We already published the list of best PS1 games of all time, now it’s time to discover the best PS1 turn-based strategy games of all time.
With amazing titles like the Vandal Hearts series, Hogs of War, and Worms Armageddon, the PS1 surely have a great collection of turn-based strategy games.
If you’re a fan of both PS1 and turn-based strategy games, there’s a chance you’ll like this list.
Most of you will recognize (or even still play) some of the games mentioned on this list.
#10. Monster Rancher Battle Card: Episode II
You play as fellow card player Cue, on a quest to recover her complete set of Monster Rancher cards which has vanished mysteriously.
You will have to win several tournaments and competitions to complete the vanished card.
The main hook of this game is that you can unlock magical monsters from everyday music and game CDs, dubbed as mystery discs in-game.
Gameplay is pretty simple, use a deck of 50 cards to accompany your three chosen monsters, then use said deck to generate GUTS point to power the monsters.
Visually, this game has its good and bad, character design and artworks are simple and pleasing, but the animation looks a bit clunky.
Music during card battle can be a bit too repetitive at times but it’s not too bad.
Fans of the Monster Rancher anime series will be delighted with this.
It’s a harmless, fun card battle that requires strategy, quick thinking, and an inexhaustible appetite for cute gladiators doing what they do best, kicking ass.
#9. Vanguard Bandits
In the midst of conflicts, archaeologists in Pharastia Kingdom discover giant mecha called ATACs, All Terrain Armored Combatants.
The Kingdom then used it to assume control and keep the peace of the entire continent.
Soon they began to lose control as coup d’etats and civil war erupted.
Vanguard Bandits, also called Epic Stella in Japan, plays more or less like Final Fantasy Tactics in which the battlefield is represented in isometric view in a grid of squares and you control buch of units in ATACs mechas.
What sets it different from games of similar genre is that you have to manage AP, action points used to move and attack, and FP, builds up on counterattack mostly, so you’re not toast.
As 100 FP build up will make that unit become a sitting duck.
Graphics is pretty nice for strategy games, not too bad nor amazing, though certain parts like cutscenes can be a little overbearing.
Musics are pretty forgettable outside the introductory music.
Overall it’s a great game if you like strategy genre, but still a good game otherwise.
#8. Hogs of War
This little piggy blew someone’s head off, and this little piggy stepped on a mine, and…
Be the winner of the pig nation tournament.
There are six nations, each parodied a real world nation of UK, France, Germany, USA, Russia, and Japan.
Easiest way to describe this game is that its a 3D Worms full of puns, you take turn attacking with the enemies in the allotted time.
The environment, while it’s not really interactive, has enough things to spice up the battle with things such as minefields, random crates, and water pools.
Visually, Hogs of War’s battlefield aren’t that great but it has enough things placed to make it look interesting.
The sound is great with its pretty good speech clips.
Overall, Hogs of War looks like the next evolution of Worms games.
#7. Vandal Hearts
Government corruption and unrest among the common folks are growing, leaving you, as the player, as the only one to prevent the anarchy from breaking out.
Lead a team of warrior, mages, and such to fight the growing anarchy and unrest on the lands.
Vandal Hearts plays like Final Fantasy Tactics.
You control a party of various characters in a top down battlefield in a square grid-based isometric view.
One unique aspect brought by this game is the class advantages-disadvantages among 7 existing classes.
The Knight is strong against Bowman, Bowman strong against Flying unit, and so on.
The graphics are not that impressive, but the gameplay is surprisingly smooth.
The progression in this game is pretty linear, unlike other strategy games.
Not really surprising as this game is pretty heavy on story.
Those looking for a deep strategy game might be disappointed in this title, but the heave story makes up for it.
#6. Vandal Hearts II
You start off as Joshua, a run of the mill peasant until he got on the bad side of the law by assassinating a political figure.
Running from the law, he starts his own militia in hopes of survival and prosperity.
At a glance, the gameplay looks like a standard Tactics game.
However the battle system is slightly different as the enemy now moves at the same time as your character, dubbed as “The Dual Battle System” and it works pretty well most of the time.
Though sometimes you can be thrown in a loop hole as you and the enemy chase each other at the same time.
The character development feels dumbed down, but still integral and straightforward nonetheless.
The graphics is a bit mixed, the battlefield overview looks great but the sprite based character on the 3D map looks a bit janky.
The sounds come across quite pleasantly.
Overall, it’s still a great game despite its flaws and very much worth checking.
