If the first time Sony entered your living room was a breath of fresh air, welcome to the hurricane. If the first time you experienced Playstation you felt a tremor then say hello to the earthquake and if you thought everyone else struggled to keep up as if treading through water meet the flood that washed them all away. The console that blew everything else out of the water like they didn’t even happen sales wise. The console that fused gaming and movies together, the console that showed the world how to make the least impressive specs of it’s generation express real un-paralleled power and the console that would in it’s first act help slay a god!
A games console not ahead of it’s time on many fronts. Not a pioneer of change, in fact in so many ways a step backwards, but the right product at the right price and at the right time. This destroyer of other companies worlds would go on to be the biggest selling games machine of all time, a record it still holds to this day and eventually become the most hated of all the popular machines in the retro scene. It is without doubt the opposite side of the Nes/Dreamcast hipster coin at this point in retro game history with many of the old guard expressing such intense dislike that for them it will never be truly accepted into the ranks.
Ladies and Gentlemen RGG introduces you to the first example of a perfect storm! The console that has now become public enemy number 1 for no real reason other than it simply won at everyone else’s expense. Today I want to talk to you all about the console simply called Playstation 2. This History article is going to be tricky as personally I love this machine, always did and now more than ever my huge appreciation for it grows constantly. On paper it was always going to do well because it followed such a success story in it’s predecessor the PS1 however it’s just how much further this second Sony console went that for it’s individual plusses and minuses makes it all the more baffling and impressive at the same time.
So where do we start with this one eh? I guess at the beggining really, that kinda makes sense so here we go…
The Playstation 1 had realised the dream. In one fell swoop revenge was taken upon Nintendo for the betrayal suffered many years previous at a trade show where the infamous corporation had selected Philips as it’s partner over Sony and embarrassed the entire board for the world to see. Payback is indeed a bitch. By late 1998 though this machine was starting to look a bit old in the tooth 4 years into it’s worldwide release gamers had tasted new delights and quite simply wanted more. Sega having failed so completely with the Sega Saturn had been working like demons in the background preparing a new generation console that would become known as the Dreamcast and Sony were also not sitting around as unlike Nintendo they knew how important it was to always be working on new tech. Thanks in many ways to sony themselves gamers were starting to learn a bad trait…. Impatience.
For a while now rumours of a new Sony console where appearing in magazines such as Edge, C&VG and the Official Playstation 1 Magazine with all sorts of wild speculation regarding the look of it and the power of the processor with even a few journalists mentioning that it may even use a new media form. That of DVD (digital versatile disc) something that the movie industry was pushing through although it was making very slow progress at retail due to costs of the players themselves. These attempts at guessing where Sony would go next continued until March 1st 1999 when in response to the Dreamcast unveil they detailed what exactly this next console would be all about. This was further backed up with the real hardware and software first showing at the Tokyo Games Show in September of the same year (1999). Considering that the Dreamcast by this point was on sale in both Japan and North America it certainly was a massive spoiler for the whole of Europe which was to receive Sega’s new 6th generation beast the very next month.
The Playstation 2 was unleashed onto the Japanese people like Godzilla on March 4th 2000 by which time Sega had already been trading with the Dreamcast for nearly a year and promptly sold out. This was very impressive considering how weak the initial launch line-up of software titles were with literally only a handful of games available at the time. Considering Fantavision was one of these clearly shows the level of quality and franchise names on show here. The buzz however across every other territory had begun and magazines spoke about every single aspect of this console in so much detail it made one’s eyes bleed.
When it came to the North American launch in October 2000 the hype had reached such enormous proportions that the previous record of $97 million in takings on launch day set by Sega earlier with the dreamcast was obliterated by more than $250 million dollars made from sales of Consoles, games and Accessories in just that one day. The truly impressive thing here was that Sega was actually doing very well in both territories up until the launches at which point everything changed. It was in fact so hard to get a PS2 console in North America that private sellers who had obtained units were selling them for several thousands of pounds on Ebay, the whole world was going insane it seemed.
