In order to keep things fair, this list is composed of only one game per series. If the floodgates were open, the top four spots would go to the three main Final Fantasy entries along with Final Fantasy Tactics. It is, however, still very RPG heavy, because the system dominated the market for that genre (especially when compared to the Nintendo 64).
What this list demonstrates is a bold line-up of titles that showcase the many facets of the system. It has RPGs, shooters, platformers, and everything in between. Its legacy is something to behold, which is quite a feat considering this was Sony’s first attempt at a console. These are the PS1’s best games by far.
10 Syphon Filter 2
It is hard to press just how big GoldenEye 007 was for the Nintendo 64. In order to counteract that espionage angle, Sony’s internal 989 Studio created Syphon Filter. The first was a good proof of concept, but it wasn’t until the sequel that it really found its footing.
Tasering an enemy until he bursts into flames is as classic a move now as it was back then. No, it didn’t have the name recognition of James Bond, but it was still one thrilling tale of spies, politics, and catastrophic viruses.
9 Chrono Cross
Chrono Trigger is world-renowned for being one of the best RPGs ever created. Not just for the SNES, but the entire industry. So it stands to reason that a sequel was inevitable. While it virtually has nothing to do with the original adventure except for some slight nods, it’s still an amazing achievement for the PS1.
One of the coolest features was the ability to speed up gameplay during New Game Plus, a first for its time. An ambitious and unforgettable title all around.
8 Suikoden II
There are no questions about it, Suikoden II is an ambitious RPG. It was a bold release for Konami as well, since it launched in 1999 in North America, which was long after the console’s debut. As such, PS1 games boasting sprites reminiscent of the SNES were not cool at the time.
Most companies were trying to push the limits of 3D, but Suikoden II proved that a good game is a good game no matter how it looks.
7 Parasite Eve
This list is clearly heavy on RPGs, but this one is a bit different. Parasite Eve is set in the present day of New York City. Officer Aya Brea is witness to a biological outbreak while attending the opera, which also awakens powers deep within her soul. It is unlike any other RPG out there.
While there were two sequels, none of them stand the test of time as well as the original does. It is a showcase of Square’s yearning for originality and perhaps the peak of their creativity.
6 Crash Bandicoot 2
Crash Bandicoot, more or less, was Sony’s attempt at a mascot for the PlayStation. It was their rival to Nintendo’s Mario. Like Syphon Filter, the original was a good proof of concept, but the sequel was definitely an improvement in every way.
The writing was punchier, levels were more varied, and the controls were tighter. All in all it was a better experience. The time travel concept of the third game is fun, but there is nothing more pure than Crash Bandicoot 2.
5 Mega Man Legends
Mega Man X demonstrated how to evolve a simple 2D platformer into something more intricate. Mega Man Legends, on the other hand, reinvented the wheel for 3D. It was an epic adventure before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released, and it featured lock-on targeting before Z-targeting.
It may not be as fondly remembered as that title, but as an evolutionary step forward, Mega Man Legends is a titan and one that demands respect.
4 Resident Evil
A majority of this list has praised the sequels over the original titles, but Resident Evil, for all its flaws, is still the superior experience. When you really think about it, this was an evolution on Super Metroid, but in 3D.
Chris and Jill didn’t get new powers, but keys and other objects helped open up the big interconnecting map of the Spencer Mansion. Whether it can be classified as a Metroidvania or not, there is something so eerily satisfying and haunting about Resident Evil, an atmosphere that also mirrors the foreboding sense of isolation from Samus' franchise.
3 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Speaking of Metroidvania games, the industry wouldn’t be so filled with indie inspirations today if it wasn’t for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It introduced RPG elements to the interconnected formula, thus giving rise to the popular nickname for the genre.
Yes, Castlevania existed before, but the previous titles were basic action platformers. This is another example of a 2D game dominating the conversation over 3D, as fantastic advances in 2D visuals were being made during this era too. From the PS1 to its many ports, Symphony of the Night remains a classic for both new and old generations of gamers.
2 Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid, simply put, is innovation in a box. It introduced dynamic storytelling to the system with excellent, if not sometimes goofy, voice acting. It was as much fun to watch as it was to play. Syphon Filter was a cool spy thriller, but this was a league beyond that.
If James Bond was directed by David Lynch, that would be Metal Gear Solid. It’s certainly not the best in the series, but for the PS1, it has no competition. Other than the game we rated number one, of course.
1 Final Fantasy VII
Without question, Final Fantasy VII is a game that defined a generation. It showed the power of the PS1, along with the abilities of Sony’s marketing team to create a phenomenon that bridged the gap between RPGs fans and those shy to the genre.
There is a reason why this, out of all Final Fantasy games, has persisted in conversations for decades (and why fans have craved a remake since that PS3 tech demo teaser). Hopefully that PS4 remake will prove just as groundbreaking.