Few companies outside of Nintendo can claim to have even a sliver of the effect on the gaming industry as electronics giant Sony has. Ever since the PlayStation emerged in the mid-90s as a dark horse console from a first time manufacturer, video games have never been the same.
In celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Sony two years ago, the crew here at Goomba Stomp put together a list of the top 70 Sony exclusive games of all time and now we are back to expand the list to a top 100!
Chances are if you’ve been playing PlayStation as long as we have, you’ll find a lot to love on this list, and if by chance you haven’t, well get ready to learn a thing or two. As voted by the writers and editors of Goomba Stomp, this is our definitive list of the 100 best PlayStation Games of All Time.
** Editor’s Note: In order to qualify, a game must have been first released exclusively on a Sony console for at least six months if not a year. In other words, don’t expect a game like Tomb Raider or Ade’s Odyssey to appear on this list since they were not exclusive to a Sony console when released.
- Nominations for games released as of 11/28/2018
100 Best PlayStation Games of All Time
100 – Dino Crisis
A spiritual spin-off to the classic Resident Evil formula, Dino Crisis takes the series’ tropes of survival horror, secret labs in the middle of nowhere, corporate conspiracies, unethical experiments gone wrong, and an 80s-style badass female protagonist, but changes the threat from slow-moving zombies to fast-paced Jurassic Park rip-off dinosaurs.
Tank controls and cheesy dialogue abound; Dino Crisis is everything you would want in a game of its kind. Despite not aging as well as its Resident Evil cousins on the PS1 – being bogged down by controls that never feel quite right and an imbalance in difficulty that feels more unoptimized than challenging – it’s still a charming romp.
The quicker Velociraptors are a lot more intelligent than an RE zombie, and a lot more vicious, requiring actual thought put into encounters than just a shot to the head, though at times in an unfair way. Borrowing from Resident Evil 3, with which the game shared a parallel development period, you’ll also be stalked by a T. Rex boss throughout the game, and it’s some true survival horror goodness. Not stopping there, you’ll come across other dinos, ranging from the miniature Compsognathus to the high-flying Pteranodons, all who seem to be pretty mad to be brought back from the dead.
Dino Crisis brings enough of its own unique elements to the table to distinguish it beyond just a Resident Evil with dinos. Plus, being one of the only dinosaur-themed survival horror games, it’s an experiment worth appreciating by fans of the classic style of that genre, especially on the PS1.
Dino Crisis feels like the start of a series that never quite happened, despite a couple of brief but futile attempts. Maybe one day, we’ll see Capcom revitalize the series, as there’s definitely some untapped potential here. (Maxwell N)
99 – ISS Pro Evolution
Time may have been unkind to Konami’s football franchise as its struggles under the financial might of EA and its loyal fanbase of official license-lovers, but in 1999 ISS Pro Evolution was the football game. A precursor to modern-day Pro Evolution Soccer, ISS Pro Evolution was the iteration to garner the moniker of ‘the thinking man’s football game’ that still rings true amongst the community for subsequent releases to this day.
The game boasted a number of important additions from all its predecessors too – most notably the inclusion of club teams. There weren’t very many to choose from at this early stage, and they represented the double-edged sword of only being playable in the new Master League mode. A limiting caveat to two staples of the PES universe that remain as limited as they are essential even in 2018.
It wasn’t just new modes and teams that made ISS Pro Evo so special, though, and with football games, it’s never enough to do all the proverbial talking off the pitch. The game was buttery smooth to play thanks to a host of new animations, and it was practically football in fast-forward compared to the meandering FIFA. Perhaps more significantly, at least in nostalgic terms, was the debut of the era’s latest edition into the footballing zeitgeist – the still-iconic free kick technique of Roberto Carlos that made playing as Brazil essential.
Having dropped jaws during the summer’s pre-World Cup warm up competition, the lary stance, Fred Flinstone runup, and thunderous with-the-laces drive was the poster child for the game’s marketing. Headlining commercials and plastered all over the back of the box, it’s the element the game that lingers longest in the memory. It’s the little things that count, eh? (Alex Aldridge)
98 – Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
The Sly trilogy was a remarkable achievement of its time. It took the 3D mascot-platformer, which dominated the early 2000’s, and added a unique edge by adding in the mechanics of a stealth game. Sly 2: Band of Thieves is arguably the best game in the series, but Honour Among Thieves was still ahead of its time. It took the mechanics and open world sandboxes of the second game, and added a cast of new playable characters. Sly 3 was about bringing a team together. By finding a new family, you came ever closer to the family you lost.
If Pokemon is baby’s first RPG, then Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves is baby’s first stealth game. You’ll try out the costumes/disguises you’d find in Hitman, the stalking and pickpocketing of Assassin’s Creed, the rooftop scrambling and love for the shadows that you’d need in Thief, and the abundance of gadgets and options popularized by the Dishonored series. Sly 3 is the reason I love stealth games, and if it wasn’t for Sony and Sucker Punch, many more kids would have grown up without love for this genre too. (Chris Bowring)
97 – Detroit: Become Human
When Quantic Dreams’ breakthrough title Heavy Rain hit stores back in 2010, “interactive drama” – as they loved to call it – was a bit of a niche within the gaming industry. But in the years since then, the genre has seen more success stories, from The Walking Dead to Life Is Strange, while Quantic Dreams’ own follow up to Heavy Rain – Beyond Two Souls – disappointed. Everyone else, it seems, was doing “interactive drama” a little better.
