There’s no getting away from the fact that the gaming industry can be a darn shonky place at times. By definition, video games are supposed to be about having fun, but we’ve long forgotten that. There’s more drama going on in this industry than there was between Eminem and his mama back in the 90s.
The same old topics are rehashed again and again. What is a ‘true’ gamer? Where do you draw the line between casual and hardcore? When with the season pass shenanigans ever end? How about that on-disk DLC thing publishers keep trying to pull? The can is open, friends, and there are worms all over the darn floor.
Another vital issue, perhaps even older than a lot of these, is that of reviews. Every gamer approaches them differently. Some of us take review scores as gospel and will only buy titles that score above a certain number. Others are glad to glean a little information about the game in question from a review, while yet others ignore them completely.
It’s hard to know how much faith to put into a critic’s opinion of a game. After all, an opinion is an opinion, professional or not.
Metacritic tries to alleviate this problem by collating the scores from high-profile reviews, offering an overall score from industry critics. How did the much-beloved PS1’s library fare over there? Buckle up, because we’re about to find out. From Metal Gear Solid to The Simpsons Wrestling, let’s take a look at the games that Metacritic deemed the system’s tip-top (and rock bottom) titles.
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30 LAMEST: Digimon Are(n’t) The Champions
Digimon World 2 (Metascore: 42)
The original PlayStation was a monstrous success story, so it’s no surprise that some of the biggest names wanted to get a slice of that sales action.
For blindingly obvious reasons, though, the Pokémon series isn’t one of them. Instead, Sony gamers have the next best thing: Digimon. Sadly, the 3-on-3 polygon-tastic battles of Digimon World 2 did not fare so well on the system. It’s ranked as Metacritic’s twentieth worst PS1 game, with a score of 42. Users were more generous, though, giving it an average 7.3 ranking.
29 LAMEST: Now You’re Playing With Power (Except You Aren’t)
ATV: Quad Power Racing (Metascore: 42)
Joining Digimon World 2 in the meagre 42 rating club, we have ATV: Quad Power Racing. On its release in the year 2000, the quad racing genre… wasn’t a thing at all. Needless to say, though, this mess of a game hardly started its own genre, Mario Kart or Doom style.
It’s characterized by questionable visuals, music and AI, and was also far too generic for most people’s liking. It may not have been just plain offensively unplayable, but there were so many astonishing things happening in gaming at this time. The late 90s and early 2000s were a real treasure trove, zero thanks to ATV: Quad Power Racing.
28 BEST: It’s Dracula Spelt Backwards! Who In Heckola Knew?
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Metascore: 93)
Now we’re talking, friends. The Castlevania franchise is one of the longest-running and most prolific of all time. Its change in style, from the older action platformers to the more exploration-based games, was so successful that it contributed to the ‘Metroidvania’ genre that’s so popular just now.
This new style was demonstrated with aplomb in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metacritic’s tenth-highest-rated PS1 game. The player takes the role of Alucard, Dracula’s descendant, venturing through his vast castle and engaging in some light RPG mechanics. It was released in 1997 and is still seen by many as Castlevania’s best.
27 LAMEST: Speaking Of Vampires…
Countdown Vampires (Metascore: 41)
It’s great when things work out, isn’t it? I’m darn happy that I can neatly segue from Castlevania and Dracula to Countdown Vampires, the next questionable PS1 game that’s going to assault our senses.
What we’re looking at here is an obscure survival horror title, centring around a detective attending the opening of a new horror-themed hotel.
Predictably, the horror gets too real when things take a turn for the spooky.
Absurd premise aside (a fire breaks out at the hotel, and the sprinklers spray an odd substance that transforms the guests into vampires), this is not a good time.
26 LAMEST: Okay, Stop Namedropping
MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald (Metascore: 40)
Oh, dear. That’s always a bad sign, right off the bat. I mean, sure, you can be proud of getting a big name on board and all, but you really want more to offer beyond that.
MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald had one big selling point. Can you see what it is? I’ll give you a clue: it features Andy MacDonald, that’s what it freaking is. Critics were a little mixed on this one, but the general consensus is that we’re trying a little too hard to be Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater here. An also-ran with a super-shonky frame rate.
25 BEST: A True World Champion
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Metascore: 93)
Needless to say, when it comes to the fighting genre, Street Fighter is one of the old hands. Ever bit as iconic as rivals like Tekken, that eccentric cast is one of the genres most unforgettable.
