Last Updated on October 6, 2023
Sony’s original Playstation has a legacy that few consoles can ever hope to match. So many phenomenal franchises started on the humble gray box still exist. The likes of Tomb Raider and Resident Evil are still going strong to this day, but for now, I’m interested in the good games that slipped under the radar. There are plenty of dreadful games on the PlayStation, but a few titles fit nicely in that ‘diamond in the rough’ category.
These games are in no particular order, but I’ve tried to cover a few genres. The hardest part about making this list is limiting it to just 10 PlayStation games!
Known as Powerslave elsewhere, it’s easy to write Exhumed off as a Doom clone with an Egyptian lick of paint. In reality, there are Doom-esque battles against Anubis Warriors and Mummies galore, but there’s puzzles to solve and artifacts that change how you approach obstacles.
Exhumed is special because it utilizes Metroidvania-style progression long before the term existed. The unique blend of furious firefights and puzzles is something I keep coming back to year after year. This is an obscure PS1 game, but it also has a modern remaster named Powerslave Exhumed. I can’t recommend it enough if you’ve not played before.
In Overboard, you command a pirate ship. On your adventure, you’ll go stern to stern with other boats, environmental hazards, and evil parrots…
Overboard is very much a fantasy PlayStation game and is all the more charming because of it. Weapons are creative, and I love how your ship’s health is tied to your crew mates. If they ever jump overboard, they scream for help from the water until you rescue them. If they annoy you, you can leave them out of spite, but I would advise against it as they restore your health.
This title is obnoxiously challenging, so don’t let the pretty visuals lull you into a false sense of security.
Kurushi is a unique puzzle game where you must meticulously destroy blocks slowly rolling toward you in an eerie pitch-black void you can’t escape.
Colored blocks have different effects, and it takes careful planning to carve a safe path through before they reach you. Once you get the hang of it, Kurushi is furiously addictive.
Kurushi also goes by the name IQ: Intelligent Qube in North America. If you ask me, Kurushi sounds better as it sort of implies getting crushed, but regardless of what it’s called, this is a brilliant puzzler.
4. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
Klonoa is a 2.5D platformer, likely Namco’s attempt at a company mascot. They failed in the latter, but Klonoa is a fantastic platformer with unique bosses, a gorgeous soundtrack, and light puzzle-solving.
Klonoa has gained a little more notoriety as of late, as the original game has been spruced up as part of the recent Klonoa: Phantasy Reverie collection. Still, the title holds up remarkably well and is worth playing if you enjoy the genre. If you’re interested in the collection, you can also play Klonoa 2, originally released on the PS2.
5. Hogs of War
While the visuals have aged poorly, Hogs of War by Gremlin Interactive is a courageous attempt at a ‘Worms’-style game. The big difference is this one is 3D.
In 2D, ‘skill’ weapons like the grenade are notoriously hard to aim, and the 3rd dimension in Hogs of War makes it even harder. Still, when you land those perfect shots, it’s hard not to be proud of yourself, even if the AI makes it look easy sometimes.
The late Rik Mayall also provides much of the voice acting, and as ever his contribution to the game is a real treat.
6. No One Can Stop Mr Domino
I’ve never played another game like No One Can Stop Mr Domino, and probably never will.
Each level in this pseudo-puzzler is a small scene, with Mr. Domino running around on a loop. Your goal is to set rows of dominoes up in front of switches around the map. On your next go-round, you trigger those switches to score points.
Each button triggers an event, like blowing up a bomb in an innocent lady’s face or spoiling a game of pool. Why? It’s best not to ask these questions. Mr. Domino may be cute, but he’s a menace!
7. Team Buddies
Some of my favorite co-op experiences on the PS1 are with Team Buddies, a game I rarely see talked about.
In Team Buddies, you play as potty-mouthed beans with guns. There are cubes scattered across each battlefield, and you can use them to build anything from guns and vehicles to AI teammates! Combat is simple, but there’s plenty of strategy to employ with a teammate.
Team Buddies even had multi-tap support for 4-player split screen goodness. Combat is a bit of a mess sometimes, but the game has plenty of dumb humor, downright vulgar language, and the pros far outweigh the cons.
8. Submarine Commander
Outside the odd PC title, submarines are a vehicle I rarely see in video games. Submarine Commander is an admirable crack at the genre published by JVC of all companies.
Combat is simple enough, and shooting is engaging as each of your four torpedo tubes is mapped to a different shoulder button.
The story isn’t half bad either, and is told through text on a shipyard. At the shipyard, you can upgrade your Sub, buy new weapons, and chat with the workers. Submarine Commander may not be the prettiest game, but it’s unique and strangely addictive once you figure out the mechanics.
9. Circuit Breakers
I’m not sure how unknown this title is, but I never see anyone talk about it, so I’ve got to include it.
When you think of PS1 party racers, Micro Machines V3 springs to mind as it sets a high bar for what Codemasters called ‘Top Down Racers.’
Circuit Breakers by UK-based Supersonic Software is an admirable attempt at the genre. Sadly, the title never got a sequel, and it’s a shame, as it’s a solid racer.
Just like V3, there’s excellent track variety and weapons. Circuit Breakers also looks and feels the part with decent graphics for the time and responsive controls.
10. Bushido Blade 2
Many people have played Bushido Blade, but far fewer know it has a sequel. Sadly, you probably never knew it existed unless you followed the JP market.
Bushido Blade is unique in the fighting genre as there are no health bars. Also, a well-placed strike can defeat your opponent in a single hit! There’s also an unspoken honor code. If you kill your opponents dishonorably, you’ll never get to face the true final boss.
Bushido Blade 2 builds upon the foundations of the original while retaining what makes it so unique. Unfortunately for Western audiences, the title wasn’t released worldwide, hence its rarity.
Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for three years. He’s furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing games in his collection rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.