#5. Saiyuki: Journey West
Journey to the West story retold in a tactical role-playing game.
It follows the main character, a Buddhist practitioner named Sanzo, travels from China to India on a religious mission and has a variety of adventures along the way.
Saiyuki: Journey West is a tactical RPG that is very reminiscent of the classic Final Fantasy Tactics.
Battlefield is square based grid with top down isometric view.
This game’s choice to fully use 2D graphics and sprites make it still look great even today, whereas 3D graphics of PS1 games looks really bad in comparison.
The big difference to Final Fantasy Tactics is that instead of class system, everyone here can transform to their were-form with the exception of Sanzang.
In were-form certain obstacles in maps can now be destroyed, opening new paths.
The music is mixed, it gets better as you progress further.
Overall, Saiyuki: Journey West has enough depth, playability, and challenge to hold the interest of strategy game fans.
The visuals in particular aged well like a fine wine.
#4. Worms Armageddon
You play as a silly little cartoonish worm tasked to defeat the opposing team.
Obliterate the enemy or even the arena with various arsenal provided from simple handgun to advanced airstrike-based attacks.
Gameplay of Worms Armageddon is turn-based with each team moving in a randomly determined sequence on two dimensional field.
The objective is to defeat the opponent by killing all their worms.
The visuals of this game are very reminiscent of comic-stripe like big eyes and oddly shaped items.
The detail is simple but pretty effective and helps support the humorous themes running through the game’s element.
One thing that could be a problem is that the AI seems to have very high precision in attack.
Thankfully you can multiplayer this game just fine.
Overall its pretty good despite it lacking few things.
Multiplayer is definitely the better way to enjoy this game.
#3. Final Fantasy Tactics
Set in a fictional kingdom called Ivalice, Ramza Beoulve finds himself in the middle of an intricate military conflict known as The Lion War.
Ramza and his allies discover sinister plot as they progress through the conflict.
As the title says, this is a tactical role-playing game.
The battle takes place in a grid-based field with top-down isometric view.
You take turns with the enemy to move units and attacks.
The game makes use of the extensive class system found in other Final Fantasy titles such as warrior, thief, wizard, etc.
The story is very deep, it has a lot of turns and twists so be prepared for that.
The game uses a 3D battlefield with 2D sprite characters in it.
Sounds like a bad combination, but it works surprisingly well.
Also since the field is 3D you can easily rotate the camera around.
The soundtrack is very memorable and beautiful.
All in all, Final Fantasy Tactics is the best tactical RPG game available in PS1.
Definitely worth a try if you like deep storylines.
#2. Front Mission 3
Kazuki Takemura, a test pilot for Kirishima Industries, and his friend Ryogo Kusama are delivering new war machines, called Wanzers, to a military base located in Yokosuka when a mysterious explosion leads both characters into an unexpected turn of events.
Front Mission 3 plays just like any other Tactics game.
What sets it apart is that now you’re controlling the mecha called Wanzer.
The Wanzer has HP assigned to each part, which will disable that part when its HP reaches zero.
You’re given the ability to target a specific part of the enemy’s Wanzer.
The story has to branch, split early based on your decision to take that friend with you or not.
Completing both will give greater understanding of the story.
The graphics are classic Square goodness, a little bit grainy and low on detail but come out remarkably smooth.
Though switching from overhead view to 3D can feel a bit spotty.
Overall, this game managed to retain the simulation and strategy aspect at a simpler level, which will ease the beginners in the first few hours and still satisfy the hardcore gamers.
#1. Civilization II
Be the leader of a civilization that spans across several millennia.
That is if you managed to make your own civilization survive.
Civilization II is a turn-based strategy game that incorporates a wide amount of options.
You can build cities, construct wonders, raise armies, etc.
The game starts in the prehistoric era of 4000 BC and ends in 2100 assuming you can survive for that long.
This game requires a lot of strategic thinking and planning, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this is not it.
If you’re willing to take your time to learn, you’ll be rewarded with the most intricate gameplay available in PlayStation 1.
The game can last more than 30 hours if you managed to survive all the way to the end.
The visual is enough to hold you that long while staying informative but the sound can get quite monotonous.
In the end, Civilization II is just that game of analysis, a rare type of game to be available in PlayStation 1 and the best of its kind.
Are your favorite games on the list?
Deciding the best PS1 turn-based strategy game is no doubt a little bit late since this iconic console has been around for more than two decades, but thanks to emulator and remastered games, it’s still exciting!