When it comes to home-based consoles, Sony’s PlayStation brand holds four of the five best selling platforms of all time. In that span, they’ve built some of the most iconic franchises to date. Today we’re breaking down the top 30 exclusives from their first three consoles.
Top Ten PlayStation 1 Exclusives
While Sega tried and failed, Sony adequately responded to the Nintendo console monopoly by releasing the original PlayStation back in 1995. Since then, they’ve amassed quite the collection of exclusive titles, be it through their own first party developers, or by third party companies.
But the games released for the first PlayStation are the titles that solidified Sony as a force to be reckoned with in the industry—these are then ten best exclusives released for the PlayStation 1.
10. Gran Turismo 2
The first entry was more successful both commercially and critically, but the second entry raised the bar in so many other respects.
It featured 27 playable tracks to the first game’s 11, with 650 playable cars to the first game’s 140. While nothing much was improved in terms of gameplay or graphical performance, the enhanced variety of in-game options made this the clear choice for the series. Plus, the series is still going strong today, over two decades later.
9. Tekken 3
My personal favorite fighting game franchise, Tekken 3 is arguably the pinnacle of the series.
The third installment introduced perennial fan-favorite characters like Jin Kazama and Eddy Gordo, and featured game modes never seen before in the franchise. On top of that, there’s higher quality gameplay, graphics, and even sound design.
Things were never the same for console players after Tekken 3 was ported from the realm of arcades.
8. Chrono Cross
Albeit this franchise has waned in popularity as of late, the Chrono series features two of the most popular RPGs ever made. Chrono Cross is the sequel to Chrono Trigger—a Super Nintendo game made from ‘95—and is the final mainline installment of the franchise.
It currently sits at a 94% on Metacritic, and while it may not be as beloved as its predecessor, Chrono Cross features tantalizing combat mechanics, and a story that will hook you from the start.
7. Crash Team Racing
A less conventional racing title—and very much akin to Mario Kart—Crash Team Racing allowed players to control several PlayStation icons in a kart racing setting, utilizing weapons and power-ups to fight their way to the number one spot.
The game spawned a sequel four years later, and has since been remastered entirely for more contemporary consoles. Even still, this title is the most popular.
6. Silent Hill
Its developers utilized real time 3D graphics to enhance the game’s environments, and threw in more psychological elements of horror than any game before it. The story is super insightful too, with a relatable protagonist and intriguing plot.
But the game’s intelligence doesn’t stop there—it swells below the surface re: graphics and atmosphere. The PlayStation 1 didn’t have the greatest hardware support, so graphical limitations were inevitable, but the team managed to mitigate the weak appearance of textures by use of fog, which at the same time clearly defined the game’s spine-chilling tone.
It’s a gripping experience from start to finish, and it undoubtedly reinvigorated the genre.
5. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
The game’s rendering system—for the most part unheard of at the time—went on to inspire a variety of developers with regard to 3D animation.
But it terms of actual gameplay and content, Spyro II: Ripto’s Rage approached the proverbial amplifier and pumped everything up to eleven. If the first game was fun, this one was a blast. If the first had great graphics, this one resembled a painting.
It improved on nearly each facet that established this franchise as a PlayStation tentpole, and for that, Ripto’s Rage will always hold a special place in our hearts.
4. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
This is widely considered to be the easiest of the original trilogy, but forgivable gameplay isn’t always a negative—the game reaches this point on the list simply because it’s the most fun to play. It’s well paced in plot, well balanced in gameplay, and overall the height of the series.
While the first Crash game leaves players frustrated by the difficulty, the third game is a trifle overwhelming due to its vastly disparate levels and influx of mechanics.
Cortex Strikes Back is the perfect equilibrium.
3. Final Fantasy VII
These top three games are pretty undisputed, in my opinion, and you can arrange them in any order you like on any given day.
But there’s nothing to note about Final Fantasy VII that hasn’t already been said. It reinvigorated the genre, and arguably put Role-Playing Games on the map for Western audiences. Ultimately—for reasons obvious to anyone reading this list—Square’s immensely popular RPG lands here at number two.
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Be it through a video game podcast or by word-of-mouth, I’ve been hearing about this game for pretty much my whole life.
