Revisiting some retro PlayStation 2 gamesThe PlayStation 2’s massive library of over 2,000 games had me curious for some hidden gems that I might have missed.
Scavenging through my storeroom last week, I came across my old PlayStation 2 (PS2) console. Dusty, obsolete, and forgotten today, the console had been one of my first introductions to home gaming. While arcades were all the rave while I was a young nerd, the PlayStation 2 was one of the first gaming consoles that I had at home. The old hardware brought back memories of playing Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X (the two games we owned) on an incompatible old TV that worked only through a VCR passthrough and displayed only in black and white. Later, as the console market grew in Nepal, more and more games became available with mod chips helping run ‘fake’ Maha Boudha disks, and my library of PS2 games grew as well.
My discovery of my old PS2 then led me down a rabbit hole. Does this still work? Plugged it in, and it did! Can I plug it into my monitor? Nope, RCA only. While the console did still work on TVs, I needed an RCA input for it to work on my desktop. I thought about emulation. I knew PS2 emulation had its problems back when I tried it in the past, but now, PCSX2 was surprisingly stable. It ran a lot of my nostalgia games like ‘God of War’, ‘Metal Gear Solid 2’, and ‘Fatal Frame 2’ really well. It also rendered games in a much higher resolution of 1080p and the games looked really great on modern monitors as well. With modern emulator functions like save states and iso support, PCSX2 took over my attention and my PS2 went back to the storeroom.
An emulator is a piece of software that emulates a game console’s original hardware, enabling the execution of game code on completely different hardware, in this case, a computer. And while I enjoyed revisiting some retro PS2 games from my childhood, the PlayStation 2’s massive library of over 2,000 games had me curious for some hidden gems that I might have missed. So, here are a few PS2 games that you might want to revisit or discover. There were truly some really good games for the PS2, and with the PCSX2 emulator, they don’t look half as bad as you remember them. PCSX2 is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.
‘Katamari Damacy’ is a weird game from Japan. As the prince of the King of All Cosmos, who in a drunken stupor destroys all celestial bodies, the player has to collect various objects around an extremely adhesive ball. The game has you constructing massive balls (called Katamari) with objects ranging from thumbtacks to dogs, humans, and even mountains. All the material you collect will be used to reconstruct the cosmos, so you, as the prince, have to race against time to collect as many objects as you can into your ever-growing ball.
While the concept sounds entirely ridiculous, the game is an absolute delight to play. It also has some really good soundtracks that make rolling around a ball so much more fun. The game is quite challenging as you have to try to maintain the roundness of the Katamari as it grows with the objects you pick up.
A high-definition version of the original PS2 game has also been released for Windows, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One consoles.
Hideki Kamiya is well-known today for games like ‘Bayonetta’ and ‘Devil May Cry’. However, in 2006, as part of Clover Studio, he developed Okami for the PlayStation 2. In Okami, you play as the Shinto Sun-God, Amaterasu in the form of a white wolf. The game is a hack-and-slash game similar to the Zelda series but is drawn in a beautiful watercolour shell shaded style that makes it look great even today. The story is your regular run of the mill, an evil dragon wakes you and you, as the white wolf, have to defeat it. However, the adventure is really charming with a diverse cast of characters you meet along the way. The game is also set in a traditional Japanese mythological setting that gives the story a unique angle to the storytelling.
The overall aesthetic of Okami also plays into the game with the player being able to freeze the action on screen to paint a brush stroke on the screen that translates to special attacks or puzzle-solving mechanics within the game. While initial reception to Okami was poor, the game is now considered one of the greatest games of all time, and with the release of the game in HD for Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, mainstream adoption and love for the game has only grown.
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
The PlayStation 2 saw some great horror classics like ‘Silent Hill’ and the ‘Resident Evil’ series. While these games have gone down in history as some of the best horror games, the PlayStation 2 also played host to the ‘Fatal Frame’ series. Considered some of the scariest games ever made, the ‘Fatal Frame’ series takes place in creepy Japanese landscapes. The second iteration of the game, ‘Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly’ was the one I had and played as a kid. Unlike ‘Silent Hill’ or ‘Resident Evil’, ‘Fatal Frame’ has a paranormal approach where you encounter spirits and hostile ghosts. The only way you can defend yourself is with a camera with exorcism abilities which means looking at these spirits head on while trying to snap the perfect picture as they move towards you.
‘Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly’ is one of the scariest games I played as a kid, and the game mechanics only help deepen the horror aspect of the game. You can’t beat up the ghosts with bats or shoot them with guns. There are some ghosts that you can’t even exorcise and you just have to run around avoiding them! The story is also one of the best aspects of this game as twin sisters Mio and Mayu exploring an abandoned village in the middle of a creepy ritual is one horrific experience to live through.
The game was rereleased for the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii.