[The PS2 is now officially discontinued! We wanted to give this mighty system a proper farewell so we’re dedicating an entire week to it.]
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the PS2. In fact, I think I repeat that “SNES > PS2 > N64″ in regards to my top three systems of all time at least once a week. As such, its discontinuation fills me with so much nostalgia that I can only remedy it by taking part in [RIP PS2] week here at Twinfinite with a list-o-mania extravaganza. Here are my top ten favorite PS2 games that absolutely made the system for me. These are in no particular order, mind you, since I love them all and choosing one to be the absolute best is like Sophie’s Choice for me. I mean I couldn’t even finish this without the honorable mentions at the end.
I developed a massive girl crush on Harmonix ever since I first heard of Karaoke Revolution’s production. I’m not a good singer, in fact I’ve been known to make small animals scurry away, covering their ears, cursing me out in their small animal language. Regardless, singing is one of my favorite things ever and Karaoke Revolution allowed me to burst my vocal chords to songs that I didn’t think were too old or cheesy for my tastes like most karaoke machines were. They were hip and if not exactly current, still classic.
Bringing over friends to create custom singers (There was a guy in a teddy bear outfit. GOTY) and having sing offs to beat the high scores gave me some of my best childhood memories. It was only improved upon with its sequel, but I figured simply listing the one that started the love affair with Harmonix was good enough.
I’m in love with Hideo Kojima. I think the first step is admitting it. But before I knew of how much I’d adore the famous developer, I played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and was blown away. I had to have played the tanker mission about 40 times (while only beating the full game twice, mind you). Something about that opener felt so perfect and expertly crafted, but the entire game’s story kind of turned me off.
But then came Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I’ve spoken on our Spoilercast Podcast before about how much I love it, and I hate to sound cliche, but it’s seriously one of the three games that made me consider games as an art form. From the amazing (although not fully realized) survival gameplay, to the stealth, to story, to the graphics, everything about MGS3 is what I’d consider a perfect game to be, even with its flaws (camera, anyone?). Plus, come on, dat song. Fun fact: the Snake Eater song was found in Karaoke Revolution 3. I lost my mind.
There is no other video game that will get me involved in a argument. Literally, no other. I’m not the fighting type, I don’t like to get involved in debates about video games because I feel like emotions run too high with gamers. But if you diss Shadow of the Colossus, I’m gonna heel a bitch. SoTC is another one of the three games that really got me into being a “games as art” activist (Braid is the final one in case you’re intrigued).
Another fun fact for you: My first article ever for the game industry was about Shadow of the Colossus and its art. Cringe worthy stuff when I read it today, but it just goes to show how much that game impacted me. I felt I needed to tell the world that games can be art precisely because SoTC exists. Just the same way as I’m saying now that I don’t care how god awful the controls are, this game’s a masterpiece to me.
I’ve long passed the stage of my life where I can regularly play games online. I would like to attribute that to a loss of time, but a big portion of it is really just an overall boredom with online games these days. I started my hate affair with online gaming communities when I dove head first into SOCOM. Really amazing game in all its simplicity. It managed to make me waste so many hours just trying to level up my online badge. I feel like 2 was the better game though, as well as the one that brought me better memories. See, I actually quit playing games online and talking to people after SOCOM II. SOCOM was simply terrible being an 11 year old girl, simply trying to have fun. I got so much hate from people that after a certain point I started deepening my voice.
Seriously, by the time SOCOM II came around and I had been with an established clan (with fantastic online friends might I add), everyone thought I was a little boy by the name of Dante (Devil May Cry, teehee). I had a really great time with those clan mates though, and it gave me quite a tough skin having to deal with all the hate just to play a game I thought was genuinely fun. But after SOCOM II, I quit the scene and assumed the gaming online community wasn’t treating girls any better. It wasn’t until I started Twinfinite that I got a bit out of my shell again. But I’ll never forget my adventures in being a little girl… trying to be a bad bitch…. by pretending to be a boy…in a man’s game?
Family seldom got me video games without me telling them first which one they should buy. Probably because they suck ass at doing it and always ended up giving me the worst games imaginable. My mom got this just right one birthday year though. It was such a surprise and from a series I had never played before. “Dynasty Warriors 3″, the title is pretty badass when you’re 10. Hell, when you’re 21. I’ll never forget loading it up and seeing that epic opener with the over the top rock music, it was so awesome. And the gameplay, the gameplay! I never thought such a concept of easily slaying hundreds of enemies on screen was possible, let alone such mindless fun. You had officers you had to make sure survived, you had a morale bar letting you know when your side sucked. It was awesome. Throw in horse riding and I’m in heaven. Let’s not even go into how this was the game that got me crazy into the three kingdoms period of Chinese history. Or that I still follow this series and worship Koei to death. Which reminds me, I definitely got a bunch of other kids around school into Dynasty Warriors. You owe me Koei, I advertised you good.
