Best Hidden Gems on the PSP Ranked In April 2021 – Among the 600+ games released for the PlayStation Portable, there are a handful of titles we would like to spotlight as hidden gems. These games may not have appealed to the mainstream market upon release, but found a cult following over the years.
Our ranked picks for the Best Hidden Gems on the PSP are selected based on our own personal judgement. Many of these titles are in niche genres and may only appeal to you if you are fans of that style of game. If you are looking for the Best PSP Games Of All Time, then pop on over to our feature here. For some extra reading, you can also catch our best PS3 games of all-time, best PS5 exclusives and PS5 complete guide features too. Finally, you might also want to look at our best PS5 indie games feature as well.
Let us know which games you have fond memories of in the comments section below. If there is a title which you feel missed the list, you can comment below or let us know over on the forums. Be sure to stay tuned, as we’ll be doing a follow-up feature of the Best Homebrews for the PSP.
Best Hidden Gems On The PSP Ranked In April 2021
Best Hidden Gems On The PSP In April 2021:
- Metal Slug XX
- Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
- The 3rd Birthday
- Hammerin’ Hero
- Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower
- Knights in the Nightmare
- Me & My Katamari
- Dead Head Fred
- Brave Story: New Traveler
- Crimson Gem Saga
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
- Ys Seven
- Metal Gear Acid 2
- Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
- Tales of Eternia / Tales of Destiny II
- Valkyria Chronicles II
- Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
- Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
- Jeanne d’Arc
20. Metal Slug XX
Metal Slug XX is an enhanced port of Metal Slug 7, the final title in the Metal Slug series from SNK. This run and gun shooter is best known for it’s beautifully hand-drawn sprites and animation. The campaign consists of only seven levels, but they’re meant for multiple playthroughs with 70 mission-based trials via the Combat School.
The PSP version of Metal Slug XX includes additional content and co-op multiplayer. A worthy addition to any collection, especially for fans of the series.
19. Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
Tenchu: Shadow Assassins may have gotten some shade on the Wii for the lousy motion controls, but the PSP version didn’t have any of that. This was one of three Tenchu games to grace the PSP (if you include imports) and definitely the best of them. Even when compared to other ninja stealth games like Shinobido: Tales of the Ninja, Shadow Assassins stands way above the rest.
The game includes 10 main missions and 50 side missions known as Assignments. In addition, the PSP version includes exclusive unlockable costumes for Rikimaru and Ayame. While the game lacks ragdolls physics and uses fog effects to meet the limitations of the handheld, the gameplay is solid. If you’re looking for a stealth game, Tenchu: Shadow Assassins has you covered.
18. The 3rd Birthday
The 3rd Birthday is the third instalment in the Parasite Eve series, releasing ten years after Parasite Eve 2. The game was meant to reintroduce gamers to the main protagonist Aya Brea in hopes of possibly rebooting the franchise.
The 3rd Birthday is a third person shooter that incorporates some RPG elements. One of the new gameplay mechanics is a system called Overdrive, in which you possess allied soldiers and give them commands. While much of the game is action focused, there is some strategy in involved in how you control your NPC allies, telling them to take cover, provide support fire, and attack enemies.
17. Hammerin’ Hero
Hammerin’ Hero is the eighth entry in the Hammerin’ Harry series. You assume the role of Gen-san, wielder of the hammer of justice as you take on greedy corporate crooks in a colorful action-packed platformer.
Fight through 12 levels and unlock a variety of jobs, including sushi chef, DJ, baseball player, and diver, each providing different costumes and attacks. There are tons of collectables and two additional characters to unlock. Furthermore, Hammerin’ Hero supports Ad Hoc multiplayer, allowing you and a friend to play together and compete for the best score on each level.
16. Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower
Looking for a stylish fighter on PSP? Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower is a beautifully animated 2D fighter from Capcom. It includes all the characters, music, and play styles from previous Darkstalker titles, although all the levels and endings are from Darkstalkers 3. Select from 18 unique fighters and test your skills across several modes. There is your traditional Arcade mode, Network (Ad Hoc multiplayer one on one battles), and Chaos Tower (basically a challenge mode).
Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower is an essential 2D fighter for any collection.
15. Knights in the Nightmare
Knights in the Nightmare is a hybrid game that mixes elements of a top/down shooters with tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics. It’s the fourth episode in the Dept. Heaven series from Sting Entertainment.
You assume the role of a wisp who is the disembodied soul of a King. You team up with an armor clad Valkyrie named Maria and unveil events of the present through flashbacks of fallen soldiers you recruit along your journey.
The combat system is in real-time and you use your wisp to move around the battlefield dodging attacks and giving orders to allied units. You can equip swords, axes, and magical wands on your allied units, which can be used to generate Skill Attacks.
In addition, you can merge items, tweak character skills and even merge two characters into one using the Transoul system. One soul will disappear and the recipient will gain levels and a higher level cap. There is strategy to merging your characters though, as stats are dependent on the donor’s level, loyalty, and relationship.
14. Me & My Katamari
Me & My Katamari brings the familiar Katamari flare to the PlayStation Portable. As the third entry to the series, you are taken to all new environment on a tropical island known as the Sunflower Continent.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much. Your goal is to roll up objects from around the game world to help form new islands for animals in need of a home. The Prince returns as the main character, as well as new additional cousins created for the PSP version. Plus, you can customize their look with items for their head, face, and body.
You can play solo or battle up to three of your friends through Ad Hoc, competing to roll up as many objects as possible. If you’re a fan of the Katamari series, Me & My Katamari would make for an excellent addition to your collection.
13. Dead Head Fred
Dead Head Fred is a comedic action-adventure game developed by Vicious Cycle Software. You play as private investigator named Fred Neuman. After being butchered by the mob, you are brought back to life through a bizarre scientific experiment as a brain and pair of eyeballs in a jar. With no real recollection of what happened, you start a vengeful mission to solve the mystery behind your murder.
The game features a revolutionary camera system for the time and the gameplay mechanics are amusing as you can swap between collected heads to use different abilities. While dialogue and gameplay elements are comedic, the art style resembles a dark tone with film noir-esque aesthetics. Dead Head Fred is definitely different, which is why it makes our Hidden Gems list.
12. Brave Story: New Traveler
Brave Story: New Traveler is an RPG game loosely based on the Miyuki Miyabe novel and animated film. The story follows Tatsuya, who is on an adventure in an unknown land, tasked with finding special gems for the Traveler’s Sword. This magical sword wields the power to return him to him home world and heal his best friends mysterious illness.
The developers at Game Republic did an excellent job at harnessing all the power from the PSP to provide colorful 3D visuals. The battle system is your traditional turn-based RPG combat that is easy for beginners to pick up and play, but also has depth for more seasoned players.
In addition, Brave Story: New Traveler features a new game+ mode in the form of the Epilogue. Upon completing the game, you can continue the game from the last save point and put any guest characters from the roster into your party at any time. At this point you can also complete an additional part of the game known as The Earthrift.
11. Crimson Gem Saga
Another great RPG to grace the PSP is Crimson Gem Saga from IronNos Corp & Atlus. The game is perfect for those with 16-bit nostalgia, featuring charming 2D hand drawn visuals and a classic fantasy story.
Crimson Gem Saga features a weapon and skill customization system, old-school turn-based combat and the ability to combine attacks among your party members. You can attack, perform special abilities, defend or use items. The gameplay is pretty straightforward and easy for pick up and play. The only downfall might be the game’s difficulty as characters not in the active party won’t earn experience in battles, so there is a lot of grinding involved.
Despite minor shortcomings, Crimson Gem Saga is gorgeous and really pushes the PSP to its limits. Detailed character sprites, hand-painted backgrounds, engrossing cinematics and solid gameplay makes this a perfect entry in our Hidden Gems list.
10. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is the sixth game in the Legend of Heroes franchise, but became so popular that it spawned its own trilogy known as the Trails series. The game starts ten years after a major war, in which you follow a couple of characters on their journey to become Bracers, keepers of the peace and protectors of civilians.
