The 15 Best Open-World PSP Games Ever Made

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Open-world gaming has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the past 20 years. The advent of 3D gaming started the fire, and every year it burns brighter.

Nowadays, you can sail the Greek islands in ancient times in AC: Odyssey, explore a beautiful fantasy land full of anime characters in Genshin Impact, or go on Link’s most epic adventure inBreath of the Wild – all from the comfort of your sofa.

Things weren’t as massive when the PSP was released back in 2005, but the console saw some of the first truly open world experiences in gaming – and they had nothing to envy the PS2 despite being on a handheld console.

Let’s take a look at some of these groundbreaking titles.


15. Mortal Kombat Unchained (2006)

Mortal Kombat Unchained PSP screenshot

Those who played MK: Deception (2004) will remember Konquest mode – where you embark on a journey as Shujinko to discover the game’s story (and unlock bonus content).

This mode returns for Deception’s PSP adaptation – MK Unchained – with just as much free-roaming content to experience, ranging from random brawls on the road to exceptional mini-games.

You’ll explore some of the creepiest and most mysterious locations of Mortal Kombat lore – such as Chaosrealm, Orderrealm, and Edenia.

For a PSP game, MKU has an excellent framerate, and an even larger roster of characters than the console original – so make sure to check it out.


14. Driver 76 (2007)

Driver 76 (2007) PSP screenshot

The Driver series has been at the vanguard of open-world driving ever since the original came out on PlayStation in 1999.

Since then, they’ve really polished the gameplay, which revolves around completing missions and free-roaming at high speeds in a simulated American city – in this case, NYC.

The New York simulation is surprisingly large and full of life for a PSP game.

The graphics are also gorgeous, so cruisin’ through the city is a real aesthetic pleasure.


13. Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)

Need for Speed: Carbon PSP gameplay screenshot

The Need for Speed franchise was a leader in high-speed open-world experiences since NFS: Underground (2003), and by the time Carbon rolled around, they had perfected it.

Unlike its console counterpart, which takes place in Palmont City, the PSP version takes us to the exclusive setting of Coast City.

If you want to keep your cars up to date and experience everything NFS: Carbon has to offer, you’ll have to explore the entirety of Coast City in search of crates that’ll reward you with cash and other bonuses.

Regrettably, there are no canyons for dangerous racing duels.

But the game introduces three new racing events: Escape, Delivery, and Crew Takedown.


12. Shadow of Memories (2010)

Shadow of Memories PSP screenshot

I love games that let you experience the passage of time.

Whether it’s abandoning my Animal Crossing village for years before returning or becoming adult Link and realizing Ganondorf has destroyed Hyrule, it has always been an enigmatic experience.

Shadow of Memories takes advantage of this uncanny feeling and bases its exploration around it.

To discover the truth behind your murder and prevent it from happening, you’ll be sent back in time. As you travel back and forth, you’ll be able to see the changes in the town of Lebensbaum depending on the period you choose to visit.

The game features a branching storyline leading to multiple endings depending on your actions and whether you can stop the murderer.


11. Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines (2009)

Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines PSP screenshot

When people clamored for a direct sequel to Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed (2007), I’m sure they didn’t mean one on the PSP.

This time around, you’ll visit Cyprus to eliminate Templar remnants (and romance Maria Thorpe).

AC: Bloodlines is a surprisingly clever title that accomplishes everything the original does – just a little bit scaled-down.

Combat and assassinations are more straightforward, and very few civilians walk the streets – but it’s still open-world. Plus the graphics are amazing, and the polished sound design adds a lot to the experience.


10. Way of the Samurai (2008)

Way of the Samurai (2008) PSP screenshot

Way of the Samurai is a port of a PS2 classic where Kenji – a Samurai without a master – must choose what to stand for and what to die for.

The game lets you spend a day in the life of Kenji sometime after the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, in the middle of the decline of Samurai culture.

You’re free to choose how to spend your time as you explore the town of Rokkotsu Pass, which is full of NPCs to meet, storylines to pursue, and a ton of Katanas to collect.

The power vacuum has led unsavory characters to dispute control over the Pass, and you’ll find it hard not to become involved. Depending on what you do about it, the story will branch, leading to different endings.

Each playthrough takes around two hours to complete, and you’re expected to explore every possibility. That’s what I call replayability.


9. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (2011)

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky PSP screenshot

Next up, we have Trails in the Sky: one of the best turn-based JRPGs on the PSP.

Despite “The Legend of Heroes” being the most boring title in the history of gaming, it doesn’t reflect the contents of the UMD at all.

Trails in the Sky lets you explore the fantasy country of Liberl as Estelle Bright and her brother Joshua, two young warriors trying to become Bracers – which are basically the Interpol of their fantasy land.

The game’s overworld is gigantic, and it’s filled to the brim with towns, dungeons, and random encounters that’ll keep you on your toes.

As you advance through the story, NPCs will have something to say about the events that surround them – so make sure to talk to your favorites whenever you make a breakthrough in the story.


8. GUN: Showdown (2006)

GUN: Showdown (2006) PSP screenshot

GUN follows Colton White, an Apache-turned-cowboy riding around Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico delivering lead to whoever dares cross him.

While not an outlaw per-se, Colton is always on the brink.

