When I first purchased the PSP in 2007, I had many games to look forward to playing. Among them, the Final Fantasy Tactics remake called War of the Lions and Japan Studios' excellent Jeanne d'Arc. The platform has seen some remarkable titles since then, but it has slowly fallen into a decline while its Nintendo counterpart shows no sign of weakening any time soon, especially with the upcoming release of the 3DS.
Needless to say, it's been a slow year for the Sony PSP, but the platform hasn't been without a few notable hits. Without further ado, here are the PSP's 10 best games in 2010.
#10 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 Portable is an enhanced remake of the original Persona 3 (originally released on the PS2) which carries the additions in Persona 3 FES as well as a brand new option to play a female protagonist rather than the original game’s main character. The addition of the new player character changes many aspects of the game’s narrative, with some major differences in dialogue, events and alterations to the game’s Social Link stories. Additionally, Persona 3 Portable features two new difficulty levels to ramp up the challenge for veterans of the series.
Also revised is the game’s combat system, which has been remade with the improvements of Persona 4, offering direct control over every character as an alternative to the AI, among other things. Persona 3 Portable is without a doubt the best version of an already excellent game.
#9 God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Ghost of Sparta is a chapter in the long-running God of War series that explores the mortal origins of the series’ protagonist, Kratos. Similar to previous installments in the series, the game stands as the very embodiment of third-person action adventure with all the violence and gore that one would expect. New additions include the “Blades of Athena” and the “Arms of Sparta” (a spear and shield)
As always, the game is a challenge to play with its variety of difficulty modes. While a step back from God of War 3 on the PS3, Ghost of Sparta manages to hold its own against every other title in the genre.
#8 Ys Seven
Ys Seven is a criminally underrated action RPG that very rightfully deserves a spot on this year’s GOTY list. The story of Ys Seven centers around Adol the Red, an adventurer who travels to the capital of Altago in search of quests. While exploring the town, he lands themselves in prison after coming to the defense of two sisters who were harassed by the local Dragoons. Fortunately, his reputation saves them from incarceration as the king requests that they investigate strange earthquakes that have been happening throughout the region. They soon discover that ancient dragons are awakening from their slumber and must figure out what to do next.
To say that it’s not bad for at least thirty hours of gameplay would be an understatement.
#7 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Designed as the fifth Metal Gear Solid title on the PSP platform, Peace Walker is the first ever title on the portable platform to be personally directed by Hideo Kojima.
The year is 1974, and the action takes place in Central America, where Naked Snake (now known as Big Boss) runs a mercenary unit using the resources he acquired at the end of Portable Ops’ events four years before. A mysterious and technologically advanced organization called the Peace Sentinels threatens the stability of the region. Due to Costa Rica’s constitution to prevent the creation of a land army, the assistance of Naked Snake and his crew are requested.
The gameplay follows the tried and true mechanics of the main Metal Gear Solid franchise with some minor changes, and the controls can be switched between that of Portable Ops, Guns of the Patriots and Monster Hunter based on the player’s personal preferences.
Peace Walker is without a doubt a solid addition to the MGS franchise that’ll appeal to fans of the series both new and old.
LittleBigPlanet for the PSP is the portable version of the original PS3 title of the same name. Developed as a sequel to the original, LBP PSP features the same puzzle-and-platform based gameplay with a lot of user generated content.
Unlike the original title, LBP for the PSP does not feature a multiplayer mode but makes up for it with an extensive single-player story mode that centers around the adventures of Sackboy as he decides to take a holiday walkabout around the globe, visiting all sorts of strange and interesting places. Sackboy must surmount countless obstacles and perform tasks for various characters in the game, visiting all sorts of places while he’s at it.
#5 Half-Minute Hero
Half-Minute Hero is an incredibly original take on the RPG genre. Originally released as a downloadable freeware game called "30-Second Hero" on the PC, the game’s concept was quickly adopted by a producer for a PSP title. The title was designed to be a unique adaptation of the traditional, lengthy JRPG formula by breaking it down into short 30 second intervals. As you may haven noticed, the game’s 8-bit graphics are reminiscent of old-school RPGs like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.
Half-Minute Hero offers six different game modes, three of which can only be unlocked after you complete the first three. In the regular mode called Hero 30 Mode, the player is tasked with defeating an enemy boss within 30 seconds. The hero follows a track that allows him or her to gain experience points and items through battles against enemies and enter towns (where time is paused) to find allies, talk to residents and rest up. The boss can be slain when the hero is sufficiently powerful.
Other modes include Evil Lord 30 Mode, where the player controls an evil lord to summon monsters to do his or her bidding to accomplish various tasks within the overworld.
#4 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd is the latest addition to the Monster Hunter franchise on the PSP. Released just days ago, MHP3 is already being regarded as one of the best games on the platform in Japan. Not due in the US and Europe for at least a few months, MHP3 appears to be everything fans were expecting, and then some.
In this version of the game, the player is accompanied by two non-player characters called Felynes who assist the player in battle. Also new is the ability to customize your companions’ equipment which changes their physical appearance and properties in the same way that it would affect the protagonist. All the locations in Monster Hunter Tri are available in this version of the game, along with a slew of new monsters and items.
#3 God Eater
God Eater has been in the hands of Japanese players for close to a year now, receiving a near-perfect score from Famitsu and critical acclaim from the Japanese gaming press.
Featuring gameplay that’s much like the Monster Hunter series, God Eater diverges from the typical grind of slaying monsters by possessing a large storyline encompassing dozens of hours, replete with voice acting and cutscenes. The player must go up against a mysterious creature (as seen on the cover art) called the Aragami in a quest to claim the title of God Eater. Quests can be done alone or cooperatively on wireless ad-hoc mode with other owners of the game.
#2 Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Serving as the sixth installment in the joint venture series between Square Enix and Disney, Birth by Sleep centers around the adventures of three individual characters–Terra, Aqua and Ventus, whose perspectives encompass three parts of the game’s storyline. The game is referred to as “Episode Zero” by its creator Tetsuya Nomura, who says that the story is as important to the canon as both the first and second games, and is also comparable in length.
The gameplay mechanics are a cross between the old Ice-T video game for the PC called Sanity: Aiken’s Artifact with its deck-based skill system and Kingdom Hearts’ combat. I just thought I’d thrown in the reference in case anyone ever played it.
#1 Valkyria Chronicles II
Valkyria Chronicles II is the direct sequel to Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3. Taking place in the Gallian Royal Military Academy two years after the events of the first game, VC2’s story focuses on a military cadet school as its students seek to prevent a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Darcsens by an organization of national socialists much akin to the Nazis. Exhausted by the battle against the Empire, Gallia’s government deploys cadets of the military academy to defeat the rebels leading the insurrection.
The gameplay is largely the same as the turn-based system used in Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3, with a split between overhead Command Mode and third-person Action Mode.
Though the setting is somewhat mature, the storyline juggles between the (watered down) realities of war with the (overly dramatic) responsibilities of academy life. It’s nothing to write home about, but the gameplay more than makes up for it.