On March 4, 2000, the PlayStation 2 went on sale in Japan.
March 4, 2020 4:13 PM   Subscribe

The PlayStation 2 Is Now Twenty Years Old [The Guardian] “Despite looming competition from the Nintendo GameCube and the Microsoft Xbox, the PlayStation 2 was an instant smash, selling more than three million units in its first year in Japan alone and hitting 20m worldwide by the end of 2001. The machine effectively ushered in the modern era of highly cinematic blockbuster action adventures, with titles such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Devil May Cry thrilling players with their depth, visual detail and mature themes. But the sheer ubiquity of the console and its vast global user base also allowed for a growing pool of experimental titles, which used the power of the Emotion Engine in very different ways. From elegiac adventures Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to psychological horror classic Silent Hill 2 and hallucinogenic joyride Katamari Damacy, the PS2 was home to titles that inspired the nascent independent game development scene of the mid-2000s.” [Playstation 2 "Bambi" Commercial]

• My favorite PlayStation 2 game was DVDs [Engadget]
“The PlayStation 2 was the first game console I ever bought. Heck, it was the first big ticket item I ever bought, period. That was a big deal at a time when I was only making $135 a week, and most of that cash was going toward college costs: tuition, textbooks and transportation. So I had to save up for months, while also finding a way to justify the high cost to myself (and my skeptical mother). The PS2 had one trump card in its deck, one thing that I could point at and say, "Look, it's not just a game machine, I didn't waste my money on such a single-use luxury!" It could play DVDs. It was in fact, my first DVD player. [...] But if the new game console I wanted to get anyway had a player, then it was two gadgets for the price of one. The Dreamcast, released a year earlier, did not play DVDs (it used GD-ROM for its disc format). The Xbox wasn't out yet, but when it did it would require the purchase of a separate 'playback kit.' That left the PS2 as my only option.”
• Why it's an important piece of gaming history [BBC]
“The DVD player in the console made it accessible to people at the time who could get "two things for a cheaper price". Alex believes the console attracted people who might not have played video games, and put controllers in the hands of a new wave of gamers. "It was home to games which elevated creativity and expanded the games market - like Singstar and Guitar Hero," he says. Singstar let you compete against friends at singing while Guitar Hero was a guitar-based video games that was played on a big plastic instrument. "It gave people who weren't self-identifying as gamers a chance to play things like karaoke and music games." According to Guinness World Records, 157.68 million people have owned a PlayStation 2 in their lifetime. That's ahead of the 154.90 million who played on a Nintendo DS and the 118.69 million Game Boy owners. The original PlayStation was owned by 104.25 million, PlayStation 3 had 86.90 million and current console PlayStation 4 has had slightly more at 88.06 million owners.”
posted by Fizz (22 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've still got my PS2 and after a bunch of years away I've started playing Katamari Damacy (and We heart Katamari) occasionally again. They still hold up real well. Most other PS2 games, not so much. If nothing else because graphics for the more complicated and detailed games do *not* hold up well against current expectations.
posted by ardgedee at 4:51 PM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm sure that in another dozen years, though, those chunky-ass renders are going to be quaint and retro as hell.
posted by ardgedee at 4:52 PM on March 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I still think it is pretty neat that people used PS2s to make beowulf clusters. I mean I only ever played games on mine but it was reassuring to know that I could have been doing something more interesting...
posted by logicpunk at 5:09 PM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Most of my favorite games in terms of actual gameplay were on that system. Graphics have continued to improve, but imagination may have stagnated a bit.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:18 PM on March 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tony Hawk, Madden, Katamari, God of War...there were a ton of games on PS2 worth playing. I still have mine, maybe I'll plug it in to the converter to see if it shows up on my big TV...

I also have SNES, Sega Dreamcast, N64, Wii, XBox, PS3...all but the XBox work still.
posted by Chuffy at 5:22 PM on March 4, 2020

I have two Sega Dreamcasts in my possession. I think that alone says all that needs be said about what I think of the PS2.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

funny, I got my ps3 because I wanted to play 3d blu-rays. It was about the same price as a bluray player, *and* it played games. I thought "what a great deal, maybe I'd like to play games sometimes". As chance would have it, the first game I picked up was portal2 and I was hooooked. I've definitely played waaaaay more games than I have watched 3d movies.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:21 PM on March 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I programmed on prototype PS2 devkits ... this post is definitely not making me feel any younger.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:23 PM on March 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have two Sega Dreamcasts in my possession. I think that alone says all that needs be said about what I think of the PS2.

posted by Fizz at 6:24 PM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I still remember buying a "used" PS2 from the legendary Willow Video (which was a totally reputable game store and definitely not a fence) and the MGS2 demo (which came with a free copy of Zone of the Enders, which was a nice bonus.

It's still hooked up and I'm very gradually making my way through Persona 4 20 years later.

Viva la ps2
posted by Reyturner at 6:31 PM on March 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've still got my PS2 hooked up to the TV for two and a half games: the Katamari games and PS1's Xenogears (the first half of it, anyway).
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:42 PM on March 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

The only video game console I've ever owned is a PS2. I bought it 6-7 years ago, from a mefite friend, after she saw me talking about how I had never done a video game on some mefi thread, and memailed me. (I haven't pulled it out in a while but I'm moving soon and have already planned to set it up more conveniently so I can play whenever, instead of having to make a little to-do about my room config every time I feel like rolling the whole world up into a tidy trash ball.)

I am fairly confident looking forward that the PS2 will be the only video game console I will ever own.

