In 1995 the gaming community was first introduced to the original PlayStation, a console that started one of the biggest lines of the industry and that has given so much joy to gamers.

Almost 30 years after its introduction, the Sony’s PS1 continues to be one of the most iconic and beloved consoles, especially for its catalog full of fighting games, action, racing, and other genres. 

Many of the great gaming franchises took their first steps on the PS1 console, although some of the best games remained in the shadows. That is why we are going to review the

10 Best Hidden Gems For The Sony PlayStation 1

Nascar Rumble (2000)

Publisher: EA Sports

EA may not have the best reputation today, but back then they were known for making some of the best sports games of all time.

NASCAR Rumble for PS1

Inspired by the real NASCAR races, this title is really entertaining, with an interesting campaign that took you through multiple tracks, although the most fun to play was the multiplayer mode; thanks to the perfect implementation of power-ups.

For driving game enthusiasts, classic games for the original PS1 like Gran Turismo already existed, but Nascar Rumble introduced a power system that entirely transformed the genre. It’s not without reason that this unique game has ‘Rumble’ in its title.

From storms to force shields, all the powers are insane and add an arcade style to a competition like NASCAR. Speaking of which, you can play with real cars from those eras, and even unlock trucks and super fast cars by finding keys scattered around some maps.

It’s a shame that the games Mario Kart-like formula might have scared off the more purist racing sim fans, but if you want high-speed action, Nascar Rumble is the game for you.

Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins (2000)

Publisher: Activision

On a Sony console, there will always be room for ninjas and Feudal Japan.

In Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins you take the roles of two ninjas: Rikimaru and Ayame each with their own story and play style.

Tenchu 2 Birth of the Stealth Assassins

Rikimaru has incredible strength which makes boss fights much easier. His flaw is his slowness that with some strategy can be compensated.

On the other hand, Ayame is very fast as well as stealthy but lacks brute strength.

There is a third character, who is also part of the story, who becomes available when you complete all of Rikimaru and Ayame’s missions.

The game is composed of several missions, where you must use stealth skills, agile movements, hide in the shadows, and use tools to eliminate enemies without being detected. It should be noted that being a ninja game, the blood is not missing, along with special moves to finish the enemies.

From infiltrating small villages to castles, the idea is that you minimize the consequences, something that will always be fun and rewarding in a stealth game.

Tenchu 2 has a large number of weapons and accessories to distract opponents. Of course, you can beat the levels by causing disasters, but this great game would lose its fun.

Jersey Devil (1998)

Publisher: SCEA

It may look like a Sonic.EXE-style demonic version of Sonic at first glance, but Jersey Devil has a charm all its own.

Jersey Devil hidden gem for ps1

Based on the legend of New Jersey folklore, this action-platformer introduces us to the Jersey Devil, a mythical and heroic character who protects his hometown from the forces of evil.

The story takes place in Jersey City where a mad scientist named Doctor Knarf is turning the inhabitants into evil pumpkin-shaped monsters.

Filled with challenging and varied levels, this title takes place in a third-person platforming perspective, in a narrative where your main objective is to rescue the inhabitants but there is always time to throw punches. 

Each level is filled with enemy obstacles and puzzles that must be separated using the unique abilities of the character, who has special skills such as jumping, flying, and attacking with his sharp claws. These abilities are used to defeat enemies, jump between platforms, and solve environmental puzzles, in addition to power-ups and collectibles that enhance our hero. 

Jersey Devil is an excellent platforming video game, with a good story, great characters, and cartoonish art style coupled with a glorious soundtrack that will remind you of the golden age of cartoons. 

King’s Field (1994)

Publisher: From Software

Before jumping to stardom with Dark Souls, From Software created a little-known saga that laid the foundations of what years later became the Souls games.

King's Field PlayStation Game

During medieval times, in the village of Verdite, the villagers tell the story of Dragon, a legendary warrior who disappeared after stopping the creatures that plagued the world. Forester is the son of a knight who travels in search of his father, only to find that evil is not over and that he is haunted by the search for the sword of Dragon and a story that traces him back to the great warrior who once brought peace.

Kings Field, as crazy as it sounds, was released only 13 days after the PS1 hit the stores. Beyond these merits, it gained popularity due to word of mouth from gamers and not from the media, which criticized it harshly, to the point of being unsuccessful in stores.

Using first-person gameplay, you traverse through the five levels of the dungeon. It is not as difficult as Souls, but neither will it be a sweet ride through the countryside.

Graphically and technically this hidden gem for the original PlayStation may fall short, but it is one of the grandfathers of the industry, with a long history and one of the most important Japanese legacies set in occidental fantasy.

Armored Core (1994)

Publisher: SCEA

Since we are talking about From Software, let’s go with the beginning of its most famous saga after Dark Souls, and this developer doesn’t only know how to make dark fantasy stories.

Armored Core is underrated

This underrated PS1 game involves you in a plot of megacorporations that fight each other for total power using mechas, droids, and robots of all kinds.

You start the adventure by training as a Raven, which is a group of elite mercenaries who use the best machines to carry out the most dangerous missions for those entities that can afford to hire them. Thus, you will travel through a multitude of locations carrying out all sorts of missions and sometimes even confronting other Ravens that have been hired by your client’s enemy…

In addition to the variety of missions, Armored Core was different from many shooters of the time, because it presented the typical action of this genre and combined it with character customization (in this case the Mecha), with characteristics of an RPG.