I grew up with four older brothers, and half of them played Symphony of the Night ad nauseum. I never tried it until it was re-released for the PlayStation 4, but it more than held up thanks to mind-bending level design, plot twists galore, iconic tunes and dynamic gameplay.
An instant classic, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night—along with the Metroid series—blended several elements of game design to ultimately form an entirely new subgenre of video games: Metroidvania. That makes it a lock in the history books.
1. Metal Gear Solid
Arguably the most inventive game on the entire console, the first Metal Gear Solid established stealth as a legitimate genre, and inspired future developers eye for detail regarding combat and enemy design.
But perhaps the most important feature of this pioneering release is its use of in-engine cutscenes. One of the most recognizable names in gaming—due to his gaudy attire and flashy, alliterative moniker—Solid Snake resonated so fondly with audiences because of his realistic portrayal. A masterful performance by voice actor David Hayter played a pivotal role in that, too.
Developers today are still looking at Metal Gear Solid for influence and ideas, and while the gameplay has been rendered a trifle antiquated, its story and style more than hold up to contemporary standards.
Top Ten PlayStation 2 Exclusives
The most successful console of all time, Sony’s PlayStation 2 broke sales records around the world and will likely remain the best-selling system for all our years to come.
A lot of its standout exclusives have been remastered for more contemporary consoles, but these are the ten best games that released as exclusives to the PlayStation 2, and never made an appearance on another console until further down the line. Let’s get to it.
While a port for this voguish action title did release for the Wii in 2008, Okami was exclusive to the PlayStation 2 for its first two years on the market.
Albeit middling sales numbers bogged down the team’s morale upon initial release, the overwhelmingly positive reception from both fans and critics likely made up for its commercial failures. Plus, its legacy has only been solidified by the number of ports and remasters since it was converted to the Wii.
9. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
You could pick any of the Sly trilogy for this list sans controversy. I still long for boss battles that so seamlessly culminate the story’s character arcs as Clockwerk—who, by the way, exerted a great and entertaining effort in his final bout.
Teeming with lighthearted characters, cheerful elements of music along with brilliant level design, the first Sly Cooper game is what put powerhouse developer Sucker Punch on the map, and the team has only impressed us since. For that, we have Thievius Raccoonus to praise.
8. Devil May Cry
While I’m of the opinion that the original Devil May Cry games all featured a trifling issue regarding fluidity of gameplay, the franchise undoubtedly reinvigorated the action genre. One of the more addicting qualities in gaming as a whole, the system of combos that these games saw into fruition tasked players to approach each mission with steady hands and methodical mindsets.
Collect red orbs, take little damage, and complete each mission with rapidity to receive a graded rank of D, C, B, A, or the highly sought S rank. It’s a gripping system, and in tandem with the Dante Alighieri-inspired characters, it’s no wonder this seminal action series is so widely praised today.
7. Ratchet and Clank
Easily the most successful of the PS2 platformers, Ratchet and Clank first crash landed onto our screens in 2002. The duo has since spawned numerous sequels, spinoffs, and even a film adaptation of the original story.
It’s a great plot, replete with enticing characters forced to overcome a greater power within a cartoonish world of aliens, monsters, and guns. Lots and lots of guns. Some of the most memorable in all of gaming, in fact.
Insomniac’s flagship franchise has only gained momentum as of late—a reboot of the first title released for the PS4 in 2016, and a sequel is slated later on this year. If you never hopped aboard the Ratchet train on the PlayStation 2, now’s as good a time as ever.
6. Kingdom Hearts
Few crossovers were ever as ambitious as Disney teaming up with Square Enix to have Mickey Mouse in the same vicinity as Titus or Wakka. There were of course original characters too, and while they always had relatively cringeworthy dialogue, audiences thrived amidst the relatable rivalry of Sora and Riku.
Tremendous combat design made up for the lackluster platforming mechanics—which were not exactly few and far between—and a great role-playing system made up for the paucity of original features.
Kingdom Hearts 3 was one of the most sought-after video games of all time, and while some purists prefer the second iteration, the first Kingdom Hearts changed the world of gaming for the better.
5. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
The consensus favorite in this Naughty Dog franchise is likely Jak 3 due to its semi-open world map and utilization of advanced driving features.
