2. Metal Gear Solid
There were Metal Gear games before Metal Gear Solid, but there was no frenzy. This is the AAA game experience that spawned 4 sequels and catapulted Hideo Kojima into game design celebrity status. It takes on the stealth/infiltration gameplay style of Tom Clancy-based war games like Syphon Filter (p.s. you should also play Syphon Filter) and combined a heavily researched world of realism with plausible technological advancement that approached magic. The content of the world and its characters are the best way to describe this. The weapon, Metal Gear, is a bipedal tank capable of turning the tide of war. Its bosses include a gunslinger whose skill exceeds human boundaries, a psychic, a cyborg zombie ninja, and many more, all explained — weirdly plausibly — with the story’s internal pseudoscience. The whole thing is tied together with a personal and deeply human plot about the horrors of war, the meaning of family, and nature vs nurture/the power of free will.
1. Suikoden 2
Suikoden 2 is the most unknown / best game on Playstation 1. For a while, until it was re-released on PSN, copies of this game were ebaying for upwards of $250. It tells the story of Riou, a young soldier, who is the victim of a false-flag attack — his own country attacks his unit, pretending to be the enemy to get out of a recently signed peace treaty. From there, he travels with his best friend, Jowy, and sister, Nanami until fate irreversibly forces them apart. Jowy, an aristocrat of his country, uses political savvy and cunning to get into the royal circle; meanwhile, Riou becomes a war hero fighting for independence. There’s a beautiful emotional push-pull of the dichotomy where Jowy and Riou have the same goal of peace between the countries, but are forced to fight each other. If video games had oscars instead of farces hosted by Mountain Dew marketers, Suikoden 2 could win one every year.
Of course there are many more must-play games on PS1. Look forward to another 5 games soon!