Detroit: Become Human is Quantic Dream doing what Quantic Dream does best – and worst – and it goes some way to righting their ship. Love them or hate them, nobody makes games quite like Quantic Dream. It’s a beautiful game – no other narrative focused adventure game on the market can compare – but it’s a little janky to play. It’s got an interesting premise but it’s nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. It presents itself as high art but it’s a B-Movie at heart. And if you can live with all of that then you’ll likely have a good time.
Set in the near future in the titular Detroit, androids are a part of everyday life – working as cheap labor, butlers, and maids, and doing the dangerous jobs no human would want to do. Predictably, the androids become self-aware, and the humans are really surprised because apparently none of them have ever seen any of the countless movies and TV shows that have taught us that machines always, always turn on their masters.
Cue some heavy-handed allegories and allusions to social justice – seriously, the robots have to stand at the back of the bus – and a story that never quite manages live up to the potential of the premise, but one featuring surprisingly strong writing and performances, and some genuinely affecting scenes. (John Cal McCormick)
96 – Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
Released in 2001, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil refined the art of 2.5-dimensional platforming that the developers of the original game, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, strived for. Levels form complex interconnecting and twisting paths that allow the player to interact with the foreground and background long before Donkey Kong Country Returns incorporated the idea. It is a perfect example of how a few simple mechanics can be effectively established and elaborated on over the course of a (relatively short) game without ever becoming tiresome.
The story takes place in the dream world of Lunatea, where the holy bells of the four kingdoms are threatened by the rising chaos from a newly-forming bell. Our protagonist, Klonoa, and his friends must travel to each kingdom and purge the four bells of the evil that has overtaken them to restore order to the world. From the map, the player travels to new levels and occasionally revisits old ones that are dramatically changed as the game progresses. New areas have their own distinct visual style and themes, gradually incorporating new monsters and gameplay mechanics to keep things from getting stale.
Apart from the standard running and jumping controls, Klonoa can use his “Wind-Bullet” power to grab enemies, items, and parts of the environment to traverse the terrain. While holding certain enemies, the player can throw them to the ground to give Klonoa an extra jump or use them as a projectile, to be hurled at enemies or switches. Early sections of the game are fairly easy, but later bosses and areas such as Ishra’s Ark and the Maze of Memories feature punishing fights and more complex puzzles. What really makes this game so memorable is not is not just its excellent gameplay, but the sense of wonder and imagination it inspires in players. The imaginative world, amazing music, and feeling of adventure come together to make Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil the best 2D platformer on the PlayStation 2 and also one of the most unique experiences in gaming. (Matt Bruzzano)
95 – Heavy Rain
Sony’s internal and external partners have always prioritized expanding the audience for games. Whether it was the relative openness of the PSX’s CD format or the recent focus on downloadable indie games, PlayStation is a brand that reaches in every direction to release games for more and different kinds of gamers.
It is easy to see why, then, Sony might sign with developers like Quantic Dream, whose output may not reach the critical and audience success of Uncharted, Killzone and Infamous, but nevertheless display a bravery and distinctiveness that goes far beyond quality.
Heavy Rain, the studio’s first PS3 title, came a few months after the release of Uncharted 2, and only weeks before the spring of God of War III, yet still managed to hold its own. Highly detailed characters and a focus on situations that usually have no place in video games brought a level of warmth and drama to what was basically an interactive thriller movie.
Although the “French-actors-trying-to-sound-American” voices and ropey facial animations don’t hold up as well as they did back in 2010, Heavy Rain pushed the boundaries of what the interactive medium has to offer and arguably laid the groundwork for today’s so-called “walking simulators” like Gone Home and Firewatch.
The game’s focus on aspects of life other than shooting and fighting (while still being a suspenseful thriller) is a refreshing change of pace from other blockbuster stories. Finally, like other media, Heavy Rain and its spiritual kin Indigo Prophecy have shown that scenes of pain and loss or heart-pounding action can have all the more impact when contrasted with the mundane.
The next time in a game that I have to wash the dishes or hold a button to hold my breath, I’ll definitely think of Heavy Rain. (Mitchell Akhurst)
94 – Wipeout
Wipeout is a game that can sometimes be overlooked and not usually considered as distinguished or renowned as some other PlayStation racing titles such as Gran Turismo, Crash Team Racing and Driver, but there is no doubt that it has had a significant influence on the racing game genre as a whole.
Released in 1995, Wipeout, or wipE’out as it was styled, was one of the launch titles for the PlayStation in Europe. Developed by Liverpool based company Psygnosis, Wipeout received critical acclaim upon release. The game is set in the year 2052 and the player can race around seven different tracks based in countries around the world. The futuristic themes, contemporary techno music and general innovation of the game were all praised. You can tell that the team behind the artistic design drew upon other forms of media with futuristic themes, such as Blade Runner and Star Wars. The hovercrafts that you race in would always personally remind me of X-Wings. The future has and will probably always be a popular topic for all forms of media and Wipeout was the first game to try its hand at implementing a sci-fi future theme within the mechanics of a racing simulator.
As well as an electronic musical score, the game featured songs from recognized acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Orbital. The music draws the player into the futuristic setting and makes the game a more enjoyable experience. This emphasis on music as a key component of a video game was something that would be included more and more in games as time went on, and I think Wipeout played a considerable part in establishing that.
Wipeout wasn’t without its faults. The physics of the game were criticized and it was a particularly difficult game to master as you would crash immediately if you even touched the side of the track. However, these were all faults that were worked on for the sequels and it didn’t make Wipeout any less enjoyable. As well as multiple sequels, Wipeout was brought to the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 and had a Nintendo 64 version. I think that this popularity and the influence it has had on futuristic games and music in gaming make Wipeout a pretty important game and one of the better ones that the PlayStation 1 gave us. (Antonia Haynes)
93- 3D Dot Game Heroes
It could, and probably should, be argued that 3D Dot Game Heroes is one of the PlayStation 3’s most underappreciated titles. An interesting thing to say when you consider the fact that it’s a complete rip off, doesn’t do anything new and looks and plays like a Super Nintendo game farted into a 3D space against its will. With that said, this entirely derivative package somehow manages to create a cohesive whole that far outweighs the sum of its parts.