However, the original title is what stands the test of time from a standpoint of level design. I’m remaining as objective as possible when penning this list, but to be frank: The Precursor Legacy has been my favorite game since I was six.
While I praise the creativity of its level design and the consistency of its enemies, this game mainly spoke to me because of the rapport between its two titular characters.
Naughty Dog built a brilliant disparity with a mute protagonist and his voluble sidekick. In Dark Souls, when the player dies, a demoralizing black screen appears with the words, “You died.” When Jak dies in The Precursor Legacy, however, Daxter poises above his body and complains about how he’s alone, or how his feet hurt. That’s the best pitch I can muster.
4. Final Fantasy X
When discussing the best game in this longstanding franchise, two titles come to mind: Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy X. The latter has been remastered multiple times—once for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, then again for the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Featuring the most dynamic gameplay in the series, Final Fantasy X had one standout element: Blitzball. Of course, the game has excellent characters with a tantalizing plot and engaging combat, but Blitzball is basically the Quidditch of this universe, and it’s all fun and games until Titus steps up to the plate.
3. God of War 2
In the eyes of contemporaries, the recent God of War reboot for the PS4 is the pinnacle of the series. That may be true, but God of War 2 is what validated this juggernaut Sony franchise back in 2007.
While the first God of War entry remained solid all the way through, its sequel truly showcased Sony Santa Monica’s longevity. They’d already spun a spectacular take on Greek Mythology—no need to expand much, but when they did it worked, and refinements didn’t stop there.
Elements of combat were improved to allow for more satisfying combos; exciting set pieces were more in abundance; and overall the game holds a greater focus on mise en scene. God of War 2 was the PlayStation 2’s swan song, and if you revisit it today, there’s no chance it’ll disappoint.
2. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
While the first title released as an exclusive for Sony’s original console, the next two entries were only found on the PlayStation 2. And in a series that spans four generations of consoles, Sons of Liberty is perhaps the consensus best.
Sitting at a 96% approval rating on Metacritic, it remains not only one of the highest rated titles on the console, but one of the best reviewed games ever made. Solid Snake—probably in the top five most recognizable names in gaming—is the perfect protagonist with idiosyncrasies out the wazoo, none more prevalent than the brilliant voice acting of David Hayter.
This title set the bar for stealth games to come, and without it, the industry’s landscape would likely be out of whack.
1. Shadow of the Colossus
Revered since its release, Shadow of the Colossus solidified Team ICO as a developer for the video game history books. The game design is fairly simple, but the premise of hunting down colossal creatures while using your sword to designate your waypoint is a vastly original concept, and when creative concepts collide with thrilling gameplay, the product is video game gold.
All you need is a dose of intrigue to create an original title that resonates with fans on an emotional level—if the audience is interested in what’s to come, they’re going to keep playing. Period.
To widespread appeal, Shadow of the Colossus was recently remastered as an exclusive for the PS4—about time, am I right? And while Team ICO might be named for their original effort in video games, this title is what secured them as a powerhouse in the industry.
Top Ten PlayStation 3 Exclusives
10. Little Big Planet 2
Platformers were PlayStation’s crème de le crème for two generations prior to the PlayStation 3—it makes sense that they put effort into a brand-new family friendly franchise, but I must admit: I was never too keen on these games.
However, creativity undoubtedly flowed through the veins of Media Molecule team members as they crafted this fan favorite series.
When you mix an inanimate object come to life with inventive gameplay and customizable options, the result is a critical and commercial success that generates a series of sequels—including a recent entry on the newfound PlayStation 5.
9. Heavy Rain
David Cage is known for his linear, character-heavy adventure games, where players make the decisions that ultimately progress the plot. Each title is gripping from the start, and while Heavy Rain wasn’t his first venture into video games, it was the title that gained him international recognition.
The story of the Origami Killer feels right out of a David Fincher movie, and while the gameplay of Heavy Rain isn’t exactly something to write home about, the game’s plot easily makes up for any shortcomings.
8. Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
One of PlayStation’s marquee franchises, this is the consensus best title perhaps of the entire franchise, and easily of the PS3 era. They’d already built a great rapport between the titular characters, and now they had hardware to fully utilize their inventive mechanics of gameplay.
