The PlayStation 2 is officially retro, and I am an old man. Thanks a lot, time!
Now that Atlus is about to wrap up re-releasing every PlayStation 2 Shin Megami Tensei game on PSN to widespread applause, it has proven that life still exists for the PlayStation 2 Classics line-up, even with the looming threat of PlayStation Now looking to replace it.
There are countless PlayStation 2 games out there and what do you expect from the best selling video game console of all time? Many of these lost, but classic, hits have still yet to be released digitally, and many of these wonderful games are noteworthy enough to be made accessible to today’s modern audiences.
With that in mind, here are ten PlayStation 2 games that have not yet been given a PlayStation 3 release. Some are personal favorites of mine, some are nostalgia trips, and some are games I kick myself for not playing back in the day. All are amazing and do a great job filling in the gaps of the better known PlayStation 2 classics.
Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
Bandai Namco’s excellent aerial combat series has just made a successful leap to free-to-play with the PlayStation 3’s Ace Combat Infinity, but that shouldn’t stop the earlier games in the series from being fully enjoyable.
While both Ace Combat 04 and Ace Combat 5 are the undeniable peaks of the franchise, it is in the fourth game in the Ace Combat series where we see the true colors of development team Project Aces shine. Not just in the excellent gameplay, breath taking visuals (for its time), but in the beautiful storyline.
No rugged soldiers or hot-rodding pilots, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies tells the story of the people on the ground witnessing the hellfire above, and its viewpoint paints your main adversary as a hero, making the final confrontation a little bit sad.
It’s not often that you are forced to kill such a humanized and sympathetic character in a video game, and rarely do you get such a touching tale in a war genre like this.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
I could fill this entire list full of wonderful RPGs that have yet to be re-released for the PlayStation 3. The XenosagaShadow Hearts games, and Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, but the RPG in most immediate need of a PSN version is Square Enix’s beloved Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.
Why is that? Because, Square Enix just pushed out a watered down version of the game on iPad and Android for $25, and a generation of will grow up believing that it is the definitive version. That is simply not the case, and history must be corrected.
Cramped visuals in a game famous for huge, sprawling environments, are you kidding me?
This PlayStation 2 game is huge in scope and full of wonderful characters and charming humor. Plus, you’ll just have to pay $10 for a superior version instead of the $25, hence why this release will sadly never happen.
Way of the Samurai
Onimusha is an easy choice for a PSN release, but I’m choosing this little gem as my choice for a samurai themed game. Way of the Samurai is one of my favorite PlayStation 2 games, and its legacy has sadly suffered from developers screwing up mucking up the sequels.
This sleeper hit is an early pioneer in the art of “morality” in console video games, and believe it or not, it even pulls the concept off better than other early trendsetters like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Fable.
You control a wandering warrior who stumbles across warring factions of a broken samurai family. Who do you pledge your loyalty to? Do you carry out your duty as an honorable warrior, or do you cause havoc among the residents of this poor town?
Luckily, the game’s short campaign can be beaten in under three hours, so the six possible endings can be seen relatively easily. There are plenty of faces to meet, conspiracies to untangle, and events to witness, each of them pointing to an overall plot you might not have picked up on the first time.
Best of all, you don’t even have to focus on the story. Picking fights in your own personalized samurai sandbox and playing detective with all of this game’s silly intricacies is half the fun of uncovering the ultimate ending.
Dark Cloud 2
Before it became the big time generic anime and video game factory it is today, Level-5 used to made really cool and experimental RPGs. Its first PlayStation 2 game, Dark Cloud, was hyped as Sony’s “Zelda killer of the week,” but no such murder ever occurred.
Surprisingly though it was actually the second game which came quite close.
It is definitely no Wind Waker by any means, but I still have nothing but love and respect for Dark Cloud 2. It is a perfect “desert island” game with a nearly impossible level of depth. Our heroes dive into randomly generated dungeons to find elements and lost people, and when collected, they are combined to build the towns that populate their beautiful cel-shaded world.
The core mechanics alone are enough to drag this game past the 80 hour mark, but it is also in the frustrating item generation, the golf mini game, and the requests of the people to build the town just right that make this game worth being a completionist.
Definitely for those with a lot of free time.
This hilarious game started life as one of Capcom’s mythical five exclusive GameCube games, but the company wisely shifted policies once it realized there was more money to be made on the PlayStation 2.
Viewtiful Joe is a wonderful little side-scrolling beat ‘em up with a lot of style and great time-controlling mechanics. Director Hideki Kamiya’s ideas of combining combos and time manipulation here would eventually carry over into his widely praised Xbox 360 hit, Bayonetta.
The cel-shaded look was all the rage at the time, and it still looks great to this day. Kamiya and his Clover Studio followed up with Okami, which was re-released on the PlayStation 3 in HD.
Hopefully all of the bad blood between Capcom and ex-Clover employees has passed and we’ll see the same generous attitude towards Joe also?
Now we come to a game that I haven’t played, but would very much like to. I never bought Drakengard thanks to a night of berating the demo’s dull and repetitive combat with a group of college friends. In retrospect, I’ve learned the Drakengard is so much more than a silly Dynasty Warriors clone.
My recent experiences with Nier and Drakengard 3 have convinced me that no game in this series can possibly be judged on a simple demo, and the rich mythology is just begging to be explored and picked apart.
Granted, I hear most of the fleshed out details aren’t prominent in the American localization, but the small loyal fanbase still sings nothing but praises about its disturbing implications. I doubt Square Enix has an interest in re-releasing a game with such questionable content, which I won’t go into here, but if it does, I’ll certainly check it out retrospectively.
I was trying to avoid writing about too many RPGs here, hence why I clumped them together up in Dragon Quest VIII’s section, but the Suikoden series is a little too near and dear to my heart, and all I can do is beg for Konami’s forgiveness in this part.
You’ll find nothing but universal praise for the first three games in the series, but Suikoden IV’s awful direction, or lack-there-of, derailed the fantasy for many fans and brought this heavenly series back down to Earth.
By the time Suikoden V was released, the wounds had still not healed and many fans weren’t ready to try again just yet.
Little did we know that it was a return to form with a level of quality comparable to that of the legendary Suikoden II, and little did we know that its limited run would push the price on the used market sky-high. A digital release would right the wrongs Judas fans like myself cast upon the Suikoden series, and we’d all finally get to appreciate the final entry in this beloved series.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
I recently played through Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for the first time in a while and was amazed at how well it holds up. I also recently recommended fans try Klonoa: Empire of Dream of the Wii U Virtual Console, so I’m just going to go the whole nine yards and drop this one here too.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil is every bit as good as the original PlayStation entry, just a lot longer with technically better graphics and much more intricate level design. I say technically, because while the new cel-shading is downright beautiful, I still prefer the goofy pre-rendered sprites of the original.
Being one of the best platformers on the PlayStation 2 is no easy feat when your competition is Ratchet & Clan and Sly Cooper, but Klonoa 2 is just that. A hidden gem of a platformer that deserves another chance to hang with the big boys.
This is a game that received a lot of unfair flack when it was first released.
Quick history lesson: Capcom had hyped this RPG beat ‘em up in the wake of Devil May Cry 2 disappointing all of us, and many had placed their dreams on it delivering the same masterpiece level of quality as the first em>Devil May Cry.
Well, naturally,Chaos Legion is no Devil May Cry, but it does have quite a few good things going for it. The dark story surrounding four friends is unlike anything else Capcom has made since, and the fast combat and summoned beasts provide for some exciting if slightly shallow battles.
Unfortunately, this game was blasted apart by critics and quickly forgotten in comparison to the original Devil May Cry. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but I pumped hours into this game and don’t remember it being worthy of being written off so easily.
Maybe the current state of Capcom would provide this game a second chance now that we no longer take Capcom’s heyday for granted.
I’ll close this list out with a personal favorite.Gitaroo Man was a product of my shameful Japanophile days, but truth be told, there is still a great game beneath all of the Japanese nonsense in this game.
Gitaroo Man is one of the last games from the Golden Age of Rhythm Games where fun mascots and outlanding visuals, voices, stories, and of course songs were all the rage. Parappa the Rapper and UmJammer Lammy come to mind when looking for something similar, but Gitaroo Man blows them away with an out of this world soundtrack and unique style of gameplay that is both easy to play and impossible to master.
The Sanbone Trio… don’t come talking to me about hard video games today are until you’ve faced these guys on Master Mode.
Developer iNiS would go on to develop Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Elite Beat Agents, just so you have a good idea about how passionate these guys are about rhythm games. iNiS fought hard to keep the spirit of these games alive well past their prime.
Man, it’s hard to believe that this is what rhythm games were like before Guitar Hero robbed us of all this charm, but at least there will never be landfills stuffed with Gitaroo Man discs.
I just wonder if the HD lag and input delay would make it unplayable.