Joystiq remembers the PlayStation 2

Sony sent out a press release today to announce that October 26, 2010 marks the 10-year anniversary of the US release of the PlayStation 2. In that time, approximately 146 million systems have been sold worldwide, according to Sony. In the announcement, the publisher said the system was "responsible for raising the bar by introducing popular franchises such as God of War, Gran Turismo, Ratchet & Clank, and Metal Gear Solid, all of which live on as fan favorites and continue to make their way into the hands of new gamers to this day."

Okay, so Sony's memory may be a bit hazy (Gran Turismo and Metal Gear Solid actually debuted on the original PlayStation), but our own memories about the system are crystal clear. Join us after the break and discuss the system we can't believe is retro.
  • Andrew Yoon (@scxzor): As many of my colleagues here, I was actually a latecomer to the PS2 era, very much content with the offerings on GameCube and Xbox. But, I needed to play some JRPGs, and apparently they only existed on Sony's console. Thank goodness for Atlus' efforts on making my late PS2 purchase worth it: Persona 3 and 4 actually changed my life.

    Also, let's not forget backwards compatibility: being able to play Incredible Crisis all over again made college that much more tolerable. Oh, and I can't forget Devil May Cry 3, a game so good, they had to release it twice.
  • Ben Gilbert (@BigBossBgilbert): It took a full year before we got a PlayStation 2 in the winter of 2001. I was only 17 at the time, so my older brother tended to make big gaming acquisitions -- thankfully, Grand Theft Auto 3 was enough to sell him on the PS2. It certainly didn't hurt that movies were making a transition to DVD at the time and Sony's second console was by far the most affordable player on the market.

    Though I spent countless hours with various Grand Theft Auto 3 iterations, the most important experiences for me on PS2 were with genres I had never explored before. Gran Turismo 3 introduced me to racing sims at a time in my life when attending the New York Auto Show was an annual given. Kill.Switch showed me that I could, in fact, enjoy playing a first-person shooter on a console (though Halo 2 would eventually cement my love for console shooters). And Katamari Damacy, well, I guess it showed me that I like weird Japanese stuff. Eventually, Resident Evil 4 helped me learn Spanish, as I played the game alongside my Catalan roommate while living in Barcelona during college -- I'll know all the right terminology should I end up in a Spanish-speaking part of the world when the zombie apocalypse goes down.

    The PS2 entered my life before high school had ended and stayed with me through the end of college. Other than French impressionism and the written word, few things are so closely tied to my formative years. Happy birthday, buddy!
  • Chris Buffa (@ChrisBuffa): I was a hardcore Sega fan, so I boycotted the PS2 out of sheer silliness. Eventually, I caved and purchased the system for Silent Hill 2 and the original Red Faction.
  • David Hinkle (@DaveHinkle): Christmas morning, 2000, I was sure I wasn't going to get a PS2. It was sold out everywhere, it was expensive, and no matter how badly I wanted Tekken Tag Tournament, I just knew it wasn't going to happen. At that point, I was 17 and committed to gaming, through and through. Sure enough, my entire family collaborated on getting me one.

    My uncle Yale worked at Best Buy, so he stashed one away for my folks. My brother bought me a copy of Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore to go with it and my sister got me Blade on DVD. It was the best Christmas morning and, surprisingly enough, got even better when my aunt Lisa and uncle Yale showed up a little later with a copy of Tekken Tag Tournament. I felt bad for my brother because he explained to me that he wanted to get me Tekken, knowing how badly I wanted it, but his intentions were usurped by my aunt and uncle since they picked up the game with the console.

    Seriously, I cannot thank my family enough for how supportive of my gaming they've always been. Lord knows it must've been hard on them considering how almost every other kid in Philly was far more concerned with the outside world than the virtual ones I had laying all over my bedroom floor in a messy pile.
  • Griffin McElroy (@griffinmcelroy): I think it speaks to the ubiquitousness of the console that I can't actually remember when I first got my hands on the PS2; in my mind, it was always there. I do remember that, unlike the consoles that came before it, my favorite games on the console weren't just eighth or ninth sequels in established franchises. SSX, Katamari Damacy, Dark Cloud, Kingdom Hearts, Gitaroo Man -- the PS2 was a destination for new, experimental games, and I was totally down to try my hand at all of them.