For some fans and critics, Street Fighter Alpha 3 is still the best the series has to offer. With its refinements to the fighting system and plethora of extra modes (something the genre is often lacking), this is a deep, ambitious and meaty package. As with Symphony of the Night, it also boasts an impressive Metacritic score of 93. There’s little doubt that it’s worthy of every point for fighter fans.
24 LAMEST: Something Has Survived (And It Shouldn’t Have)
Resident Evil Survivor (Metascore: 39)
As is so often the case in life, you really should stick to what you’re good at. Even the biggest and most successful franchises have made hilariously awful missteps, usually when attempting a radical spin-off.
Resident Evil Survivor is, for some, one such curio. It’s a controversial one, with some praising its innovative control system and others just panning it outright. As far as Metacritic is concerned, though, this zombie shooter is the first sub-40 scorer in this rundown, with 39 points (indicating ‘unfavourable reviews’).
23 LAMEST: I Hear The Land Of The Babes Is Lovely This Time Of Year
Duke Nukem: Land Of The Babes (Metascore: 37)
Ah, Duke Nukem. This series has always courted controversy, with its tongue-in-cheek attitude and questionable themes. Are they games to be taken seriously? Are they not? Nobody can quite decide. That one’s always divided opinion.
Reviews-wise, one of the most controversial entries would be 2000’s Duke Nukem: Land Of The Babes.
As is Duke’s way, this entry saw him blasting his way through enemies to rescue the women of the world, who had been captured by ruthless aliens.
The game’s Metascore is a less-than-inspired 37, but users have awarded it a more generous 6.7.
22 BEST: Gran(d) Turismo
Gran Turismo 2 (Metascore: 93)
Whatever their platform of choice, fans of racing games will always have some quality titles to slake their need. On Xbox and PC, the exclusive Forza franchise is right there. Nintendo fans have the madcap Mario Kart waiting for them, if that’s their deal. Over on PlayStation, of course, Gran Turismo is the very last word in racing sims.
Gran Turismo 2 is among the best racing games ever made, also boasting a Metascore of 93. It was a visual and technical triumph for the system.
21 LAMEST: Pure Destruction
World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks (Metascore: 35)
Now, I’m a simple man. I don’t like to mess around with double entendres. I like people to say what they mean and mean what they say. As such, when a developer names their game World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks, I expect a whole heaping helping of explosions and drama. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
Alas, this one fails to deliver a single iota of the title’s promise. Twisted Metal it sure as heckola isn’t. Wonky controls, limited gameplay options and all-round weak and unsatisfying combat abound. It talks the talk, but it certainly can’t walk the walk. That’s a 35 Metascore and a 1.2 User Score, right there.
20 LAMEST: War (Huh! Good God, Y’all!), What Is It Good For?
Army Men: World War – Land, Sea, Air (Metascore: 35)
Here they are again, friends. The Tan army, out to invade the Green’s territory and wipe them out. Is that something I’m going to stand for? You’re darn right it isn’t. I love these little green guys; I have ever since I saw them complete that mission together in Toy Story. The world needs more of that sort of co-operation, let me tell you.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to let Army Men: World War – Land, Sea, Air slide, though. It’s a horrible pixelated mess.
19 BEST: Snake? Snake? SNAAAKE!
Metal Gear Solid (Metascore: 94)
Oh, yes indeed, friends. No rundown of truly legendary PS1 titles would be complete without the wonderful Metal Gear Solid. Really, words can’t quite do just to what Hideo Kojima managed to achieve here, and on such a relatively primitive system.
It’s so far ahead of its time, it’s like giving a caveman an Apple Watch and a Lamborghini Gallardo.
Metal Gear Solid wasn’t the first Metal Gear title, but it was certainly the one that captured a generation’s imagination. This hunk of tactical espionage action is a highlight reel of memorable gaming moments.
18 LAMEST: The Real Experience?
Motocross Mania (Metascore: 34)
The next entry in this rundown is an interesting one indeed. Motocross Mania, a supercross title from 2001, isn’t really the sort of thing that’s going to set the gaming world’s collective underpants ablaze. It was largely panned by critics (sporting a 34 Metascore) for its poor presentation and rough controls. Its average score from users isn’t far off that either, standing at 5.3.
Among those who claimed to be experience riders, though, it was rated much more highly. Of the glut of similar titles on the market at the time, those difficult controls have been considered the most realistic.
17 LAMEST: Golden? Hardly
Gold and Glory: The Road To El Dorado (Metascore: 34)
Right from the start, the signs weren’t looking too good for this one. Firstly, it’s a video game tie-in. As we know, those tend to be rough (the poor Superman 64 springs to mind). Secondly… well, we don’t need a secondly, because the firstly was just far too real.
