Original PlayStation Hidden Gems (Part 1)

Original PlayStation Hidden Gems (Part 1)

Unearth some buried treasures

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Retrospectives on

Sony's debut home console had some of the most memorable experiences in gaming history. Here, I'll explore five highly underrated gems that you may want to add to your collection.

No One Can Stop Mr. Domino!

This unique arcade-style game stole plenty of hours away from my teenage years. Heck, I still boot it up nowadays and try to master its intricate stages that require nothing but the utmost precision and skill. Basically, you place dominos in front of buttons then start placing a chain of dominos from that button's corresponding square to the next button and so on. If you manage to do that for an entire stage then once it loops, all you do is knock the first domino over to trigger the first button and watch the chaos unfold! There are so many frustrating stage hazards and ridiculous scenarios that you can't help but want to give it another go whenever you inevitably fail. I love this game and the fact that a company named Artdink made it makes me love it even more.

No One Can Stop Mr. Domino! screenshot
I bet Mr. Domino is excited to finally set off his awesome chain

Buster Bros. Collection

I've already discussed this collection at length in my Buster Bros. retrospective from a couple years back but it's such a fantastic compilation that I just had to include it here, too. Basically, this disc contains three games in the frantically challenging bubble-busting series: Buster Bros. (1989), Super Buster Bros. (1990), and Buster Buddies (1995). Shooting wires up at bubbles only to watch them form smaller bubbles then busting those bubbles is so much fun, especially in cooperative multiplayer. One thing I've always wandered is what the heck those bubbles are made of if they kill people just by touching them. I guess we'll never know.

If you'd like to play a modern take on this awesome arcade series then be sure to check out my Pang Adventures review.

Buster Bros. Collection screenshot
Barcelona is a beautiful city to bust bubbles in

Saiyuki: Journey West

If you enjoy strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics then here's a game for you. Saiyuki: Journey West is one of many game adaptations of the Chinese novel Journey to the West (like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and World to the West). However, it's the only RPG that I've ever played based on the classic tale. Anyway, it's not the most robust PS1 SRPG but it definitely holds its own. The strategic grid-based battles are mostly simplistic yet one cool aspect is that party members can transform into large beasts for a short period of time. When you factor in the tricky artificial intelligence and non-linear progression, you're looking at one satisfying tactical RPG.

Saiyuki: Journey West screenshot
A FireDart is much better than a DireFart

Destrega

Admittedly, Destrega isn't a game for everyone. Before Omega Force unleashed their brand of hack and slash gameplay with Dynasty Warriors 2, they created a fighting game that has competitors cast magic spells in order to defeat each other. There's a rock-paper-scissors dynamic in play and timing is crucial so it requires a lot of finesse if you want to emerge victorious and mastering the gameplay can be very rewarding. I remember playing through the somewhat lengthy story mode and having a ton of fun doing so but I don't think I have the patience anymore to do that. Good thing it's even more enjoyable to play against a friend!

Destrega screenshot
I think Gradd is going to need a chiropractor when Doyle is done with him

Torneko: The Last Hope

Here we have a Dragon Quest spin-off that plays like a Mystery Dungeon game. Torneko: The Last Hope is in fact the second game in this spin-off series but it's the first (and currently only) one to be released in North America. Playing as the jolly Torneko while going on quests to uncover a wealth of items is so addictive. Of course, the Mystery Dungeon formula is an acquired taste but if you're a fan of the genre or Dragon Quest in general then I highly recommend unearthing a copy of this buried treasure.

Torneko: The Last Hope screenshot
It may look dated but Torneko is sure to provide hours of dungeon crawling fun

Thanks for reading about my first batch of hidden gems for the original PlayStation. Stay tuned for more articles about underrated classic games (and for part 2, of course). What are some PS1 games that you find are often overlooked? Let's chat below.

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