Multiplayer gaming on handheld consoles was a bit of a pain before more widely available – and reliable – wireless technology was able to be implemented. Nintendo’s Game Boy, Atari’s Lynx and Sega’s Game Gear consoles all used link cables – the Game Boy was able to support up to 4 players (with a nifty adaptor that came with F1 Race) and the Lynx could theoretically support up to 15 connected players, though only one commercial release – Todd’s Adventures in Slime World – reached 8-player support.
By the time the PSP was released in 2004, technology had caught up with the possibilities of handheld multiplayer gaming.
Though local multiplayer was available – meaning two or more devices in close proximity could wirelessly communicate for players to compete or co-operate – Sony’s handheld could also utilise its online connectivity for bigger multiplayer experiences without needing to be close to other players.
Consequently, many developers took advantage of this technology – with the PSP’s software library being chock full of superb multiplayer experiences.
Though we’ve already covered the Best PSP Games here at Retro Dodo, it’s long past time that we took a look at some of the excellent multiplayer titles on offer.
As online functionality isn’t going to be available in many cases – with servers and other support having ceased many years ago – we’ll specifically be looking at the games that feature local (or ‘Ad Hoc’, as it’s known on the PSP) multiplayer options.
So without further ado, let’s check out the Best Multiplayer PSP Games!
One of the oldest games on this list – and a PSP launch title in Japan as well as in other territories – the audiovisual overload of rhythm action puzzler Lumines is still a hugely potent formula to this day. Though superseded in many ways by new gameplay twists and options in its direct sequel – Lumines II – for me, the more straightforward puzzling of the first game just edges it out in terms of fun, accessibility and addictiveness.
Placing blocks of two colours onto a grid which clear if they form squares of a single colour – and only once a rhythm line has passed over the entire playfield, meaning careful timing with each stage’s music can pay off with huge combos – is the basis of Lumines and its low placing on the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list is solely due to the fact that it can only be played head to head by two players.
Yet it remains one of the best games ever made to this day – and it’s a hugely competitive game in multiplayer mode!
The Everybody’s Golf series – known as Hot Shots Golf in North America right up until the release of Everybody’s Golf on the PS4 in 2017 – has been critically and commercially acclaimed since the very first game in the franchise was released on the PS1 in 1997.
The colourful, well designed courses and simple gameplay meant that it was an accessible and appealing game for players of all ages.
The PSP titles are a great continuation of the series and this second entry allows for up to 8 players to take each other in local multiplayer – with head to head matches, tournaments and even putting challenges to compete in.
A more sedate game in comparison to many other games on this list – but still a hugely fun game to play against other humans!
The Star Wars Battlefront series was a critical and commercial smash in its original incarnation – with the first game arriving in 2004 and the second in 2005, bringing large scale battles with split screen gameplay to then-current consoles and PC.
Prior to the series being rebooted by EA in 2015 (with the first reboot being pretty dumbed down, then the second riddled with loot boxes and microtransactions at launch – though this was eventually rectified and the game was a lot better for it), the PSP received the first of two handheld exclusive additions to the series in 2007.
Though critical reception was somewhat mixed compared to previous games in the series, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron features 8-player local multiplayer and – despite battle types being limited to Conquest and Capture the Flag, is an absolute blast if you can get together enough friends with their own copies of the game.
It’s a worthy addition to the Battlefront series thanks to this brilliantly implemented multiplayer mode and classic Star Wars action – and an undoubtedly worthy entry in the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list.
OK, so this one is ‘just’ Bomberman, with little in the way of enhancements or additions to the formula. That, though, is the beauty of this 2006 PSP title – the near undisputed king of local multiplayer games for many years on 16-bit consoles onwards, Bomberman is just as addictive and hilariously competitive on the PSP as it has ever been and the series is arguably at its best when back to basics.
Even better, it supports the PSP’s Game Sharing feature – so only one copy of the game is needed as long as all of your friends have their own console.
It’s an absolute joy to play and only features at this relatively low point on the list due to the fact that you can pick up and play very similar versions of Bomberman on so many other consoles – it’s not a standout PSP exclusive, but it’s hard to resist the allure of blowing up your mates in cartoony, single screen arena action.