Trails in the Sky is a turn-based role-playing game from Nihon Falcom. Instead of random battle instances, enemies are visible on the map and can be engaged when ready. The combat takes place on a grid and turn timers are linked to an AT Bar tracker. There are eight playable characters, each with their own set of weapons and magic-based attacks.
The game includes highly detailed 3D worlds, interesting characters, a great original soundtrack and over 50 hours of gameplay, with numerous optional side quests. This is a good place to start if you’re interested in getting into the Trails series, or the Legend of Heroes franchise as a whole.
9. Ys SEVEN
Yet another game from Nihon Falcom. Ys Seven is you guessed it, the seventh entry in the expansive Ys series. This is the first Ys title to featured fully 3D graphics and a party system. The story follows the adventure of Adol who is on a quest to discover what is causing mysterious earthquakes in the realm, which eventually leads to preventing a great evil from taking dominion.
You can have up to three characters in a party, but control only one of the during battle. The other two are AI controlled, but you can setup how they attack. Aside from some traditional RPG elements, the combat system relies on how you choose to attack. You can choose between slashing weapons, striking weapons, piercing weapons and magic attacks. Depending on what enemy type you are facing, you’ll want to properly deploy to correct attacks to do the most damage. Adol can equip swords which can do any of the attack types, but other party members are restricted to only specific weapons for certain types of attack.
There was an HD port of Ys Seven to the PC in 2017 which upscaled the resolution to 1080p at 60fps. It’s probably the best way to enjoy this game, but otherwise, the PSP version is still a gem.
8. Metal Gear Acid 2
Metal Gear Acid 2 is a tactical turn-based strategy game developed by Kojima Productions. Like it’s predecessor, the gameplay consists of the use of collectible cards to perform actions like movement, attacks and more. These cards are obtained in-game, through a card shop, or via game completion. There are a total of 565 cards, which is more than double the number seen in the first entry. The game uses cel-shaded graphic engine, dropping the traditional dark toned visuals of previous Metal Gear titles for a more colorful and vibrant aesthetic.
There is a new “Arena” single-player mode that allows you to battle bosses from previous games, such as Revolver Ocelot and Liquid Snake. Additionally, there are extra missions such as Sneaking and Elimination modes and you can battle other players wireless over Ad Hoc.
For collectors out there, there is a PSP add-on for Metal Gear Acid 2 called the Solid Eye, which allows for stereoscopic images. However, it’s probably hard to come by these days.
7. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Looking for a Castlevania title to play on your PlayStation Portable? Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles is definitive edition, hands down. It’s packed with both a 2.5D graphical remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood as well as a remastered port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The game includes new obstacles, playable characters, fully voiced dialogue in both English and Japanese, and the ability to play through Boss Rush mode cooperatively with a friend over Ad Hoc. Konami pulled out all the stops with this compilation and it’s definitely worth adding to your collection.
6. Tales of Eternia / Tales of Destiny II
Tales of Eternia, otherwise known as Tales of Destiny II in North America (not to be confused with Tales of Destiny 2 that released on the PS2), is a real-time action RPG that takes place across two massive worlds.
The story follows Reid Hershel and Meredy on an adventure to prevent the Grand Fall. Each of the two characters are from separate planets which are held in close proximity, but protected by the Orbus Barrier. However, the barrier is showing signs of weakening and possible collapse, which may cause their two planets to collide. Thus, you are set out on a quest to find the cause of what’s happening and save the two worlds.
The game includes a huge cast of characters, each with distinct personalities and abilities. You can customize your characters with hundreds of different items, enchanted weapons and spells. Tales of Eternia is an excellent anime style RPG for the PSP with over 60 hours of gameplay to keep you busy.
Crush is a unique title that provides hours of entertainment through complex and challenging puzzles and platforming. You assume the role of an insomniac named Danny who uses an experimental hypnosis device to explore his mind and fix unresolved issues from his past before he loses his sanity.
The game uses a “Crush” mechanic to change between 2D and 3D environments. Depending on the obstacle or puzzle, you will have to switch between dimensional viewpoints to solve it or get to unattainable areas.
Crush is an addictive game thanks to it’s solid gameplay mechanics and mind-bending puzzles.
