an opinion). We still play crash one on ps3. Also, I would replace ridge racer for Gran Turismo 1 or 2. This list is awesome though.

I guess including a little bit on the series would be a good idea :) Like, a word on crash team racing, when speaking of crash. That game was awesome.

xxfairyofnightxx profile image

xxfairyofnightxx 3 years ago from NH

I did love RE2, but RE3 Nemesis is my ultimate fave for the ps1 RE games. Two did have Leon and Claire, but 3 had my favorite BOW Nemesis.

Fun Fact, if you go chronologically RE3 takes place before and after 2.

RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

Thanks cfin - Gran Turismo was always going to be a controversial omission, and many people love the original Grand Theft Auto, which I was never a fan of. I did think of putting in detail of all the sequels of these games, but at over 2,500 words I thought I was pushing readers attention spans a little!



RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

I would have thought Symphony of the Night would have been your favourite given your name! Don't get me started on the chronology though, it's pretty convoluted, especially if you count the films too!

Cheers for the feedback!


JohnGreasyGamer profile image

JohnGreasyGamer 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

Fantastic list you've got here! So many games to choose from! Personally I would've added Spyro 2 as a Spyro fanboy, particularly when it does everything in platforming right and has very few glitches and worthwhile exploits. I wanted to vote FFVII as my favourite of the list, but I chose CB2 seeing as it was one of my first games on the PS1, and my first CB game. I love the Ridge Racer games, particularly the first 2 and using the NeGCon controller - who would've thought that by twisting the controller back and forth you'd get amazing control?!

Brilliant! Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome! Anything that's on this list, I'll be sure to review on YouTube.... if I haven't already. Shame SotN costs a bomb.... ^^

RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

Thanks John, not an easy job getting down to just 10. Spyro was a great game, up there with Crash anyway, and still around today. Will keep an eye out for your youtube review.



xxfairyofnightxx profile image

xxfairyofnightxx 3 years ago from NH

Roly, the films NEVER count unless they are the CGI Degeneration and Damnation

RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

Not seen those films, will have to hunt them down!


xxfairyofnightxx profile image

xxfairyofnightxx 3 years ago from NH

they're supposed to be considered 4.5 and 5.5 respectively

Willsummerdreamer profile image

Willsummerdreamer 3 years ago from Marietta, Georgia.

Good list. Though I personally would have put Final Fantasy 8 and 9, Silent Hill and Megaman Legends in there somewhere (but that's just me). Anyway, good show here buddy. *shared*.

RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

Thats @willsummerdreamer, just too many great games to limit to just 10! The Final Fantasy series just went from strength to strength on the Playstation. Silent Hill also spawned its own film, just like Resident Evil, such was the interest from fans. Time for a top 25 list!?

ns1209 profile image

ns1209 3 years ago from UK - England

I used to really like the Crash Bandicoot games - I still have a fun one called Crash Bash which is like a series of awesome minigames and challenges. Even today I still play it a couple of times a year!

licketysplit profile image

licketysplit 2 years ago

Kudos for having Ape Escape on here - It definitely belongs on a list of the best Playstation games, but hardly anyone ever mentions it.

Symphony of the Night was great, one of my favorite Castlevania games (but I still think Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES is the best game in the series). I missed the first Metal Gear Solid on PS1 but played the sequel on the PS2 and didn't like it at all. Crash Bandicoot were pretty good games, I had fun with them way back in the day.

Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman is probably my favorite PS1 game of all time. If you've never played it you should definitely check it out. It's hilarious and still very fun.

cfin profile image

cfin 2 years ago from The World we live in

And now most games are just violent and not even suitable for kids. That's why I bought a wii U for the family. Got Rayman legends and games like it as well as Assasins Creed 4, MarioKart and the like :)

I wish the playstation had stayed as it was with quality FUN titles not just super realistic violent tripe.

RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 2 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK Author

@licketysplit I agree, Ape Escape just doesn't get the recognition it deserves, it was such a unique game. I've not played the latest releases on Sony PSP and Vita but I'd like to try them out.



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