In Europe and Australia retailers were told to expect enormous delays and stock shortages post first delivery prior to the North American launch and several of the larger companies had actually fulfilled their allotted units months before the system was released in the UK on November 24th 2000 and November 30th 2000 in Australia. Several national newspapers reported fights breaking out in shopping centres up and down the UK with one young man being stabbed over his purchase in London by thieves stealing it as he journeyed home. Needless to say sales records here were smashed at the time with once again a very luke warm software selection with only Timesplitters being generally accepted as the only quality launch title. Other offerings included slowed down 50hz versions of Tekken Tag and Streetfighter EX3 the really surreal Fantavision and Smugglers run. Like I said... Not a great software launch at all really.
From official announcement to release every aspect of the campaign had delivered for them though, every territory had experienced a complete sell through of consoles and attachment rates of games per console was huge and anyone working in games retail at this time earned their hourly wage, trust me… This writer was one of them. What made all of this so impressive however was that prior to the European launch the PS1 was still selling like crazy, a combination of the new version (PSONE) at a cheaper price point bundled with a game meant that even after nearly 5 years the original was still going strong. The important thing to note here is that this smaller sleeker and sexier unit was also outselling Sega’s vastly more powerful Dreamcast by a massive ratio. A combination of a huge software library for an existing machine and it’s new big brother about to be unleashed absolutely helped destroy the Dreamcast gathering momentum in countries like the UK and almost all of mainland Europe.
Very much like the newly released PS4 for the first 8 months the PS2 went on to sell out over and over again the world over and much like the newest Sony console the reasons behind this were strange at first, especially in Europe where the release flow of new games was not great. In fact until Gran Turismo 3 arrived in July 2001 one could very successfully argue that Sony’s PS2 had no actual killer app past Timesplitters (a launch title). So many of the post launch window release software was full of yet more large bordered slower running games that felt rushed and honestly very poor. During this time however magazines continued to showcase the next wave of games releases and by god did they look fantastic. If the PS2 was selling like crazy at £299.99 with nothing worth playing what would happen when the second generation of software were released?
The answer to that question would be this… From August through the Xmas period of 2001 the following games were released onto the PS2 as exclusives: SSX Tricky, Silent Hill 2, Devil May Cry and of course the one that opened the floodgates Grand Theft Auto 3. Now don’t get me wrong there were more releases, tons more in fact however these games were the standout system sellers fans had been waiting for. If you take the time to look around the internet at global sales figures for these games you will clearly see just how many units sold, but they didn’t just sell to existing owners of the PS2 hardware. People went nuts in the 4th quarter of that year and once again PS2 consoles sold out across the UK as well as other places.
During all of this however Sega and the mighty Dreamcast had seen not only it’s fanbase vanish but companies such as EA switch to suddenly be Sony’s best friend, what had started so fantastic with the perfect games console was falling apart and all regions were slowing for them. Several theories as to why the Dreamcast failed at a commercial level are now widespread but it’s fair to say a combination of disgruntled existing fans, internal fighting, over spending on R&D and lack of post launch software brought them to their knees. On top of all this the new favourite kid on the block, Sony, were pulling out amazing games left and right and with massively changing mainstream gaming attitudes Sega were left suddenly out in the cold with a box that played games and little else. This is where things get complicated because part of the reason the PS2 sold so well was because it could do what none of it’s console competitors at the time could, your games consoles played the newest format… DVD.
In several of the preview articles written by magazines such as Edge (remember when they were good?) journalists had predicted that Sony’s new wonder machine would have the games themselves run off of the DVD format, meaning that the console would be a total one box solution for any front room. DVD was the next big technology for the film and TV industry however prior to the launch of the PS2 sales were painfully slow. The standalone players themselves on average during 2000 - 2001 were around the £350.00 mark for a decent one although you could get one for about £250 if quality was not an issue. By using this format Sony with obvious huge ties to this industry were in fact giving a format a kick start. Film lovers would want a PS2 for cost effective film watching and gaming and gamers could also benefit from a games console that could be the home entertainment solution. Within 18 months of the PS2 launching the DVD format was the only option, in fact most peoples first DVD player at the time were in fact PS2 consoles.
With all of it’s problems regarding lack of publishers releasing games and quite frankly Sega fans jumping ship themselves to buy PS2’s the Dreamcast fell. By the start of March 2001 in North America Sega had waved the white flag and instead of fighting a war they could no longer afford became a publisher themselves. As you can imagine this now one horse race mixed with the 4th quarter PS2 2001 release avalanche of top quality games for a console that played films meant one thing…. Sales! Lots and lots of sales.
