Hardcore Gamer Presents: 20 Years of Experiencing PlayStation

As you may have noticed from the hype surrounding PlayStation Experience, Sony’s console brand just turned twenty. To honor that longevity Hardcore Gamer’s staff has highlighted twenty of their favorite PlayStation games – five apiece for each of Sony’s four legacy systems. The PlayStation 4 is riding high, and the Vita has a devoted fan base, but they stand on the shoulders of these giants:


NA Launch: 9/9/1995

PlayStation began life as a CD add-on for the SNES before Nintendo stabbed Sony in the back to make a deal with Phillips and ultimately settled on a cartridge based format for the N64. Not to be rebuffed, Sony refocused their R&D efforts into creating a standalone console that swiftly overtook veterans SEGA and Nintendo to claim dominance in the console wars. Developers and gamers alike embraced the aptly dubbed Computer Entertainment System and its vision for the future. The PlayStation left an indelible mark on the industry and global pop culture as a whole.

UmJammer Lammy



The original Parappa the Rapper may be the more widely remembered game, but its sequel is easily the far superior game with a better range and style of music. Players takes control of a guitar-wielding lamb named Lammy as she goes on a bizarre musical journey to make it to her gig on time. UmJammer Lammy has all the weird quirkiness of its predecessor turned up a notch for good measure. The rock-centric soundtrack gives players a chance to shred some rocking tunes with Lammy’s Axe, but in case you prefer the rhymes of Parrappa, you can unlock a second campaign where you can perform original rap renditions of all the songs as the original swag pup. Now that’s musical variety. Personally, the Simon-says-style rhythmic button timing works a lot better with Lammy’s guitar, and is certainly a lot less repetitive than the copycat stylings of Parappa. Not to mention, Lammy’s solos sound so much better than Parappa’s incoherent freestyles. – Jahanzeb Khan

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped



For the quintessential platformer franchise of the original PlayStation, everything came to perfection in the third entry. Little did we know that this would be the last one created under the helm of Naughty Dog, and what followed was a tragic fall from grace. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped is to the PlayStation what Super Mario Bros. 3 is to the NES, a game that perfects an established formula and wraps up a trilogy with no expenses spared. With vibrant visuals, fun gameplay variety, and a generous amount of content, Warped is a game that you could endlessly replay and is still just as fun today. Playing it nowadays is somewhat bittersweet because it makes you wish Naughty Dog would create one last classic for the franchise to undo all the bad that has happened to the series over the last fifteen years. A PlayStation 4 Crash Bandicoot reboot… make it happen guys. – Jahanzeb Khan

Rival Schools: United by Fate



In an era where arcade ports were gauged on how perfectly they translated the original experience to home systems, some developers went the extra mile by adding buckets of enjoyable content exclusively to the console ports. Capcom’s Rival Schools is a shining example of a home conversion that simply keeps on giving. Whereas nowadays fighting fans are content with patch updates and a functioning netcode, back in the pre-online gaming era a lot of effort was put into creating fun single player modes. Rival Schools is one of those vibrantly fun fighting game alternatives that didn’t demand a PhD in competitive fighting to be enjoyed, with a high school fighting tournament serving as the backdrop, bonus modes centered around several sporting activities (soccer, baseball, volleyball – you name it) and even massages from the school nurse. I’d take a massage over hit-box revisions any day. – Jahanzeb Khan

Threads of Fate



RPGs from Square are like instant gold, and one such overlooked game is Threads of Fate. You play as two separate protagonists as their quests intertwine on their search for the same relic. Rue wants to revive a friend who was killed and Mint wants to reclaim the throne from her sister. Both have unique abilities to help them on their quest. Rue can transform into enemy monsters and use their powers. Mint wields a variety of different magic spells. Whomever you wish to fight with will come in handy no matter what but sometimes it may be best to switch. Despite arriving late in the PlayStation’s life, Threads of Fate was well-received with some pretty high scores. The game even made it to Square Enix’s Legendary Hits label over in Japan. – Jacob Whritenour




A little pink-haired cave boy on the search for his grandfather’s stolen bracelet doesn’t sound like it’d be a great concept for a game, but if you play Tomba!, you’ll understand how fun it can be to jump around and whack stupid pigs. You play as Tomba as he travels across the land in some side-scrolling action. Tomba has to complete quests for the new friends he meets on his way to locating what is rightfully his. After defeating all the Evil Pigs, he’ll finally reclaim the bracelet. It gained high praise for its cheerful aesthetics, design and gameplay. Unfortunately, Tomba! never became as popular as it should have. It’s an overlooked gem nowadays and so if you ever come across it, play it as soon as possible. – Jacob Whritenour


