BY SAMUEL GUGLIELMO
On Oct 26, 2000, Sony launched the PlayStation 2 in the United States. During its nearly 13 year production cycle – Sony didn’t stop making PS2s until 2013 – the PlayStation 2 went on to become the highest selling video game console of all time, with its final total of 155 million consoles sold still not having been surpassed to this date. Besides this, many popular franchises either got their start on, or saw new entries on, the PlayStation 2.
Yet this was years ago, and the current console is the PlayStation 4. You can’t just pop a PlayStation 2 game in, as it won’t work. It seems we’re being met half-way though, as Sony surprises us with the new PlayStation 2 classic section.
Not originally announced by Sony, the feature originally only became available to a select group of people on Nov 17, 2015. To celebrate the launch of “Star Wars: Battlefront,” Sony released a special PlayStation 4 bundled with that game and a “Star Wars” classic game collection. Three of the classic games were PlayStation 2 games, including “Star Wars: Bounty Hunter,” “Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter,” and “Star Wars: Racer Revenge.” While Sony said nothing about it, independent tests were strongly suspicious that the games were being emulated rather than remastered. Sure enough, a few days later Sony quietly confirmed that the games were indeed being emulated, and that more information would come soon.
Soon turned out to be Dec 4, 2015, when Sony finally announced that PlayStation 2 emulation would be coming to the PlayStation 4. The games aren’t altered significantly from their original form. The resolution is bumped up to 1080p, trophies have been added, and the games can make use of PlayStation 4 features like Remote Play and streaming. Most importantly they were coming soon. Really soon. As in now.
Launching with eight games, Sony picked a rather interesting bunch to lead the pack. All three PlayStation 2 “Grand Theft Auto” games were included, along with popular car combat game “Twisted Metal: Black.” For the other four games, Sony went with some more obscure choices. Role playing games “Dark Cloud” and “Rogue Galaxy” were very well received when they came out, even if they didn’t quite sell well. Action-adventure game “The Mark of Kri” was in the same boat. Finally, the fighting game “War of the Monsters” wasn’t quite as well received as the other games but does have its cult following.
Since the program has launched, a total of 15 games have been re-released. Besides the eight launched games and the three “Star Wars” games, Sony has mostly dug into more obscure games since. The most popular was probably rhythm/rapping game “PaRappa the Rapper 2.” Also included was “Dark Cloud 2,” “Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits,” and “FantaVision.” Only two more games are currently confirmed to be coming to the program, these being cult classic platformer “Psychonauts” and fighting game “The King of Fighters 2000.”
There is a bit of controversy around the program. With only 17 games total, the program isn’t even close to getting some of the biggest classics from the PlayStation 2 era. This also isn’t the first time Sony has launched a PlayStation 2 classics program, with the PlayStation 3 having something similar only without the bump up in resolution and trophies provided by the PlayStation 4. For some reason if you bought one of the games on the PlayStation 3 then you’ll have to rebuy it on the PlayStation 4, something that is one of the biggest critiques of the program. Speaking of rebuying, some people feel the prices of the games are a little too high. With the games hovering around the $10-$15 mark, it may seem a little strange to sell a piece of software nearly 16 years old for that price.
Yet there can definitely be some positives from this program as well. Companies can use these games to judge how much interest there is in a classic series and determine how much people want a potential sequel. Games that may not have been successful their first run around now have a cheap and easy way to get one more shot. Plus, there’s just a lot of good games on the PlayStation 2, and a chance to replay them or experience them for the first time is well worth it.
There’s still thousands of games on the PlayStation 2 that could use another shot at life. With the recent surprise announcement of “Ace Combat 7”, I personally would love to see “Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War” show up. Got a PlayStation 2 classic you’d want to replay? Let us know at Youngtownedition@gmail.com