The PlayStation Network is currently a treasure trove of modern and classic games released throughout PlayStation history, giving new and old fans alike the chance to experience great games on newer hardware. However, on March 29, Sony made the surprise announcement that the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita online stores would be closing for good, cutting fans off from purchasing legacy PlayStation games, rare or otherwise. Across the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita's libraries, there is a wealth of games that have not only become well-loved titles within the gaming community but there are others that would go on to define the PlayStation's identity as a platform. But as it turned out, the angst and uncertainty following the sudden announcement of store closures would be short-lived.
On April 19, Sony Interactive President and PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan released a statement explaining that the publisher has reversed its controversial decision on closing the PS3 and PS Vita. While the PSP store will close on July 2 as planned, all games from the PSP library will still be available via the PS Vita's online store. For now, the future for these classic PS3, PSP, and PS Vita games--many of which are digital-only--is safe. However, this does not guarantee that the PS3 and PS Vita stores will remain open forever. This sudden scare of losing well over 2000 games from PlayStation history was a timely and important reminder of the importance of games preservation in today's age. With this in mind, the staff at GameSpot came together to highlight our favorite games released across the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita libraries, including some picks from the PlayStation Classics collection.
Demon's Souls (2009)
In 2009, From Software's Demon's Souls earned a reputation for being an uncompromisingly challenging action RPG when it first launched on the PS3. However, the true legacy of Demon's Souls was that it created a new trend of games that adhered to its same stoic design, and in the 12 years since its debut, the Souls genre has become one of the more fiercely respected styles of games. While the recent PS5 remake from Bluepoint is by all accounts the definitive way to play the game, the original is still a solid game for fans of the Souls sub-genre to experience--especially for posterity.
While Demon's Souls had both physical and digital releases, the box copies are increasingly hard to find, making the digital release one of the more reliable ways to play the original. Thanks to a dedicated following of players, the community around the original PS3 Demon's Souls is still active, with players sharing their experiences online and discovering new workarounds to overcome bosses. In the years following its release, Demon's Souls became something of a watershed moment for gaming, ushering in a new approach to action RPGs. Even if you have the PS5 edition, there's still something special about experiencing the original to see where this prolific sub-genre first made its mark. -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
InFamous: Festival of Blood
The first two InFamous’ on the PS3 still stand as great open-world superhero games, and helped pave the way for Sucker Punch Productions' Ghost of Tsushima, which carried forward many of its platforming and traversal mechanics. The unique approach to electrical powers and freeform platforming in InFamous makes both games still worth it if you’re looking for a game that takes a unique approach to exploring an open-world, but the one game I want to highlight in particular was the standalone downloadable only spin-off, InFamous: Festival of Blood. It's a fun non-canonical romp that sees the hero Cole MacGrath turn into a vampire and let loose, armed with some bloodsucking abilities.
Festival of Blood stands as its own thing, shifting to a less serious pulp tone where vampire Cole tears his way through New Marais, searching for the antagonist Bloody Mary. InFamous’ morality system gets tossed out the window in favor of letting you cause mayhem and suck the blood of innocent bystanders as much as you please. The game's bite-sized nature offers just the right amount of InFamous, letting you enjoy yourself in its world without dragging things out.
While you can still buy the two mainline PS3 games on disc, Festival of Blood is something of an oddity for the series as its a PSN-exclusive and never got a physical release. If you enjoy superhero sandbox games and love charming small experiences, and want to see the Infamous series embrace being weird, you should pick up Festival of Blood. -- Jean-Luc Seipke, Video Producer
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
As a fan of this obscure but wonderfully ridiculous anime/manga series, this fighting game is an absolute treat. With a diverse cast consisting of JJBA's most iconic characters from its 30+ year history, there is no shortage of unique fighters on display. Characters like Jotaro, Dio, Eisidisi, Mista, Zeppelli, Rohan, and more have wildly unique movesets, even if they might strike you as mechanically similar at times. Yes, there are numerous stand users in this game, but don't let that stop you from discovering the nuance underlying them. And no, I'm not going to explain what a stand user is.
