15 Best Turn-Based PSP Games Worth Playing

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The PlayStation Portable and turn-based games go together like bread and butter.

You can just put your PSP on sleep mode in the middle of a battle whenever you’re interrupted, then get back into the action without losing your tempo whenever you have the time.

It’s the polar opposite of old-school RPGs that forced you to play for three or four hours because the developers couldn’t be bothered to place more than 10 save spots in a 40h game.

It’s time to dust off the old PSP and immerse yourself in the gripping narratives of these fantastic turn-based games.


15. Hexyz Force (2010)

Hexyz Force (2010) PSP screenshot

Few RPGs get the fundamentals as right as Hexyz Force.

This game features extremely polished – if a bit simplistic – turn-based combat. It’s easy to grasp, but it still offers a fair challenge.

Hexyz Force does everything very well, but nothing is extraordinary about it. It’s perfect for a newcomer to the genre, but RPG veterans might have a sense of deja vu.


14. Riviera: The Promised Land (2007)

Riviera: The Promised Land (2007) PSP screenshot

For something a little bit more unique from Sting Entertainment, check out Riviera.

It features classic turn-based combat where preparing for battle beforehand and knowing when to release your special abilities is critical for success.

Next to the challenging combat, the game shines for its Dating Sim aspects. The main character Ein is surrounded by cute anime girls with whom you can become closer throughout the game.

The game is extremely linear, but that’s not necessarily bad. It leaves you more time to take in the beauty of the game’s unique art style and mysterious locales.


13. Wild Arms XF (2008)

Wild Arms XF (2008) PSP screenshot

As far as Tactical RPGs go, you won’t find one with a cooler setting than Wild Arms XF.

Like all other games in the Wild Arms franchise, the game takes place in Filgaia – a dying world with dwindling resources.

The twist?

They have futuristic weapons and technology.

To overcome the dangers of Filgaia, you’ll have to master the game’s sophisticated class and skill system.

I first got this game because I thought the cover looked sleek – and I stand by my decision. The story is somewhat generic, but you won’t easily forget the bad-ass characters.


12. Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (2011)

Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (2011) PSP screenshot

Grid-based movement is a cornerstone of strategy RPGs – but is it essential?

Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle explores the alternative. It’s an SRPG where your characters can freely move around the battlefield, allowing them to exploit the terrain in battle.

Anything you find lying around the stage can be used as a weapon. Sticks, rocks, seashells, and even live fish are some of the everyday items you can swing at your foes.

Even if you played the original PS2 version, this features new NPCs, items, and quests that make it worth revisiting on the PSP.


11. ZHP Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman (2010)

ZHP Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman (2010) PSP screenshot

Also from Nippon Ichi Software comes ZHP Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Devilman – which gets the #1 spot in the ranking of funny-named PSP games.

This strategy RPG sets itself apart by introducing roguelike elements into its gameplay.

Battle maps are randomly generated – enhancing replay value – and failing to clear a stage is just part of the game. There’s no need to reload a save. Just get up and try again!

Every defeat has something to teach you, and you get more points toward your “total level,” slowly improving your base attributes.

The story is gripping, and the humor is top-notch, so you won’t be lacking in motivation to keep on trying to defeat Darkdeath Evilman.


10. Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (2011)

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (2011) PSP screenshot

I’ve always been a fan of old-school RPGs, but having to go back and play the SNES originals is always a pain.

That’s why I love Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection.

It brings together the original FFIV and its direct sequel – The After Years – in one convenient, great-looking package.

It also features “FFIV: Interlude,” an all-new campaign detailing the events leading up to The After Years.

The dramatic story of Dark Knight Cecil and his revolt against the sorcerer Golbez is one of the founding myths of RPG fandom.


9. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (2007)

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (2007) PSP screenshot

Another iconic Final Fantasy title from the 90s given a new life on the PlayStation Portable is Final Fantasy Tactics.

The War of the Lions is an updated port of FFT featuring improved graphics, all-new CG sequences, and new additions to the already extensive Job system.

It remains just as challenging as ever, forcing you to dive deep into the game’s mechanics and giving your soldiers the right job and skillset.

The storyline – set in the world of Ivalice, like FFXII – is much darker and more political than your average RPG tale.

It merges well with the game’s stern character portraits and gripping soundtrack.


8. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (2011)

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (2011) PSP screenshot

Developed by Quest Corporation and released in 1995 for the Super Famicom, Let Us Cling Together remains one of the best entries in the Tactics Ogre series.

Its chess-based combat system was the seed from which FFT and many other SRPGs would grow.

