The Best Original PlayStation Games That Still Hold Up

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The beginnings of the 3D polygonal era were a rough ride for most developers who were still getting the hang of the technology.

Released in 1995, the PlayStation was a platform where many storied franchises – along with some new ones – took their first steps into the third dimension.

While some games suffer a great deal due to wonky controls and plain ugly 3D graphics, others could make the most of its powerful hardware and deliver unforgettable experiences.

The following PlayStation titles have withstood the test of time, and they remain undeniably fun even after all these years.


15. Um Jammer Lammy (1999)

Um Jammer Lammy gameplay on PSX

Many of you will remember NanaOn-Sha’s famous rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper.

But I wonder how many have even heard of its successor, Um Jammer Lammy.

The game follows Lammy the Lamb, a skilled guitarist on a quest to fame… or something.

In all honesty, the plot is a bit nonsensical.

But it’s full of great gags and timeless humor.

Its gameplay is pretty much the same as PaRappa, except Lammy plays the guitar instead of rapping.

The game features a co-op mode worth checking out if you’ve got a 2P, and Parappa is an unlockable character to play through the story.


14. Twisted Metal 2 (1996)

Twisted Metal 2 gameplay

Despite its clunky controls, Twisted Metal 2 remains an enjoyable vehicular combat experience to this day.

Back in the 90s, the game’s almost comically violent aesthetic appealed to rebellious teenagers who celebrated wanton destruction as a way of expressing themselves.

As such, you’ll find the game is filled to the brim with weapons, explosives, and some of the most absurd vehicle designs you’d ever dream of finding in a demolition derby.

The graphics are nothing to write home about. But they’re more than enough to make out the action on screen and transmit the excitement of blowing up your friends’ rides.


13. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (2000)

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2  PS1 screenshot

The second entry in Tony Hawk’s video game venture is considered one of the best games ever released.

It isn’t quite as impressive nowadays as in the early 2000s.

But it remains an enjoyable title for sure.

Each stage is full of secrets to uncover and opportunities to pull off rad tricks, and the rockin’ soundtrack is pure nostalgia.

And if you want to pick up the game with a modern flair, check out the remastered collection for THPS 1+2.


12. Incredible Crisis (2000)

Incredible Crisis PSX gameplay

One of the weirdest games on the PlayStation is Incredible Crisis, a party game where you’ll have to help an average working-class Japanese family make it home in time for Grandma’s b-day.

The game features a series of action-oriented micro-games reminiscent of Nintendo’s WarioWare series.

These include impromptu dancing with co-workers, thwarting a bank robbery, escaping from a boulder, avoiding capture by aliens, and the list goes on.

The simplicity of these micro-games makes them just as fun now as they were at the time of release.

And the unique graphic style chosen by the developers has aged wonderfully too. Give it a go if you’re into these kinds of titles.


11. Final Fantasy IX (2000)

Final Fantasy IX for PSX

Most people think of FFVII as the best entry in the series.

But when it comes to aging gracefully, the ninth installment has it beat.

The graphics are excellent, and the art direction is cartoony enough to preserve its visual appeal through the years.

Your party is also full of vibrant & creative characters that bring a lot of color into the story. The plot itself isn’t anything to write home about, but it has some pretty emotional moments that hit just as hard in modern times too.

The one thing that hasn’t aged well in FFIX is the Active Time Battle system, which runs at an excruciatingly slow pace.


10. R-Type Delta (1999)

R-Type Delta gameplay

R-Type Delta was one of the first shoot-em-ups to nail the use of 3D polygonal graphics without sacrificing gameplay.

The game used dynamic camera angles to showcase the bad-ass 3D enemy ships when possible, but the game remains a 2D side-scrolling shooter at its core.

One of my favorite mechanics is the Dose Gauge, which lets you charge up a special attack by willingly colliding with projectiles and enemies to absorb their energy with your “Force” shield.

Each one of the three ships has its own special attack, and they all look fantastic.

The bangin’ rock/techno soundtrack is perfect for shooting at giant enemy ships, and each scenario has its own distinctive music.


9. Breath of Fire IV (2000)

Breath of Fire IV gameplay on PSX

I could dedicate an entire article to talking about how gorgeous the sprites and background art is in Breath of Fire IV, and the superb soundtrack doesn’t stay behind.

Looking a little deeper into why this game has aged so well, you’ll find a very well-written story with one of the best villains in the medium.

You even get to play as the villain a couple of times, which helps puts things into perspective and develops the character as something more than some crazy evil dude seeking absolute power.