3D Dot Game Heroes is at its core a classic Super Nintendo adventure game, with so many nods to the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that many might consider it a shameless rehash of this classic Nintendo title, however this would be selling the game far short of what it has to offer. Yes, the game is laid out very much like a Link to the Past clone and, yes, the core of the game is essentially the same, but its wrapped up in such a beautiful package that players are forced to sit up and take notice of this wonderful world.
The first thing that will strike player is its sheer beauty, especially considering the game was released all the way back in 2009. The water effects are quite frankly astounding for a game of that age and the world is built out of tiny blocks and given a saturated tint to the point that everything looks like a sort of diorama that can be explored and broken apart. When players kill enemies, they are smashed into their tiny, blocky component parts and the weapon variety on offer is a great twist on this well-established genre. Each sword has a secondary attack that allows players to attack vast swathes of the land in front of them. It’s a fun and engaging way to interact with enemies and a welcome surprise in a game world that feels so comfortingly familiar.
And that’s just it. This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it does do is create an environment that many will find warm and familiar whilst also new and enticing in a way that will make players want to explore. It’s a love letter to what might arguably be Nintendo’s crowning achievement on a console that sorely lacks classic adventure games. If you are a player that fell in love with Zelda as a child, then you should definitely pick this up. If somehow you didn’t or are too young to remember A Link to the Past, this is a great way to recapture the feel and flavor of this game for yourself without digging up a Super Nintendo. (David Smile)
92 – Twisted Metal Black
The formula of the Twisted Metal series was never an issue, but the age it was showing by the 4th entry was an easily definable problem in the vein of too much, too soon. The series had boasted 4 titles over the course of 5 years and had quickly begun to grow stale in its lack of innovation.
Enter Twisted Metal Black. In a lot of ways Black just feels like the natural progression of the series but in a few other notable ways it comes across as more of an evolution. Take for instance the openness of the level design here, and how it allows for a more frenetic and dangerous feeling to the combat. The main takeaway from playing Twisted Metal Black for the first time is how much more quickly you can find yourself going from the offensive on the defensive in a hurry, due to the increased balance of the gameplay structure.
However, the biggest change that Black brought to the table was in the form of its narrative. Whereas previous Twisted Metals had showcased a structure more akin to fighting game campaigns, Black gave players a bit more to go on, fleshing out its characters and their goals more fluidly. Prior to the YouTube age, this was an important addition, as it gave players a reason to come back to the campaign again and again.
Today you’d be hard-pressed to convince a gamer to come back for a dozen or so replays of the same campaign, but back in 2001, it was an important part of the success of a game like Twisted Metal Black. (Mike Worby)
91 – Odin Sphere
A strong contender for “best game that nobody has played,” Vanillaware’s 2007 PlayStation 2 swan song, Odin Sphere, is one of the most unique games ever created. Combining typical Action RPG aspects with beat ’em up style gameplay, complex farming, cooking, alchemy systems, and a story that is nearly on the scale of A Song of Ice and Fire, Odin Sphere is a master class in every aspect of game design.
To spectators and newcomers alike, the outrageously gorgeous visuals are initially the most recognizable aspect of the game. Prior to the company’s use of hand drawn graphics in games such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon’s Crown, Vanillaware perfected their anime-inspired two-dimensional pixel design here, creating a unique aesthetic that easily rivaled any triple-A release of the time. However, this game is much more than just a pretty face, featuring gameplay that works in tandem with its story. The game is framed as five storybooks that are being read by a child in her attic, plus two extra books unlocked upon beating the correct levels in a certain order to see the “true” ending. Every book follows one of the five main characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, over the course of the various wars in the land of Erion.
Gameplay is comprised of 2D beat ‘em up style action on continuous circular levels with multiple exits, offering various branching paths through levels that culminate in incredibly designed, screen encompassing bosses such as the Dragon Kin Wagner, and the titular Demon Lord Odin. Fallen enemies drop energy called “Phozons,” which acts as a form of experience points for one of the games two progression systems. These can be used to upgrade the characters’ main weapons, attacks, and spells, while food is used as “HP experience”, boosting characters’ maximum health.
Additionally, the complex cooking and alchemy systems warrant entire guides to themselves, allowing players to learn various combinations of items in order to craft potions and meals that can strengthen their characters. Although the impressive visuals of the original game can often result in framerate dips and slow down during the more hectic battles, this small caveat doesn’t deter Odin Sphere from reaching the lofty goals it sets for itself. Luckily, an HD remake – Leifthrasir – released internationally in 2016, allowing fans and newcomers alike to experience Vanillaware’s original project with better performance and extra content, and making it the definitive version of the game. (Matt Bruzzano)
90 – Suikoden III
As a direct follow-up to its processor, Suikoden III did a fine job of shifting the series from its 2D roots into the 3D world. While the game did little in terms revolutionizing the genre, it’s solid all around, feeling and acting like many JRPGs of the era, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. After getting over the initial hump presented by the new graphical style, series veterans should feel right at home, as the Rune system and the 108 Stars of Destiny make their successful returns.