From March 2001 through to March 2002 the Playstation 2 in Europe had absolutely no home console competition at all, sure the Dreamcast was around but even that was being outsold by the re-designed PSONE console so for that entire 12 months millions of units sold, not just here but everywhere. Competition did however appear slightly earlier in America with the launch of the XBOX and the GAMECUBE as well as Nintendo’s new baby in Japan however even after very good launches both competitors fell against the God slayer that was the PS2. To put this into perspective overall lifetime sales of the Gamecube were around 22 million and the XBOX around 24 million give or take, Sony outsold them by more than 7 times that number. Ouch! In fact add both lifetime sales together, Sony outsold that by more than 3 times... Yowzer!
Nintendo and Microsoft however both had vastly more powerful machines both in processor and future connectivity and vision aspects, the Gamecube hardware although wrapped in a Fisher Price toy shell was in processing terms nearly twice the speed with vastly superior graphical and sound output, it used it‘s own custom format media though. The Xbox however was a real beast of a machine and made them both look rubbish. It also launched with the option to play DVD’s although an extra small sum of money was needed to purchase a dongle and remote to make this happen. Sony countered these new consoles with typical Sony swagger and by applying the cheaper manufacturing costs, massive sales lead and enormous software royalties from a software catalogue growing at insane rates with a marketing sales drive nuke!
In June 2002 They dropped the price of the PS2 to $199.99 in North America and Europe and Japan followed suit. This put them much closer to the Gamecube price and due to Microsoft’s panic just after the European launch (March 14th 2002) matched them in price exactly. Sales records were broken as nearly 700,000 units were being sold per week… PER WEEK! Once again the ball was back in their court. A bigger software line-up, more installed consoles in homes, a DVD player and all those exclusives. The generation war was already won, to be fair it was never even a proper war. Sega, Nintendo and Microsoft although each having better systems simply didn’t get the perfect storm of price, product, timing and software. Absolutely everything about the PS2 from this perspective was absolutely spot on. Traditional Sony trademarks began as a second gen slimmer PS2 was entered to help keep the console in the minds of fashion chic folk, coloured pads and memory cards spilled over from the PS1 days. Much like every good brand Sony always seemed to know when to do price drops, when to release a new colour or a new gimmick to keep things fresh. Whoever was in charge of marketing during these years was quite frankly a genius.
In a nutshell that’s where the background story finishes because from this point on nothing came close to ending it’s reign, Sony sold over 155 million consoles, had a software catalogue of just shy of 4,000 with total software sales of around 1.5 billion. Read that part again…. Now read it again. It’s frightening isn’t it. And you all think the Wii was popular! It’s not even close people. The console behemoth that was the Playstation 2 would eventually be discontinued In January 2013 with it’s final two games being the latest in a string of Football titles Fifa and Pro Evo 14 as well as Final Fantasy XI : Seekers of Adoulin title in Japan. 13 years of global domination, record breaking sales and franchise creation and sometimes even destruction can in fact only mean 1 thing… This has got to be a cool console to play right? Answer is of course YES!
You see here is where I as a writer have to make sure I don’t go overboard on a personal love for this console and just stick to the facts or at the very least the scene as it actually was, not how it is seen by people who seem to have some sort of hatred for this Sony console. Earlier in this piece I mentioned how a large section of the retro community have a real dislike for the PS2, some because they don’t like it’s popularity, others because it thrived at their favourite’s expense. It’s not hard to see why such a popular machine would after the fact become the victim of a hate campaign, after all some folk just like to see the world burn for no other reason than they just don’t want to be seen going along with the general opinion.
When you look at this machine from a common sense point of view and simply see the numbers mentioned above such as total units sold and number of games available it’s mathematically impossible that something of such an impact would not be a complete must own and definite play. Let’s have some fun with this and say that 10% of the games were great, that means nearly 400 games are worth owning and enjoying. 5% would mean 200 and even if only 1% of the games were great then that’s still nearly 40 must have pieces of entertainment one would be missing out on for some bizarre hidden agenda. I love numbers, they really do show up silly people or crazy opinions to be exactly that… Cray Cray.
