While Nintendo is almost undeniably the king of handheld challengers, Sony arguably had the best chance of standing up to the titan with its handhelds, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the PlayStation Vita.
While some continue to dismiss the PSP, there were countless great PSP. Deciding what are the best PSP games of all time isn't easy. This list is partially based on huge hits but I'd be lying to say some of these aren't here mostly because of my opinion.
Any handheld system needs an ultra-addictive puzzle game, and Lumines is exactly that. While the gameplay is reminiscent of other puzzle games like Tetris and even Columns, the presentation makes it a much more mesmerizing, satisfying experience.
2. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Whenever you mention the strategy RPG genre, you're sure to quickly hear either Ogre Battle or Tactics Ogre mentioned.
While this game dates back to the SNES, its release on the PSP was its first introduction to many western gamers. Not just one of the best SRPGs, but one of the best PSP games without a doubt.
3. God of War: Ghost of Sparta
While God of War: Chains of Olympus was Sony's first attempt at showing that console-style bombastic action games could work on a handheld platform, the sequel improves everything in that game.
You won't find many great PSP games based on console action games, but this is a fantastic exception.
4. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Okay, I know I just said above that you won't find many fantastic PSP games based on console games, but Peace Walker is another exception.
This game transplants the franchise's stealth gameplay and Hideo Kojima's over-the-top storytelling to a handheld, and it works surprisingly well.
5. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
For some people (myself included), RPGs are the bread and butter of any portable system. Persona 3 Portable does on the PSP what Persona 4 Golden would later do on the Vita: takes a handheld port of a game and makes it the best way to play that game.
Rhythm games and strategy games may not be your first guess for two genres that would mix so well, but that's exactly what makes Patapon great. The two sequels are equally worthwhile as well.
7. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
While Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was somewhat overlooked by anyone other than PSP diehards, it is worth revisiting following the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Unlike some games that age poorly, this seems more worthwhile now than it did when it was new.
8. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
While it kicked off on the PlayStation 2, the Monster Hunter franchise was better known as a handheld series until the release of Monster Hunter World. Hitting a sweet spot, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite may be the best handheld version of the game to date.
While working on LocoRoco, creator Tsutomu Kouno's main goal was to create something unique, something different than other games on the PSP. He succeeded, as this shapeshifting platformer is unlike anything else on the system, aside from its sequels.
10. Valkyria Chronicles II
While the first Valkyria Chronicles game was originally released on the PlayStation 3 and has since been remastered and the third entry in the series is available on modern systems, the only way to play Valkyria Chronicles II is on the PSP.
This alone makes it worth playing, but Valkyria Chronicles II is also one of the best PSP games for strategy fans.
11. Jeanne d'Arc
What better way to spice up a strategy RPG than to take a historical figure, throw out many of the facts around her, and instead tell a story filled with demons and magic?
Regardless of how that may sound, Jeanne d'Arc is a must-play for strategy RPG fans.
12. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
While it may seems like a safe choice compared to some of the more adventurous strategy RPGs on the PSP, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is well-worth playing.
Ironing out bugs, updating the presentation, and using a new translation, this may be the best way to play Final Fantasy Tactics.
13. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
While Crash Bandicoot may be the unofficial mascot for the PlayStation brand, either Ratchet or Clank may be better choices. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters plays surprisingly similarly to its console cousins, which is surprising, giving the PSP's control limitations.
14. Half-Minute Hero
An RPG where you're limited to 30 seconds of playtime? How does that even work? Surprisingly well, it turns out.
Half-Minute Hero turns the RPG formula on its head, squeezing out six different game modes in the process. Despite what the title implies, you'll find plenty of playtime in this great PSP game.
15. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
Even people who don't like fighting games enjoy Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, mainly because it plays unlike most other fighting games.
While some argue whether the first game or this sequel is better, your best bet is to play both. Both are some of the best PSP games of all time.
The Retro Legacy of the PSP
This is just a sampling of some of the best PSP games available. The good news is that while these games are no longer being manufactured, you can still find them in good used condition and some even new and still in the shrink wrap.
We've linked to them on Amazon for convenience, but you may be able to get better deals on them if you know where to search.