As a fighting game, JJBA: All-Star Battle isn't remotely close to balanced, but that's part of the fun. This is a game meant for fans, so when you and a fellow JJBA aficionado are duking it out, those overpowered moves become part of the thrill of reenacting the series' most iconic moments (or trolling your friends). JJBA: All-Star Battle is also a visually beautiful game, rendering every character with such faithful attention to detail, often implementing frames from the manga into their animations and special moves. There is top-notch cel-shading work here, which effectively adapts JJBA's idiosyncratic art style in ways that surpass the sprites from Capcom's cult-classic JJBA game from the late '90s.
JJBA: All-Star Battle is very much a game made with immense passion and enthusiasm. It's not perfect, though, with some weirdness around extra costume unlocks tied to a bizarre (no-pun intended) mode with a mobile game-like stamina system, but that shouldn't get too much in the way of enjoying this joyous 3D fighter. Whether you're in it to love the series or meme the characters, JJBA: All-Star Battle comes highly recommended. -- Matt Espineli, Editor
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
If you're interested in playing the Metal Gear franchise, then Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is essential. Unlike other entries in the franchise, it's the only one that hasn't been re-released in any capacity, making it harder to purchase conveniently. But what a wild game MGS4 is, even after all these years. As the "final" entry of the franchise, the game is phenomenal in how it attempts to answer every single lingering question the series' over-the-top story has ever presented. The result is a joyous celebration of Metal Gear history that also manages to make you feel bad for wanting to play another adventure starring the iconic Solid Snake--an intriguing artistic endeavor, all things considered. Snake is old in MGS4, and the game doesn't stop reminding you of that fact throughout its runtime, paying it off with one of the most shocking climaxes in video game history.
Aside from the story, sneaking and fighting your way across battlefields in MGS4 remains fun and exciting thanks to much-needed control improvements and fascinating one-off mechanics. It makes me wish another stealth game would attempt to follow through with its "battlefield stealth" concept, implementing mechanics that didn't quite get the development they deserved. For example, I'd love to see someone better implement its Stress meter, which attempted to use battlefield psychology as a means to impact your experience. Regardless, even if you don't spend a lot of time playing MGS4 (there are so many cutscenes), the moments you do provide heaps of enjoyment.
Without spoiling much, what MGS4 accomplishes is something only a series as tenured as Metal Gear could hope to achieve, and that's part of what makes it so brilliant. It's a ridiculous conclusion to a story that will have you screaming and weeping by the time the credits roll. MGS4 is a thrilling journey well worth embarking upon if you hope to play the series in its entirety. -- Matt Espineli, Editor
Ratchet: Deadlocked HD
While the Ratchet and Clank series has seen numerous sequels and spin-offs, including the PSP's Secret Agent Clank, one of the more forgotten games of the series focused on Ratchet's solo adventure in a combat arena. In Ratchet: Deadlocked, you play as the weapon-wielding Lombax as he fights through a gauntlet of arena-style matches against waves of enemies. It's the only entry in the series that you can say was a pure shooter, and it even included the addition of online-multiplayer and co-op to heighten the action--a rarity for the series. While it first launched on PS2, an HD remaster launched alongside the original Ratchet & Clank trilogy's re-releases on PS3.