Both PS1 era Suikoden games were praised for their originality when it came to how they presented their narrative, and the series’ first venture on the PS2 was again successful in mesmerizing its audience via its storytelling. Rather than focusing on the story of a singular individual, with Suikoden III Konami crafted what they called a “Trinity Sight System”, which has the player following three different viewpoints from three very different individuals. Instead of having a silent protagonist like its predecessors, Suikoden III’s main characters each have a voice and distinct personality all their own. Each of the game’s protagonists hail from different factions with differing ideals and issues; the game avoids the traditional set up of having a clear cut antagonist, instead, leaving much up to the player’s own personal interpretation of “good” and “evil”.
Any RPG enthusiast looking for a mechanically sound game which also features a mature story that circumvents the standard operating procedure of “hero saves world from ominous evil threat” should certainly check out Suikoden III. (Matt De Azevedo)
89 – Twisted Metal 2: World Tour
The idea behind Twisted Metal was always a stroke of genius: take the happy go lucky car combat of Super Mario Kart and amp it up for the edgier PSX. Despite the cleverness of the premise, though, the first game was a little wonky in its design, and it wasn’t until the sequel arrived that Twisted Metal really hit its stride.
Introducing new characters, more diverse levels, and ton of new ways to leave each other in a pile of steaming, smoking wreckage, Twisted Metal II: World Tour was an endlessly replayable romp that urged you to come back, again and again, to see how Calypso would screw over the next set of contestants with his Wishmaster-esque hijinks.
A classic for the decidedly fringe genre of car combat, Twisted Metal 2: World Tour is neck in neck with Black as the best game in the series. (Mike Worby)
88 – Jak II
With an increased focus on story, one that would come to define Naughty Dog with its Uncharted series, later on, Jak II manages to keep its adventure-platforming spirit while at the same time pivoting away from the collect-a-thons that had defined the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era.
Despite the smaller number of collectibles and the addition of a gun, the actual mechanics aren’t as far from Jak and Daxter as you might be led to believe. Even with new mini-games and tougher bosses, there’s still plenty of hopping around, swinging on monkey bars and dodging spinning things – it just takes place in a city rather than the original’s Banjo-Kazooie-inspired playgrounds.
One controversial part of Jak II is its notorious difficulty – coming in-between the invention of the auto-save and the more forgiving checkpoints of more modern games. The actual platforming is still fun as a test of dexterity, but since one wrong move sends the player all the way back to the start of the level, it’s clear that Naughty Dog were still several games away from mainstream success.
The other controversial aspect of Jak II is the change in direction of its story. Immediately more serious, including a scarier cadre of villains and a more complex plot, Jak II has drawn flak as an example of the grimdark aesthetic that dominated the late nineties and early noughties. However, anyone who plays the game will discover this reputation is greatly exaggerated.
The game is actually just as creative and funny – if not more so – than the first Jak and Daxter. Moving away from the straight-up cartoon silliness of the first, Jak II takes a more Star Wars or Blade Runner approach: with colorful neon streets, a population oppressed by Stormtroopers (I’m sorry, Krimzon Guard), and far-flung, exotic locations. Yes, the game is thematically darker – it does begin with the happy-go-lucky hero of the first game being tortured by Baron Praxis – but it is no more unsuitable for kids than the Sonic Saturday morning cartoon, or even Star Wars itself.
It may be outshone by its more popular predecessor, but Jak II has plenty to offer those who give it a chance. (Mitchell Akhurst)
87 – Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
The Danganronpa games are awash with despair. Each and every facet oozes despair. The antagonist’s goal is to inflict despair. Upon booting up any Danganronpa title, you’ll experience despair too. Fortunately, though, it’s a morbidly pleasant despair, like being informed your limbs have rotted away, but on the bright side, you’re now eligible for the ‘replacing your rancid limbs with tentacles’ body augmentation experiment you’ve always wanted.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, like its predecessor and sequel, features a misfit cast that’s trapped in antagonist Monokuma’s death game. Slowly but surely, murderous intent seeps into the minds of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair’s characters, and corpses start appearing. An investigation and class trial follows each killing, where the culprit is flushed out via a handful of mini-games.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair boasts the strongest cast of the trilogy, alongside the greatest locale (a tropical paradise of different themed islands). The gameplay is nothing special, but the zinger is an all-enveloping evil drenching every inch of atmosphere. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is horror without being horror. The emotional investment one establishes with the lovable characters is relentlessly exploited through Monokuma’s game of death (your feelings will be shot to bits following Chapter 3). The murder methods are outrageously creative at times, with a highlight being Chapter 4’s Grape and Strawberry house mystery. On top of all this, the juxtaposition between Monami’s peace-seeking personality and Monokuma’s sheer villainy is to die for. (Harry Morris)
86 – Crash Bandicoot
The gaming scene of today is virtually overflowing with games that rely on complex and intricate mechanisms in order to make themselves stand out from the competition. New improvements to the engines of games are always being made, and we’re all stoked to see what brand new innovations will grace the games of the future.
However, sometimes you get a little tired of all the cutting edge graphics, the intricate storytelling that relies on an abundance of plot twists and deceit, and the perplexing gameplay itself. Sometimes simplicity can be more than enough to make a game worth playing, as proven through the release of Crash Bandicoot.
Crash Bandicoot is delicately charming when it comes to pretty much every aspect of the game. It’s based on simplicity in its purest form – all you need to know is that you use the D-pad to move around, the X button makes you jump, and finally, the circle button makes you attack. That is all the controls in the game whatsoever. The only objective of the game is to move from the start of the level to the end of the level, abolishing enemies and wreaking havoc as you make your way across the delightfully exotic worlds, animated in the finest quality the original PlayStation had to offer. As you move through the levels, you break boxes, kill turtles and other colorful animals who mean you harm, and collect apples as a system of points.
