Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hidden Gems of the PS2 Era

The Playstation 2 was the longest lasting console of the previous generation. Lasting far into the next generation even as the Gamecube and XBox were left behind, the Playstation 2 had, and still has, the most solid library of any console. Everybody knows about the big titles that had graced the system, SOCOM, God of War, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper... But there were also a few games that slipped under the radar and can be found for way less than it'd cost to get a new game.

1. Dark Cloud
Expected Price: $6 (The price I bought it at. This may vary wildly depending on where you buy)
This game is fairly unique. It's an action-RPG in the vein of Legend of Zelda combined with the city-building mechanics of Act Raiser. The story and setting are fairly original, but takes a backseat to the gameplay and mechanics. The game is essentially a dungeon crawler for the action segments, as you try to recover lost pieces of the world to bring it back into order, but you should be careful, as your weapon will eventually wear down and break, or you can run out of water and become dehydrated. A very unique blend of two genres that takes a while to get into, but is ultimately rewarding.

2. God Hand
Expected Price: $13
Okay, so this one's a bit more well-known than the others, with the cult following it has, but still. God Hand is an incredible beat-em-up game by the now-defunct Clover Studios. Beat up bad guys with a customizable moveset (you can even customize your own combos!) featuring many, many styles of martial arts. Many complaints are leveled at the camera, but it's not too bad. The decidedly Wild West environments are incredibly sparse, but that gives it the plus of not getting in the way while you play, a must for this game. This game is hard. Unless if you learn the mechanics, you're going to be stuck on the first level for a while.

Fun fact: IGN gave this game a 3. Don't let this dissuade you though!

3. Okage: Shadow King
Expected Price: $5
So you've finished Earthbound and Mother 3, and possibly loads of other quirky games? If not, give this game a try. This is the silliest RPG you can get for the Playstation 2. The setting is reminiscent of a Tim Burton film, with catchy melodies and designs that look like they were taken from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The story doesn't exactly take itself seriously, with the protagonist becoming the avatar for the pompous Lord Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV (Or just Evil King Stan), becoming a pawn for him to defeat all the other evil kings and reign as the supreme evil king. The only downside of this game is the battle system. It's not that great, but if you can tolerate it, you're looking at a great RPG that's as memorable as Earthbound.

4. Seek and Destroy
Expected Price: $3
The cover looks like it's a very bad shovelware game, doesn't it? Don't believe its lies, though. Seek and Destroy is a tank combat game. It is the cutest tank combat game. Several real-world tanks have been transformed into tiny, adorable killing machines, and you get to customize the hell outta them with engines, turrets, anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers, jet boosters, and chainsaws. The story may be simplistic and the graphics may be sub-par, but you have a tank wielding a chainsaw, and that's all that matters.

5. Sky Odyssey
Expected Price: $4
Looking for something a bit more relaxing? Maybe a flight simulator where you just go around, drifting lazily through air currents? Tough. Sky Odyssey is probably the most intense non-combat flight simulator I've played. You have to navigate your plane through harsh weather conditions, heavy winds, and even rockslides in order to get your plane safely to its destination. There's no combat in this game, so no dogfighting. The music is fantastic, done by Kow Otani, composer for Shadow of the Colossus.

6. Shinobi
Expected Price: $8
In a world where the length of your scarf determines how much of a ninja you are... Shinobi is an incredibly arcade-like experience. With only six levels to play through, you can blast through it in an afternoon. However, the difficulty's pretty high in this title. Dying sends you back to the last checkpoint, or worse, to the start of the level. This is definitely a game you need to get good at fast, as later levels have you dashing from enemy to enemy in order to cross bottomless pits. There is a timer in the form of your sword, Akujiki. It feeds on the souls of your enemies, and not killing any enemies means that it will feed on your life instead, so killing enemies rather than running away from them is heavily encouraged. It's a short, yet really fun experience that can be played multiple times.

7. Soul Reaver 2
Expected Price: $5
No, I'm not going to go with a Twilight joke in this one. This is an action-adventure game with smooth combat mechanics and thought-provoking puzzles. The story is told through the eyes of Raziel, a vampire who had his body destroyed, but his soul had been saved by the octopus representation of the late Tony Jay. Don't worry if you hadn't played the first, as there is a recap of the story at the beginning. A very satisfying game with a great setting and atmosphere.

Estimated Price for All Seven Games: $44
Average Price for a New PS3/360 Game: $60
Other obscure titles worth checking out: Rogue Galaxy, Robotech: Battlecry, XIII, Graffiti Kingdom

So pick up that old PS2 you've got lying in the closet somewhere, dust it off, and get to gaming. If you don't care about achievements and online play, the Playstation 2 can get you hours of entertainment with very little money.

1 comment:

  1. I totally forgot about Dark Cloud!! That was one of the few other games I had played on a non-Nintendo platform. I rented it once and I loved it while I had it. I think I had to play it on my cousin's PS2 though, I don't quite recall.