10. Vagrant Story (Square, 2000, 38 points)
I got this game for Christmas in 2000, and boy it sure did not disappoint. Square has never come close to matching the quality of their 1990s glory years, and Vagrant Story is the product of a studio unimpeachable and on top.
Only with Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger, in my opinion, has Square bested the genius of Vagrant Story, a game overflowing with character and poise. The game’s customized weapon system is my favourite in RPG history, and Leá Monde is one of the most haunting and memorable locations for an RPG ever. Play this game. (David McDougal)
9. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Capcom, 1998, 41 points)
Keep your Street Fighter II, I will die on the hill that Street Fighter Alpha 3 is the greatest game in the series. This is an arcade port that is truly arcade perfect, and 2D has never looked better on the PlayStation (save one game, we’re getting to it, don’t worry). The game is so vibrant, so colorful, and I guarantee if you boot it up now you’ll be hooked for a few hours. (Ben Beck)
8. Wipeout XL (Psygnosis, 1996, 43 points)
Here are the five games I have played the most in my life, hours-wise: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Civilization 5, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Streets of Rage 2, and Wipeout XL. This game was the game in constant rotation at my house once I got a PS1 in 2001 or so, and to this day it’s one of my favourite racing games. Psygnosis’ punishing futuristic world is a joy to race in, and you’ve gotta give it a go if you already haven’t. (JCM)
7. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (Activision, 2000, 45 points)
All of us here at GlobaX Gaming get pretty animated when the topic of THPS 2 comes up, and with good reason — this is a seriously, unambiguously fun game. Even if you didn’t know a thing about skateboarding, and I didn’t and still don’t, it’s a joy and pleasure to learn or to just screw around for hours and hours. Some of my best social gaming experiences have been with this game. (David McDougal)
6. Bushido Blade (Square, 1997, 48 points)
Hey, Square? Knock it off! So much quality. And Bushido Blade is definitely the best fighting game they ever published; developers Light Weight slayed here.
Sword-based fighting games tend to be either pretty good or unfathomably broken, but Bushido Blade is a meticulous, careful sword fighter that actually feels like you’re wielding a sword (instead of some anime nonsense). The game’s beautiful visuals hold up today, and this is truly one of the most challenging and rewarding fighting games ever made. (Terri Rose)
5. Final Fantasy IX (Square, 2000, 49 points)
Are…are you sick of Square yet? You should be seeing a pattern here.
I don’t think I’ve ever liked the visual look of a Final Fantasy game more than this one right here. The pre-rendered backgrounds are lush and beautiful, and it’s held up visually in a way that neither FF8 nor FF7 (sorry) have done. The game never drags, never asks for you to follow it down ridiculously contrived paths, never makes you wonder if maybe you don’t like Final Fantasy at all, really. It’s a magnificently paced game, and should go down as one of the best JRPGs of them all. (Nicholas Tristan)
4. PaRappa The Rapper (Sony, 1996, 60 points)
Even if you hate rhythm games, or music games in general, you gotta give it to PaRappa The Rapper — this game rules, it’s tremendously fun and accessible while still being pretty challenging, and its legion of imitators only make it look better in retrospect.
I loved this game growing up, but I can confidently say that this game transcends nostalgia. As we wind down the best games of the console and get to the big big guns, I’m happy this precious game ranked so highly. (JCM)
3. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami, 1997, 69 points)
Okay, I know it’s a cliche to say that this and Super Metroid changed game design forever, it’s right up there with using Dark Souls as a reference point for something being challenging. But…here’s the thing…
This game and Super Metroid did change game design forever. And playing it today, I’m really in awe of how well the formula works within a Castlevania game for the first time (there were elements of Metroidvania in earlier games, but this is really the genesis moment).
Design aside, this game is a treasure. The music, the baroque art stylings, the wonderful monster design, the goofy sense of humour. As someone who never really saw the earlier Castlevania games as anything but punishing tests of endurance, it was so refreshing to play Symphony of the Night and let it all hang loose. Still a difficult play, of course, though the RPG mechanics help out somewhat. (Ben Beck)
2. Final Fantasy VII (Square, 1997, 86 points)
In many’s estimation, this is the greatest video game ever made. They may be right.
Final Fantasy VII transcended video game fandom to become a bona fide cultural phenomenon, opening up the west to the world of JRPGs and normalizing a lot of (as Terri said earlier) “anime nonsense”. The game is iconic, and while icons can sometimes be difficult to judge, this one speaks for itself. (David McDougal)
#1 PlayStationGame: Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998, 94 points)
We plead guilty on going for Metal Gear Solid over Final Fantasy VII, and we aren’t sorry, Metal Gear Solid is a spectacular and breathtaking game, a stealth game that has through its sequels essentially dictated the terms of the entire genre since 1998.
The series is great, of course, but the first game may be the best in the series (…no, sorry, it’s still MGS 3). The game gives you spoonfuls of characteristic Kojima weirdness, but stays grounded enough that you’re not totally out of it like in MGS 2. The game is perfect mechanically, has a memorable score, and looks great even today. This is the best game on the original PlayStation. (Terri Rose)