Contributor Chris Hoadley
Jeff, I got a PS2 because of Maximo and loved it. It took me a while for my brother and me to get one since we got the Dreamcast first and then support for it died a year later. I tried to play Maximo again a few months ago, but since I got it from Blockbuster back when they used that weird sticker thing on the discs it won’t play. Or it could be because it takes forever for my system to do the initial disc load now.
During my senior year of high school, I obsessed over Star Ocean 3 and sunk 200+ hours into it. If I ever played it again I’d probably couldn’t get past the first few hours, but something with that game clicked with me. The game had alternate endings that paired the protagonist with different characters, so throughout it I was checking the player’s guide to get the ending I wanted. I even rejected a character from ever joining my party to get it. Once I got to the (copout) ending, I waited through the credits and found out I also got the ending with the game’s heroine, who spent half the game kidnapped and was kind of unnecessary after you finally got her.
I did the math and found out that all of the choices I made to get one ending also led to the ending with her. I ended up having to make items to reduce the heroine’s likability in order to get the ending I wanted. The misspent times of youth.
Contributor Rus McLaughlin
You just couldn’t beat the PlayStation 2′s catalog. Developers threw everything at that console just to see what might stick, and gamers got a ton of strange, edgy, experimental games as a result. The PS2 was where we started to get a real idea of what video games could really do. And it’s where I stumbled on a funny no-name game called Robot Alchemic Drive.
R.A.D. took the old giant-robot anime and made a freaky-ass game out of it. You didn’t play as the robot … you played as the plucky teenager remote controlling the robot from a distance (or, if you felt really daring, perched on your Meganite’s shoulder) and taking it into hand-to-hand combat against alien monsters. But here’s what really impressed me: Your character’s controller mirrored the PS2 controller. Throwing a punch meant winding up with the thumbsticks and kicking forward to land a solid-steel knuckle sandwich, while the triggers controlled the legs and walking. It felt clunky, a bit plodding, and entirely like piloting a 150-ton robot in ways nothing I’d seen, done, or played before had.
I ran into this quirky, little title nobody knew about on a demo kiosk in a Toys R Us. You could make those discoveries on a PlayStation 2. That’s what made it great.
Copy editor Jason Wilson
In 2001, I took a job at a newspaper in Redding, Calif. Redding is at the far-north end of the Central Valley, and while in Northern California, it felt more like someone took a slice of Kentucky and dropped it into the Golden State. As a Jewish lad from the Bay Area, I never felt right there. Redding and I never clicked.
So between errands and rounds of golf on my off days, the thing that kept me sane was my PlayStation 2. Seriously — when it’s 118 degrees outside (yes, Redding is one of the hottest regions in NorCal), what else are you going to do? I have fond memories of playing games like Final Fantasy X and Dark Cloud while trying to keep cool during the hot summers and warm during the cold winters. The other thing that made the PlayStation 2 so rad? The DVD player! Throw in this newfangled service called Netflix, and I had a steady stream of great movies and TV shows to enjoy.
I don’t have a specific good memory from my PS2 days — let’s face it, they were almost all good. But I am grateful for that little box helping me stay sane during two difficult years.
Contributor Jacob Lopez
I was living in Arizona, and my grandfather (seriously, one of the most badass guys I know) got me a PS2 Slim for Christmas. I played the hell out of Final Fantasy X-2 because it was the only game I had. Being a poor student helped me appreciate gaming that much more. It was like being a kid again. You’re limited to one game for several months, and you have to enjoy what you have. Now, I can pretty much buy a game whenever I feel like it, and I don’t find myself enjoying individual games nearly as much.
Intern Evan Killham
The PlayStation 2 was a system of firsts for me. The day I bought it was the first time (and only time, so far) that I used a cart at Best Buy. It was my first DVD player, and I used it to watch the first DVD I’d ever bought. That movie was Hannibal, but I like to think I’ve done better since then.
Most notably, though, the PS2 was the first gaming system I owned that showed me what this medium is really capable of, due mostly to its vast, kitchen-sink library. It had the first game that forced me to deny that I was tearing up (Shadow of the Colossus), the first title that I nearly snapped in half out of frustration (Stuntman), and the first game that I refused to play alone at night (Fatal Frame). I discussed the plot, themes, and subtext of Silent Hill 2 with my friends the way we would normally talk about a book or a movie, and that was a new one for me. And I’ve replayed Way of the Samurai more times than any other bit of software I’ve ever owned.
I haven’t switched on my PS2 in years, but it’s still hooked up to my TV, just in case.
Intern Mike Minotti
One of my favorite PS2 games was Kingdom Hearts II, which combined two of my favorite things: Final Fantasy and Disney movies. Seriously, I was convinced that Square made the series specifically for me.
One time a friend and I played through the final boss together. Now, this was a single player game, so we just tossed the controller back and forth, but there was a part at the very end where you had to tap the triangle and X buttons repeatedly. We each took a button and beat the holy hell out of that controller. It was one of the most rewarding victories I’ve ever achieved in a game.
In fact, we were so pumped up that we went outside and attacked a beehive with golf clubs and a hammer while we wore my dad’s motor cycle helmets. Best. Night. Ever.