Towns have limited patience with your violent antics, so you better keep that in mind before you go flaunting your gun around.

Exploring the world on foot or by horse is just as enjoyable in GUN: Showdown as in Red Dead Redemption (2010) – albeit a little less sophisticated.

There are contracts to complete, bounties to collect, and a ton of weapons and explosives to help you achieve your goals.


7. GTA: Liberty City Stories (2005)

GTA: Liberty City Stories PSP screenshot

The PSP was the first handheld console to get a full-fledged 3D-era Grand Theft Auto game, complete with all the staples like shootin’, drivin’, escapin’ from the Police, and so on.

On my first ride around 1998 Liberty City, I couldn’t believe it.

Growing up a GameCube kid with no game-worthy PC, I only got the chance to play GTA whenever I visited someone with a PS2.

Having the chaos and excitement of this sandbox fit in my pocket was just surreal.

Since it’s based on Liberty City from GTA III – a parody of New York City – the game map isn’t as big as San Andreas.

On the other hand, it includes many new features, like more indoor environments and the possibility of changing your character’s clothing more often.

Fun fact: Liberty City Stories was so good that it became one of the few PSP games to get ported to PS2. It was usually the other way around!


6. GTA: Vice City Stories (2006)

GTA: Vice City Stories PSP screenshot

If you liked Liberty City Stories, you’ll love the upgrades in Vice City Stories.

For starters, the game map is larger.

There are more cars to steal, too, along with boats, planes, and helicopters spread out all across the Miami-inspired Vice City.

The game also features interesting new empire-building mechanics inspired by the Properties of Vice City and Gang Wars of San Andreas.

Vice City Stories is a no-brainer if you want to steal cars, beat up civilians, and get into intense shootouts with the Police.

Fun fact: This game also got a PS2 port. No wonder GTA is such a famous franchise nowadays.


5. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition (2005)

Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition PSP screenshot

Another one of Rockstar’s masterpieces on the PSP is Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, a racer that lets you drive freely around open-world recreations of American cities like San Diego, Atlanta, and Detroit.

The game puts a lot of focus on making the player feel like the coolest person on Earth.

You’ve got a wide variety of terrific vehicles – like the Dodge Charger R/T, the Cadillac Escalade, and the Dodge Viper GTS-R – and 98 licensed music tracks to blast on your music player while cruisin’ the US.

MC3 also mimics the iconic Burnout series by showing players slow-mo visuals of their crashes from several perspectives. Crashing is never enjoyable in real life, but in Midnight Club 3, it’s half the fun.


4. Test Drive Unlimited (2007)

Test Drive Unlimited PSP screenshot

Atari’s Test Drive Unlimited may not include three separate city maps to drive on – but what it lacks in variety, it makes up for with an exotic setting.

The game’s environment is based on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, and it’s more than just the city of Honolulu. There are plenty of off-road areas, including rainforests, mountains, and sandy beaches.

While it does have a campaign of sorts, the game is all about growing as a racer, acquiring more vehicles and houses, and dominating the Hawaiian racing scene.

There is no shortage of awesome cars in Test Drive Unlimited, either.

My favorites include the Pontiac Firebird, the Maserati 3500 GT, and the Ferrari 575M Maranello.


3. Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix PSP screenshot

Now for the most “cheugy” game on the PSP…

(Am I using that right?)

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix is a Millennial’s wet dream – and I’m counting myself in that group.

Harry Potter’s fifth year at Hogwarts is one of the most exciting chapters in the life of the Boy Who Lived. It retells the formation of Dumbledore’s Army and hypes up the battle to come.

But this game isn’t about that.

Well, it is – but it’s more about exploring the most expansive and detailed version of Hogwarts so far.

It was recreated based on the books, the films, and many other official depictions of the Wizarding School for the most complete virtual Hogwarts you could ask for.

The game rewards exploration with “Discovery Points”, so you’ll get stronger spells and other bonuses from snooping around.


2. GTA: Chinatown Wars (2009)

GTA Chinatown Wars (2009) PSP screenshot

Chinatown Wars is a different kind of GTA.

Most modern GTA titles are regular third-person shooters where the camera follows from behind the player. This game took inspiration from the first few GTA titles and made the camera top-down.

This completely changes the flow of gameplay, making it much more violent and hands-on. It abandons the cinematic approach for something more, well, gamey – and it works.

A prime example are police chases, which can be stopped by disabling a ton of police cars if you don’t feel like running away.

The game was acclaimed by both critics and users for its fun gameplay and engaging story.


1. Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (2009)

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble screenshot

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble could be described as something approaching a Japanese version of Rockstar’s Bully (2006).

You play as a Japanese Bancho – a high school delinquent leader – who’s forced to go on a class trip to “Kyouto” (totally not Kyoto) to avoid failing the school year.

Things get a lot more interesting when you find out every single worthy Bancho in the country is currently on a school trip to Kyouto – and a battle royale has broken out to determine Japan’s strongest badass.

The city of Kyouto is a pleasure to explore, and there’s a lot to do during your school trip.

Even after you clear the story you’ll still want to return and do things differently to see what happens.

With a ridiculous plot, excellent anime-influenced graphics, and tons of beat-em-up action, Kenka Bancho is easily the best open-world experience on the PSP.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.