From One to Thousand Arms, Vagrant Story and more, 411mania’s Marc Morrison counts down his list of the Top 8 One-Off PlayStation 1 Games inside!

games / Columns

The Top 8 One-Off PlayStation 1 Games

July 5, 2024 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Legend of Dragoon Image Credit: Sony Interactive

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about PS1 games, specifically games that aren’t directly part of a franchise and are basically only “one-off” games. I had intended to do a column about Activision dormant franchises, but outside of Crash, Spyro, Prototype and Tony Hawk, that’s about it. So I’m here to talk about some games for the PS1 that were made, came out, and nothing has been done with them since. Enjoy:

#8: Tail Concerto

Tail Concerto is on here due to a technicality. While there have been other games set in the Tail Concerto universe, there has never been a direct sequel to the game. There have been a few other spiritual sequels and such but nothing direct. Tail Concerto was actually CyberConnect’s first game and involves you playing as a dog, while piloting a mechsuit, as you try and stop the evil cat gang from mischief by capturing them in bubbles and throwing them into your backpack. So in other words, it is a game which is completely based on reality. The game commands a very high price now but is worth trying to hunt down for a cute platformer game.

#7: The Unholy War

I love The Unholy War, both due its two modes. The actual main mode involves up to four characters battling it out in 3D arenas, while each character has three different attacks and play styles. The lizard can chomp on foes to regain health or lay eggs to spawn little lizards. The rhino can charge around the level, hitting people, or farting blue gas clouds at enemies. The other mode of the game is an Archon-style strategy game where you have to move your units around a map, collecting resource points and defeating enemies, by way of the first mode. It’s a great hybrid of a strategy game (if you want), and an almost party/fighting game, akin to something like Power Stone.

#6: Silhouette Mirage

Treasure has been known for inventive shooter games like Radiant Silvergun, Gunstar Heroes and Ikaruga, to name but a few. One of their lesser known games though was Silhouette Mirage. While it did start as a Saturn game, that version never came out in America, so it is a PS1 exclusive to me. Silhouette Mirage is basically a mashup of a 2D platformer and Ikaruga-style mechanics. You guide the main character, Shyna, through levels, taking on both Silhouette and Mirage enemies. When facing right, she is a red character (Mirage) and can damage Silhouette enemies, and when facing left she is a blue (Silhouette) character and can damage Mirage enemies. So a lot of the game is about positioning yourself to damage enemies, or using your reflector (shield) to bounce enemy shots back at them. Other games use this color mechanic more, but Silhouette Mirage is the first one that I played that did it.

#5: Thousand Arms

I like that the premise of this game is “What if you combined a JRPG with a dating sim?” I have to imagine someone piped up in the room and said “Like the Golden Saucer Date in FF7?” and then they were promptly fired. Thousand Arms is a pretty odd game, the JRPG mechanics are fine enough but it’s the dating sim part that makes it memorable. You pretty much *have* to date your female party members and other women in the world to get new spells/abilities for your character. Oh, you want a flame attack? You have to reach the rank 4 date with Sodina for it to unlock. You could imagine a Persona game trying something like this, instead of the, usually paltry, stuff you get from hanging out with your teammates.

#4: Omega Boost

I was originally going to talk about Einhander, for about the 23rd time, here but why not talk about a more creative game? Omega Boost was the one and only non-automobile game than Polyphony Digital made. It’s an on-rails but 3D mech game where you have to blow up waves of enemies. It’s kind of like Rez but it has areas that are like the “All-Range Mode” from Starfox 64. The real thing about Omega Boost is that it is a fast game. It ran at 60FPS, and it took full advantage of it. I’d love it if Polyphony took another crack at the game, they would have something truly awesome looking on the PS5, but they are chained to Gran Turismo at this point and can never escape it.

#3: One

In a lot of ways, “One” is more of a Contra game than most of the awful Contra games that came before or after it, even if it didn’t have multiplayer. One has you playing as amnesia man who wakes up with a gun strapped to his left arm. From there, he goes on to escape the police that are chasing him, find out who he is, and blow up as much stuff as he can with his arm. There is a “Rage” mechanic, where the more stuff you blow up, the more powerful your gun becomes, until you get fully charged and you become invulnerable for a short period and your gun deals massive damage. The rage mechanic is also your health though, so if you take too many normal shots, you’ll go down pretty quickly. You can occasionally find limited-ammo weapons from enemies and such to break up the pace of just using your regular gun all the time. It’s not the greatest game ever, but it was pretty interesting and a somewhat early game from Visual Concepts.

#2: Vagrant Story

It’s kind of amazing that Vagrant Story is one of Square’s best RPGs and they’re like “Make a sequel? Or do anything at all with the property? Why would we do that?” While Vagrant Story does have some setting tie-ins to Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy 12, that’s about the extent of anything cross-branding with the game. Vagrant Story places you in the shoes of Ashley Riot, a late-90’s hero name if there ever was one, as he goes deeper and deeper into the city depths, slaying monsters, crafting weapons, and trying to unfurl the conspiracy that is going on. It was one of the last big PlayStation 1 games and it is still one of the highlights of the entire system.

#1: The Legend of Dragoon

Dragoon was Sony’s, somewhat naked, attempt at copying the success and popularity of Final Fantasy VII. While it didn’t quite reach that high, it was still a great game on its own. I actually prefer the kind of combo/button system combat in Dragoon over FF7, since it actually requires you to pay attention and rewards you being good at it. The story is nothing particularly great, you play “Dart” on an epic quest to unlock Dragoon powers, and stop the evil baddie, yadda yadda yadda. The best thing that could have happened to this game and FF7 is if it had a crossover, and you play a new character named “Cloudy Dartz”, but that’s just me. It’d be nice if Sony remembered this game at all but they clearly don’t.

For comments, list your favorite one-off PS1 games and why.

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