It’s when you then take this same principle and apply it to other consoles such as the Nes, Genesis, Dreamcast or even the Xbox & Gamecube that you realise every single system out there has to be worth picking up and having some fun with. Having software collections of between 250 and 800 that’s an awful lot of quality to get involved with right? The only real exception to this would be the Atari jaguar, there’s nearly no reason at all to have one of those pieces of crap, sorry Atari fans, lie to yourself but don’t pee in my face and tell me it’s raining. So back to the PS2 after that little sidetrack rant and math lesson as to why the PS2 should be regarded as not only a genuine member of the retro family, which it is, but the home of amazing gaming experiences and what do we have? Glad you asked…
Let’s start off with the easy ones shall we, the exclusives. Starting with franchises such as God of War 1&2, Devil May cry 1 through 3 , Onimusha 2-4, Metal Gear Solid 2&3 which took the action and hack ‘n’ slash genre to completely new levels. Some of the moments in God Of War are ,to this day, jaw dropping and push the machines capabilities far beyond what it should ever have been capable of. Fans of platformers were truly blessed with franchises like Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, Sly Racoon and the bizarre but always fun Ape Escape all lavishing players with such rich vibrant worlds full of incredible stories and memorable characters. There were so many more though and to be honest it’s this genre that at the time was the most popular that probably helped make it the number 1 system.
Open world lovers could pick from The Getaway 1&2, Manhunt, Canis Caim Edit and of course the entire Grand Theft Auto series including 2 exclusive PS2/PSP entries. What about fighters you ask? Well how about Tekken 4&5, Mortal Kombats all over the place, more King of Fighters games than even an NEO GEO owner could want, Soul Calibur 2&3 and honestly about 100 others. Those people who loved to shoot folk in the face had Killzone, Fire Warrior, Red Faction and all of the multi format shooters such as Timesplitters 1-3, Medal of Honor, Call of duty (when they were good) Third person shooters such as Rogue Trooper, Cold Winter, Area 51, Conflict Desert Storm which again were mostly available on the Xbox as well meant that you could still have all this greatness but have the exclusives on top.
Driving fans were spoilt rotten with Gran Turismo 3 & 4, the superb Wipeout series, Ridge Racers, mashed and so many others the brain struggles to pick them out at the time of writing, whilst none of the games themselves stood out against the best the Xbox had to offer the sheer choice and range from cars to planes, to ships was light years ahead.
All of these aside though (which as you can already see is one hell of a software selection) the real power of this particular playstation was in the range of games no other system really ever succeeded in countering on other systems in choice and variety. What is the genre? Well in truth it’s 3 genres, the RPG, Strategy and Survival Horror. Now don’t get me wrong the Gamecube had some great RPG games, the XBOX had a few quality Survival Horror titles however the PS2 had more, tons more in fact.
You see in the early 00’s these genres were massively popular in territories such as Japan and America where the main installed user base for games consoles were, it was a very different time to what we have now in 2014 where the FPS game rules with an average and dull iron fist. Final Fantasy X on it’s own would have beaten the Gamecube and Xbox such was it’s insane anticipation, popularity and franchise exclusivity draw. The fact that it was a quality game helped as well, FF XII was also no slouch. This series however were joined by other essential games such as Rogue Galaxy, Kingdom Hearts 1&2, Breath of Fire, Atelier Iris 1-3, Dark Chronicle, Shadow Hearts series, Suikoden, Persona 3&4, Shin Megami and numerous other top class examples of the genre.
Survival Horror fans were spoilt for choice with Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2-4, Obscure 1&2, Haunting Ground, Ghost Hunter, Cold Fear, The Suffering 1&2, Project Zero 1-3, Forbidden Siren 1&2 and the truly horrible Clock Tower 3. Horrible because of it’s moments of real terror and shockingly graphic scenes. Strategy owners and in all honesty the entire Japanese buying public were in heaven with the ever expanding amount of strategy titles such as Dynasty Warriors Tactics, Soul Nomad, Disgaea 1&2, GrimGrimoire, Phantom Brave, La Pucelle Tactics and Suikoden Tactics.
