Recently, we’ve heard reports that the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, Vita and PSP will be closing this summer.
These claims are yet to be confirmed by Sony, but in a now-deleted tweet (the Internet never forgets), the developer of indie roguelite platformer Scourgebringer noted that his game’s internal ID was “THELASTVITAGAME” and that he would only be given a 4-month distribution window on the platform, so he believes the reports to be plausible.
We’ve already seen that the closure of these stores will mean the loss of some awesome PS3 exclusives. But it also means we’ll no longer be able to download the PSone Classics range of titles — straight ports of games from the original PlayStation which could be enjoyed on PS3, Vita and/or PSP. But not PS4 or PS5, because Sony CEO Jim Ryan is a pillock who doesn’t understand the value of retro games, as memorably demonstrated in this interview with Time Magazine.
This is an issue, because a number of the games in that lineup are monstrously expensive if you want to pick up a disc-based copy of them, making the PSone Classics releases a much more practical way to experience them — to say nothing of how convenient it is to be able to play them on a handheld.
You know what that means, boys and girls — time for a list of PSone Classics you should download before it’s too late!
(Please note that the following list is based on the PAL region PlayStation store; availability may vary in other regions.)
Um Jammer Lammy
The somewhat lesser-known sequel to rhythm game classic Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy commands prices of at least £50 on the second-hand market these days, and is more commonly seen upwards of the £70 mark.
Like Parappa, Um Jammer Lammy is a game that tells a delightfully silly story through the medium of music and charming, flat characters. By tapping the buttons on the PlayStation controller and following the examples set by the other characters, you help Lammy play her guitar and bust out some face-melting solos.
Longevity is arguably a bit limited compared to many modern rhythm titles — it’s not hard to clear the game, and there isn’t a lot to unlock. It is a game worth returning to just for the simple joy of experiencing its wonderfully cheerful atmosphere again and again, though — and having it on hand to enjoy whenever you’re in the mood for it is a delight.
Another music game from Parappa and Um Jammer Lammy developers NanaOn-Sha, Vib-ribbon is a delightful game with some beautifully abstract presentation. Taking on the role of the rabbit-like Vibri, it’s your job to guide her across a perilous landscape generated by the music you’re listening to. Different types of obstacles require different button presses, and sometimes you’ll come across obstacles that combine elements together — for example, if you see a ledge with spikes on top, you’ll need to press both L1 (to clear the ledge) and X (to roll across the spikes).
Vib-ribbon’s unique selling point on its original PlayStation release was the fact you could insert your own music CDs and the game would generate new levels from the tracks on the disc. If you play the downloadable version on the PlayStation 3, you can still use this feature, though since the PSP and Vita lack a conventional CD drive, you’re stuck with the built-in soundtrack on those platforms.
Vib-ribbon often commands three-figure sums in its original PlayStation disc-based incarnation, so if you think it sounds interesting, the £3.99 downloadable version is the most practical means of acquiring it today!
Swedish puzzler Kula World is an underappreciated gem of the original PlayStation era, and like many other games that this description can be applied to, you can expect to pay through the nose for a disc-based copy these days.
In Kula World, you control a beach ball as it rolls through a series of increasingly perilous environments. The twist is that you can shift gravity by rolling onto different faces of the cubes from which the levels are built, meaning you’ll often need to get on the “side” and “underneath” of the level in order to find your way to the exit successfully.
Historically, Kula World is noteworthy as one of the first games to make use of the DualShock controller. But it’s also a great puzzler, too — by turns pleasantly chilled out and absolutely infuriating. Don’t miss this one.
Probably the most unusual game to unfold in the Ivalice setting it shares with Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics and one of Final Fantasy XIV’s raid cycles, Vagrant Story is a highly creative RPG with a distinctive art style and even more distinctive mechanics.
Taking on the role of the delightfully named Ashley Riot, the game unfolds as a dungeon crawler with a strong emphasis on creating and modifying weapons to make you more effective in combat. Since the game lacks traditional RPG trapping such as shops and characters to talk to, there is instead an increased emphasis on dungeon-crawling aspects of gameplay such as puzzle solving and even some light platforming here and there.
The game’s combat system allows you to target individual body parts and places a focus on managing your “risk” level — the more you attack, the more Ashley loses concentration, so you’ll need to find a good balance between relentlessly attacking and keeping Ashley in a good state to fight.
Vagrant Story isn’t super-expensive in its disc-based incarnation for PS1, but it can be hard to find. Plus this is a great game to have on a handheld.
Disc-based copies of the original Silent Hill for PlayStation are starting to creep up in price these days, so scoring yourself a digital copy may be the most practical way to experience this survival horror classic.
When Harry Mason is involved in a car accident on his way to the town of Silent Hill, he awakens to discover his daughter Cheryl is missing. Thus begins his quest to track her down — while attempting to uncover some of the bizarre mysteries of the town along the way. And, even leaving its perpetual coating of thick fog aside, Silent Hill is a town of many mysteries.
Silent Hill was noteworthy on its original release for being a survival horror game with fully polygonal environments rather than the pre-rendered camera angles Resident Evil was using at the time. While its visuals may look a little dated today, the game’s atmosphere and storytelling is still outstanding — and this game sets up some fascinating context for later installments in the series, particularly Silent Hill 3.
The Adventures of Alundra
Looking for Zelda on original PlayStation? You got it. Actually, describing Matrix Software’s The Adventures of Alundra thus is doing it a bit of a disservice; while this game certainly shares structural and mechanical similarities with Nintendo’s classic series, it does enough to make itself feel distinct.
Taking on the role of Alundra, an elfin boy with the power to dive into people’s dreams, it’s your job to help the local residents fend off the nightmares that are constantly assaulting them — sometimes even killing them. Along the way, you’ll be faced with a variety of both physical and mental challenges, with some exceedingly challenging yet enormously satisfying puzzles being one of the game’s main highlights.
This is a great game with some of the most beautiful pixel art on PlayStation — it looks especially great on the Vita’s gorgeous screen. And it still plays brilliantly, too; don’t miss out on this one if you’re yet to have the pleasure.
Since copies of both of these games command three-figure sums in their disc-based incarnations these days, grabbing them for £3.99 digitally should be a no-brainer — particularly as Konami appears to be in no great hurry to remember this series exists.
The Suikoden games are grand RPGs that became well known for their enormous variety of recruitable, playable characters and interesting mechanics. Notable twists on the usual RPG formula include different “scales” of battle, including both one-on-one duels and massive army-based conflicts.
Suikoden II in particular is regarded by many critics as one of the finest RPGs ever created — particularly outside of the classic PlayStation-era Square Enix canon — and certainly the best within the series. If you’re serious about your RPGs, you’ll want to make the time to experience these as soon as you can.
What are your favourite PSone Classics? Be sure to share ’em in the comments and via the usual social channels.
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