Aside from being a solid action game that shows off some of the strangest and most powerful weapons of the series, the big reason why I recommend picking this up from the PS3's online store is that it was also a digital-only re-release. With the scarcity of the original PS2 release, Ratchet: Deadlocked HD is the best way to play this game. So if you still haven't checked out this version of the game, or if you want to give it another go, then be sure to give this forgotten Ratchet and Clank game a well-deserved chance. -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection
While most Resident Evil franchise spin-offs have been entirely forgettable, some of them even outright terrible, I still have a soft spot for both Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles. Taking the RE series to the realm of a lightgun game experience, it served up the Resident Evil series' greatest hits, seeing you fight through the Spencer Mansion, Raccoon City, and even some original locales that filled in the gaps between entries. Though originally released for the Nintendo Wii, the PS3 got a special HD re-release of both games, increasing the resolution and utilizing the console's more advanced Move motion controller quite well. However, the game also works just fine with just the standard DualShock controller, so there's no need to hunt down a PS3-era Move peripheral and camera. This spinoff is a fantastic tribute to the series, and though Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection is something of an antique of its era, it's still a fun entry in the franchise that deserves a chance. -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
Siren: Blood Curse
Siren: Blood Curse is an intriguing survival-horror adventure that many have long forgotten. Produced by Sony's Japan Studio, it's the final entry of the publisher's attempt to break big into the genre. Its premise isn't a surprising one; you play as a handful of people trying to survive a terrible night in a haunted Japanese village, which is infested with undead but intelligent ghouls known as the Shibito. The ambitious multi-perspective, non-linear story of the Siren series gave it a leg up over its contemporaries, but its punishing stealth-focused gameplay made it hard to play. Siren: Blood Curse was no different in that regard.
With the power of the PS3, Siren: Blood Curse attempted to push the series toward new technical and visual heights. One of the Siren series' central design conceits is its characters' ability to use a psychic power known as "sightjacking." This mechanic allowed you to see through the perspective of enemies, which was used to remarkable effect in Siren: Blood Curse on PS3, allowing both your character's perspective and current sightjack to render on-screen simultaneously. Its splendid sound design and art direction also ensured a tense, hostile atmosphere that filled you with dread as you attempted to clear past a group of Shibito without being seen.
It's worth noting that Siren: Blood Curse is an early example of Sony experimenting with episodic digital-only releases, which worked in its favor. Survival-horror games are often exhausting and oppressive experiences, so playing Siren: Blood Curse in bite-sized chunks helped make it feel less daunting to play. While a fun experiment, a physical version was eventually released in Japan and Europe, making getting a copy of Siren: Blood Curse in North America only possible by digital means. It's either that or securing a physical copy of the European version online, which costs way more than it does to buy the game on the PlayStation Store right now. -- Matt Espineli, Editor
You've played post-apocalyptic survival games before, but you probably haven't played one as a Pomeranian. Tokyo Jungle envisions the bustling city after humanity has disappeared and nature has reclaimed it, but rather than human survivors fighting through the elements, you play as abandoned pets, zoo animals, and other wildlife. Each species is fending for its own survival, and many of them are both predator and prey. As you explore Tokyo you'll unlock an increasingly varied pack of animals, from tigers and chimpanzees to deer and beagles. The quirky high-concept pitch made a Western release uncertain, which is likely why it was only released digitally stateside. The wildly inventive concept was a cult hit, though, an unpolished but inventive experiment. -- Steve Watts, Associate Editor
The first impression of Echochrome is that it's an MC Esher-inspired puzzle game, and that really is the core concept, which is great because it's quite rare to have something that bends your mind in such a way. You toy with the perspective of the environment and the shapes that create the paths laid out for the automatically moving character to reach their end goal, so it's a matter of timing and having a keen eye. It's such a satisfying experience but, admittedly, can also get frustrating.
But as demanding as the gameplay can be, Echochrome is a serene experience. It plays on a simple black-and-white art style and your character is just a walking mannequin. The soundtrack is also relaxing with a soothing string quartet and easy-going violin melodies--it really helps take the edge off. And there's a calming narrator that ushers you from level to level.
Echochrome is only available on PSP (and PS Vita through backwards compatibility) and PS3, so it's one of those neat little games you should snag, especially if you need a chill-but-challenging puzzle game. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
The Complete Collection that was released on PSP (and playable on PS Vita) is the definitive way to play Final Fantasy IV, if you ask me. It contains the remastered 2D version of the classic RPG, and it preserves the original experience in a faithful way--none of that weird retextured sprite work that you may see in other versions of old Final Fantasy games. You also get the option for the rearrangement of the soundtrack which sounds phenomenal while still fitting the old-school vibe of the game. (I must say that FF4 has one of the best boss battle themes in the series, too--Nobuo Uematsu simply hasn't missed in his entire career.)
