We bid farewell to a hero today. A hero who, against stiff competition and superior technology, charged boldly forward and defined a generation.
I never had a Playstation 2 when it was a more popular thing. It’s complicated, but I didn’t own one until after the Xbox 360 had released and eked out superior marketshare. But that never stopped me from playing one, and loving almost every damned minute of it.
You’ll often hear me say that the SNES-PS1 years were the some of the greatest in gaming history. You can ask almost anyone who gamed between 1994 and 2004 what some of their favorite games are and bet money it’ll be from one of those systems. But if I had to say there was a system that had the strongest concentration of greatness in it, it was the PS2.
Released in March of 2000 and building off of a strong brand loyalty, the PS2 stormed the beaches of gaming shelves, in the process becoming the catalyst that brought modern gaming into the homes of millions. Gone were the days of simple sprites and eight direction movement, the PS1 successfully built gameplay and mechanics with the introduction of its Dualshock controller in a design that is still seeing use on the PS3 systems today. It may not have pioneered things like online console play, but it was one of the first systems to do it without immediately dying (sorry Dreamcast, more on that later) and while it’s design might have a few too many sharp corners, I’ll be damned if the things didn’t last forever given even minor care. Sony’s belief in a ten year development cycle saw the PS2 through almost an entire generation beyond its own. And it still sold plenty of games in the meantime. In fact, until very recently there were still games being developed for it! Twelve years after it had been released. For reference the original Xbox was released in 2001, discontinued in 2007, and the last game made for it released in the August of 2008. Systems with superior technology couldn’t even compare, with a price take literally 100% cheaper than the PS2. You couldn’t even a Dreamcast away when someone was offered a PS2.
But what really mattered were the games. And there were so very many good ones on the PS2. This was before the days of the idea that if you want to play one kind of game, you get one system, otherwise grab the other. The PS2 grabbed hold of everything and didn’t let go. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab a PS2 while you still can, they’re not terribly expensive, and there’s tons and tons of fun to be had on them in the meantime. In honor of the PS2’s final day, here’s a small list of games you should totally play on the PS2.
Action: Devil May Cry 3, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, God of War, Okami, Beyond Good & Evil
RPG: Kingdom Hearts, any Shin Megami Tensei game, Final Fantasy X, Ar Tonelico, Phantom Brave, Disgaea, Odin Sphere, Valkyrie Profile Silmeria
Shooter: Killzone, Resident Evil 4, Half-Life
Sports/Sim: Burnout Revenge, SSX Tricky, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Gran Turismo 3
Horror: Silent Hill 2, Fatal Frame series, Indigo Prophecy (until the end)
Fighting: Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, almost any Street Fighter, Soul Calibur II
Other: We Love Katamari
And many, many more.
So goodbye you Japanese, game-playing contraption. You sultan of sweet-ass gear. You duke of demolishing demons. You viscount of vindictive victims. You baron of butt-kicking. You were the freaking giving tree of game systems, and we’ll miss you.