During its ten-year lifespan, the PlayStation Portable was undoubtedly home to many different types of games. It sold more than 80 million units between 2004 and 2014, which is a testament to the strength of its game library. There’s a good chance if you ever owned a PlayStation Portable (or PSP as it was often known) or own one now, you have at least one “action” game in your collection.
Part of the seventh generation of gaming, the PSP competed against the Nintendo DS for the handheld crown. And, while Sony wasn’t able to match the DS in terms of sales volume, it was able to introduce games that have more than stood up to the test of time.
What is an Action Game?
An action game is just one of many video game genres that are able to be played across nearly every video game console ever made. The definition of an action game is rather broad, but to simplify what an action game should be, think about a game that challenges your hand-eye coordination and tests your reaction time.
Using this definition, action games cross over into a variety of sub-genres including fighting, beat ‘em up, and shooter games. There may be a boss at the end of a level (think platformer) or there might just be one antagonist you’re trying to reach and defeat (think Syphon Filter).
Was the PlayStation Portable Known for Action Games?
Like most consoles, the PlayStation Portable wasn’t best known for any type of video game genre. However, if you owned the PlayStation Portable at any point (or still own and play), it’s very likely that you played at least one action game on the console.
Action games are responsible for some of the platform’s best gaming experiences including titles like Tekken, SOCOM, SoulCalibur, and Daxter. So, while it’s hard to say that the PSP was best known for action games, it’s definitely one of the better genres available on the console.
- Havok physics engine provides life-like physical reactions on both characters and environments
- New and improved weapons, such as grenade launchers, sticky mines, smoke grenades, and flash bangs
- New character actions enable players to force enemies to take cover with blind fire or protect health with the new human shield features
- Underwater physics allows players to experience 360 degrees of water navigation to explore shipwrecks and target enemies with new underwater weapons like the bolt pistol and spear gun
- Improved buddy mechanics
Gabe Logan is ready to save the world as the main protagonist of emSyphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow/em.
Played from the third-person perspective, this game is all about stealth and stopping a terrorist group from doing the world harm. If the plot feels generic, that’s because it is, but that hardly matters because the gameplay of emLogan’s Shadow/em is just so great.
The graphics pushed the PSP to its limits while the controls are among the best any PSP game has been released with.
What makes these types of stealth games feel very action-friendly is that any quick action is a bad action. Slow action is better and you have to think strategically about how to proceed with every step you take. One wrong move and everyone in the terrorist camp knows you are there, and it’s game over. Online multiplayer adds to the replayability as two teams compete in a variety of different game formats or stick to the roughly nine-hour single-player campaign.
Earning an 85 Metascore and 8.0 out of 10 from users is proof that even the lowest-ranked title on this list is still a fantastic action game.
- Set during the 2-year time jump from the opening cutscene of Jak II
- Discover Daxter's back story living alone in Haven City
- Explore the city to help Daxter find Jak
- Compete in multiplayer combat challenges
- Unlock bonus mini-games
When you need a good action game to laugh at and find the main character so adorable it’s hard to ignore, emDaxter/em is the PlayStation portable game for you.
Developed by Ready at Dawn, emDaxter/em is an ottsel (an otter and weasel hybrid) that was made popular by the Jak and Daxter games that preceded this title. Unfortunately, in this game, emDaxter/em is on his own and to make it, he has to take on a job as a pest exterminator and quickly get to work.
Thankfully, emDaxter/em is pretty crafty and can crouch, squeeze, double jump, and grab ledges all around his environment to achieve his goals.
And should you ever find emDaxter/em in a combat situation — and you will eventually — rest assured that it’s very appropriate for kids. More importantly, performing attacks on your enemies is just plain fun with your “bug swatter” and, eventually, after a few missions, your extermination tank with its very own bug spray.
The emDaxter/em storyline is just great and together it’s such a strong combination of being fun to play for all ages while also being action-packed. That’s the reason why emDaxter/em earned an 85 Metascore and would go on to sell more than 2.3 million copies worldwide.
An absolutely delightful platformer on the PSP, emPatapon/em is one of those rare games that is just truly unique and adds something to a console’s game selection no other title can match.
What really helped emPatapon/em immediately stand out was its art selection which felt completely new for the PSP. The plot essentially consists of you taking on the central role as an invisible deity to the “Patapon” tribe. As their deity, you have total control of the tribe and can point them in a direction and tell them to attack, retreat, or just start beating their drums. Remember to try and be a good deity.
A combination action, platformer, and rhythm game, Patapon is one of those rare titles that has something for everyone. The amount of strategy involved is a testament to its developers looking to deliver something different, and across 30 different missions, that’s exactly what you get.
The strength of emPatapon/em’s 86 Metascore would help it spawn two additional sequels with Patapon 2 and Patapon 3.
