If you're looking for the best PS1 games, you've come to the right place. From the moment the PlayStation burst onto the scene in 1994, it was clear that something special had arrived, instantly propelling Sony to the top of the gaming market. But as great as that hardware was, allowing many players and developers their first tentative steps into 3D, it’s always the games that matter and the PlayStation offered classics across the board, from epic solo RPGs and horror games to home versions of the day’s arcade hits, right through to innovative music and party games.
The PS1 has a massive library and it’s hard to select the best PS1 games, but we’ve tried to highlight the best of the platform to reflect the diversity of experiences available on the console and show that there’s something for everyone here. If you're looking for something a bit more current, dive into our best PS4 games, best Xbox One games, or even go deep into our best MMORPGs or best co-op games lists.
You can even replay some of these titles on the PlayStation Classic (aka the PlayStation Mini). For similar models from other gaming manufacturers be sure to check out our roundup of the best retro consoles. We've also included the latest prices for the PlayStation Classic below – it's way cheaper than it was at launch now.
25. Bishi Bashi Special
If you need a multiplayer game that anybody can pick up and play, this mini-game collection should definitely be in your library. Bishi Bashi Special is a compilation of Super Bishi Bashi and Hyper Bishi Bashi, containing 85 different button-bashing challenges with a variety of bizarre themes, ranging from kicking mobsters to chucking custard pies at your wedding guests. Up to three controllers are supported at once so you’ll need a Multitap to get the most out of the game, but if you’ve got a larger session going on everybody can still get involved, as eight players can take part in the party mode.
24. Street Fighter Alpha 3
The PlayStation version of the final game in the Street Fighter Alpha series felt replicated the excellent arcade original faithfully, though with some concessions to the console’s limited memory. If it had simply done that, that would be one thing. But this version did so much more, adding new characters to complete the inclusion of the Super Street Fighter II cast, as well as a World Tour mode that allowed players to customize their characters via fighting challenges. It felt absolutely stuffed with content back in 1999, and remains satisfying for both lone players and those of a more competitive nature.
23. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Is it fair to say that Tenchu was one of the first authentic ninja games ever? We think so. While the shadowy assassins had never been short of videogame representation, they had typically appeared in action games. By requiring the player to exercise caution and stealthily assassinate targets, Tenchu really re-examined what ninja games should be, and played a part in the growing stealth-action genre. The game offered a great deal of freedom in terms of carrying out your objectives, but was not for the impatient – observation was key as you tried to identify the perfect time to strike. Getting it right is still a thrilling experience.
Neversoft’s first try with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man really stood out from the crowd, and not just because it was a great superhero game in an age when they were far from common. The combat and stage design are solid regardless of the license, but the development team really nailed all the great things about Marvel’s hero. Whether you’re swinging between buildings, ensnaring bad guys with a web shot, or even just hearing Spidey’s little quips when he handily defeats another grunt, Spider-Man is a satisfying experience for both long-term fans of the character and players who just want a great action-adventure game.
Shoot-'em-ups are definitely outside of Square’s RPG comfort zone, but that didn’t stop it from making a real impact in the genre. Einhänder is a decidedly conventional shoot-’em-up, but one that has been produced to a very high quality with great visuals and strong game design enhanced by the combo-based score system and modular Gunpod power-ups, useful for taking down the big bosses. There are some really great shoot-’em-ups on the PlayStation – R-Type Delta, G-Darius and Gradius Gaiden to name a few – but we’ve highlighted Einhander because it’s wholly original, rather than developing on the legacy of an existing series.
20. Ridge Racer Type 4
The original Ridge Racer was emblematic of early Nineties arcade excess and was a major hit at the PlayStation’s launch. Player expectations had changed by the late Nineties though, so Namco shifted its approach to the series to match. Where the original was a loud, colorful game that you played for a good time, not a long time, Ridge Racer Type 4 offered a relaxing contrast with pastel-colored skies and a more relaxed soundtrack. The excellent drift-heavy racing remained though, and the game had some fun stories, plus more cars and tracks to play with than any of its predecessors.
19. Final Fantasy Tactics
As one of the biggest names in the Japanese RPG landscape, Final Fantasy’s foray into strategy RPG territory was hotly anticipated, and it didn’t disappoint. This one dispenses with the high budget 3D spectacle and sci-fi leanings of mainline PlayStation counterparts like Final Fantasy VII and VIII, instead offering up more complex battles featuring 2D characters on isometric 3D stages, with job classes that call back to the more traditional fantasy roots of the series. Though combat is a big deal here the plot hasn’t been skimped on, with a depth and maturity that belies the cuteness of the character designs.
18. Twisted Metal 2: World Tour
Whether you were speeding through Hong Kong’s railway tunnels or blowing up the Eiffel Tower, there was no doubt that expanding the car combat to a global scale was a great move for the Twisted Metal series. As well as these more complex and expansive arenas, the second game in the series introduced some iconic vehicles such as Axel and Mr Slam, as well as a co-op mode that allowed players to tackle the tournament together. The only downside was missing out on the endings, which could only be viewed by solo combatants – they remain memorably, deliciously evil today.
17. Time Crisis
If you were being shot at by a horde of really angry people, you’d want to hide behind something for a bit of protection. It seems so obvious, and yet light gun games just didn’t let you do it until Namco literally changed the game by introducing the cover pedal in Time Crisis. This PlayStation version is an excellent likeness for the arcade classic, but what really puts it over the top is the inclusion of a totally original second scenario set in a hotel, which is exclusive to this version. It justifies the purchase of a G-Con gun by itself.
16. Driver: You Are the Wheelman
Reflections might have accidentally created one of the hardest tutorial stages ever, but getting past it was well worth it. Inspired by the great car chase movies of the Seventies, Driver gives you plenty of different driving missions to take on as an undercover cop, from getaways to tailing other cars. What makes Driver unique on the PlayStation is that its four city environments – Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York – are proper open worlds with plenty of freedom to choose your own route, which is crucial to making your evasion of the cops feel organic and satisfying.
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