It’s a joyfully simple concept, and it makes for an amazing experience. This recipe of simplicity managed to propel Crash Bandicoot into the limelight, making it one of the bestselling games on the entire system, and Crash Bandicoot was rendered a mascot-like figure for Sony, reigning uncontested through the late 90’s. The franchise eventually spawned sequels, and games like Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash, all as a result of this wonderful first installment. (Johnny Pedersen)
85 – Crash Team Racing
I can’t recall which title I played first: the original Crash Bandicoot or Crash Team Racing, as I had an enormous stack of demo discs from the original PlayStation magazine, and I frequently cycled through them to find the best games. The disc with Crash Team Racing wore out. Go-kart racing is one of the most unexpected genres to emerge from the days of the Super Nintendo, and it’s one that fizzled relatively quickly (except for Mario Kart, obv.) Bringing that delicious go-kart love to the PlayStation console in late 1999 was the beloved Crash Bandicoot, after three enormously successful platformers.
Being the final Crash Bandicoot developed by Naughty Dog, Crash Team Racing was the perfect end to their Crash development – the title made for some chaotic fun and featured intense multiplayer. Spending an afternoon cussing at my cousin on any of the variety of courses was a time well-remembered. Bonding, even. Crash Team Racing drives dangerously close to mimicking kart racers that came before – Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing – though it differs in one area that, unsurprisingly, really matters: Crash Team Racing felt faster than the aforementioned racers. Speeding through the giant tunnels of the sewer level was both gross and exhilarating and would test your twitch response time.
Simply put, Crash Team Racing was one of the best racers to be released for the original PlayStation, an incredible four-player party game, and, to some, better than the competing kart racers of the day. One day, I hope to revisit those tracks with my daughter. (Tyler Sawyer)
84 – LittleBigPlanet
Play. Create. Share. The mantra behind Media Molecule’s inaugural PlayStation 3 exclusive, LittleBigPlanet, remains representative of one of the most innovative and endearing experiences of the past console generation. Released early in the system’s life cycle, this unique platformer with an emphasis on user-generated-content paved the way for games such as Super Mario Maker and ModNation Racers. Gameplay is kept simple and intuitive, featuring typical platforming mechanics with the addition of the ability to grab certain materials with the R1 button and switch between three planes of depth by pressing up or down on the joystick.
The campaign, entirely comprised of levels made within the game’s “Create” mode, takes up to four players around the world on an exciting adventure to retrieve the stolen creations of the world’s “Curators” from an evil Curator called “the Collector.” Along the way, players will solve puzzles, fight bosses, and most importantly, unlock materials to use in the game’s extensive level editor. Tutorials narrated by the legendary Stephen Fry guide newcomers through the basics of customization and, while LittleBigPlanet boasts some of the most complex editing tools in gaming, it is very accessible. Upon completion, players can upload their creations to the internet to be played and rated by the world.
Since the game’s release, the community has made everything from fully functional calculators to reimagined games and movies, and by filtering levels by rating, name or popularity, Media Molecule showcases the cream of the crop. Tied together by a diverse soundtrack and amazing art direction, LittleBigPlanet has become an iconic Sony exclusive, prompting the game’s protagonist, Sackboy, to appear in both television commercials and Sony’s crossover fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. While the jumping and plane switching systems can be unwieldy at times, these shortcomings can be forgiven for the sheer amount of imaginative content that the community has cultivated. (Matt Bruzzano)
83 – The Last Guardian
Team Ico’s PlayStation exclusive trilogy, will go down in history as some of the greatest works of art Japan has provided this industry. The often forgotten cult classic Ico, the groundbreaking PlayStation 2 masterpiece Shadow of the Colossus, and the long in development final chapter, The Last Guardian. The Last Guardian is perhaps the most curious of the three. Originally slated to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive, it instead endured over 10 years of development hell before finally, and quietly, releasing onto the PlayStation 4.
It didn’t make as great a thud among the masses, as Shadow of the Colossus once did, but for those who played it, it was just as magical. There is a certain charm and whimsy which so few developers seem able to craft. Like a Studio Ghibli film, there is a wholesomeness to The Last Guardian. A mysterious boy and a mysterious creature. They are intertwined by fate, relying on each other to escape the cavernous depths they’ve both become lost in.
You play as the young boy, unable to fight or traverse many of the obstacles ahead. It is only by forming a bond with the creature dubbed Trico, that you can solve the world’s many puzzles. That is The Last Guardian at its core, a puzzle game. However, it is a puzzle game with so much grandeur, so much love, and so much meaning. Some found Trico and his at times erratic behavior cumbersome and annoying, I found the realism of trying to work with a wild animal, simply magical.
There is no other game like The Last Guardian, not just only a Sony platform, but on any platform. That is why it deserves a spot on this list. (Chris Bowring)
82 – PaRappa the Rapper
PaRappa is a paper thin cartoon dog living in a three-dimensional world and he’s in love with a sunflower named Sunny Funny. Also vying for the affections of Ms. Funny is Joe Chin: an obnoxious, charismatic, and egotistical dog with a massive chin. How can PaRappa show Sunny that he’s the right dog for her? Spoilers: it involves a rap battle with moose driving instructor and a kung fu master with an onion for a head.