    Also, I'm watching a DVD on one right now.
  • James Ransom-Wiley: True story: I didn't cop a PS2 until September 2006 (owning just a memory card I'd bum on friends' systems). But I'm glad I waited. I created my very own "launch" lineup -- easily the greatest of all time: Amplitude, God of War, Guitar Hero, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Okami, Resident Evil 4 and Shadow of the Colossus.
  • JC Fletcher (@jcfletcher): I had (and continue to have) as much fun with the PS2 as anybody, including a summer wasted on Frequency, and using the wonderful Katamari Damacy as therapy for the stresses of grad school. But anyone who spent time working at a game store that accepted trade-ins in the early 2000's, as I did, has another impression of the PS2 -- total garbage. You could say it was the Xbox 360 of its day in terms of reliability.

    Because of this, the store I worked in had to perform a battery of tests on all hardware that came in, including playing both CD and DVD-based games, running a DVD for 20 minutes or so, etc. all to determine whether the system would overheat or suffer the dreaded Disc Read Error. We would also occasionally look at people's systems to diagnose problems, as a favor. During one such occasion, a coworker and I noticed an odd rattle coming from within the system. We opened it up ...

    ... and found it absolutely full of dirt and hundreds of desiccated insects. And THAT's what I remember when I think of the PS2 now.
  • Ludwig Kietzmann (@LudwigK): It's not easy welcoming the Dreamcast's murderer into your home, which may be why I had gotten an Xbox and GameCube long before I even bothered with a PlayStation 2. Once the system had amassed an impressive library, I couldn't ignore it any longer. I was surprised to find so many eternal favorites as my PS2 collection grew, with cherished games like Sly Cooper, Devil May Cry 3 and Final Fantasy XII standing next to unforgettable oddities ... like that game about androgynous teenage cannibals (Digital Devil Saga), or Capcom's bizarre alien invasion game, Under The Skin. The PS2 introduced me to the punishing and oddly laid-back God Hand, the whimsical Katamari Damacy and ... well, I'm still not sure what exactly Rule of Rose is.

    Oh, and since I also loved Metal Gear Solid and the cut-short Xenosaga trilogy, I've probably watched more cinematic spectacle on the PlayStation 2 than my DVD player.
  • Mike Schramm (@MikeSchramm): I know the very term "next-gen" is innately an iterative concept, but for me, the PS2 will always be the original "next-gen" console. The NES and Genesis were cute and revolutionary, and the PlayStation brought the culture to the mainstream. But the PS2 was the console that proved this industry had legs, that it could still grow and impress, that the limit was really somewhere up there in the sky. Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Grand Theft Auto 3, Sly Cooper, Katamari Damacy, Mark of Kri, NBA Street and Guitar Hero all proved that gaming wasn't just pixels and numbers -- it could innovate into a form of art as powerful as any other.
  • Randy Nelson (@DangerPenguin) Here's the funny thing: even though I was en editor on PSM magazine (remember that?) when the PS2 launched in the US, I didn't actually pick one up on launch day. All of my co-workers did, returning with tales of standing on queue in the rain, watching fistfights break out and general calamity.

    I already had a Japanese system, which I'd waited in line for (I was number 1400 or so) in Akihabara when the PS2 launched in Japan of March 2000. (After buying it, I hopped the train back to my hotel, rushed to my room and loaded up Ridge Racer V -- my Editor-in-Chief and I played for hours, despite the fact that we could have been out exploring Tokyo.)

    When the US launch rolled around, I'd already played the first wave of games to death on my debug console -- SSX being my favorite, by far; I played it all day every day -- so between early builds at the office and the imports I was getting at home, I was all set. It wasn't until the shortages of US units ran its course that I ended up buying one. Over the past 10 years, I've gone from owning one to having five, if you include my backwards-compatible PS3. That counts, right?
  • Richard Mitchell (@SenseiRAM) I'll be honest: I acquired my first PS2 just this year. It was a gift from a friend who decided he didn't have time for games anymore. As a huge Sega fanboy (at the time), I opted for a Dreamcast back in 1999 and moved on to the Xbox and eventually the GameCube after that. Considering I just got my PS2, I haven't played much on it other than God of War and most of Silent Hill 3. I started Shadow of the Colossus, but now that HD collection is coming out so I'll probably wait for that.

    Now, if someone would be so kind as to send me a copy of Fatal Frame 3 (I'm on Goozex!), I'm sure I could get some more use out of it.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.