This PSP remake addresses almost every issue with the original, thoroughly streamlining the experience with a reworked leveling system, easy backtracking, and an “Undo” button that lets you rewind up to five actions.

It’s very user-friendly, and everything that made it memorable the first time – such as the storyline and soundtrack – remains just as good on the PSP.


7. Yggdra Union: We’ll Never Fight Alone (2008)

Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone (2008) PSP screenshot

If you’re looking for an SRPG that shatters the mold left behind by Tactics Ogre, Yggdra Union won’t disappoint.

For this entry in the Dept. In the Heaven series (which also includes Riviera: The Promised Land), Sting crafted one of the most complex combat systems ever made.

Every playable character in the game is fleshed-out and has a detailed backstory. Everything, from their gender to disabilities or even dietary restrictions, can affect the outcome of a battle.

It takes serious effort to wrap your head around the myriad mechanics to keep your soldiers’ morale high and overcome your foes – but it’s worth it.

A lovable main character, gorgeous character portraits, and excellent sprite animations will help keep you hooked until you master the game.


6. Metal Gear Acid 2 (2006)

Metal Gear Acid 2 (2006) PSP screenshot

Most turn-based games on the PSP are fantasy RPGs – but there’s at least one major exception.

Metal Gear Acid 2 takes the franchise’s tactical espionage and replaces the real-time action with a turn-based card system where everything, from moving through the stages to choking an enemy soldier, depends on the cards you’re dealt.

Building your deck is one of the major aspects of MGA. You’ll earn new cards through booster packs themed after different games in the franchise.

Most cards depict characters or weapons from other games in the series – with the rarest ones playing a short clip from their original game upon use. It makes MGA a trip down memory lane.

Although Kojima wasn’t personally involved, the game’s storyline is just as over the top as any other game in the franchise. The graphics are also a pleasure to watch.


5. Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (2009)

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (2009) PSP screenshot

If you like colorful characters, wacky storylines, and bizarre humor, you can’t go wrong with Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days.

Like any other Disgaea title, this SRPG revolves around strengthening your characters by grinding like there’s no tomorrow.

You might be able to make it through the main storyline with barely any grinding, but that’s just the beginning. That’s where the real game starts, and grinding becomes a necessity.

But don’t worry, Nippon Ichi knows how to make the grind entertaining. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock, including new character classes, flashy skills, exclusive scenarios, and even cameos from Disgaea 3!


4. Crimson Gem Saga (2009)

Crimson Gem Saga (2009) PSP screenshot

Everyone knows about JRPGs – but have you ever tried a KRPG?

Crimson Gem Saga is a polished turn-based RPG developed by Korean studio iRONNOS, featuring lush visuals, a gripping fantasy tale, and lovable characters.

It’s a refreshing on-the-go experience with something to offer both 16-bit era veterans and total newcomers. Just don’t expect anything groundbreaking.


3. SMT: Persona 3 Portable (2010)

SMT: Persona 3 Portable (2010) PSP screenshot

The Persona franchise has grown a ton since its inception – and the PSP offers us a golden opportunity to experience its origins through top-notch updated ports of the first three games in the series.

Persona 3 Portable is easily the best of the bunch, thanks to the series’ continuous improvement in narrative, character-building, and gameplay.

Persona 3 was the first game in the franchise to feature skill cards, part-time jobs, and social links, which contribute to setting the franchise apart from other RPGs.

With a dark storyline and deeply captivating characters, this stylish game will consume your life until you finally beat it.


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

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (2011) PSP screenshot

If you want to get your mind blown by scale and attention to detail, check out The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.

Trails in the Sky puts you in the shoes of Estelle and her brother Joshua as they journey throughout Liberl as part of their training to become Bracers – a sort of licensed adventurer.

During your (extensive) travels, you’ll come across many documents, books, and even newspapers that explain every little detail surrounding Liberl. NPCs are also happy to share their stories, contributing to the most complete and detailed world-building in any PSP RPG.

You can import your save file to the second and third games in the series to retain some of your progression and change how events play out based on your previous decisions.


1. Jeanne d’Arc (2007)

Jeanne d'Arc (2007) PSP screenshot

Jeanne d’Arc is one of the best-looking and, by far, the most unique SRPG on the PSP.

This title takes the legendary story of Joan of Arc and blends it with a heavy dose of fantasy tropes. It tells a riveting story that won’t teach you any history but might inspire you to read some Wikipedia articles.

Besides the story, Jeanne d’Arc shines for its superb graphics, which take a step away from the 2D sprites used by Tactics Ogre, FFT, and Disgaea in favor of beautiful 3D models.

This kind of game reminds me how fortunate I am to own a working PSP in the 2020s.

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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.