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Five Years, Ten Games: PSP Essentials

G4Sterling
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Posted March 24, 2010 - By G4Sterling

If you can believe it, today marks the fifth anniversary of the PlayStation Portable. In addition to The Feed’s five-year retrospective, I’ve polled both The Feed and X-Play staff to distill everyone's favorite PSP games into a list that both long-time owners and PSPgo adopters can all appreciate. That, unfortunately, chops sentimental UMD-only favorites like Lumines from the list. After tallying up games with several votes, I cross-checked the price of downloading from the PlayStation Store versus seeking out a used copy, and the results are surprising in a few instances. Here’s The Feed's list of ten PSP Essentials:

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Released: October 23, 2007 (UMD), December 10, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $14.99 for download
Used Cost: $14.99 from GameStop, $9.99 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: This compilation brought together Symphony of the Night -- which, yes, you could just download as a standalone game -- with the previously unreleased Rondo of Blood. If you like Castlevania (and you do like Castlevania, right?), then there’s no reason to overlook this package.

Daxter

Daxter
Released: March 14, 2006 (UMD), September 30, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $14.99 for download
Used Cost: $6.99 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: Daxter is still the one of the games I push on new PSP owners. As the fuzzy sidekick to the star of the series, Daxter finds himself without a friend and as the local bug exterminator. A dash of humor, action, and platforming that actually works has made this spin-off a classic on the small screen. Four years after its release, Daxter seems to be one of the few games on the handheld that understands how to work with the camera as well as hide those troublesome loading screens.

Echochrome PSP

Echochrome
Released: May 1, 2008 (digital-only in North America)
MSRP: $9.99 for core game, $14.99 for bundle with game and DLC
Why It’s on the List: Before there were PSP minis, and before iPhone gaming took over everything, Sony’s Echochrome presented a habit-forming experience that fused simple layout with very complex mechanics. It’s an elegant title that makes for one of the finest puzzle games of recent memory. And this handheld version outstrips the PS3 version, if you can believe it.

God of War: Chains of Olympus

God of War: Chains of Olympus
Released: March 4, 2008 (UMD), September 30, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $19.99 for download
Used Cost: $17.99 from GameStop, $9.40 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: Because you can’t have PlayStation without Kratos. From its unveiling to release, the expectations for the pint-sized God of War were as high as those for God of War II. And it delivers in every way. From visual tricks that play with size and scale under the hard limits of the PSP's hardware to voice acting and presentation that rivals the PS2 games, Ready at Dawn followed up its success with Daxter in a huge way.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
Released: October 25, 2005 (UMD), October 22, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $19.99 for download
Used Cost: $17.99 from GameStop, $7.97 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: A year after San Andreas’ impact, GTA was still white-hot. Liberty City Stories was one of the games that pushed the capability of the PSP to deliver the PS2 experience on the go. Some argue that Chinatown Wars executed the handheld experience better, but LCS is the granddaddy of them all.

LocoRoco

LocoRoco
Released: September 25, 2006 (UMD), April 24, 2008 (digital)
MSRP: $22.99 for download
Used Cost: $12.99 from GameStop, $12.97 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: LocoRoco could be dismissed as another weird Japanese novelty if it weren’t so much damn fun to play. With a simplified art style that resembles childrens’ storybooks and a very easy approach to gameplay -- seriously, just use the shoulder buttons -- it’s a unique game that has never been better replicated on other platforms.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Released: December 5, 2006 (UMD), December 17, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $14.99 for download
Used Cost: N/A from GameStop, $17.86 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: What’s PlayStation without Solid Snake? After two bad trips with Metal Gear Ac!d, Kojima Productions came correct with Portable Ops, a game that wedded bits of Ac!d’s strategy with traditional MGS action. The game not only managed to deliver a Metal Gear Solid game that worked despite having one analog stick, it fleshed out the story of the one-eyed Big Boss with new details. The result is one of the best games to grace the platform to date.

Patapon 2

Patapon 2
Released: May 5, 2009 (digital-only in North America)
MSRP: $14.99 for download
Why It’s on the List: While copying a lot of the same mechanics from the first game, Patapon 2 perfects the quirky “rhythm game meets RTS” battle system. As the Patapon god, your task is to lead your wingding villagers through the battlefield with different drum beats. Lose the beat and your tiny army will be swept up in a wash of savage marauders and vicious animals. It’s the mental equivalent to patting your head and reloading a jammed rifle on the beach of Omaha.

PixelJunkMonsters Deluxe
Released: September 30, 2009 (currently digital-only in North America)
MSRP: $19.99 for download
Why It’s on the List: A fantastic port of the addictive PSN tower defense title.  You get the original game and its DLC, new towers, new enemies, extra music, online play, and a bunch of extras.  There are enough missions and challenges to keep you frantically upgrading for a long, long time, and Demski dares you to get every last rainbow.  Really, he dares you.  The further you go, the harder it gets.

The Warriors PSP

The Warriors
Released: February 12, 2007 (UMD), October 22, 2009 (digital)
MSRP: $19.99 for download
Used Cost: N/A from GameStop, $14.95 from Amazon
Why It’s on the List: Although many publishers shoehorned PS2 games onto a UMD, few captured the soul of the console game on a smaller medium. Rockstar’s translation of the excellent beat-em-up to handheld is one of the best brawlers in years, and one of the best PS2-to-PSP ports ever.

Honorable Mentions

  • Ridge Racer
  • Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
  • flOw
  • Everyday Shooter
  • Crush
  • Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
  • Killzone: Liberation
  • Jeanne D’Arc
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

If you have a friend with a PSPgo, what essentials would you tell them to download, and why?

Five Years, Ten Games: PSP Essentials
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