Do you remember the DreamWorks movie The Road To El Dorado? You probably do. Do you remember Gold and Glory: The Road To El Dorado? Probably not. If you’re anything like me, you’ve repressed the memory of this questionable tie-in.
16 BEST: I Can’t Even Be (Chrono) Cross About This One
Chrono Cross (Metascore: 94)
The RPG genre of one of the most storied and beloved in gaming. From Final Fantasy VII , the love-it-or-hate-it title that was many gamers’ introduction to the JRPG, to recent success stories like Octopath Traveller, you just can’t beat a good RPG.
When the subject turns to the best RPGs, there’s one name that’s simply bound to come up: Chrono Cross. With an innovative battle system, unforgettable and varied story (with far too many endings) and that presentation, there’s no question that Chrono Cross earns its 94 Metascore.
15 My, Grandma, What Big… Eyes You Have
V.I.P. (Metascore: 33)
Right. Okay. I don’t entirely see how this ever happened, but happen it did.
What are we dealing with here?
Well, it’s V.I.P, a questionable video game starring Pamela Anderson, based on a questionable TV show starring Pamela Anderson.
It’s got beat ‘em up sections, stealth and shooting sections, the whole nine yards. Sadly, it doesn’t pull any of them off remotely competently. The only selling point you’re left with? The ever-pneumatic Pammy, who stares at you like you’re a six-foot-tall sentient strain of the ebola virus.
14 LAMEST: That’s What You Get For Trusting The Simpsons License
The Simpsons Wrestling (Metascore: 32)
Like just about every single one of my peers, I was a huge fan of The Simpsons in the late 90s/early 2000s. I was also rather young back then. Huge fandom and naivety is a super dangerous combination, friends. It’s the sort of thing that makes you think that The Simpsons Wrestling was a worthy purchase.
It was quite a fun concept, but the execution was just super, super lazy. The gameplay is awfully repetitive, the audio and visual quality diabolical, and Ned Flanders (of all people) is just broken.
13 BEST: Now This Is An Evolution
ISS Pro Evolution (Metascore: 94)
Soccer and gaming fans have been quite well catered to over the years. The FIFA Soccer franchise gets a lot of stick for its Call of Duty-like release schedule, but it tends to be a solid rendition of the sport that fans pick up year in and year out.
On the PS1, though, there was one soccer title that blew every other out of the water. ISS Pro Evolution is another title with a mighty 94 Metascore, with users rating it almost as highly (8.7). Its tight controls and general faith to the source material (something sports games often lack) is still celebrated, eighteen years after its release.
12 LAMEST: What Are The Powerpuff Girls Doing Here
The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction (Metascore: 30)
The trouble with licensed games is that they often fail to gve us that power trip we’re looking for. When you’re playing as the almighty son of Krypton, for instance, you want to feel darn strong. You don’t want to be flying through rings like it’s freaking Baby’s First Flight Sim 2: This Time, It’s Worse.
That was the trouble with Superman 64, and it’s also the main failing of The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction. It’s a mess of an arena fighter, with super simple gameplay that boils down to throwing items around. Less than inspiring stuff from the girls.
11 LAMEST: On The Road Again
Hooters Road Trip (Metascore: 30)
Ah, Hooters. That proud American institution.
Do you know what else is a proud American institution? Trucking, the open road, and just the love of a good highway in general.
What could possibly go wrong when you combine the two? Well, just about everything, by the looks of it.
If you remember certain BMX games, you’ll know that cheap and shallow gameplay in the hopes of unlocking a risqué cutscene or two is not what gaming is about. 2002’s Hooters Road Trip is cut from the same cloth, and its Metascore of 30 says it all really.
10 BEST: The Ultimate Fantasy
Final Fantasy IX (Metascore: 94)
I’m one of those fans who just cannot decide which is my favourite Final Fantasy title. I grew up on a steady diet of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX, and make a point of regularly replaying them. My favourite tends to be the one that I’ve got going at that moment.
By Metascore alone, the ninth entry just manages to edge out its predecessors. The game captivated audiences all over the world with its storybook design and retro-inspired gameplay, and it’s certainly deserving of its 94 Metascore. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a life-changing experience.
9 LAMEST: Simba’s Shonky Adventure
Disney’s The Lion King: Simba’s Mighty Adventure (Metascore: 30)
Now, I have no beef with The Lion King. It’s one of my favourite Disney movies of all time, for sure, and it hasn’t done badly in the gaming stakes over the years either. The Genesis’ The Lion King is a beast of a platformer.