Final Fantasy IV is quite unique in the broader franchise--while it's fairly linear, the story takes so many twists and turns. In certain moments it gets dark and depressing only to jump back into a jolly mood with everything figuring itself out. Characters frequently shuffle in and out of the lineup, and before you know it, you're off to the moon to take down the ultimate bad guy. The struggle between the dark knight turned paladin Cecil and the dragoon Kain is a classic tale, but there are also great characters like the mage twins Palom and Porom, the badass white mage Rosa, the suave ninja Edge, and the tragic summoner Rydia.
You also get the sort-of expansion pack called The After Years, though it largely feels out of place with some hit-or-miss story elements. However, the original 2D experience modernized through Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is enough to make it worth picking up. It's a shame that this version isn't on more platforms. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Final Fantasy Tactics was a revelation when it first hit the PS1 back in 1997 and thanks to its strong strategy-RPG gameplay, it has become a timeless classic. Set-piece battles created all kinds of tactical considerations, and combined with the robust job system, assembling your party and executing was (and is) an absolute thrill. The twist of permadeath for supporting characters also added an edge to strategy which could leave you heartbroken from losing a character you've worked with the entire game.
Tactics was also the birth of Final Fantasy's Ivalice universe, which is built as a sort of medieval-fantasy setting with a Shakespearean tone in its storytelling. Both Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII also take place in Ivalice, but in Tactics, you mainly see things through the eyes of main character Ramza and childhood friend Delita, who grew up in different social classes. As the game goes on, you see how their relationship changes and how that's indicative of the broader conflict happening in Ivalice.
The PSP version, dubbed The War of the Lions, has some perks like animated cutscenes that enhance the storytelling, which was not part of the original PS1 version. This updated version unfortunately features infamous slowdown bugs that affect the combat experience, but that shouldn't deter you from playing Final Fantasy Tactics altogether. You can also get the game on iOS platforms, but if you want it on your PS Vita (or PSP), you should definitely pick it up from the online store. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 Portable is a redone version of Persona 3 that can be seen as the definitive edition of the incredible (and emotional) RPG. P3 Portable features a fully controllable party during combat, which is a big deal considering you could only directly control the main character and set tactical behavior for all other party members in the PS2 versions of the game. However, the best addition in Portable is the inclusion of the optional female main character. She's arguably the best Persona protagonist--she has a bubbly and stern personality that really stands out among the core cast, which is unique for a series that tends to rely on "blank slate" main characters. Her dialogue options have a nice edge to them and it's reflected in how some of the dialogue and social links are rewritten.
With such a dark and depressing story in Persona 3, her attitude and style is much needed to offset the dour tone. Her journey also comes with new Portable-specific songs that hit a different emotional tone yet fit the Persona 3 soundtrack perfectly. One major drawback, however, is that there are no animated cutscenes in the game. And instead of actual character models in the overworld and in major narrative moments, the story plays out more like a visual novel. It still gets the story across just fine, but it lacks the sense of presence you'd get from other versions. While Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 get a lot of attention from fans, P3 Portable is still a great RPG, and the female lead character deserves more respect. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Shin Megami Tensei - Persona 2: Innocent Sin
The PSP version of Persona 2: Innocent Sin is a remaster of the original PS1 RPG that never got a Western localization. And while it's dated in many aspects, Persona 2 has a special place in the broader franchise. Before Persona became part-social simulation, Persona 2 stuck a bit closer to its Shin Megami Tensei roots while ushering in a new tone in storytelling.
If anything, you should play Persona 2 for Maya Amano, who's one of the series' best characters. She's the cheery adult whose journalist background leads her down the path of investigating how rumors are made manifest in the real world, which means all kinds of evil stuff goes down. While Tetsuya is technically the main character, Maya and the larger cast really take the spotlight with their quirky personalities and unique persona powers. And then you fight resurrected Nazis and Hitler?! Persona 2 is wild.