PaRappa the Rapper is a hell of a lot of fun, and while it was short (it could be completed in one sitting in less than an hour) it was massively influential. It might seem ridiculous to consider today, but when PaRappa the Rapper was released there were no mainstream rhythm games on the market. The success of PaRappa opened the gates for the likes of Amplitude, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, with the latter two games going on to spawn numerous sequels and make millions of dollars. Rock Band never had a level where five people in a queue for the toilet have a rap battle to decide who gets to get in the cubicle next, though, did it? (John Cal McCormick)
81 – Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of Patriots
After the utterly bonkers final third of Metal Gear Solid 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3 providing no answers for the questions left posed at the end of that game, fans had waited a long time for closure on the mysteries of the Metal Gear Solid series. Hideo Kojima went out of his way to try and please them, packing Guns of the Patriots with solutions to practically every unanswered question left hanging in the Metal Gear series, even the ones we didn’t know had been asked. This was a double-edged sword; while the game was a love letter to long-standing fans of the series, it made the game absolutely incomprehensible to people giving the franchise a go for the first time.
Solid Snake, now suffering from accelerated aging thanks to being a clone of the world’s greatest soldier, Big Boss, comes out of retirement for one last job to take down the spirit of his nemesis twin brother, Liquid Snake, who is possessing his other nemesis, Revolver Ocelot. If all that makes no sense to you then you probably need to play the other games in the series before taking this one on, but if reading it made you grin, then the allure of the baffling and brilliant Metal Gear Solid series is obviously within you. Guns of the Patriots might be ridiculous, melodramatic, overblown and bewildering, but it’s also a marvelous send off for one the greatest PlayStation heroes of all time and a dense, rewarding final chapter for longtime fans of the series. (John Cal McCormick)
‘Garden Story’ First Impressions: The Coziest of Adventures
Long-awaited Twitter darling Garden Story just released its first demo. Here’s what we learned after playing through it twice.
Following the unfortunate (but understandable) delay of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, there’s been a distinct lack of chill, aesthetic games to fill the void. Garden Story’s charming environmental art and animation have earned it a dedicated social media following, but it wasn’t until Picogram released a demo just a couple days ago that anyone with a Steam account could actually experience the game for themselves. So, just how fun is this wholesome little RPG?
Setting the Scene
Garden Story’s demo centers around the newly-appointed village guardian Concord (a grape) and their first steps in rebuilding Autumn Town, a community ravaged by a sinister force known as “the Rot.” Chatting with villagers reveals a bit of insight into the situation at hand; it’s soon clear just how much the other townsfolk need the player’s support.
There are several clear parallels to old-school Legend of Zelda titles here, but Garden Story manages to set itself apart rather quickly. For one, this isn’t a solo adventure; the player sets out with Rana (a frog) and Fuji (a tomato) on a friendly quest to be as helpful to the surrounding community as possible. Seeing friends around and watching cute scripted cutscenes between the crew does a great job of instilling a sense of camaraderie and friendship.
In another pleasant twist, everything here is themed around building rather than destroying. Instead of traditional swords and bows, Concord repurposes his dowsing rod and scavenging pick into makeshift weapons. The combat itself calls to mind Stardew Valley; simple, minimal, and clearly not the main focus. There’s a pesky stamina bar that restricts the number of times Concord can attack and how far they can run, frequently forcing players to pause between barrages. In this way, encounters often come off as more of a necessary evil in Concord’s town rehabilitation journey than a main attraction.
Rebuilding a Community
So, how does one go about aiding the town? The method highlighted in the demo was by attending to a quest board with three different types of requests: Threat (combat), Repair (exploration), and Want (gathering). Each is accompanied by a task that plays an integral part in keeping Autumn Town safe and in good working order (e.g. clearing out Rot, finding sewer access so new resources can flow into town, and so on).
Aside from fulfilling requests, there are a few interesting hooks to incentivize hitting every shiny thing you come across regardless. The more different types of items are scavenged, and the more catalogues are filled by being updated with new materials, the more literature becomes available to give little bits of insight into Garden Story’s world and history. Then, in another parallel to Stardew Valley, any leftover resources can be sold in the pursuit of buying tool upgrades.
While the full game will feature four locations to explore and tend to, there was still plenty to do in Autumn Town itself by the end of the demo. Rana mentioned that villagers will post new requests daily, and the demo even featured a mini side quest (called “favors”) that led me to obtain a brand-new tool. Between daily requests, favor fulfillment, and dungeons spread across four different regions, it’s looking like there will be a good bit of content here for those who really want to hang around Garden Story’s world for as long as possible.
Though it remains to be seen just how enticing its complete gameplay loop and accompanying systems are, Picogram’s latest is already delivering on its core appeal: being a cozy, relaxing experience. The color palette is soft, the lighting is moody, and the soundtrack is right up there with the Animal Crossing series as having some of the most mellow, loopable tunes around.
In fact, it’s the sound design in particular that gives Garden Story such an intimate feel. From the sound of a page turning when entering and exiting buildings to the gentle gurgles of a bubbling brook in the forest, it’s clear that composer Grahm Nesbitt poured a ton of love into making this one feel just right. Here’s hoping the full game more than delivers on all the potential shown here.
Garden Story is slated to release in Spring of 2020 and is available to wishlist on Steam.
How Asynchronous Online in ‘Death Stranding’ Brings Players Together
Hideo Kojima’s latest game creates a sense of community by aiding other players on the same perilous journey.
Video games have always been fascinated with the idea of player interactivity as a means of crafting a power fantasy. The player typically goes on a hero’s journey, eventually culminating in them being the one and only savior of the world inside the game. Typically associated with single-player games, MMOs also crafted that same narrative but with the conceit that everyone is going on this journey. Often the acknowledgments of other players are in multiplayer-specific features such as PvP and Raids. Destiny is a great example of a series that takes players on the same journey and makes no promise that the story is different between players by even allowing them to engage in playing story missions together. It all feeds into the larger narrative of Guardians fighting together to save the Light. A game that handles this very similar and perhaps more successfully is Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding.
