A supplement to my previous posts about favourite Vita games and PSP games, I thought I would list the best PS1 games which are playable on Vita too. There’s a vast amount of classics on the store and although I’ve only gotten around to a few of them, they’re still incredible games to take on the go with you. All of the titles in this list I’d recommend – there are plenty more I think are great fun on the handheld, but these 10 are the stand-outs that everyone should try (or revisit!)
10. Tomb Raider II
Too clunky by modern standards for many people, I find the classic Tomb Raider games are simply mis-understood – the controls and level design are supposed to be very intricate require precision to navigate – everything is done in blocks. Of the titles, Tomb Raider II stands out to me as being the best – a globe-trotting adventure full of stunning tombs to plunder alongside more contemporary environments make this one a winner.
9. Tekken 2
Not the best of the franchise’s PS1 entries (why is Tekken 3 still missing from PSN?) but still a belting fighter, Tekken 2 makes a number of improvements over the clunky original to make a much better game. More refined with a better roster and some lovely environments, it can’t quite go toe-to-toe with modern fighting games but is still well worth checking out on the Vita.
8. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
I was never as big a fan of the Crash Bandicoot games as I was some of its contemporaries, but Warped is undoubtedly a fantastic time from start to finish. Featuring varied gameplay; some great platforming challenges and a tonne of levels, plus the game looks absolutely gorgeous on the Vita’s screen thanks to bright colours and cartoon-y animations.
7. Ridge Racer Type 4
The ultimate culmination of the franchise on the PS1, Type 4 sees the intricate drift-focused gameplay of the series fine-tuned alongside a heap of fantastic new courses and cars. Featuring a meaty single-player mode and some stunning (for the time) visuals, this one is well worth revisiting on the Vita thanks to rock-solid gameplay.
6. Crash Team Racing
Hands down the best Crash Bandicoot game ever made, Crash Team Racing brings together a number of characters from the franchise’s history in a wacky kart-racer that gave Mario Kart 64 a run for its money. A fleshed-out adventure mode provides enough single-player content to keep you coming back and the title’s addictive gameplay makes it a definite classic.
5. Metal Gear Solid
A groundbreaking achievement in storytelling; world-building and stealth-action gameplay, sadly the game has aged slightly worse than the others on this list but remains well worth trying. Interesting characters; a compelling plot and some fantastic set-pieces bring together a brilliant overall package that remains memorable long after its dramatic conclusion.
4. Spyro the Dragon
Different in design than its successors – featuring a much more sparse story with less focus on character interaction; a greater focus on exploration and discovery, very much a classic in a different way than the other games. The great use of colour pops extremely well on the Vita’s screen and Stewart Copeland’s beautiful soundtrack is as amazing as ever – it feels like the game was made specifically for the handheld at times and somehow remains gorgeous even today.
3. Final Fantasy VII
The grand-daddy of all modern JRPG’s may look funny by modern standards, but it was an incredibly impressive sight at the time and still features stunning CG cutscenes. Combined with a twisting story full of likable characters, world-ending danger and some brilliant locations, it’s an experience you won’t forget that’s as thrilling now as it ever was.
2. Final Fantasy VIII
Probably my least commonly-held opinion is that this game surpassed its predecessor in every way, Final Fantasy VIII features even more stunning graphics; brilliant locations and a more beautiful soundtrack than VII. What set it apart for me was the fantastic story of warring nations and sorceresses; the gameplay tweaks with more interactive battles and a cast of characters that I couldn’t help but love. Still outstanding to this day.
1. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Not only the best Ps1 classic available on Vita but likely my favourite game ever made, Year of the Dragon is the most polished and fun that Spyro has ever been. Absolutely gorgeous from start to finish thanks to some beautiful level design (and an amazing use of colour); more varied gameplay than ever thanks to the addition of more playable characters; a touching and amusing story told in the best manner since the franchise’s beginnings and featuring a sublime soundtrack, gaming has arguably never been better than this and it’s a modern classic in every sense of the word. I wish games were still made like this and I wish this franchise had lived on beyond Skylanders, but being able to replay it on the Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen is good enough for now.