Innocent Sin is actually one half of a broader story with Eternal Punishment being a direct follow-up. Unfortunately, Eternal Punishment is still only available as a PS1 game and never got a proper remaster or re-release in the West. Regardless, Persona fans who haven't ventured further back than Persona 3 would be surprised by what this game has to offer, even if its format differs quite a bit from what you might be used to. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Persona 4 Golden
To some, the PS Vita was known as the Persona 4 Golden machine. It was the beloved platform exclusive, the definitive version of one of the best RPGs of all time. The game was re-released on PC just last year, and it's a fantastic port for Persona 4 Golden, but if you want to take it on the go, now is your time to swoop up a digital copy of this classic.
The Persona series really found its footing with Persona 4 with refined combat mechanics that built off the core Shin Megami Tensei battle system and featured more varied dungeons than its predecessor Persona 3. But the major shift here is in its storytelling and narrative tone. Persona 4 is super-bubbly and lighthearted, even as it tackles heavy themes and a harrowing murder mystery. It's silly and goofy but also poignant and emotional at the right moments. Each character of the core cast stands out on their own and has become beloved personalities many fans have identified with--you see their growth and struggles over a long journey and spend time with them in their everyday lives. It's a special experience that makes it hard to say goodbye at the end.
However, looking back, Persona 4 may not have approached some of its social commentary or themes with the nuance, sensitivity, or accuracy necessary. And even though I hold the game near and dear to my heart as one of my all-time favorites, even I can recognize where it's problematic. Persona 4 was ambitious, it just sometimes falls short, and it's important to know and accept that.
Fond memories come with the time you spend in the countryside of Inaba. Even though you're in the middle of nowhere and a department store is the best thing in town, it's the friendships you form and battles you fight together that matter most. It's one of the best RPGs ever, and you may even learn a thing or two about yourself in the process. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Soul Sacrifice Delta
Before his Mighty No. 9 debacle, Keiji Inafune worked on Soul Sacrifice and its update Soul Sacrifice Delta as PS Vita exclusives. And, if anything, the games show that Mighty No. 9 might have been the outlying failure of his career, as Soul Sacrifice is worth checking out for any action game fan.
The concept of the game feels pretty unique within the action genre. As its name implies, sacrificing is a significant component of the game. Players choosing to sacrifice not only collected offerings to create better spells but also choose to sacrifice their allies for devastating spells (including actual players during co-op) and even their own body parts. While casting a powerful spell on enemies, this sacrifice causes a semi-permanent negative status effect until the player can restore their limb. Instead of sacrificing, players can instead choose to save an ally, but at the cost of their own health. This same save/sacrifice mechanic applies to defeated enemies, with each choice garnering a unique reward.
While the game can get a little repetitive, as the game is set in a mission structure, with the overall story being revealed in-between each mission, the game's action feels well-executed, and the overall concept is unique enough to stand its own. If you’re a fan of third-person action games, this is worth picking up as it just might be your cup of tea. Make sure to grab Delta, as it’s an expanded version of the original. -- Dave Klein, Video Producer
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
We all know how amazing the Persona 4 soundtrack is. But what if it was turned into a silly but fun-as-hell rhythm game with its own wild story that's actually kind of a sequel? Tell me that doesn't sound dope. That's Persona 4: Dancing All Night.
It was re-released on PS4 through the Persona Endless Night Collection, which packs all three rhythm games in the series, but it's such a great game to have as a handheld experience. You get a ton of the original songs from the RPG, as well as some great remixes that add new twists to your favorite tracks. The rhythm gameplay system is a blast as well, and the note charts flow seamlessly with each song's specific instrumentation. And the choreographed animations are lovely, and although t's a bit odd to see your favorite characters busting sweet moves out of nowhere, their dances represent their personalities well.