Let’s stop for a second and realise I just mentioned over 100 games worth playing and I’m not even getting to the best bits, maybe now some doubters will be wondering if maybe they don’t like the PS2 is because they might just be slightly more elitist than they think they are. I’m not saying for one second that if you don’t like this console then you’re in the wrong, far from it. What I am saying though is that the level of disgust aimed at this machine looks really strange when you list off more games that it could be possible to complete in several years.
Now maybe the biggest reason this Playstation is looked on with moans and groans is because of the size of it’s software catalogue, there’s no denying that hundreds of titles were little more than shovelware and that’s absolutely true. For a counter to that I would point everyone in the direction of every single console or computer generation winner starting with the Atari 2600 which had by the end of it’s lifespan a whole host of 2-4 week produced rubbish intended to make a quick buck off a hype or mania. E.T. and Pacman being perfect examples. The home micro computers especially the Spectrum had more rubbish than quality from it’s thousands and thousands of games as with so many consumers even a bad game was sure to sell to someone. I may get into trouble with a certain co-founder of the website but the Amiga 500 has truckloads of terrible phoned in games from it’s stupidly large games catalogue.
The crazy thing here is that the PS2 is no different from any of those machines I just mentioned, the Atari, the Spectrum, the Amiga all had massive games collections full of shovelware so is it fair the PS2 get’s singled out for it’s fair share of crap software? I think not. There’s something more to this, there has to be. It’s no secret many Sega fan boys can’t stand the PS2, maybe part of the problem is that they blame the PS2 for killing the Dreamcast. If that’s the case they are silly because Sega were already doomed. The PS2 didn’t destroy them, all it did was bring forward the inevitable so this misplaced anger has no basis.
Nintendo fans themselves seem to be a mixed bag in this respect with some not caring about Sony and others flat out blaming them for everything to do with Nintendo’s sales decline. The fact that Nintendo created their own demon over the CD-Rom Add-On for the Snes seems to go under the radar. Nintendo simply got the Gamecube perfect for gaming but completely wrong for a market moving into connectivity and new media. That’s not the PS2’s fault, that’s Nintendo’s for being off the pace, a crime they are still guilty of as I write this article.
Maybe some people don’t see the PS2 as it’s own defined machine, maybe for them it’s just the popular console because of the DVD player, the cheap price and the fact the PS1 was so popular that people just went with the flow. Everything there is spot on right as all of that formed part of the reason it was the runaway winner. As I mentioned above it was the perfect storm of everything. The one thing however that’s completely wrong is that the PS2 is not it’s own machine, this is where for me the console really comes into it’s own as some of the exclusives and best of all, hidden gems are the reason to fall back in love with this beast of a console all over again.
This is the best bit I was saving up for…I’m going to start with the planet buster if that’s ok? Ready?… ICO
Forget the second game from the same studio for a second (Shadow of the Colossus) because even though that on it’s own is a complete must play and system defining title for me this majestic platform adventure game is quite simply perfect! One of the finest examples of story telling you are ever likely to find this often heartbreaking slice of gaming history is so good that if the logo on the box said Nintendo it would have sold millions overnight, that’s not an opinion by the way, that’s fact! One of the most hidden in plain sight gems of all time. To not play this is for me a crime. A game that has absolutely no flaws at all, not one. Character, design, story, animation, music, playability etc are spot on, so much so that as soon as you complete it you will start a new game +. Playing ICO is like making love to your soul mate.
Speaking of Shadow of the Colossus this is also a reason to get into the PS2 appreciation society, whilst technically stunning the slowdown elements stop it being as overall perfect as ICO yet still make it essential to play. The sheer ambition of it all is astounding, graphically it will blow your face off!
Hidden Gem is a term best used to describe the PS2 catalogue because it makes no sense for a machine that has 200 games does it? Not really hidden is it? To find something exclusive and amazing out of 4,000 though… Well that really is good hunting. Let me throw out some examples of games some of which are so well hidden that even fan sites don’t talk about them, people from Youtube wish they could find stuff like I can, let’s begin…
Blood Will Tell (Sega) The game starts in Black & White until you find your eyes! I won’t even tell you more because right now you should all be on Ebay looking this one up. We Love Katamari (Namco) if this was released on Dreamcast there would be 600 fan sites right now all asking for it to be included in Shenmue 3, fact! Firefighter FD.18 (Konami) A quite brilliant game about a fireman that actually manages to put a solid story into something that could easily be a simple arcade experience.