One of the earliest PSP titles still stands out as being one of the best multiplayer experiences on the handheld console. The game’s beautiful visual design – always a high point for the Wipeout series – gives it a colourful, fast and smooth feel, with high speed races that up to 8 players can take part in using the PSP’s Ad Hoc multiplayer feature.
A decent selection of vehicles, tracks and weapons has seen this one stand the test of time in terms of its multiplayer mode – if you have friends with PSPs, this is definitely a game you need to play together and a worthy entry for the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list.
It’s even made it to our Best PSP Racing Games list!
Just like Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer is one of the PSP’s earliest titles (being a launch title in all territories – released in Japan as ‘Ridge Racers’).
Also like Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer still stands as one of the most addictive and compelling racing games in the PSP’s excellent software library.
Following a long tradition of Ridge Racer titles being associated with PlayStation launch, Namco’s arcade racer is simple, straightforward racing fun that can be enjoyed by up to 8 players in Ad Hoc multiplayer mode. It’s a genuine joy to take on your friends in Ridge Racer – and feels like a throwback to the amazing arcade racing action of the 90s, albeit on much smaller screens of course.
The nostalgic atmosphere is further enhanced by the game’s soundtrack, which – alongside original music – features classic tracks from previous games in the series, all the way back to the very first Ridge Racer game. Again, just like Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer appears on our Best PSP Racing Games list too!
Capcom’s brilliantly colourful and innovative beat ‘em up Power Stone arrived in the arcade and on Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast in 1999, its fully 3D arena based combat becoming an instant critical and commercial hit.
Despite getting a sequel just a year later – which itself was also very well-received – the Power Stone series was curiously dormant until both games were combined, slightly updated and released on the PSP as Power Stone Collection in 2006.
Up to four players can compete against each other in crazy, satisfyingly chaotic brawls across the spacious, weapon-filled arenas – it’s a great reminder of just how strong the Power Stone games are, but it’s also a shame that Capcom have completely neglected the series – this PSP compilation is the last we’ve seen of Power Stone so far.
Another Capcom title makes it to the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list, with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite being the best option for PSP players who want to go hunting giant beasts with their friends.
The Monster Hunter series is one of Capcom’s most successful franchises, second only to Resident Evil, and started on the PlayStation 2 with the first game in 2004. In fact, the Monster Hunter series is so popular that this particular entry became the fifth best selling game on the PSP overall.
One of the best aspects of the multiplayer in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is that four players can play through the entire game together – with a huge, 500 hour plus adventure to sink your teeth into.
It’s a genuinely impressive game that’s huge in scale and doesn’t feel like it loses anything at all in moving over to the handheld. It even appears on our very own Best PSP RPGs list!
What is there that needs to be said about the Grand Theft Auto series?
It’s a genuine cultural phenomenon that’s spanned generations, from the very first game on 32-bit consoles and PC in 1997, to the groundbreaking, standards-setting 3D open world action of Grand Theft Auto III – which first arrived on PS2 in 2001 (with versions on PC and Xbox arriving over the next few years).
Almost laughably, the most ‘recent’ game in the series – GTA V – released back in 2013, but it’s been kept alive and refreshed not just with numerous remastered or updated releases (more of which are on the way, unbelievably!), but also with its MMO-esque component, GTA Online.
The specific PSP entry that has made it to the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list is, however, one that’s based in the Miami Vice-esque 80s setting of Vice City.
With a phenomenal, nostalgia powered soundtrack and appealing neon-infused visuals, it gets our vote as the best PSP GTA game to play with friends – with up to six players able to take each other on in a variety of hilarious, carnage-filled game modes. It’s an absolutely unmissable experience.
Another long-running series – with multiple entries appearing on the PSP – Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear games may be dormant right now, but ever since the first game appeared on the MSX (and then, where it gained most popularity, on the NES) in 1987, it’s been a hugely popular franchise.
It took until 1998’s Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 for it to truly become a mainstream blockbuster. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, despite being a handheld game, is regarded as one of the best titles in the series overall – and it has a superb array of multiplayer options.
Most missions can be played through with a second player – which is incredibly satisfying, given how strong the stealth-based gameplay is in single player mode – and this adds some genuinely inventive features to the game, in true Kojima style.
Along with this, up to four players can take on AI enemies co-operatively – as well as compete in a number of different game variants against each other.
Given just how many features and options there are for multiple players to take part – and how good Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is overall – it more than earns its place at the very top of the Best Multiplayer PSP Games list.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.