While lacking any direct player-to-player interaction, Kojima’s latest game is drenched in the conceit that community is crucial to triumph over adversity. You can read many articles about the game’s ideas of community from fellow writers on the site. What hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserves is how revolutionary Death Stranding feels in terms of utilizing asynchronous online to greatly affect the game itself. Games like Dark Souls and other FromSoftware titles have included the ability to leave notes (which Death Stranding also offers) that help (or trick) players as they venture throughout the world on their own. How those notes’ effects are manifested are often on a much smaller scale – helpful at times but often to warn players of an impending way they might die. They don’t have a large impact on the player, only a temporary means of cheating death.
Where Death Stranding becomes something greater in scale is in what it lets other players do to other peoples’ single-player experiences. In the game, you play as Sam Porter Bridges who is tasked with reconnecting America from coast-to-coast. At first, the game thrusts Sam into its narrative, taking the reluctant, isolated character and forcing him to eventually realize the importance of hope and connections in dire times. As Sam starts bringing more and more people onto the Chiral network (which allows instantaneous communication and the transferring of 3D-printable goods), so too does the game open up and reveal its ultimate goal: to bring players together.
This doesn’t mean players will ever talk to other players, and the game very much avoids any real negative actions that can be performed on players. In fact, someone could play the game without ever actively engaging with online features. Instead, the game will passively hand out “likes” to other players whose ladders are used or roads are driven. If one wanted to fight the game’s narrative and instead keep Sam isolated and away from the community that the Chiral network provides, they could definitely do that – no matter how antithetical it would be to do so. Death Stranding even offers an offline mode that would nullify all of that and keep the experience solely on the player’s impact on the world and no one else’s.
Yet there’s a reason the online mode is the default mode. It was near the end of Episode 3 (which also happens to be when the game unloads almost all of its mechanics onto the player) when I finally realized the impact I was having on other people’s games. I had spent an entire day playing the game, but focusing largely on delivering premium deliveries – these are optional challenges that essentially boil down to carrying more cargo, damaging cargo less, or getting to your destination in a set amount of time. Death Stranding doesn’t ever tell you the best way to get somewhere. Instead, it places a wide array of tools in front of you and assuming the Chiral network is set up in an area, it can provide a rough guide on places to avoid or infrastructure already built. However, one of the key pieces of infrastructure missing for my playthrough was roads. My efforts immediately became focused on building a network of roads that made their way all throughout one of the larger areas in the game.
The game doesn’t ever make you build roads. It tells you the option is there but it doesn’t force your hand. Often tools will be introduced, like zip lines and floating carriers, but the game never demands that they’re used. Of course, engaging with those tools will make your life easier. There are easy ways to start building infrastructure in Death Stranding: ropes and ladders can help to scale mountains or plummet depths. Those will remain in the world for other players to use and will even appear on their maps as they hook up areas to the Chiral network. So, someone who plays the game earlier than someone else could lay down ropes and ladders, and depending on when the other person starts playing, they will find those once they have progressed to a point where they are traversing that area. Where the game becomes even grander in its sense of community is the realization that the more players commit to building roads or setting up zip lines, the more other players benefit.
The reality is that ladders and ropes are temporary – they cannot be rebuilt, they can only be replaced. The game’s Timefall – a weather phenomenon that acts as rain but ages anything it comes into contact with – can reset an entire map after a while if there is nothing more substantial placed on the map. So in my game, I decided that whenever I could build a road, I committed to doing so. This could mean going to multiple waystations and collecting materials that have amassed over time from deliveries, or going out in the world and finding these materials like Chiral crystals. At a certain point, I would load up a truck with multiple deliveries that were on or near the roads I had built, as well as with as many metal and ceramic materials I could load into the truck before it reached capacity. As I delivered packages, I’d replace them with more deliveries and more materials from each waystation. Eventually, I’d find myself at a point where a road was not built yet and would then build that road.
Community stands as the strongest component of Death Stranding .
In contrast to a game like Dark Souls, actions in the world such as providing notes on the ground or helping another player with a boss battle is helping them cheat death. The community that is being built is not one that has any lasting effect on the world in the game. No Man’s Sky may let players interact with each other and further their knowledge of the universe within the game, but often that help is relegated to an isolated planet. It’s a more contained impact. Hideo Kojima created a game where players don’t just build infrastructures for themselves, they can intentionally or inadvertently assist other players throughout their games. This leads to players like myself creating strand contracts with other players who have built things I liked in the game. A strand contract is a powerful feature because it means more of that players’ roads or other items built for the world will show up more frequently in my game.
Every Action in Death Stranding Creates Hope
One of the perks of building so many roads is you also get a lot of likes, whether passively given because someone used the road or actively provided by a player because they not only used the road but were appreciative that someone built it. It’s hard not to feel important in someone else’s life when you’ve made their experience less cumbersome because they no longer have to drive over rocky terrain or through enemy territory but instead can take a highway to their destination. What’s better is that more substantial developments like bridges and roads can be repaired by other players and even upgraded. So while I laid the initial roads down, I actually haven’t spent any materials repairing them. Instead, notifications come in and tell me players have repaired roads I’ve built. There’s no real reason to do that unless the infrastructure built was necessary to their journey through the game – making it easier but also providing the same feeling of helping out a larger community.
