Who hasn't used their PlayStation Portable (PSP) as a music player back in the day? The hardware is certainly capable of both playing games and for all our music bought off iTunes. How about both good games and good music? Here are seven of the PSP games with the best soundtrack.
PSP games with the best soundtrack
7. Hexyz Force
Hexyz Force unfolds in the divided world of Berge, featuring a light side and a dark side, paralleling the game's dual narrative structure with two distinct main characters, Cecilia and Levant. Cecilia's tale, focusing on her struggles as a young cleric, carries a lighter tone, while Levant, a knight grappling with questions of chivalry and honor, contributes a more serious and political dimension to the overarching narrative. The unique perspectives of each character add depth and richness to the storytelling, despite the presence of traditional JRPG tropes.
More importantly, how is Hexyz Force’s soundtrack? Hexyz Force boasts an amazingly composed and well-executed musical score throughout the game. Each dungeon features distinct music, and the protagonists have their own recurring themes. It is pretty much the standard feature of AA productions of tier-one JRPG publishers like Atlus.
The composer for this game is Shigeki Hayashi. His early works include Baroque. He also composed the music of Gungnir, another Sting and Atlus collaboration, as well as the sound for Yggdra Union: We’ll Never Fight Alone. Unfortunately, it seems like he stopped composing music for games.
6. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC serves as the direct sequel to its predecessor, Trails in the Sky FC. It is recommended to play the first game to feel the impact both in storytelling and music.
Picking up where FC left off, SC follows protagonist Estelle's journey to confront the mysterious organization Ouroboros. While the story has some formulaic moments and a slow start, its true strength lies in character development, with Estelle's growth standing out prominently. The central romance and interactions contribute to the game's charm, even if some elements feel familiar. The world-building builds upon the established lore, and while relying heavily on the first game, SC effectively immerses players in its intricate narrative.
The musical score, largely reused from the first game, is the reason why this game is on this list. It uses the amazing soundtrack of the previous game and also adds more to it. This should be expected from JRPGs because it seems like video game developers hire the best composers for these types of games.
While not as tightly crafted as its predecessor, the sequel remains enjoyable, particularly for fans of Trails in the Sky FC.
5. Me and My Katamari
Me and My Katamari takes the renowned Katamari Damacy series to the PSP, offering an interesting but slightly diminished experience compared to its console counterparts due to the admittedly limited controls of the PSP. In this handheld iteration, the King of All Cosmos tasks the Prince with creating islands rather than restoring stars, fitting the scaled-down premise for a handheld console. The story is more compact and it suits the handheld format.
For newcomers to Katamari Damacy, Me and My Katamari introduce a delightful yet initially confusing experience. The primary goal is to roll up everything in sight with a sticky ball, growing in size as more objects adhere to it. The game's simplicity and addictive nature make it enjoyable, despite the minimal difficulty curve and consistent mission objectives. Rolling up diverse items, from small creatures to massive structures, provides a sense of accomplishment, showcasing the game's unique and satisfying concept.
Turning to the music, a standout element of the Katamari series, Me and My Katamari maintains its catchy tunes and quirky soundtrack. Utilizing songs from the PS2 version, the music complements the gameplay effectively.
Also, the game employs a cheery, cartoony style that aligns well with the PSP, displaying vibrant colors and impressive graphics. This compliments the lighthearted music so much, that the music becomes inseparable from the gameplay.
4. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
The soundtrack of Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is not only impressive in quantity but also in quality. The game features songs from well-known artists, such as Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lil Wayne, T.I., Beenie Man, and M.I.A. The songs are carefully selected to fit the mood and style of each city and race. For example, you can hear rock songs in San Diego, hip-hop songs in Atlanta, and dancehall songs in Detroit. The songs are also varied and catchy, making each race more exciting and enjoyable.
The soundtrack of Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is one of the game’s strongest points, and it enhances what is already an incomparable racing experience. The game allows you to customize your playlist, so you can listen to your favorite songs while racing. The game also supports custom soundtracks, so you can add your songs to the game. So literally, you can have the best soundtrack in the world since the game can play your playlist.
3. Ys Seven
By now, you should notice that most of the games that rank high on music are JRPGs. Such is just the nature of the beast. The core of Ys 7's gameplay lies in its simple yet effective battle system. With a party of three characters, players navigate through encounters, strategically switching between characters to exploit enemy weaknesses.
The game introduces a limited weakness/strength system akin to Final Fantasy X, adding an extra layer of strategy. The simplicity of the battle system, focused on real-time combat and fluid character switching, works in its favor, preventing battles from becoming unnecessarily prolonged. The introduction of skills and the Extra gauge enhances variety and keeps the gameplay engaging. Boss fights, a highlight of the game, present a fair and challenging experience, avoiding the common pitfall of anticlimactic victories.
Regarding the audio, Ys Seven doesn't feature extensive voice acting, except for brief character quotes during battle, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the game's soundtrack. Staying true to the series tradition, the music maintains a fast-paced and intense vibe, complementing the gameplay seamlessly. The energetic tunes are the kind that will have you nodding your head and humming along in no time. While the more laid-back "town" themes may not stand out as much, their impact is minimal given that the majority of gameplay unfolds in the field.
Those fortunate enough to acquire the special edition released by Xseed alongside the standard version should make sure to explore the included music CD. Although it may not encompass every in-game track, the disc offers a substantial selection of music, providing an enjoyable background for various activities, even outside the gaming.
2. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
This might sound like cheating, but it's hard to deny that Kingdom Hearts games, with their vast array of intellectual properties, often boast some of the most exceptional Original Soundtrack in both the movie and gaming realms. Consequently, including Birth by Sleep in this list is its birthright.
Birth by Sleep delivers a phenomenal gameplay experience due to its incredible production. The real-time battles are rich and fluid, showcasing the innovative "Command Deck" system that allows extensive customization. With dozens of spells, numerous special abilities, and the addition of "Command Styles," which alter appearance and attacks based on playstyle, the game offers endless combinations and hours of enjoyment. The new "D-Link" system, akin to summons, adds another layer by allowing players to call on allies for trademark attacks. Beyond combat, the game features intricate mini-games, an elaborate arena for solo and multiplayer matches, and diverse world exploration with branching paths.
The soundtrack, composed by Yoko Shimomura, shines so bright. The battle themes stand out as epic and stirring, making them some of the best in gaming history. The overall composition and mixing contribute to a triumphant and memorable musical experience, establishing Birth by Sleep as a masterpiece in Yoko Shimomura's portfolio.
Lumines is one of the best games on the PSP. The core mechanics rival Tetris, but that is not just the reason why this title often appears in must-play lists. Lumines’ music is one of the best ever in the history of video games.
Like most good puzzle games, the mechanics of Lumines are instantly familiar and easy to grasp. Two by two blocks fall from the top of the screen and players are tasked with dropping, rotating and getting rid of them before they fill the grid. To get rid of a block, you have to at least create a two by two square. The twist is that blocks are made up of individual squares that come in two colors. In case I’m making things overly complicated, each block has four smaller units. These units can be of different colors. For instance, the upper left and bottom right units might be white while the upper right and lower left are orange. The player then has to maneuver these until creating a two by two square composed of the same color.