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The 25 best PSP games of all time

15. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy

Best PSP games - Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy

The first Dissidia Final Fantasy may have turned the fan service up, but this sequel cranks its love for FF to 11... er ... 012... um... it cranks it up to Duodecim.

Designed as a prequel to the first Dissidia, Dissidia 012 mixes standard JRPG mechanics with flashy, high-octane one-on-one fighting game mechanics. It also tweaks a few balance issues from the first game and brings nine new FF characters into the fold. This is explicitly an FF fan's delight but there's plenty for newcomers to cling to in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy thanks to its theatrical antics.

14. Persona 3 Portable

Best PSP games - Persona 3 Portable

What's amazing about this PSP adaptation of the PS2's Persona 3 is how fresh and different it feels in the transition to handheld. In optimizing the overworld for quick-and-easy exploration and shifting the main character's perspective from male to female, the overall tone of the story is changed, giving even old fans something new to latch on to.

Impactful tweaks like these make the PSP version of this JRPG worthy of attention, but its biggest strength is the unchanged dungeon crawling that's peerless in the RPG canon. The only thing that matches it is Persona 4 Golden on PS Vita.

13. LocoRoco 2

Best PSP games - LocoRoco 2

LocoRoco 2 is impossible to hate. Go on, try. After just a few minutes with Japan Studio's painfully cute platform puzzler, you too will be singing along with the titular blobs and spending every extra second digging into their rich, colorful world.

Everything that made LocoRoco an innovative hit returns in this sequel, including the game's trademark tilt-a-world mechanic that takes a moment to learn and multiple playthroughs to master. And you'll want to become an expert at rolling, bumping, and squishing LocoRocos through their environments too if you hope to collect all of the game's secrets and bonus missions. Don't let the Saturday morning cartoon vibe turn you off. LocoRoco 2 is as challenging as it is charming and as devious as it is cute.

12. Valkyria Chronicles 2

Best PSP games - Valkyria Chronicles 2

There was fear this portable sequel to PS3's Valkyria Chronicles would rob the series of its breadth and depth, but Sega handles the transition like a champ. Valkyria Chronicles II picks up Avan Hardin's story without missing a step, setting you on a path through the Lanseal Royal Military Academy that will see you navigating conflicts both on and off the battlefield that feel just as complex and satisfying as before.

After spending countless hours managing troops, customizing vehicles, and perfecting your strategy in the war for Gallia, it'll become clear that this handheld Valkyria Chronicles entry can hold its own.

11. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

Best PSP games - Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

As an updated remake of Final Fantasy Tactics from the first PlayStation console, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions extends the tactical role-playing goodness with new characters, jobs, and cutscenes which give even veterans of the original motivation to head back into the fray.

If you don't get lost in the labyrinthine plot, you'll spend days tinkering with your army and perfecting your strategy in the field. As in the original, the game isn't kind to beginners; but those who spend time learning its inner workings will no doubt find themselves dedicated to the cause.

10. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Best PSP games - Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

For years, Dracula X: Rondo of Blood was considered a lost holy grail in the Castlevania series trapped as a rare, Japan-only exclusive for the Turbo-Grafx 16 CD. Then came Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, packaging not just this 2.5D remake of Rondo, but the original and an updated version of PlayStation 1's legendary Symphony of the Night. The whole package is a blood-stamped love letter to fans, loaded with weird characters and a shiny new Boss Mode. To this day, it remains one of the best games in the series.

9. Power Stone Collection

Best PSP games - Power Stone Collection

Forgetting the fact this compilation offers two games in one (Power Stone and Power Stone 2), Power Stone made 3D multiplayer brawling cool long before those fancy PlayStation All-Stars came onto the scene. The game delivers a whole stack of playable combatants, all of whom light up the arenas with slick, explosive action.

The decision to bring the formerly Dreamcast-exclusive Power Stone series to Sony's PSP was an inspired choice, not just because the handheld was an ideal venue for quick, pick-up-and-play arcade action, but because it demonstrated how the PSP could give lesser-known series a second chance. In many ways, the PSP is the Dreamcast of portables - a misunderstood venue for brilliant, off-beat game making.

8. Monster Hunter Freedom

Best PSP games - Monster Hunter Freedom

Monster Hunter Freedom demands the best from you. It requires cunning, patience, the ability to take a beating, and the willingness to return for more. For those willing to tackle its challenge, however, it's also one of the most rewarding experiences on the PSP.

Taking its lead from Monster Hunter G, Freedom is a massive monster-hunting game full of prey who will put your warrior through hell and back. You can try mashing your way through early-game bounties, but bigger enemies require experimentation and expert planning. That said, the genius of Monster Hunter Freedom is you'll want to keep trying, not just to reap the in-game rewards, but to soak in that rare sense of accomplishment you only get from looking genuinely tough foes in the face and living to tell the tale. This game made MonHun an international treasure.

7. Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core

Best PSP games - Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core returns fans to one of the most iconic gaming realms in a way that feels right on a handheld platform. There's still plenty of opportunities to kick around with Zack and other FF7 familiars, but the short-burst missions do away with time-consuming RPG tropes and let you hack away at the meaty adventure at your own pace.

Even the slot-machine feature (memorably dubbed Digital Mind Wave) keeps the action humming and injects a sense of luck and surprise into every encounter. It may operate differently than what we were used to, but Crisis Core keeps the FF7 components intact while delivering a fresh spin on a classic tale. This was one of the first big projects by Hajime Tabata, who went on to direct the big series with Final Fantasy 15.

6. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Best PSP games - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (VCS) isn't the first portable GTA spin-off, but it's the most polished of its kind in the PSP roster. A prequel to PS2's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, VCS pushes the PSP in all the right places to bring the Grand Theft Auto world to life in ways that seem impossible for the technologically limited PSP. This was thanks in part to a new game engine, resulting in a cleaner, more visually arresting handheld Grand Theft Auto. Even in the post-GTA Online world, it stands as a technical and creative achievement.

Turn to page 3 for more of the best PSP games...

Darran Jones

Darran is so old that he used to play retro games when they were simply called games. A relic from the Seventies, he’s been professionally writing about retro gaming since 2003 and has been helming Retro Gamer since its resurrection in 2005, making him one of the UK’s longest-running editors of a games magazine. A keen board gamer, nature photographer and lover of movies, Darran’s writing credits include GamesTM, Play, SciFi-Now, Official Xbox Magazine, SFX, XBM, Cube, Total DVD, World Of Animals and numerous others. You’ll find him online discussing everything from bird photography to the latest 4K Arrow releases, as well as the ever-increasing prices of retro games.