But what went wrong with Disney’s The Lion King: Simba’s Mighty Adventure? It’s just so incredibly mediocre in every way. Production values are high, true enough, but it’s a glitchy, cookie-cutter sort of experience from start to finish. It’s darn short, too.
8 LAMEST: When Mortal Kombat Goes Awry
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (Metascore: 28)
Mortal Kombat is another franchise that has been dogged with controversy all its life. With its super-intense fatalities and such, there have always been those who advocate against it. There have also, obviously, always been those who just can’t get enough of the whole thing.
Even the most dedicated Mortal Kombat aficionado will agree that Mortal Kombat: Special Forces was a step too far, however. This spin-off cast the player as Jax, in a side-scrolling affair similar to Tekken 3’s Force mode. It just wasn’t much cop.
7 BEST: Gran(d) Tur… Oh, Wait, I’ve Done That One
Gran Turismo (Metascore: 96)
It’s funny how things work out, sometimes. Gran Turismo 2 was a fantastic sequel that expanded and improved on the original in all sorts of ways.
Which is the better game, though? The first, apparently.
Gran Turismo sports a sublime Metascore of 96, compared to the sequel’s 93. There are all sorts of factors at work here, granted, but one thing can’t be denied: Gran Turismo was one of the best first entries in a series the PS1 ever saw. A rock-solid foundation and a great racing sim.
6 LAMEST: To Jump Or Not To Jump? That Is The Question
Animorphs: Shattered Reality (Metascore: 27)
While I was never a fan of the Animorphs series myself, I can appreciate the concept behind it. K.A Applegate’s series of young adult books deal with the ideas of change and finding a place in the scary new adult world, from the perspectives of a group of youngsters who can transform into animals.
They’ve got an alien invasion to deal with, naturally, and it makes for quite a neat idea for a video game. Sadly, Animorphs: Shattered Reality is all kinds of a confusing mess, with unresponsive controls and lazy design. The jump command would only work when it decided to.
5 LAMEST: You Call That Boxing?
HBO Boxing (Metascore: 26)
Now, we’ve already touched on this, but it warrants saying again: the number one goal of any sports sim is to create a realistic take on the sport. With boxing specifically, then, there are certain things you’ve just got to get right. Collision detection, for one. Fluid and actual boxing-esque animations, for another.
HBO Boxing didn’t seem to get that memo, sadly, and critics were not kind as a result. I guess you could say that it looked the part, but style points aren’t everything.
4 BEST: The King Of The King Of Iron Fist Tournament
Tekken 3 (Metascore: 96)
We’ve already spoken about Street Fighter and Tekken, two long-time giants of the fighting genre. Both franchises have released a string of superb games, and fans will each have their own favourite entries. Where Tekken is concerned, for myself and many others, nothing beats Tekken 3.
As with Street Fighter Alpha 3, it’s a fantastic looking and content-stuffed package. Everything from a chaotic beach volleyball mode to a sidescrolling beat ‘em up is contained within. For the time, this was a remarkable offering, and is still considered among the very best fighting games ever made.
3 LAMEST: When KISS and Pinball Collide
KISS Pinball (Metascore: 26)
Now, there are a lot of things in this world that just aren’t meant to go together. Chocolate and peanut butter, say, sounded like a ghastly concoction until I tried it. I am now firmly on team Reece’s, for life.
The bizarre combination of KISS and pinball is another, and this one did not work out so well.
It might have a couple of soundbites from Gene Simmons and co, but otherwise, this is a pure nope. Slowdown? In a pinball game? KISS Pinball is about as fun as it sounds.
2 LAMEST: When Your Ultimate Battle Isn’t As Ultimate As You Thought
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 (Metascore: 25)
Here it is, friends. The lowest-rated PS1 game on Metacritic.
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 has a Metascore of 25, a single point below the woeful KISS Pinball. The consensus seems to be that dedicated fans will defend it to the last, but critics can see through the fanservice of the characters to the squishy, poopy shell beneath. The controls are shonky, it’s completely barebones in terms of modes and the visuals looked ancient even by 2003’s standards.
The real question is, were there 21 ultimate battles before this? Were they any better?
1 BEST: A Pro Skater Indeed
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (Metascore: 98)
And so we leave Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 behind and rocket all the way up the scale, faster than a Smash Bros. Sonic dashing away from his opponents to spam “you’re too slow!”
The highest-rated PS1 title, in a league of its own with a score of 98, is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. You’re probably all familiar with the quality of this one, on whichever format you happen to have played it back in the day. All that matters is that the PS1 edition is a fantastic version of a fantastic game.