The story mode introduces some new characters and plays out like a visual novel with some dance numbers in between story beats. The power of friendship (and dancing) ultimately conquers all evil and sadness. As ridiculous as it is, it's an overall good time, especially since you get to see this memorable cast of characters again. -- Michael Higham, Editor
Mega Man Legends 1 + 2 And The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
I figure it makes sense to lump Mega Man Legends 1 + 2 and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne in a single entry. These games are intriguing pieces of Mega Man history, representing the blue bomber's earliest forays into 3D. Looking back, what I love most about the Legends series was its willingness to be something more than a direct translation of the classic Mega Man games' straightforward action. Instead, this was a series that emphasized story, exploration, and puzzle-solving. The Legends games throw you into a vibrant, wholesome world brimming with adventure and possibilities. At the time, they looked stunning thanks to cel-shaded textures and a memorable cast of characters that made it feel evocative of anime.
As MegaMan Volnutt, you embark on a journey to discover the Mother Lode, an infamous treasure capable of supplying the world with infinite energy. This endeavor took MegaMan to all sorts of places, which often instilled infectious delight in me as I moved on from one locale to the next. These games had such an exuberant style and energy, which captured my imagination as a child. Though, that isn't to say they don't hold up nowadays. While their controls haven't aged well, there's plenty to love about how detailed and cohesive these games are, especially Mega Man Legends 2, which is the most diverse and well-executed of the bunch.
And then there's The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, an action-puzzle spin-off starring one of the Legends games' most charming personalities. It's a fanciful little game, albeit a bit simplistic, but it's well worth picking up if you're keen on playing the Legends games. In fact, we highly recommend it because if you don't buy it on the PlayStation Store for cheap, you'll need to spend upwards of nearly $1,000 to get a physical copy. The same goes for both Mega Man Legends games, which aren't as expensive but will still cost you more than the $10 price tag they each go for on the digital storefront.
If you're reading this feature and aren't sure which games you need to get, look no further. Mega Man Legends 1+2 and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne are games you cannot hope to miss out on--especially if you're fans of Capcom's long-lasting action-platformer franchse. -- Matt Espineli, Editor
Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro now comprise most people’s perception of From Software. However, before the Souls series, the company made several excellent First Person Dark Fantasy RPGs. This started with a personal love of mine--King’s Field-- and continued on with From Software's follow-up, the Shadow Tower series.
Shadow Tower is a far more brutal version of King’s Field, where weapons are brittle and have low durability, so frequently break, and the locations are dark and have a foreboding atmosphere. Exploring the dungeons in Shadow Tower is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. While the graphics certainly look old, the exploration of the game still holds up. While I was an avid fan of King’s Field, I somehow missed playing Shadow Tower until recently, and it was an absolute pleasure finding a new From Software gem I hadn’t yet played with similar mechanics to King’s Field. For any From Software fan, it’s well worth revisiting the company’s overlooked roots--as King’s Field, Shadow Tower, and Armored Core are an absolute blast and should have catapulted the company into gaming prominence well before the Souls franchise. -- Dave Klein, Video Producer
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Squaresoft--now Square-Enix was on a roll with games from the Final Fantasy franchise. However, the developer also released a game that was not only on par with the best of their popular JRPG giant but also managed to tell a darker story--and featured giant robots as well. Xenogears is a cult classic, and it's one of the finest role-playing games on the original PlayStation. Even today, it still manages to hit some remarkable notes in a way that is different from what you would expect in a classic JRPG, while also offering up some strange surprises that subvert the entire adventure in unexpected ways.
It's essentially Final Fantasy crossed with the action and philosophical undertones of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and it all made for an incredibly dark yet still uplifting game. Though it was a success at launch, it still didn't reach the Final Fantasy series's heights, which unfortunately ended prospects of a true sequel. While the original developers would form Monolith Soft, working on games like Xenosaga and the Xenoblade Chronicles series, the original Xenogears is still warmly regarded as an incredible achievement in storytelling and RPG gameplay.
During the early 2010s, Xenogears found its way out of being obscure and hard to find PS1 game to landing on the PS3's PlayStation Classics collection on PSN. Its inclusion in the library has upped its profile significantly, creating new fans of the prolific JRPG. But like many games on this list, Xenogears is now in danger of being tossed back into obscurity. The original PS1 physical cases are still a rarity, with used copies costing upward of $90 on online auction sites. Please, do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this game when you can; you won't regret it. -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
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