This union, which in itself was innovative and striking (both for the time and the players), consolidated a different game system, in which it was vital to improve your Mecha to advance in the story.  

Although Armored Core spun many sequels and the series is still alive today, its first installment went somewhat unnoticed, perhaps because of its extreme complexity for the time.

Philosoma (1996)

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

This title is a roller coaster of emotions, perspectives, and graphics. As part of the premise itself, it never ceases to surprise with changes in control, phases, and movement type.

Philosoma game for playstation

In Philosoma, you will face hordes of enemy ships through 18 vertically scrolling deep space environments in search of a mysterious distress call that hides many more secrets.

First, you start off killing aliens in a 2D horizontal shooter but then there’s a twist and it adopts a third-person perspective, something quite spectacular at the time.

Then, when you expect it to switch back to the previous view, it makes an unexpected twist with a forward view from where you must defend yourself as best you can. 

As you can see, Philosoma is a real roller coaster that won’t let you relax for a single minute.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster (2000)

Publisher: Midway Games

The legendary Jackie Chan is one of the most acclaimed action and martial arts movie figures in Hollywood and Asia. This actor never goes out of fashion, but in the 90’s he was at his peak, and what better way to celebrate it than with a video game?

In this game, you take control of Jackie Chan, who can do a variety of combat moves to fight against the different enemies along the way.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster PS1 Gem

Besides forcing you to fight against all kinds of enemies, it also encourages you to explore its three-dimensional scenarios, having to follow the right path to reach the end of the level, where a dangerous end-of-phase boss will be waiting for you. 

It also has all the important elements of a platformer, having to jump on many occasions from one platform to another and perform all kinds of actions that require skill.

At a graphical level what will draw our attention at first will be the character of Jackie Chan, who is very well done, moves quickly and smoothly, and has great animations for all his movements and actions, and also you will find a good variety of different enemies, especially the bosses.

In short, Jackie Chan Stuntmaster is one of the best beat ’em up of the PS1 that will keep you hooked for hours with the charisma of this iconic actor.

Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu (1999)

Publisher: Crave Entertainment

Back in the 90s, when the Pokemon saga was at its peak, a small developer called Genki took the risk of adapting the famous Nintendo formula to the PS1. An excellent game that’s unfortunately remained in the shadows because of its very premise.

Jade Cocoon Story of the Tamamayu is a hidden gem for the original PlayStation

In this adventure, you control Levant, a boy who is forced to become the Master of the Chrysalis to save Syrus, his village, which is being subjected to a plague.

What is a Master of the Chrysalis? Well, basically it’s the guy they designate in the village to have the power to trap and train these monsters. The plot may be somewhat reminiscent of Pokemon, but as it progresses it becomes more grim and sinister.

Beyond its main inspiration, it should be made clear that this is a turn-based RPG similar to Final Fantasy with several new features such as battles one against XX ( in other words, you or your monsters against the rest), but the fights will not be random, you will see the enemies along the map.

As is customary in this type of game where dozens of monsters parade before us, Jade Cocoon boasts a design of characters, enemies, and scenarios that exploit the capabilities of the PS1.

If you like Pokemon and are looking for games of this style, it is my pleasure to announce that you have already found it.

Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (1999)

Publisher: Infogrames

When one thinks of PlayStation platform games, the first games that really come to mind are Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. No wonder, as they are still Sony heavyweights, but Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time deserves some attention.

Bugs Bunny Lost in Time game for ps1

The story is simple: Bugs Bunny gets lost on his way home and stumbles upon an abandoned time machine in an old barn, which he activates by mistake.

Now, to return not only to his home but also to his time, he will have to collect magic clocks traveling through different periods of history: the Stone Age, the Middle Ages, the century of the pirates, the 30s, and the future.

Basically, the plot is an excuse to see Bugs Bunny in a tremendously fun platform adventure full of cameos from the most famous Looney Tunes characters. It’s a very good excuse.

The soundtrack also pays homage to the Looney Tunes universe, while being perfectly adapted to each level of the game and its different eras of history. The sound effects are taken directly from the animated adventures.

Whether you are a fan of these characters, or platform games in general, you can’t miss this hidden gem on the PS1 still worth playing today.

Rapid Reload (1995)

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

We end this list with a title that was only released in Japan and Europe, but that prevented American gamers from finding it.

Bugs Bunny Lost in Time game for ps1

Rapid Reload is an excellent action shooter that takes inspiration from the Run and Gun games of the 16-bit consoles, but also looks a lot like its arcade counterpart.

In this adventure, you’ll put yourself in the shoes of treasure hunters Axel or Ruka (depending on which one you choose), who yearn to find a legendary stone known as Valkiry.

But of course, they are not the only ones looking for it, as the terrorist Pumpkin Heads are on the trail of the stone and will turn the path of our heroes into a nightmare.

In each level you will have to destroy the enemies that you find along the way by shooting through to finally meet the stage bosses, resulting in intense and difficult fights.

In addition, the game has the perfect battle system for this genre, so the protagonists have a simple and direct control that makes the movements and attacks that can be done very easy.

Rapid Reload is an addictive game for PlayStation’s first console, inspired by the great Gunstar Heroes that, although it does not reach the quality of this one, it is a very good alternative.

Reviewing The Best PS1 Hidden Gems

Honestly, these 10 games were just the top of the iceberg of the best hidden gems on the PS1.

I tried to choose the most varied genres, but I invite you to keep digging into the catalog of this iconic Sony console that started a worldwide phenomenon.