And we are all better off for it.
7. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
One of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, Metal Gear Solid pretty much piqued in popularity during the PlayStation 2 era, but Guns of the Patriots received phenomenal reviews and is widely considered to be one the best games in the franchise.
It does seem to be overshadowed nowadays after the release of Metal Gear Solid 5, but this entry is one of the more inventive titles in the franchise as the camera view was changed from overhead to over-the-shoulder third person. Sometimes, things that aren’t broken can still be improved.
Its gameplay is straightforward, its plot is intangible, and its character is basically a cardboard cutout with an ambiguous name—yet somehow, Journey manages to be one of the most unforgettable experiences in gaming.
Of course, Shakespeare once said that brevity is the soul of wit, and I think Journey epitomizes that phrase. You can beat the game in two hours or less, and while that may be minimal playtime, the result is a journey that’s unlike anything else on the console.
5. inFAMOUS 2
Cole MacGrath is one charismatic dude, and the powers he possesses render inFAMOUS 2’s gameplay a downright phenomenal experience. The plot is great too, and so is the open world, but perhaps the standout quality of the franchise is its unique approach to storytelling.
The game’s mere existence is instantly reminiscent of comic books—what with Cole wielding superpowers and all—but one of the more remarkable facets to this franchise is how they truly implement that style into both the gameplay and story, whether its by dint of the hokey yet witty dialogue, or the cutscenes that present themselves like pages of a book with fun animations.
inFAMOUS is a staple in PlayStation’s collection, and more than deserves a sequel on the PS5.
4. Demon’s Souls
From Software had been making games for over a decade at the point of this release, but Demon’s Souls is what shifted the tides for the company’s future.
Considering how massive of a franchise Dark Souls is nowadays—along with the standalone titles Bloodborne and Sekiro—it’s crazy to think that a game in that vein was once an exclusive to the PlayStation 3.
One of the most requested remasters of all time, Demon’s Souls was recently released as a launch exclusive to the PlayStation 5, and it undoubtedly pushed some consoles out the door.
3. God of War 3
Before the 2018 reboot, this was the pinnacle of God of War. With boss battles galore—Zeus, Hermes, Hades, and even Cronos—the action was nonstop, and Santa Monica had perfectly honed the combat to make for an addicting system of combinations.
Each fight was fun, dynamic, and vastly unforgettable, with a great variety of weapons and abilities at Kratos’s disposal. Able to seamlessly transition from one weapon to the next, our angry protagonist was allowed flashier moves and more effective attacks.
Whether you’re a fan of Greek Mythology, God of War 3 is one of the best action games ever made, and I hope it isn’t completely overshadowed in the long run by the success of its predecessor.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Perhaps the best storytellers the industry has ever seen, Naughty Dog proved themselves as a top-tier developer with the release of Uncharted 2. The game starts off in media res, allowing for one of the greatest opening scenes in all of gaming—the derailed train sequence.
And set pieces were abundant from that point forward, be it with mythical creatures or power-hungry warlords, and intrigue is implemented through a variety of storytelling tactics. Mid-point twists, red herrings, anything you can think of—Naughty Dog utilized it to showcase their prowess at crafting a tantalizing story…
And I haven’t yet mentioned the characters, the pacing, or even the gameplay. And frankly, I don’t feel I need to. Everyone knows who Nathan Drake is, and they know that he shoots guns and jumps from abnormally tall structures. And everyone loves him for it.
1. The Last of Us
On the eve of my seventeenth birthday, my friends and I had two options for celebrating: go see Man of Steel at the 11p.m. premiere, or wait until midnight for The Last of Us to come out. Let’s just say that I regret our decision.
This placement was set in stone from the second I brainstormed this list—it’s one of the greatest games ever made with one of the most compelling stories from any medium, be it video games, film, literature or television. It won a bevy of awards, and is often considered the best title from its whole generation.
The gameplay is thrilling too, and at this point, I’m realizing how redundant this is. Everyone knows the greatness of The Last of Us—it’s in my top three of all time, and I’m sure many of you can say the same.
Agree with our picks?
Sound off in the comments below, let us know your favorite exclusive for each of Sony’s first three consoles!