- Owners of LittleBigPlanet for PS3 can unlock bonus content for LittleBigPlanet (PS3) and vice versa via cross Talk functionality
- Experience a completely new LittleBigPlanet adventure, with more than 35 action packed platforming levels
- Use the Pop It Tool to create your own PSP creations
- Share your creations with the greater LittleBigPlanet community via both Ad hoc and Infrastructure mode
- Download costumes, stickers, decorations and extra functionality for LittleBigPlanet PSP via the PlayStation Store
Another action-based platformer for the PlayStation Portable that plays on the strengths of its art style and cute nature, emLittle Big Planet/em is a must-own title.
Following the same playstyle that made the game a big success on the PlayStation 3, emLittle Big Planet/em consists of 23 different primary levels as well as 14 different levels, giving it around seven hours of playtime. You can even make your own levels in the game and upload them online so people around the world can exponentially expand the game’s potential.
Your goal in emLittle Big Planet/em is to help the main cast of characters capture “prize bubbles” which help them level up with their own costumes. Sackboy, the main protagonist, will take you around all of the different environments and you’ll have to be quick on buttons to successfully make it through the various challenges that await and reach these prize bubbles.
emLittle Big Planet/em is also one of those rare games that successfully ported from a home console to a portable console without losing anything that made it truly great. Add that to the many reasons why it has accrued an 87 Metascore.
Velocity is one of those titles that helps personify the action genre by requiring quick reflexes to successfully complete its various levels. In the game, you’re the pilot of a “Quarp Jet” with which you need to assist in the rescuing of disabled and stranded ships.
To achieve your mission, you’ll have to fight through a variety of enemies and obstacles, and should you defeat these enemies, there’s one more challenge that awaits. Rescuing a ship in Velocity isn’t as easy as just flying alongside it. Instead, you have to help disable its shields through the various puzzles Velocity throws at you.
The game is set in the year 2122 and a giant star has exploded, leaving many ships without power. You are the only one capable of rescuing, meaning it’s all up to you. The visual style of the game feels like an ideal combination of retro style with some modern touches, and it all works so well. The overall game should take around eight hours to complete, and during that time you’ll find out why Velocity earned an 87 Metascore.
- Sequel to Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain.
- third-person shooter stealth video game
- developed by SCE Bend Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2.
emSyphon Filter: Dark Mirror/em is a major winner for the PlayStation Portable thanks to its fun factor, non-linear style, and oh so many different weapons available for you to choose from.
When Red Section, a not-at-all-unique name for a group of evil-doers, falls into the possession of a very bad weapon, Gabe Logan is called upon to set things right. As players begin their turn as Gabe, strategy is every bit as important as stealth, and quick reflexes will be called upon or you very well may be responsible for the end of the world.
Throughout the roughly seven-hour single-player campaign, you’ll also take control of Lian Xing, another super special government operative who is every bit as skilled as Gabe. Regardless of which character you play as, the game looks right out of PlayStation 2. This graphical superiority helps it earn an 87 Metascore.
At the same time, its deep multiplayer options for up to eight players in one match should give it a higher score. Between deathmatch and team deathmatch, replayability was enormous and gamers quickly racked up time on the PSP fighting against their friends.
- Fight against friends in ad-hoc multiplayer mode via Wi-Fi connectivity
- Compete to be King of the Iron Fist Tournament in this explosive fighting game
- Destructible objects pump up the action on 19 stages; stunning graphics
- New characters join the classic cast with all-new fight styles and moves
- Play as 1 of 30+ characters; customizable characters; bonus mini-games
The 11th best-selling game on the PlayStation Portable sold 2.2 million copies and remains one of the best fighting games on the platform. Of course, fighting games are a great subgenre of action games and that makes it an easy number one on this list. emTekken: Dark Resurrection/em is arcade-style fighting at its finest, and there’s a truly intense feeling from mashing buttons and trying everything you can think of to defeat your opponent before your health bar runs out.
As emTekken: Dark Resurrection/em is a fighting game, it’s fair to say that the plot doesn’t often impact gameplay. That’s pretty accurate on the PlayStation Portable as the storyline exists only to advance you from fight to fight. That’s okay, though, as you’ll be more focused on the graphics running at a full 60 frames per second. There’s just something incredibly engaging about being able to take a home console-like fighting game anywhere you want to go.
Throw in some additional game modes like Tekken Dojo and Gold Rush mode, and there’s something for everyone who enjoys the Tekken universe. emTekken: Dark Resurrection/em is arguably underrated with its 88 Metascore, but it’s good enough to give it the top spot and the honor of being the best PSP action game of all time.
Grab the best action game ever to hit the PSP from Amazon here.
Even with tens of millions of units sold, the PlayStation Portable was a console generation too soon. Its successor, the PlayStation Vita, saw far less success and would lead Sony to exit the handheld console market completely.
Still, before all of this took place, PlayStation Portable console owners had wonderful games like Syphon Filter and Tekken: Dark Resurrection to play through for hours and hours at a time.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Evan-Amos, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.