S.O.S. Final Escape (AgeTech) Escape a massive city that has just been the setting for a devastating earthquake, mix in a story about terrorists and some amazing set sequences and you are in for a treat. Gregory Horror Show (Capcom) A bizarre and twisted game about being caught in a haunted house, forced to capture souls to escape, it’s so surreal. Rumble Roses (Konami) A female wrestling game hidden behind stereotype based characters that’s utterly sexist and wrong yet brilliantly playable with a really great game engine.
Gitaroo Man, The ultimate elevation of rhythm action games that has the same catchy music Parappa the Rapper has but with analogue stick movements used in tandem with the buttons. I hate to say it but this on a Dreamcast would once again be the toast of the retro town. Okami (Capcom) is the perfect example of design meeting fun all in playable form, often hard to describe but utterly impossible to put down, it’s another near perfect game. Gradius V (Konami) is a throwback to the classic arcade way of doing things, it’s rock hard, looks stunning and is addictive as crack!
So you see the PS2 does have it’s fair share of completely unique, genuine reasons to define itself that when you sprinkle around the myriad of games mentioned above and add on a few hundred more mean that it absolutely hit’s 400 must play games with ease. Some are absolutely multi format such as Beyond Good & Evil, Burnout 3, Mashed, Whiplash, Lego Star Wars etc etc but there are also even more exclusive PS2 goodies that merit serious play.
Dot Hack 1-4, Steambot Chronicles, Ghost In the Shell, Nightshade, Time Crisis 3, Shadow of Rome, Klonoa 2, Maximo 2 and Rygar are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact it’s clear to see that if you can’t find something to love on the PS2 then you either are not looking hard enough or can’t be true to the reasons not to try. But it’s not just about the games, or rather it’s the things that help make the games so as well as a software selection that contains literally anything you may want to play what other things helped make this console awesome? How about all the great things that made systems like the PS1 and Saturn so cool and the Megadrive and Snes so great?
First off let’s talk Light Guns, the PS2 followed on from the huge success of this genre and peripheral with sequels to the Time Crisis franchise and even spin off’s such as Crisis Zone. For people who wanted more variety though how about shooting Ninja’s and zombies in games such as Ninja Assault and Resident Evil Dead Aim. With dinosaurs and terrorists to shoot and even conversions of Sega games such as Virtua Cop one would never run out of cool ways to wield their Namco G-Con 2 pistol.
An evening of multi-player racing fun was always available with the Multi-Tap that allowed 4 players to go mad at each other on Micro Machines 3 and V4, Mashed Fully Loaded or even some party fun with Monekyball Deluxe and it’s 12 mini games. The only drawback here was that the multi-tap itself needed to be purchased, naughty Sony only giving people 2 controller ports. Dance mats were another huge craze during this time with Konami especially delivering wave after wave of high intense and often loud music based games. This aspect of gaming which of course originated in the arcades was responsible for brining a lot of families together for party night and since the PS1 days had proved extremely popular. Konami however were not the only company to produce music based games as people like Sony themselves and Codemasters churned out wave after wave of signing titles that used Microphones, the Karaoke boom seemed to never end.
Maybe one of the single biggest achievements from Sony was the introduction on a mass scale of games that put the player into the action directly. The Eye Toy seemed to come out of nowhere and was a massive hit all over the world having once again tempted groups of friends and families to join together for an evening of video gaming madness. The concept was at it’s core simple in that a camera plugged into the PS2 console that captured and displayed the player would allow said person to interact with graphics on the screen. The technology was little more than a webcam at heart and indeed it could even be used as such on a normal PC. With a whole host of themed party games this proved massively popular and would eventually be in many ways flat out copied by Nintendo with the Wii. The difference between Eyetoy and the Wii was that the games were simpler in nature on the PS2 system and no remote was needed to be held whilst playing. It’s strange that so many people still think the Wii was the invention of motion control for home console gaming, Sony along with others got to it years before.