Community stands as the strongest component of Death Stranding – a game that doesn’t even try to be subtle in its intentions. Traversing Kojima’s version of post-apocalyptic America is harrowing on your own. With just your two feet and a package to deliver when the entire world itself is trying to stop you from doing so, America isn’t just divided – it’s hostile. Where Death Stranding shines brightest is when it offers a helping hand. Players aid one another to achieve the same unified goal: save the country. All of this is under the assumption that the country can be saved, but there is no denying that seeing someone else’s rope hanging off a steep cliff, or a Timefall shelter where it rains Timefall on a constant basis, is one of the most satisfying feelings. In Death Stranding, it isn’t enough to know that you’re making progress, but that everyone is willing to assist others to reach the same end goal. It’s a game where every action creates hope and is built upon the idea that we are at our best when we work together.
‘Woven’ Review: Comfortably Soft and Lumpy
Despite those blurry visuals and stilted gameplay, there’s something endearing about this innocent elephant’s adventure.
With a sincere warmth and fuzziness that conjures up dreamy recollections of 3D games gone by, Alterego Games‘Woven mostly overcomes its blurry visuals and technical jankery to somehow create a pleasant, old-fashioned experience. Those excited by modern gaming probably won’t give this lovable hand-me-down a second look, and perhaps they shouldn’t; extremely simple actions and soothing narration support a fairy tale quality that’s probably best suited to younger players. However, anyone willing to look past the well-worn exterior in search of a relaxing break from stressful button pushing may squeeze more fun out of this familiar stuffed toy than they might originally expect.
Woven tasks players with taking control of a meandering patchwork elephant named Stuffy, and guiding him through a sparsely populated knitted world that seems to have met an untimely demise. Because Stuffy has cotton for brains, he is assisted on this journey by a much smarter metal firefly named Glitch (a reference to his role in this story?), who floats alongside the curious-but-clumsy plush toy and provides hints as to how he can use his various abilities. Together, this odd couple will traverse open plains blanketed with colorful yarn grass, maneuver around impassable felt trees and plants, and hopefully discover the secret of where Stuffy’s clueless kin have all gone.
Along the way, the duo will walk great distances (often without much event), solve the occasional environmental puzzle, and generally just keep on keepin’ on.Woven is mostly straightforward in its campaign, merely about getting from point A to B by whatever means the path requires. Most often this involves finding new blueprints that allow players to change Stuffy’s design from an elephant into a wide variety of other animal shapes, each with a set of abilities that come with a new set of arms, legs, and a head. For instance, while the stocky (and adorable) bear can push plush boulders and perform a mighty stomp, the goat and frog can both use their legs to hop, while the kitty cat is able to push buttons on rusted consoles that activate dormant machinery.
However, these abilities are usually only able to activate when context-sensitive prompts from Glitch appear, so don’t expect some sort of platforming freedom. Woven handles a bit clumsily in that regard and others; strolling is definitely the order of the day, as long as Stuffy doesn’t get hung up on the geometry.
But these actions do help provide variety; a tropical bird of some sort (toucan, maybe?) can sing certain notes, while a pelican-thing can fly (sort of) over land and shallow water with great speed. And so, it often becomes necessary in Woven to alter Stuffy’s look with a total reweave. These designs can be applied at various sewing machine-like stations scattered about, which go a step further than just swapping Stuffy the deer for Stuffy the ape. Each blueprint is comprised of five parts, allowing for players to create a Frankenstein Stuffy made up of all the best abilities the player has on hand (or cushioned paw). By mixing certain sets, Stuffy will soon be able to scale mountainside crags, cross piranha-filled rivers, and pick up industrial cogs without the need to make a pit stop and bust out new needle and thread.
Some truly hilarious (or horrifying, depending on your sensibilities) aberrations can be created; seeing Stuffy hobble on hooves as he flaps a wing on one side and swings a muscular gorilla arm on the other, all with the head of a squirrel, is freakishly entertaining. In addition, for those who like to wander off the beaten path, there are a plethora of knitting patterns to discover, tucked away in both obvious and devious locations (and denizens). These cosmetic enhancements can also be applied at the sewing stations, essentially giving players seemingly endless amounts of customization. And these aesthetic changes even get in on the puzzle act every once in a while, especially when a pesky cobra shows up.
But outside the odd ‘connect the power line’ or ‘raise and lower platforms’ objectives, Woven doesn’t throw much at players that even young children shouldn’t be able to handle — and that seems to be the aim. Stuffy’s adventure lives or dies on its wholesome and serene vibe, which players either buy into or they don’t. There’s no combat here, very little to actually do outside hunting down those patterns, illuminating some painted caves, and activating some of Glitch’s ‘memories’ contained by machines hidden in the soft folds. Ongoing narration is pleasant to the ears, often conveying old-fashioned morals and cutesy jokes, but there’s no more story than in a classic fable.
And make no mistake — though the world is certainly bright and cheerful, it’s also quite fuzzy around the edges. The tactile nature of the cloth textures is lessened greatly by the low definition (at least on the Switch version), eliciting memories of the Wii-era. An increased crispness would have really made the world of Woven pop off the screen, perhaps luring in a larger audience who have become accustomed to such. There is still plenty of charm, but it feels like a missed chance at that true magical feeling the game seems to be shooting for.
Other stumbles come when certain worlds try to open up a bit more, which might lead a younger audience to get frustrated by the lack of direction (especially when they keep getting hung up on that geometry!); Woven definitely works better when it’s casually guiding players along, letting gamers of all ages envelop themselves in the easygoing atmosphere instead of requiring tedious backtracking. There’s just something nice about sitting back and relaxing to hummable music, watching the roly-poly amble of a stuffed kangaroo.
Woven will not be for everyone; those who play for challenge or eye candy won’t find either here. And yet, despite those blurry visuals and stilted gameplay, there’s something endearing about this innocent elephant’s adventure. Woven certainly has its share of lumpiness, but somehow remains cozy regardless.
‘Woven’ is available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch (Reviewed on Switch).
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