Lego Star Wars is the shit by the way and no one will ever convince me otherwise.
posted by phunniemee at 7:29 PM on March 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

The PS2 is twenty years old and I'm still mad about those black cat things that would come out of nowhere in Devil May Cry and keep me from getting the S rank.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:05 PM on March 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've taken my PS2 out of storage and play Crash Team Racing, which is a PS1 game but I don't care, shut up, with my daughters. Perfect party racing game, still oodles of fun after all these years.

Which reminds me: The PS2 was a perfectly backwards compatible PlayStation as well. You could buy one and have your collection of PlayStation games work from day one. Thanks to Moore's law and economies of scale, the PS2 included a fully compatible PS1-on-a-chip, and did not require to do emulation in software.

The PS1-on-a-chip doubled up as the PS2's gamepad interface. Yes, you've read correctly. The chip that read button presses and stick moves on a PS2 was a PlayStation One minus the case and disc reader.

An aside:

When playing with my daughters, I do my own rubber banding by playing badly while I'm winning, and playing as well as I can when I'm behind. I do stupid things like drive donuts so they can catch up with me, then I overtake them by means of perfect powerslides, and timing the Turbo Boost meter to get three consecutive turbo boosts. Races here are very contested, but by choice. My choice. We're still trying to teach the 8yo how to powerslide.

This is relevant because the other day I caught the 10yo telling her mum/my wife that "Dad can drive very well because he drives cars, but I'm better at this game because I can memorise the circuits". The circuits I memorised almost 25 years ago, yeah.

We also play PS2 games. But we always come back to Crash Team Racing. On a PS2.

We're also doing ICO, with me playing and them watching, because it's "too creepy". Can't wait to show them Shadow of the Colossus next. Which is a PS2 game, and that's why I'm posting here and not over there.
posted by kandinski at 8:09 PM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh fun. I am literally right now in the middle of upgrading my PS4 hard drive (at this moment restoring the backup data from a USB stick), which feels a little pointless since I guess the PS5 is out soon? But having to copy scores of gigabytes of data back and forth did have me thinking about how the PS2 relied on memory cards.

I recall fondly the weekend that my girlfriend and I rented a PS2 and Devil May Cry from a video store, but since we had no memory card, we had to play through the whole game in essentially one sitting, never turning the PS2 off and knowing a mistake could undo hours of work.

When I did purchase a PS2 for myself, I also eventually bought the chunky external modem for it. Never even cracked the packaging of that modem. Now I’m grateful when a game *doesn’t* require an online connection.

I still have my PS2 in a box in the closet, and I’ve never sold or given away any of my old discs. Maybe it’s time for a replay of Katamari, or Killer 7, or Twisted Metal Black, or Primal, or Shadow of the Colossus, or...
posted by ejs at 9:35 PM on March 4, 2020

the first game I picked up was portal2

Maybe you're thinking of Portal Runner?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 10:20 PM on March 4, 2020

nope, I was talking about how I got my ps3 for a similar reason to the people who got the ps2 for the dvd player.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:07 AM on March 5, 2020

I will take this opportunity to once again proclaim the need for EA to make a remastered version of Black for the current-gen consoles.
posted by kuanes at 4:41 AM on March 5, 2020

I feel like I have to preface this story by noting that 20 years ago was in the THICK of the dot-com era.

Initially, the PS2 was super hard to get. Sony couldn't keep up. I was, at the time, a partner in a custom software shop, and as such was super busy. I couldn't really sit on Amazon and refresh the product page every ten minutes, which was effectively what you had to do to score one.

However, we had a receptionist/admin for our department who had free bandwidth. I bribed her with a week of lunches in exchange for her monitoring the page and buying one for me (on my AX), plus a $100 bonus if she actually snagged one. (Again: boom. Also, I was not quite 30.) She succeeded, much to our mutual amusement.

I ended up with a bundle that came with SSX, the then-current NHL game, and a couple other titles, but the real "winner" was the SSX snowboarding game. I hooked it up in the break room on the requisite big-screen TV for the rest of the week before I took it home, and it wrecked productivity for several people.

Oh, and in re: the uptick in realism: at one point later, my roomie was playing the NHL game when my girlfriend walked through the room, and idly asked who the (Dallas) Stars were playing -- because the graphics were good enough that, in a casual glance, she'd mistaken the game for live TV.
posted by uberchet at 8:58 AM on March 5, 2020

Heck, I still remember clearly the console games of that time. Shenmue. Jet Set Radio. Skies of Arcadia. Soul Calibur. Samba de Amigo. Space Channel Five. Phantasy Star Online. Even the simplest games, like Crazy Taxi and Chu Chu Rocket - still classics. And the weirdest stuff - Seaman. Yeah.

Heady days.

Yes, this comment is performative. No, I don't care. Sega Dreamcast till I die.
posted by Wordshore at 2:29 PM on March 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd never been much of a gamer, but I saw my high school best friend's little brother playing Final Fantasy X on their giant television in their living room, and I was smitten. I remember playing Katamari Damacy with friends in college, and begging a different friend's kid brother to help me beat Kingdom Hearts during Spring Break sophomore year.

I finally was get my own PS2 during a particularly low period in my life, right before I started grad school. I completely wore out first copy of Final Fantasy IX, and that thing saved me during some serious periods of anxiety and depression in my early twenties. When it finally gave up the ghost, I tried to have it fixed -- but every place I took it to said it wasn't worth the labor to fix it. I cried for its loss, and kinda fell out of games for a while. It just wasn't the same anymore. Nowadays, I watch the beau play games, and I fiddle with mobile games. I feel like things have changed so much and I don't even really know what I like to play anymore.
posted by PearlRose at 12:03 PM on March 6, 2020

PearlRose, if you post a question in askMe describing what you like in a game, you'll get all kinds of great suggestions for new ones to play!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2020

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