15 Hardest PSP Games Ever Made (Ranked)

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Games are usually seen as a way to unwind and relax – especially on portable consoles, designed to help you kill time in waiting rooms and other boring situations.

In contrast, many gamers prefer the hardest, most punishing, and most frustrating titles.

The PlayStation Portable is particularly rife with challenging games, including a wide array of remakes of old-school arcade titles and some newcomers to the hall of hardcore gaming fame.

Clearing any of the following PSP games will give you universally-accepted bragging rights.


15. Mercury Meltdown (2006)

Mercury Meltdown (2006) PSP screenshot

Mercury Meltdown is a science-oriented kid’s fantasy.

At last, you can play with liquid mercury without risking a trip to the hospital.

You guide a blob of mercury around maze-like stages by tilting the map and letting gravity do the rest.

The difficulty curve becomes steep thanks to puzzle mechanics like dividing your mercury blob, painting the blob, and changing the blob’s temperature.

This title is the sequel to Archer Maclean’s Mercury (2005), so go back to that if you need even more mercury action.


14. Class of Heroes (2009)

Class of Heroes (2009) PSP screenshot

If you like hard games, you’re probably familiar with Etrian Odyssey on the DS, 3DS, and Switch.

Class of Heroes is your chance to get a similar experience on the PSP.

This game plays just like Etrian Odyssey: you create every character in your party, explore a mysterious dungeon in first-person, and have tough turn-based battles. These dungeons are full of traps, monsters, and hopeless situations – but the loot will keep you coming back for more.

You won’t find much story or innovation in Class of Heroes, but the aesthetics are nice, and the difficulty is more than satisfactory.


13. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (2006)

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (2006) PSP screenshot

A great rule of thumb when choosing an RPG is that the older it is, the harder it will be.

Another one is that if it belongs to the Valkyrie Profile franchise, it’ll be like walking on Legos.

If these maxims hold, then the original Valkyrie Profile (2000) on the PSX should be hard as nails – and it is, especially if you want to get the “good” ending.

This PSP port features minor QoL tweaks but remains as challenging as it was on the PlayStation.

You’ll have to rework your party for every new challenge, abuse every mechanic, and learn the intricacies of its complex skill system – but you’ll come out on the other side a better RPG gamer.


12. Lord of Arcana (2011)

Lord of Arcana (2011) PSP screenshot

No matter how hard a turn-based RPG might be, you can always follow a guide to make it easier.

Try to do that with Lord of Arcana. See if it works.

This game is a hack-and-slash similar to Monster Hunter or God Eater, featuring much simpler controls and an easy-to-grasp combat system that make it a good introduction to the genre – until you get to the first boss.

Every boss in this game can wear you down until tears cloud your vision and your Apple Watch warns you that your heart rate is too high for someone sitting on the sofa.

The graphics are nothing to write about, and the story is a placeholder at best, but if you value a skill-expressive game that’ll take you to the limit, Lord of Arcana is the way to go.


11. Killzone Liberation (2006)

Killzone Liberation (2006) PSP screenshot

Fans of the original Killzone on PS2 were surprised to discover that the PSP sequel would be a top-down isometric run-and-gun.

This might have been a turn-off for some, but the game is a gem for those who like a challenge.

Killzone Liberation merges the best parts of a dungeon crawler and an isometric shooter for a truly unique experience.

You’ll need brains and good situational awareness to overcome the Helghast menace.


10. Hammerin’ Hero (2009)

Hammerin' Hero (2009) PSP screenshot

Hammerin’ Harry was a hard-as-nails hit platformer in 1990s arcades.

Over a decade later, Hammerin’ Hero brings the same hammerin’ action to the PSP.

This title follows the classic arcade platformer formula of treacherous level design and one-hit deaths.

Despite the high difficulty, I’d recommend this to anyone. It has a beautiful retro spirit, and some boss fights toward the end are so over-the-top that it’s hilarious.


9. Ys: The Oath in Felghana (2010)

Ys: The Oath in Felghana (2010) PSP screenshot

Ys has risen to cult status thanks to its long history and excellent gameplay, blending exploration, puzzle-solving, and platforming with ARPG combat.

The Oath in Felghana is the PSP remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (1989) but updated to play like later sequels, like Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (2003).

The result is an exciting but punishing adventure where even the first enemy in each area could mess you up if you’re not paying attention.

Along with hard-as-nails bosses, the game has the added difficulty of being a 3D isometric platformer, which makes judging distances and depth extra hard.