PlayStation 2

NA Launch: 10/26/2000

With over 150 million units sold worldwide, the PlayStation 2’s success is appropriately monolithic. The pre-release hype surrounding this 128 bit beast alone was enough to cripple the Dreamcast, and no matter how hard they fought the Xbox and Gamecube couldn’t hope to match Sony’s dev support or install base. The net result is an unparalleled library of excellent games – all bigger than ever before thanks to the increased capacity of the DVD. As both a gaming device and a media hub, it’s hard to overstate the global impact of the PS2

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns



2007 saw the PlayStation 2 phased out as a major force, but it became a haven for lower-end releases. One such release was Fire Pro Wrestling Returns – the final 2D entry in the series. It took two years to come to North America, but came in nearly unscathed despite earlier English entries being heavily-altered. The franchise’s use of a roster inspired by real people didn’t suffer much, and as a result, over 320 default characters give this the biggest roster yet in a pro wrestling or MMA game. With 500 slots for created characters, you can easily keep the game up to date even now with dream matches in a ring or fights in a cage. Want to have Ronda Rousey do battle with Spider-Man? Give it a shot! With tons of characters, modes, and creation tools, the only limit to the fun you can have in Returns is your own imagination. – Jeremy Peeples

Final Fantasy XII



Final Fantasy XII represented the biggest departure in the series since the introduction of 3D graphics, and was pulled off in incredible style. Battles mostly take place in a real-time persistent world as opposed to random turn-based instances, which adds a much more dynamic feel to the normally deliberate and sometimes plodding pace. It helps that Ivalice is an awesomely fleshed-out setting, with political turmoil, diverse environments to explore, and a wealth of treasure to be discovered. Hitoshi Sakimoto’s music creates a stunning backdrop to each setting, be it sweeping symphonies when tensions run high or curious, bouncy tones when danger is around every corner. Although some of the supporting characters are forgettable, the combat, war-torn plot, amount of content, and the depth in the License Board system make XII one of the best Final Fantasy games. – Julian Aidan

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening



Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening is one of the best action games ever to hit a Playstation console. Cry hyperbole all you want, but this is character action cranked up to 11 and drenched in adrenaline. A prequel to the past two games, Devil May Cry 3 rose like a phoenix from the messy ashes of Devil May Cry 2. Dante is a cocky, snarky youngster who doles out damage to enemies with his Ebony and Ivory pistols and Rebellion sword. But the multiple styles are what step up the series’ game. Introducing these varied ways to play deepens the already tough-as-nails combat considerably, offering labyrinthine combo chains that define what the PS2 is capable of. It’s a blistering example of action games at their finest. – Alex Carlson

Gitaroo Man



Gitaroo Man is, to this day, one of the single best Parappa-style music games ever, matched only by iNiS’s Ouendan series. You play as U-1, who’s a bit of a loser trying to impress a girl by trying to look awesome at something he thinks is cool rather than developing the talent he actually has. Turns out musical space tyrants aren’t interested in his failures, though, so U-1 is going to have to get really good, really fast, at playing Gitaroo, which is kind of like a guitar except filtered through the underground-art sensibilities of 326 (Mitsura Nakamura). Gameplay consists of tracing a line that scrolls into the middle of the screen with the analog stick while tapping out the beat with a button. It sounds simple until you’re in the middle of a duel with the Sanbone Trio keeping up with a strumming Spanish flamenco riff, cursing that you’ve got fingers rather than a direct mental interface with the screen. The great gameplay and fun story would make any game memorable, but Gitaroo Man swings for the fences with its soundtrack, covering genres like J-pop, surf music, a rap/reggae number featuring a theremin, and a finale involving two electric guitars screaming at each other through space. It’s easily got one of the top-5 best gaming soundtracks ever made, and when combined with the story, art style, and perfect music gameplay, Gitaroo Man rockets to the top of the PS2’s amazing library. – James Cunningham

Steambot Chronicles



Nearly two generations before GTA V set the supposed high bar for sandbox detail, a little developer called Irem (the creators of R-Type and Disaster Report) crafted a world that blew all others away like the paper-thin facades they were. Set in an alternate version of 1920s America where people drive giant robot Oldsmobiles in place of cars, Steambot Chronicles is one of the most immense and immersive games ever made. At once a Virtual On-inspired mecha action RPG, a rhythm game, and an economic simulation, Steambot Chronicles never leaves you with a shortage of things to do. One minute you’ll be guarding a caravan as it crosses an immense desert, the next you’ll be busking for loose change with your trusty harmonica, and not long after that you’ll be doing insider trading at a stock exchange. While the sandbox elements are diverse and enjoyable, the writing steals the show, painting a believable world in broad strokes and an intimate tale of a band breaking up in the finer details. By the end of the game, you’ll wish that you could stay in this Miyazaki-esque world with these characters. Unfortunately Irem quit the game business in the wake of the Fukushima Earthquake, and the planned Sequel was cancelled. Still, Steambot Chronicles stands as one of the best games of the PS2 era, and my personal favorite game of all time. – Geoff Thew

Continue to next page →