March 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation 2 – a hallmark game console that holds a special place in many gamers hearts. To celebrate the venerable PS2, I decided to take a little stroll down memory lane, and talk about not just my experience with it, but what this console has meant for players everywhere.
A little history of the PlayStation and me (because you totally care)
Back before the console wars as we know them today, the consoles vying for a share of the market were simpler. These earlier home gaming devices were nowhere near as powerful as the giants of today. The original PlayStation made waves, coming out years after the end of a troubled relationship with Nintendo. It had over 100,000 pre-orders before it hit shelves in the North American market. It would continue to hold sway over gamers for years to come.
But that’s not what I’m talking about today, not entirely anyway. I’m here to be nostalgic about the PlayStation 2. It was – technically – my first ever console, and while I didn’t know this at the time; it would mold me into the person I am today.
I’m pretty much as old as the PS2: it came out just about four months before I did. I wouldn’t actually pick it up until about five years later. The reasons behind this included immigrant parents, low income, and how I was a literal baby. When I finally got my PS2 – which was imported from Kuwait because again, immigrant parents – I was smitten. Ratchet and Clank, Ape Escape 2 and a definitely not ripped copy of Smackdown vs Raw: Here Comes the Pain quickly became my favorite games. I would use my PS2 until about 2010, when it finally started having enough issues that I was scared to lose it.
Obviously, I’m not the only one to have fond memories of the PS2. Many young players worldwide grew up with it. My story isn’t special, but the amount of stories you hear about this console is.
This console walked the walk
The PS2 is also the undefeated champ when it comes to console sales, with an estimated 157 million units sold as of February 2019. Current gen consoles don’t even come close. The PS4 currently sits at 92 million, with the Xbox One at 43 million and the Nintendo Switch at 30 million. Ken Kutaragi, the “Father of PlayStation”, even received a lifetime achievement award in 2008, recognizing his work on one of the most popular consoles ever made.
Tons of gaming classics come from the PlayStation 2. The aforementioned Ratchet and Clank franchise, Final Fantasy and the God of War games are some of these legendary titles. These franchises really help to show off the quality and improvements throughout the years as well.
Back during the era of the PS2, we had low-res characters without faces, weird controls, and some wonky cameras. And for us back that, that was amazing. It was the best we could get, and we loved it. Looking at the current generation of consoles, it’s crazy to think we would go from smoothed out blocks to basically full 4K movies unfolding in front of us.
25 years of Play…Station
It’s fascination to see all the massive upgrades the PlayStation consoles has undergone since the debut of the first iteration over 25 years ago. Sony themselves have created something of a retrospective for their 25th anniversary, going over important milestones and lots of the games that kept them at the forefront of gaming.
The ability to go back and play games from previous generations is one of the more amazing features of the PS2. Backwards compatibility is always a contentious issue for players when new generations of consoles are unveiled, and for a good reason. It seems like a simple thing, but being able to boot up my PS2 at a moment’s notice to play Ape Escape is an amazing thing to me. Services like Playstation Now only make that easier and easier.
It’s what lead me here actually
If you think about it, playing my PS2 all those years ago is what lead me to writing for SQUAD – which is a quaint little thought.
I tend to focus my attention on PC gaming now – even going against my own words and buying games for a second time to experience them on PC. I still get on my PS4 often enough, and there’s a lot of titles I’ve been wanting to revisit lately. I’m replaying Infamous Second Son for the 9th time, and I’m probably going to wipe the dust off my PS3 to play the Ratchet and Clank: Future games once more through.
One thing that can never beat console gaming for me is the memories I have. I have experiences and memories that can’t be forgotten over 15 years and 3 generations of gaming. I know I’m young, and I hopefully have lots of time to continue gaming and explore new areas of the medium, but I don’t think anything will ever match up the same way. I’ll continue to make new memories, but I’ll always remember where I started and how the games shaped me.