4. Valkyria Chronicles II
Valkyria Chronicles II is a tactical role-playing game developed by Sega for the PSP and serves as a sequel to Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3. The story takes place two years after the events of the first game, revolving around a civil war within the small nation of Gallia. You follow a young man named Avan, who enlists in the Landseal Military Academy after the death of his older brother.
The gameplay is turn-based in a sense, involving using Command Points to control your troops on the battlefield and perform actions until their Action Points depleted. Upon ending your turn, the enemy will then take action. This goes back and forth until the battle’s victory conditions are met or you are defeated. The action is split between an overhead Command Mode and a third-person Action mode.
The game features several soldier classes to use on the battlefield including; Scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, Engineers and Armored Tech. There is also a lot of variety in how you can customize your weapons, tanks and characters.
Valkyria Chronicles II allows you to explore through 200+ missions and if that’s not enough, you can take things online via Ad Hoc multiplayer. Join in 2-4 player modes including co-op and a versus mode.
3. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is a rerelease of the classic PS2 game Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. While most of the tactical RPG gameplay elements remain the same, there are a few new additions including multiplayer via Ad Hoc.
The game centers around the story of a young demon prince Laharl. Upon awakening from a two-year slumber thanks to a failed assassination attempt, Laharl discovers that his father, King of the Netherworld, has died, leaving him next in line for the throne. However, with the seat of the throne now empty, other demons have plans of their own to take power.
Over the course of 14 chapters, you will journey across the Netherworld, recruiting new members for your party and seek to claim the title of Overlord for yourself. One of the additions to the PSP version of the game is the optional Etna Mode, which is a new story that acts as an alternate universe in which Etna killed Laharl at the beginning of the game.
The combat takes place in a grid-based environment, with the ability to deploy up to 10 characters on the field of battle. The combat takes place in phases with you being able to move and perform actions such as attacks, specials, lift/throw, and use items. Items in Disgaea are also unique in that you can level them up for improved stat bonuses.
Overall, if you enjoy a good strategy RPG game reminiscent of popular titles like Final Fantasy Tactics or have enjoyed other games from the Disgaea franchise, then Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is for you.
2. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a follow up to Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen that released back in 1993 on the SNES, Sega Saturn, and PS1. Yet, another tactical RPG on the list, but definitely one of the best.
Developed by Quest & Square Enix, the game features some familiar isometric turn-based concepts, but what separates it from others on the list is how turns are calculated. Instead of phases where you move your characters and perform actions, and then the enemy moves and performs actions, turns are determined by the speed of individual characters.
The main protagonist is named Denam who’s story involves a tale of revenge on the Dark Knights Loslorien of the Holy Lodis Empire. Depending on choices you make throughout the game can have major consequences on what happens to individual characters and endings you will see. There is a lot of lore and grim politics between nations that resemble something out of a George R. R. Martin novel.
The visuals evoke the style of old school 16-bit RPGs. While Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together may not be the most graphically stunning game, the gameplay, customization, and story are solid and will provide hours of enjoyment.
1. Jeanne d’Arc
I know, I know…another RPG on the Hidden Gems list. However, what developer Level-5 did with Jeanne d’Arc on the PSP surpasses everything on this list. It’s tactical role-playing perfected. The game has an engrossing story borrowing from the real history of Joan of Arc, colorful graphics, impressive production values and strong gameplay mechanics. It probably should have made our Best PSP Games of All Time list.
You assume the role of Jeanne during the English occupation of France in the course of the Hundred Years’ War. There are definitely some fictional elements to the game that aren’t based on historical fact, like the involvement of demons possessing King Henry VI to the forging of powerful magical amulets, but the general gist is Jeanne is guided by a voice from the heaven to save her country from the English.
The style of combat is turn-based. Prior to battle, players can customize their characters equipment, spells, and choose which seven party members to bring into battle. There are up to 14 characters that can join your party and over 150 different skills and abilities. Battles are won by completing required victory conditions, like killing all enemies or getting all party members to specified areas on the map.
Jeanne d’Arc is a wonderful strategic RPG that shouldn’t be missed.