Best PS1 Hidden Gems You’ve Probably Never Played
PS1 Hidden Gems... So when was the last time you played Koudelka, Top Shop, or Rival Schools on PS1? Just kidding! That was a trick question.
If you’re like most gamers, you’ve never even heard of these titles before. And that’s a real shame because these games are true masterpieces of the PS1 era.
Sadly, though, there are loads of hidden PS1 gems like these that were simply overshadowed by other PS1 hits. Of course, this is bound to happen when such games are released alongside historical hits like Final Fantasy VII.
. Read on to discover the best PS1 Hidden gems that you’ve been missing.
1. Bushido Blade
As a retro gamer, you’ve probably played your fair share of fighting games. As such, you know that they’re all based on the same, bizarrely unrealistic gameplay model. Specifically, the characters punch, kick, stab, and fireball each other in order to drain their opponent’s health meter.
In other words, these games are not even remotely like an actual, real-life fight—except one. Bushido Blade by Square is the only fighting game, ever, that works exactly like a realistic duel to the death.
Each opponent chooses a weapon. When the battle starts, you select a fighting style and take your shot.
Just like a real duel, each round is over very quickly (and has nothing to do with magical, floating health meters). For example, if your character is stabbed in the head with a sword, he/she is killed instantly.
And that’s all there is to it. The concept of Bushido Blade is profoundly simple, radically unique, and addictively fun. Try to keep your character alive, fight your way to the top, beat the boss.
Or grab your buddies and take turns dueling. If you’re 21 or older, Bushido Blade makes for an excellent drinking game. (Winner takes a shot.)
2. Rival Schools
If you’re into a more traditional fighter, and you’ve played all the popular titles, give Rival Schools a try. Rival Schools is yet another addition to Capcom’s long list of legendary fightinggames. So, naturally, it’s just as much fun as any Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom title.
But, with Rival Schools, Capcom was free to create a game that wasn’t bound to the rules of their established franchises. For instance, there are tons of new characters, a very decent story mode, and several fun minigames. If you’re a veteran fighting game enthusiast, you’ll find this rather refreshing.
Executing combos/air combos against your opponent is crazy satisfying. Even more satisfying are the team attacks.
You see, at the start of the game, you choose two characters. One is your playable character and the other jumps in to assist with a team attack if you time it right. Time it wrong and you’ll receive an epic beatdown.
Unfortunately, there’s no tag-team switching like in Tekken Tag Tournament. But the game does feature glorious multiplayer madness for up to 8 players (with two multitaps).
Koudelka nails the dark, haunting feel of a classic survival horror game. And yet, it’s primarily a CG cutscene-heavy RPG with an excellent storyline. The game was developed by SNK and a bunch of programmers/game designers who used to work for Square.
So the real question is, does Koudelka’s blending of genres and style work? Honestly, it depends on the player.
To RPG enthusiasts, the random, turn-based battles will seem par for the course. But if you’re expecting real-time battles with onscreen enemies, as in Resident Evil, you might find the random battles jarring.
Furthermore, battles are often long and difficult. As such, they can disrupt the pace of the game.
Still, thousands of fans agree that these drawbacks aren’t enough to spoil the dramatic and cinematic excellence of the game. We agree, too. It’s definitely worth it to play Koudelka to the end (or rather, its multiple endings).
4. Board Game Top Shop
Top Shop is a straightforward board game that you play on your PS1 instead of your dining roomtable. To be specific, it’s a quirky, Japanese variation of Monopoly. But, instead of buying property and charging rent, you open stores and sell items.
Also, Top Shop is far more unpredictable and interactive than Monopoly. It doesn’t take 9 hours to finish a game, either.
Granted, we understand that it seems utterly ridiculous to list a board game as a must-play PS1 classic. And that’s exactly why we did it.
Tragically, those who haven’t played the game would never think twice about it. To them, it just looks like a cheap Monopoly knock-off. But to those of us who have played it, Top Shop is now a household favorite—a pastime the whole family can and will enjoy for literal generations.
The object of the game is to be the first player to increase your “assets” to the amount chosen at the beginning of the game. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. The money you invest in your shops, plus your spendable money, is considered your assets.
So, basically, you buy a bunch of shops so that players land on them and buy items. If your store is out-of-stock, another player can buy it from you. Gradually, your assets increase until someone wins.
Instead of dice, you roll a pencil to see how many spaces you move. The pencil may also land on E, prompting you to select a card. (We’re not sure why “E” stands for “card.”)
These cards have various consequences ranging from pretty good to horrifically bad. You can also earn points to select certain in-game consequences when you pass the Bank.
Try These PS1 Hidden Gems
For your sake, we hope you give these overlooked PS1 hidden gems the second chance they deserve. Next time you’re in the market for retro video games, look for these classic PS1 games.