Third-party exclusives have been around in the industry since its inception. Getting third-parties to create something exclusive for any particular console helps to catapult that particular console into the ‘must-own’ category of purchases. In this generation and the last we’ve seen it with Yakuza on PS3 and PS4, for example (though it’s now technically on PC too). Splinter Cell was once Xbox exclusive, Resident Evil 4 was GameCube exclusive and so on. But these games can be played elsewhere nowadays.
There are, however, some third-party games that have remained exclusive to a particular console over the years that you can’t play anywhere else. Unless you emulate it on PC, you need to own that hardware to play it. Games that are backwards compatible have been excluded, so don’t expect to see the likes of Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox), Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes (GameCube) or MadWorld (Wii) in the list. You can still play those on more than one console.
The games below can only be played on that particular console and nowhere else. There is no port or remaster. Unless you emulate it on PC, you’re not playing it unless you own that original console..
Demon’s Souls (PS3)
When it launched on the PS3 in 2009 it came out of nowhere to surprise gamers around the world. From Software, as we know them today, had officially arrived. Gone were the hand-holding moments in games most gamers had become accustomed to at that stage, and in its place was a ruthless title that would reward those that ‘got gud’. The rest is now history and we’ve had several Souls games shooting into the hall of fame, but there is one twist with this one game. At the time it was published by Bandai Namco, which made it another third-party PS3 exclusive title… which to this day can’t be played anywhere else.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Yes, it’s another PS3 game. However, this one was a system-selling game and, boy, did they need this third-party exclusive at the time. It’s no secret that Sony really struggled out of the gates in the last generation. Any game that could help them gain an advantage in the market would be most welcome and Metal Gear Solid 4 helped them gain some market share at the time. It was, and still is, the last game in the series to tie up most of the loose ends and is beloved by fans of the series. There’s only one problem – if you sell your PS3, you can’t play it anywhere else. Konami, it’s probably time you guys remaster this?
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
Whoa! Wait a second there fella. I know that you can play Theatrhythm Final Fantasy on iOS, but it’s not quite the same as Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. This sequel in the series launched on the 3DS in 2014. It’s the latest series on this list, but it is also by far the most superior of the two games. Each and every Final Fantasy game is supported, whereby you get to play a rhythm game to the beat of all the Final Fantasy titles (outside of Final Fantasy XV, which had not launched at the time). It’s not out of the question to see this possibly being ported to the Switch, along with that FFXV soundtrack, but for now the 3DS is the only place where you can play this classic third-party game.
Rocket Knight Adventures (SEGA Mega Drive)
It’s the oldest entry on this list, but it’s also one of the most highly praised games you’ll find in that era. Rocket Knight Adventures was a huge hit back in 1993. To me it’s one of the genre-defining games at the time where it combined side-scrolling platforming and action to perfection. To this day there is nowhere else to play this game. You won’t find it on any classics Mega Drive collection list and, unless you go the PC emulation route, you have to own that original cartridge to play the game. Konami, fix this! Stop your nonsense already.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
This is the entry that sparked the idea for the list in the first place. I don’t know why Square Enix hates us all so much, but unless you own a physical copy of the PSP game you won’t be able to play it anywhere else. It’s not even available on the PlayStation Store as a digital download for the Vita (or PSP for that matter). Considering that it ties in so incredibly well with the lead up to Final Fantasy VII and that we have a remake launching next year, you would think they would consider that port in some form. It’s a right shame it can’t be played anywhere else.
There are definitely more titles that are stuck on one platform. You’re welcome to list those below. The rules for that is quite simple – it can’t be played anywhere else (PC emulation aside), unless you play it on the original console.