The PlayStation 2 has arguably the best library of titles gaming has ever seen. From industry revolutionizing experiences like Grand Theft Auto III to artistic masterpieces like Shadow of the Colossus, the PS2 had something for everyone. Now that Sony has created a PlayStation 2 Classics section on their online store, one would think PS3 gamers would be downloading last-gen titles left and right. However, thanks to a rather weak lineup of available titles and the recent surge in HD remakes, there isn’t a whole lot of quality content to get excited about.
As such, we here at PlayStation LifeStyle put together a little list of ten PS2 classics that we desperately want to see come to Sony’s online store. There is, however, one important thing that I should point out before we dive into the list. Because the PlayStation 3 has been blessed with a number of high-def remakes, none of those will be included in this feature, so don’t expect to see Jak, Sly or Ratchet. In addition, upcoming HD remakes like Final Fantasy X and Okami HD have been pulled from the running as well.
Call me crazy, but Squaresoft’s (yes, they hadn’t merged with Enix yet) Final Fantasy / Disney mashup is hands down my favorite games on Sony’s second console. Don’t let the goofy shoes and child-like style turn you off, this game bleeds charm and is an absolute blast to play. Tetsuya Nomura, the game’s creator, has become one of the most beloved minds in the video game industry. There’s a reason why after six years of waiting fans are still holding their breath for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Nomura’s leadership has everything to do with it.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
Nippon Ichi Software’s strategy RPG for the PS2 holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts. From the witty humor to the addictive gameplay, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is one of the few titles in the genre that can even compare to the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Ogre Battle. The level of depth and sheer amount of value packed into this single experience makes it one of the greatest Atlus published titles that ever graced the PlayStation 2.
Dragon Quest VIII
RPG lovers will undoubtedly remember Level-5’s epic eighth installment in the Dragon Quest franchise, which featured a cast of diverse and memorable characters on a quest to track down the evil Dhoulmagus who cast an evil curse upon Trodain castle. Needless to say, the experience is full of humor, drama and loads of personality. Compelling story aside, what is hands-down this game’s greatest selling point is its gorgeous cel-shaded visuals, which feature bright and vibrant colors that burst from the screen. If there’s one PS2 classic that won’t age with time, it’s this one.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
There’s a reason why the PlayStation Vita’s sales in Japan saw a substantial spike several weeks ago. Sony’s handheld has been struggling to gain steam, but saw a surge in sales when Persona 4: The Golden launched for the device. The fact that a last-gen remake has the ability to sell hardware when nothing else seems to be doing the trick, is one heck of a testament to the quality of this Atlus RPG. Persona 4 is an absolute staple in any JRPG fan’s library. With an unforgettable story, world and cast of characters, this massive single player experience will keep you busy for hours, upon hours, upon hours.
Kingdom Hearts II
Yes, I know, I already mentioned the first Kingdom Hearts, but the franchise is just so amazing, I had to include the sequel on the list as well. While not quite as awe-inspiring as the original and a bit too convoluted for its own good, Kingdom Hearts II improved upon its predecessor in the gameplay department. The game’s deeper and more robust combat system makes up for its handful of shortcomings and honestly, how could anyone say no to more Disney-themed planets?
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
With both Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City expected to arrive on the PS2 Classics section of the PlayStation Store very soon, one can’t help but wonder where San Andreas is. While Rockstar is likely just planning to parcel them out one at a time with San Andreas completing the trio, it doesn’t change the fact that we want it now! The PS2 Grand Theft Auto titles redefined open-world games, and San Andreas was Rockstar’s crowing achievement, holding the honor of being the best selling title on the entire platform. With miles and miles of terrain to explore and the ability to go anywhere and do just about anything, San Andreas was the definitive sandbox action game for the PlayStation 2.
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege
If you enjoy Capcom action games, then you’re likely well aware of the Onimusha franchise. While the first two games focused heavily on historic times in Japan, the third installment flashes between feudal Japan and present day Paris. As such, it goes without saying that Onimusha 3 offered up plenty of diversity and new additions for fans of the franchise. With killer combat, ingenious puzzles and a fascinating story, this is one title that every PlayStation owner should experience. Honestly, what’s cooler than fighting demons as a powerful samurai?
Konami’s fifth installment in the Suikoden franchise won the hearts of many RPG fans when it first launched back in 2006. While it bears the form of a traditional Japanese role-playing game, it boasts a level of depth that few games have. With the ability to vary your fighting formations and carefully manage your characters, Suikoden V definitely forces the player to strategize and plan their every move. The PS2 era was loaded with quality RPGs, and the fact that this game is continually discussed by fans of the genre is a testament to its greatness.
Dark Cloud 2
I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed when I played the original Dark Cloud. The mix of city-building and role-playing sounded like an amazing concept, but it didn’t wow me like I had hoped. That all changed with the release of Dark Cloud 2, a sequel that not only delivered upon the promises of the original but went above and beyond. Not only did the game surpass its predecessor in mechanics, it also blew it away in the visual department. The game’s jaw-dropping cel-shaded visuals made the blocky style of the original look dated and ugly. It also had a pretty compelling story and two incredibly likable characters named Max and Monica. To put it simply, Dark Cloud 2 is a shining example of what a sequel should be.
Final Fantasy XII
While not quite as beloved as Final Fantasy X, the second offline entry in Square’s epic franchise for the PS2 brought some much needed variety to the franchise. Doing away with the turned-based battle system, FF XII used an active system that was a bit reminiscent of the combat systems seen in MMOs. This drastic change turned many off to the title, but those that stuck with it found plenty of unique and worthy new additions to the experience. The gambit system introduced a completely new strategic element, allowing the player to preset the tactics of each character so they didn’t have to micromanage each ally during a battle. That, alongside yet another epic story from the talented minds a Square Enix makes this one PS2 classic that should be available for everyone with a PS3 to download and enjoy.
Agree with our picks? Think we left out some noteworthy additions? Let us know in the comments below.