The PlayStation Portable has experienced a tough year in terms of sales. Despite the recent debut of the PSP 3000, which Sony hoped would attract Christmas shoppers, the latest statistics from the NPD Group (421,000 units sold last month, compared to its competitor, the Nintendo DS, with 1.57 million units) suggests that gamers aren’t currently attracted by its high price point and mediocre games library.
Indeed, this week, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) boss, David Reeves, has dismissed plans that a PSP 2 in the works, but instead has signalled the company’s intention to concentrate on improving the current generation model and its games. Although developers have thus far been focused on the higher-performing platforms to showcase their games, Reeves is confident that the great games for PSP are coming our way.
Whilst we did initially struggle to come up with a definitive top 10 list of PSP games for 2008 we’re now happy with our final verdict, but we also live in hope that Reeves & Co will deliver on their promise for 2009 and beyond and make our job a little easier, as well as a little more enjoyable in the process.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, let’s take a look at 10 of the best games for the PSP this year.
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Space Invaders Extreme
Released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Space Invaders, this dazzling revamped version of the classic arcade game is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest shooters of all time.
It’s the most in-depth Space Invaders game to date, boasting a distinguished scoring system and great new features, plus a wide range of new aliens that all behave in unique and entertaining ways. With its pumping electronic soundtrack that compliments the fast-paced gameplay perfectly, and colorful and visually stimulating makeover, Space Invaders Extreme is one of best arcade upgrades to have ever been produced.
This unique and stylish, cutesy and visually outstanding second installment of the LocoRoco platform series boasts the same madcap humor as the original and has enough new additions to make it a worthwhile upgrade, including tons of unlockables, new stages and abilities and hidden areas to explore.
Bright, refreshing and compulsive, LocoRoco 2’s unique characters and excellent level design are a breath of fresh air.
With its wide range of speedy futuristic vehicles all equipped with the latest in high-tech weaponry, WipEout Pulse is a must-buy for fans of the chaotic racing series.
Its stunning visual and graphic design and rousing electronic music, in addition to the wealth of new tracks and game modes, make it an enjoyable and addictive ride through some brilliantly designed levels.
WipEout Pulse is without doubt the finest game in the WipEout series to date and one of the best PSP racing titles out there.
God of War Chains of Olympus
The hack and slash action game had a lot to live up to, but it remarkably managed to surpass expectations. Featuring epic set pieces and brutal and hard-hitting combos that look absolutely stunning alongside some of the great finishing moves and brilliant boss battles, Chains of Olympus is a polished and expertly produced title that pushes the PSP hardware to its limits.
With challenging puzzles and gripping gameplay, God of War Chains of Olympus is quite simply one of the best games to have ever graced the handheld.
Secret Agent Clank
Whilst the PSP-exclusive spin-off of the popular Ratchet and Clank series doesn’t quite live up to its big name billing, its unmistakable style and gameplay variety offers plenty of entertainment.
With a focus on action and with a nice range of weapons and gadgets on offer, including the Blowtorch Briefcase and Thunderstorm Umbrella, it’s a decent adaptation of the great series and an enjoyable title.
This port of the popular Ninja-action flash game offers simple yet brilliantly realized game mechanics that have instant pick up and play appeal.
Fluid animation, coupled with fast action and amazing acrobatics from the small black ninja works well with some challenging puzzles and endless supply of user-generated content.
With multiplayer thrown in as well, N+ offers vast replay value and a whole lot of fun to boot.
Midnight Club LA Remix
Whilst LA Remix offers little to appeal to casual race fans, hardcore players will enjoy its RPG-style leveling system and the challenge provided from some unforgiving A.I.
Optimized for portable gameplay, LA Remix offers some decent customization options and tons of cars on its roster, while boasting exceptional presentation and a nice variety of game modes.
The lightening quick speed of the cars around the track can make navigation tricky, but thanks to the wealth of game modes and comprehensive car choice, Midnight Club LA Remix is one of the finest racers on the handheld.
FIFA Soccer 09
As with its console version, EA has stepped up its game again this year and provided hand-held gamers with the best version of the soccer title to date. Smooth animations, great A.I. and a solid control scheme that allows you to pull off some brilliant skill moves are just a few of the highlights.
With some great game modes, including the brilliant Be A Pro feature, FIFA 09 is one of the greatest sport’s games on PSP this year.
The unique and distinctive gameplay of Patapon, which mixes strategy and rhythm-based gameplay with RPG elements, is its biggest draw as you march along to the drumbeats of the Patapon tribe.
The vibrant cartoon visuals and wide range of mission types, including escort and hunting objectives, as well as the wildly entertaining boss battles, make Patapon an entertaining and addictive adventure that has vast replay value.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
The blockbuster RPG franchise offers plenty of nostalgia for fans of the series and captures the Final Fantasy spirit in an excellent adventure that boasts a great new battle system, hundreds of missions to get stuck into and impeccable presentation and storyline.
If you’re a fan of RPGs, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is as good a reason as any to pick up a PSP.
Although we didn’t have dozens of brilliant games to choose from when narrowing down our list to the 10 best PSP titles of 2008, we do feel that the ones we have chosen prove that the PSP has produced some decent games in 2008. Whilst God of War: Chains of Olympus, WipEout Pulse and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII are three of the outstanding titles, there’s also been some other surprises this year which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed, including the excellent Patapon and N+. With 2009 promising the likes of Resistance Retribution and Phantasy Star Portable, we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed that next year will bring bigger and better things for the handheld and that developers will devote more of their time to the PSP.