During 2007, the PSP began picking up steam. As it hit 2008, it looked as if things would continue looking up for Sony's little system. This year did see a small handful of great titles, but not much more than that. Take a look at the cream of the PSP's crop.
Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone for the PSP tweaked, improved, and further beautified what was already one of the best tactics RPGs of this decade. Sporting an inventive battle system that plays differently from Tactics Ogre and its thirteen years of copycats, the gameplay goes outside the box while still providing challenging, strategic combat. The gameplay is complicated enough to keep your brain working constantly, but simple enough that the system doesn't require a Napoleonic understanding of battlefields to fully utilize. Rebalanced in numerous ways to be more approachable and less difficult, the remake also adds a layer of polish that makes the combat more fun and the interface cleaner. The presentation is outstanding too. The detailed sprites were formatted to fit — and look great — on the PSP's wide screen, the voice acting is crisp, and the background score benefits from not pouring out of a GBA. Aside from Jeanne D'Arc, the PSP is bereft of even mediocre original tactics RPGs, and Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone stands as an exceptional game that rates as one of the best TRPGs ever made despite being on a handheld.
The Star Ocean series is fairly well known and well loved at this point, but sadly, North American gamers were never treated to the original game. That all changed this year thanks to tri-Ace and Square Enix's ground-up remake. Making use of an enhanced version of fan-favorite Star Ocean: The Second Story's game engine, Star Ocean: First Departure has endearing characters, a memorable plot, an incredibly detailed crafting system, and a fast-paced battle system that's both simple and engaging. All these things easily place it among our top three PSP games of the year.
With relative ease, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is one of RPGamer's top PSP RPGs. It seems that RPGamers can't get enough of Final Fantasy VII spin-offs, but Crisis Core was the cream of that crop. The return to Midgard and beyond was almost as enjoyable as the first. Progressing through the game might have involved nothing more than luck, but the story and graphics made up for it. And best of all, Zack's story is finally told. This time he was given more than just a small collection of confusing mentions here and there. This game not only tells of Zack's life outside of Nibelheim, but other nostalgic moments from Final Fantasy VII. Not only that, but the game moves way beyond Final Fantasy VII with Zack's own climactic story. There was little doubt this year Zack would be in the top PSP games of the year.
by Glenn Wilson, Mikel Tidwell, Adriaan den Ouden, Michael Cunningham