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Every PlayStation Console and Handheld, Ranked

The PS4’s run is nearing its end. While it still has time to define its legacy, the real question may be where it ranks among every other PlayStation device.

Maybe it’s a little early to answer that question, but we’re taking a stab at it anyway. Here is how we rank every PlayStation console and handheld.

*Note: Variations of a device (like the PSP GO) are lumped together with the original version.

6. PlayStation Portable

First off, the PSP had a fantastic library of games. Lumines, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, God of War: Ghost of Sparta…there is a ton of PSP games that are still worth your time.

The PSP also pushed the limits of handheld technology at a time when most people still associated such devices with noticeably inferior graphics. It was a look into a future of handhelds that never quite came.

Unfortunately, the PSP just didn’t have it where it counted most. Its single “nub” joystick was always a bad design decision. Its exclusives were strong, but it never attracted quite the amount of third party love that the Nintendo DS received. There is also the matter of its very much dead UMD media format.

The PSP is not a bad handheld, but it’s the weakest PlayStation release overall.

5. PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 is certainly Sony’s worst console. It was far too expensive at launch, it tried to push motion technology that just never felt right, and the PlayStation 3 was miles behind the Xbox 360 in terms of online services.

Worst of all, the PS3’s exclusives are fairly lackluster overall. Were it not for the contributions of Naughty Dog and some notable Japanese studios, the PS3’s library would be much more poorly remembered than it tends to be.

What saves the PS3’s legacy is the FOMO factor. The Xbox 360 had some great exclusives, but the changing nature of the industry at this time meant that you still got to play most of that generation’s great games if you owned a PS3. By comparison, anyone who chose a PSP over a DS missed out on quite a bit.

It’s not much, but it’s enough for the PS3 to just beat the PSP.

4. PlayStation Vita

It’s a shame that the PS Vita never really caught on.

The PS Vita took everything that the PSP did well and improved upon almost all its predecessor’s faults. It featured dual analog sticks, a touch screen, and it was even backward compatible with the PSP. Price differences aside, it was just a strictly better PSP in many respects.

Where the Vita really shined, though, was its remote play ability that let you play Vita games on your TV. Unfortunately, some games that utilized the Vita’s unique touch capabilities weren’t compatible.

It’s also unfortunate that the Vita’s exclusives weren’t quite as impressive as the PSP’s. Even still, we’d argue that it was better than the Nintendo 3DS for much of its run.

Sadly, that run has ended and the PS Vita is considered to be a market failure. It’s still worth owning one, though, if the price is right.

3. PlayStation 4

The PS4 is on its way to becoming one of the best-selling consoles ever, and it’s easy to understand why.

Straight out of the gate, Sony said the PS4 was going to be a console for gamers. That may sound obvious, but at a time when consoles were seemingly focused on everything but video games, Sony brought them back to their roots.

The result of this approach was a series of incredible exclusives that include Bloodborne, God of War, Until Dawn, and Uncharted 4. Simply put, the PS4’s list of exclusives crushes the Xbox One’s with little room for disagreement.

Why isn’t it higher, then? Well, there’s still some time for this to change, but at the moment, we’d argue that the PS4’s library isn’t as strong from top-to-bottom as the consoles ahead of it on this list. The PS4 also suffered from some controversial policies regarding cross-play and backward compatibility.

2. PlayStation

The original PlayStation remains one of the best consoles ever made.

Even if you look past how it innovated and established the PlayStation brand (which you shouldn’t), you’re still left with a console that set a new standard for technology that we still follow today.

Most importantly, it sports a collection of games that feels almost impossible today. Sony had the support of nearly every notable developer in the world at this point, and many of them turned in titles that still define those studios to this day.

The PlayStation was a revolution. However, you know what number one has to be…

1. PlayStation 2

There will never be another PlayStation 2.

The PlayStation 2’s DVD player forever changed what a video game console should be. Its backward compatibility features set what should have become a standard. Most importantly, it had the games.

The PS2’s library is almost absurd. Yet, at a time when Xbox failed to attract Japanese developers and Nintendo was alienating more and more studios, the PS2 became the refuge for some of the best games ever made.

The only real knock against the PS2 was its iffy online functionality. Other than that, it set a nearly impossible standard.

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology.