On March 4, 2019, the PlayStation 2 celebrates its 19th birthday. Launching in Japan on March 4, 2000 and North America on October 26, 2000, we still feel the impact of its library today. God of War got its start on that console, was bundled into a collection for the PlayStation 3, and got a franchise reboot last year that made for one of the best gaming experiences of 2018. Hit titles like Shadow of the Colossus have gotten remasters and remakes. Limited Run Games even reminded us that Jak and Daxter can still sell out in a matter of minutes.
In 2018, we celebrated the PS2’s birthday by discussing its role as the “third place” existing as a joyous realm outside of home and work. In the past, we’ve taken deep dives into the facts: from sales numbers to how this thing was also a DVD player. But today, I want to invite all of you to reflect on your history with the PlayStation 2 by sharing a bit of my own.
As someone who is only 25 years old, the PS2 came out when I was six years old. That math makes me feel extremely young, but the fact that the PS2 feels like yesterday reminds me that I’m old enough to have a warped sense of time.
I’ve been playing video games since I was about four or five years old, with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Jr. being the first time I ever picked up a controller. For those unfamiliar, this was simply a different iteration of the SNES that came out after the Nintendo 64 was already on the market.
Despite being indoctrinated into video games by Nintendo, the first home console that was purchased specifically for me was the PS2. Admittedly, this was simply coordination between me and my brother. The GameCube would be his, the PS2 would be mine, and between the both of us we’d have access to a lot of games. Still, the fact remains.
To this day, that startup sound and those swirling orbs let me know I’m in for something special. As it ages, like all older consoles, the PS2 becomes a time machine for me.
Suddenly, I’m in my pink childhood bedroom, the one with the stuffed animals lining the closet, Bionicles secured in their plastic silos, and two microscopic circular dents in the wall from when I tried to launch a toy car into the hallway from my bed. I’m standing in front of the cabinet, craning my neck to see the screen as I walked around Sandover Village in Jak and Daxter. I would’ve never guessed I’d still be going back to it 18 years later.
I remember the rain falling on the Washington Bridge at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid 2 and thinking, “Wow, this looks as good as a movie.” (It didn’t; I don’t know why I thought that.) From racing my brother in Need for Speed: Underground 2 to pausing the game or changing the channel when my mom walked by during Grand Theft Auto sessions, the PlayStation 2 era was the first time I really fell down the rabbit hole of gaming.
It was the first time I got a console early enough in its lifecycle enough to feel like I was actually part of it. Now, I can’t imagine not getting a PlayStation 5. I often wonder if the entire trajectory of my life might’ve been different if my grandmother hadn’t fostered my love of games. If she hadn’t bought me and my brother our own TVs and the PS2 and Gamecube (respectively), would I even be writing about this?
Regardless of the odds or the hypotheticals, I feel forever bound to PlayStation. I was born the year the PlayStation released, the PS2 was my first new console, the PS3 got me through college, and the PS4 introduced me to virtual reality. (Talk about a jump!)
But as much as I played the PS2 when it was commercially relevant, there’s still so much more to unearth. In fact, just the other day I downloaded Bully—a Rockstar cult classic I never played to its entirety—onto my PS4. You know, something to tide me over until my copy of Jak and Daxter Collector’s Edition arrives.
The PS2 may be no more, but its legacy lives on. In many ways, it remains a measuring stick for success in terms of both sales and a critically acclaimed library we won’t be leaving behind anytime soon.
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