8. Metal Slug Anthology (2007)

Metal Slug Anthology (2007) PSP screenshot

Metal Slug Anthology is a gift from the gods for run-and-gun fanatics that lets you enjoy the first six installments of the series on the go.

It’s extremely convenient and packed full of content.

This game will make you wonder whether kids should have sued SNK for stealing their quarters in arcade coin-ops.

Kill enemy soldiers, rescue captives, acquire better weapons, and laugh at the hilarious sprite animations – all from the comfort of your PlayStation Portable.


7. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time (2012)

Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time (2012) PSP screenshot

People love to say they like creative missions on SRPGs.

Then the escort mission comes along, and everybody loses their minds.

I’m great at routing the enemy, but when an SRPG starts asking me to defend flags, escort VIPs, and chase down escaping foes on a grid map full of their henchmen, I know it’s going to be an uphill climb.

Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is full of these missions. Sometimes, there’s only one precise way to clear them, and you can only find out through trial and error (or a guide).

If you can get over that, it’s a fantastic game with a memorable story and plenty of waifus.


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

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

I don’t think I’ve ever played a stranger RPG than Yggdra Union.

As part of the Dept. Heaven series – which also includes Riviera: The Promised Land (2005), Gungnir (2012), and Knights in the Nightmare (2009) – Yggdra Union pushes the boundaries of the genre to the limit.

This is a game where everything, from a character’s gender to their dietary restrictions, affects how they perform in battle and the morale of their soldiers. The amount of details you need to keep an eye on is mind-blowing.

Still, Yggdra Union is incredibly rewarding once you get into it, and the story is top-notch.


5. What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 (2010)

What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 (2010) PSP screenshot

Changes in climate and biodiversity around us have proven that natural ecosystems are incredibly fragile.

Change one thing, and it could all come crashing down.

That idea is at the core of What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!?

You play as the Badman, trying to keep pesky heroes from reaching you by quickly digging out a dungeon in the ground.

Depending on the natural resources you find, different monsters will pop up to protect you, all of which impact the environment. Fostering a thriving dungeon ecosystem is the key to success.


4. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (2009)

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (2009) PSP screenshot

Monster Hunter is a challenging franchise that forces you to develop situational awareness, reflexes, and extreme ability with your fingers.

The PSP is known for its obtuse control schemes, adding to the difficulty.

Once you figure out the controls, the gameplay is relatively easy to master. It’s the mighty enemies that make it so hard.

Still, with excellent graphics, tons of weapons to try out, and an adorable Felyne fighter to give you a hand in combat, MHFU is easily the best hack-and-slash on the PSP.


3. Ultimate Ghosts’ n Goblins (2006)

Ultimate Ghosts' n Goblins (2006) PSP screenshot

When I hear the words “old-school hard,” I immediately think of Ghosts’ n Goblins.

This classic franchise drove many arcade-going kids into bankruptcy in the 80s, and even after it jumped to home consoles, it continued to humble gamers with its difficulty.

Ultimate Ghosts’ n Goblins is a massively updated reprise of the classic Ghosts’ n Goblins gameplay with exciting additions.

These include minor RPG elements, armor stacking, and a handy “Warp Staff” that lets you visit any previously cleared levels without starting over.

Some of these additions do lower the difficulty – but don’t worry. You can always play on “Ultimate” difficulty, which removes many of these tools and gives you the authentic DnD experience.


2. Pursuit Force (2006)

Pursuit Force (2006) PSP screenshot

Pursuit Force is a police chase game well-known as one of the hardest and most unusual on the PSP.

This title follows a daredevil law enforcement officer that engages in high-speed chases against criminal gangs constantly shooting at him and trying to ram his car.

The solution?

Leave your vehicle and start jumping from car to car, dodging bullets and pumping your enemies full of lead as you try to reach your target.

Not only is it over-the-top, but extremely difficult, as clearing the more advanced stages requires almost perfect performance. Better get used to the retry button.


1. Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! (2011)

Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! (2011) PSP screenshot

Anyone who played the Prinny series on the PSP knew this had to be at the top.

This action-platformer series – starring Disgaea’s adorable penguin doll mascots – brings together the most difficult parts of many classic titles.

Treacherous level design from Mega Man, restrictive jumping mechanics from Ghosts’ n Goblins, and enemy hits that push you back like old-school Castlevania titles are only some reasons why Prinny games are impossible to clear.

You get 1000 lives to clear six levels, and it’s not nearly enough for the average gamer to make it past the third one.

While the sequel has more features and content and slightly greater difficulty, the original Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is worth checking out too.

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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.