The combat system here is the best in the series, and the game offers plenty of side activities that keep the journey entertaining – such as fishing, maintaining a Fairy Village for rewards, and looking for masters that’ll teach your characters new skills.


8. Ape Escape (1999)

Ape Escape PS1 screenshot

The jump from 2D to 3D was a big challenge for platformers, and Ape Escape is one of the few that got it right in the early days of 3D-capable consoles.

Unlike many early 3D titles, this game requires a DualShock controller to be played.

This allowed the devs to develop much better controls that made full use of the twin analog sticks, which has become the norm for games nowadays.

The drum and bass soundtrack was perfect for Spike’s monkey-hunting adventure, and the wealth of pop culture references and monkey-related jokes add a lot to the game’s fun factor.


7. Silent Bomber (1999)

Silent Bomber PSX gameplay

Silent Bomber was a groundbreaking top-down shooter that replaced projectiles with bombs you can plant on the ground or on your enemies themselves.

Yeah, it’s low-key anime Bomberman.

The graphics were out of this world at the time of release. And they’ve aged pretty well.

Plus the enemy design is pretty modern considering this is from 1999. And it includes some really cool foes like futuristic robot samurai and walking tanks that look like Metal Gears.

That said, the game’s storyline is surprisingly dark.

You can even hear the screams of civilians being burned to the ground in the opening sequence, so remember to skip it if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing.


6. Wip3out (1999)

Wip3out gameplay for PSX

The third entry in the Wipeout series is also one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation.

It runs in a high-resolution mode for crisper graphics.

The developers at Psygnosis went with a somewhat minimal art style and great color palette that keeps both ships and backgrounds visually appealing to this day.

And the racing locales look gorgeous, plus the game plays like a dream.

It’s fast-paced and it lets you choose whether you want to play it safe, or trust your skills and sacrifice your shields for an extra boost.

But this game is even better if you get the UK-only Special Edition, which features racing tracks from the original Wipeout and Wipeout XL, along with minor bug fixes and better physics.


5. Crash Team Racing (1999)

Crash Team Racing PS1 screenshot

It’s easy to dismiss any kart racing game as “just another Mario Kart clone”.

But for the PS1, Crash Team Racing is the only one good enough to give the Italian plumber a run for his money.

Naughty Dog made no effort in hiding that CTR was designed to compete with Nintendo’s famous kart racer. But they made sure to give the game a very distinctive personality.

It’s much edgier than its N64 rival, and it features a massive roster of 15 characters – a whopping seven more than Mario Kart.


4. Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Metal Gear Solid PSX gameplay

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid was a groundbreaking game back in the day, and its innovative gameplay mechanics haven’t aged one bit.

The game established the following games’ narrative backbone and introduced some iconic characters like Otacon, Meryl, and Liquid Snake.

While the game’s graphics will instantly remind you that this is a PlayStation game, the way it favors shading and “bold strokes” rather than attempt intricate detail has helped it age gracefully.

Once you get used to the somewhat clunky controls, you’ll be drawn into the tense exploration of Shadow Moses, slowly becoming one with the pixelated Solid Snake.


3. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (1998)

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for PSX

Klonoa is my favorite 90s platformer by far.

And it’s one of the few games that managed to experiment with 3D graphics without losing the benefits of 2D level design.

Plus the story has a lot of emotional impact if you pay attention.

But what makes Klonoa such a memorable title is the ambiance.

The dream world of Phantomile looks ethereal, and there’s an aura of mysticism and mystery to every scenario – much like a real dream.

The cartoony graphics hold up after over 20 years, as does the tight platforming and creative puzzles.


2. Mega Man X4 (1997)

Mega Man X4 PS1 screenshot

MMX4 is probably the best game in the Mega Man X series, and one of my favorites on the PlayStation.

It was the first Mega Man game to feature 32-bit graphics, and the visuals are top-notch.

Not only are the sprites well-crafted, but the anime-inspired character design is so cool it hurts.

The game also made Zero into a full-fledged playable character for the first time.

His saber-based gameplay was innovative, and his dynamic special moves made me feel like I was playing Street Fighter rather than Mega Man at times.


1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night PSX gameplay

Symphony of the Night is the best of the best among PlayStation games and the Castlevania franchise as a whole.

The gorgeous Gothic-style visuals have withstood the test of time, and the environments really capture the feeling of exploring an ancient, haunted castle.

There’s an even more significant focus on exploration than in previous games, and combat feels a lot tighter.

The introduction of RPG elements was also a definite win on Konami’s part. It gives the game some extra depth that can keep it interesting for current audiences.

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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.