I’m going to make a statement that’ll anger Andres, our resident Final Fantasy XIII lover, but I don’t care; Final Fantasy X was the last good Final Fantasy game. Now I’m not saying this as a random gamer that maybe played a lot of Final Fantasy games just for the heck of it. No, I’m saying this as a die hard Squaresoft fangirl whose top games of all time include multiple Final Fantasy games. Everything after 10 doesn’t exist to me. There, I said it. With that I guess I should say that I love this game because of that. It was the last of the good in my eyes. It might not be better than 8, 9, or 3 to me, but it’s definitely worth mentioning here because of stellar I thought it was. Where’s the HD port, by the way?
I own Jak II twice. I don’t know how, or why, but I know that out of my entire gaming collection Jak II is the only game that I physically own twice. That means something, people. In all seriousness though, Jak & Daxter is one of my favorite platformers of all time (I had to have played the demo about 100 times in anticipation), so I was looking forward to the sequel greatly. I didn’t predict that Jak II would be a complete left turn from the series’ roots. One would think that such a 180 degree turn would really not sit well with fans of the original. Honestly, it probably didn’t. I’m not entirely sure as I was too young to care; I thought Jak II was freaking awesome. Grand Theft Auto elements with the same wacky characters? Sold. Fun fact: I could have sworn Keira was voiced by Rachael Ray. Also, I hated Jak 3 with a passion.
Whatever happened to EA Sports Big? I feel like they made the best sports games back in the day. SSX Tricky is a classic that can only be rivaled by 3 and the original. The personalities that came with each racer, the ridiculous stunts you could pull, and the rivalries you could form were all sacrificed in the newest iteration and that’s why it truly suffered as an SSX game. What makes it is that, its charm. Not to mention the song Tricky being engraved in your head by the time you’re done playing it.
Pretty late into the PS2’s life, Persona 4 caught my eye by some random stroke of luck. I hadn’t played the others, and I really knew nothing about the series besides that it was a JRPG, my favorite genre at the time. With not many other good options for JRPGs out at the time (as I had played the ones that did come out), I happened to read an article on the upcoming Persona 4. I found out you didn’t need to play the others to understand, which was perfect. Really though what stuck out to me was that you could have relationships with people within the game. I found this incredibly interesting, as a huge fan of my relationships with people in real life. Not only that, but you could do activities like go to a karaoke club, join a sports team, and visit a shrine.
As a huge fan of all things Japan, I was incredibly down to be a Japanese student that happens to fight monsters when he jumps inside of the TV world. The premise is absolutely ridiculous to describe, but Persona 4 is definitely an amazing JRPG. I’d say it’s even one of the best of its genre. It started my love affair with Atlus and even had me caring about a little girl character way before The Walking Dead had its shot at a player’s emotional involvement. I’m really glad Persona 4 Golden came out because it was almost alarming the amount of people that hadn’t played it before. I’m a big believer that whichever Persona game you played first is the one you think is better. Since I played 4 first, I was instantly drawn in to the bright colors, fantastic soundtrack, and out there story. Oh also, it brought this to the world.
Okay, so maybe I did happen to leave the best for last. Grand Theft Auto III needs no explanation. It’s the game I waited day and night for. It’s the game that I thought was so interesting even in the real world, where everyone and their mother blamed it for any violence that happened. It’s the game I say I played when I was 10 and then point to all the happiness and good intentions that surround my life as a sign that it’s not video games that make people go crazy. I was so blown away by the open world. It was sprawling at the time, though play it now and you realize how wrong we were as well as how far games have come in such short time. My brother who’s not an avid gamer at all would even hail it as “the perfect game.” He’d say, “Why do you need anything else?” You could be a taxi driver (By his logic this meant I could throw away Crazy Taxi). You could drive cars (Every racing game, get out). You could shoot a lot of guns (Third person and first person shooters, you know where the door is).
Of course I thought he was being a bit extreme, but I agreed with him on the level that Grand Theft Auto III really did give the player a lot to do in this world. I can still to this day do all the cheat codes I knew at lightning speed if you put a dualshock in my hands. I played GTA3 so much that I knew the game’s streets before I knew Miami’s. Hell, I played it so much, the disc got so scratched up I had to actually replace it. Final fun fact: While Grand Theft Auto Vice City is set in the best city in the world and it was my most hyped game of all time, I still get goosebumps when I hear GTA3’s opening theme.
[Honorable Mentions I Am So Sorry I Missed You]
– Romance of the Three Kingdoms 8
– Smuggler’s Run 2
– The Bouncer
– Prince of Persia
– Dragon Ball Z Budokai
– Time Crisis 3
– Kingdom Hearts
– God of War
– Kessen II