A look at all those games and all of those ways to interact clearly paint the picture why this console sold so well, how could it not? Whatever you wanted to play the PS2 had and in almost every genre, several if not tens of choices per category in fact. If you liked shooters the PS2 had loads, platformers? Well you quite simply never had it so good but what if you wanted a game where you could control a mosquito and survive by drinking the blood from humans? Believe it or not the PS2 had such a game, Mr Mosquito!
Personally I see the PS2’s perceived shovelware games catalogue as it’s greatest strength and once again purely because of a common sense aspect, it gives a gamer infinite choice, and that can never be a bad thing. It certainly was not the first system to have companies spam it with crap and it absolutely was not the last as machines still suffer from that today. The business side of gaming means that every great idea will at some point be cloned and abused until the point of saturation and in this aspect I think we can all agree. To blame Sony however for that, yet praise a console from Nintendo or Sega is short sighted for me as both of them had machines riddled with rubbish yet were still excellent consoles.
The fact so many people allow the GBA or the Gamecube and XBOX to be classed as retro yet turn their noses up at a machine that came out years before astounds me. The PS2 has now been succeeded by two home consoles (PS3 & PS4) and two portable machines (PSP & VITA) is no longer manufactured and has no game support from Sony, it is in every single possible definition of the term Retro. Maybe the odd release may appear from smaller developers but that’s because 155 million machines are out there, it makes financial sense in certain countries. At this point I would also like to note that Dreamcast games are still being produced, even NES games are being manufactured by homebrew devs.
So as I start to wind this all down I’m hoping that maybe today some of the retro community reading this may start to be a little kinder to this world beating console, being popular is not a negative, having more games than most could ever play is not a negative. When you look at the console and it’s legacy from a distance all you can see is greatness, this really was one of the important ones, it paid it’s dues and now I feel its time it was given it’s fair respect.
To help push through a new media to increase the size and scale of the games themselves, to make sure it played all the games from the previous machine straight out of the box and to allow the peripherals for those previous generation games to still stay relevant was something most companies and consoles don’t do now at all. The PS2 was absolutely the least powerful of it’s generation, it even had the highest fail ratio with the console itself constantly having reader issues until the second generation version was launched but that’s not going to stop the important fact. The games were amazing!
One of the single most important things regarding the Playstation 2 however is how many new people it brought into the scene, selling roughly 50 million units more than the PS1 it further pushed on the mainstream acceptance into society of geeks and nerds being cool. For many people this would be their first console in a living room instead of a bedroom, for some folk it would actually be their first gaming system. The retrogaming scene will always change, it’s the only scene where the new systems and games are in fact old (love that irony) and as time goes by we get the pleasure of welcoming more and more into our hearts. Retro just keeps giving and giving, I love it.
As a huge fan of Sony in general and a lover of anything or anyone who keeps making the thing I love grow and grow I humbly finish by paying respects to a machine that didn’t define an important part of my life in anyway. The PS2 was released as I was way into my mid 20’s but as someone raised on micro computers and games you loaded from tape for 10 minutes at a time to have this as your first system must have been heaven, consider me jealous. What I did experience however was a cheaper way to get into DVD films and finally throw away that VHS player and a console that meant my current collection didn’t need to get put away in a box in the attic and more choice that I could ever have hoped for.
I got to see new franchises come into play, a machine so strong that it made everyone else around them really have to produce quality to compete (sony’s greatest gift to the games industry). Days, weeks, months and years of my favourite RPG and Strategy titles blossom and the last real showcase of how, when it wants to, the Japanese games industry does it’s thing like no-one else. As much as the GBA saw the traditional sprite based mainstream way of doing things end the PS2 along with the Gamecube and Xbox was a superb way of ending the low-res era. Dance Mats, Ligtguns and multi-taps, the same room gaming fun I expect and love most about console gaming, this was their final swan song.
So this is for you my ever faithful PS2, You sit in my games room like an old friend, never judging me, never asking more of me than I can do and always there when I need to play the things modern consoles simply don’t do anymore. All of the benefits of your previous PS1 brother with all the extra’s of a games catalogue it would take a lifetime to experience. Like a fine wine you are getting better and better with age. I look forward to seeing you help grow the retro community as the years roll by, to the day when you get what you deserve. Love, nothing but love.