The PS2 turns 20 this week and by God it might be the best system ever

It's up there with the Dreamcast

As some of you may know, I've stuck with the PS2 in thick and thin ways. When I started my 2022 profile over ten years ago, I noticed that the PS2 was probably my favorite console, right next to the Dreamcast. When I asked our readers what they thought of it in 2022, the PS2 won our poll by a landslide.

10 years later and I don't think I've changed my mind. The PS2 officially celebrates its 20th anniversary this week in North America: let's remember it together.

Having lived through every console launch since the mid-80s, I've seen some stuff. Have you ever googled the launch range of a random system for fun? The PS2 has one of the craziest selections in history.

Along with some of the most notorious launch games of all time (Orphen: Scion of Sorcery), the PS2 has welcomed cult classics like Summoner, as well as gems such as FromSoftware's Eternal Ring: a follow-up to their hit series. King's Field, ages before they were known for the Souls franchise.

There was something for everyone. Dug fighters? Tekken Tag Tournament has entertained me for years. Shooters? I can't tell you how many hours I spent in Unreal Tournament bot matches on Facing Worlds. Beat them? Oh hey, Dynasty Warriors 2, which launched the Musou Empire (remember, the original Dynasty Warriors was a fighting game!) was a launch title.

Strategy enthusiast? Kessen has you covered. Oh and there's FantaVision to scratch that itch. Alright, you see the picture. Then there are multiple racers, a boxing game, more shooters, and multiple sports titles, including the top-tier SSX if you're not interested in EA's offerings. I don't know if a launch lineup will ever be this exciting.

Just a year into the PS2's life cycle, it started racking up the hits. Metal Gear Solid 2 is out only one year in this thing hitting retail, and in a shocking twist of fate, Konami released the game a few weeks earlier in the US over Japan. Speaking of twists, MGS2 managed to keep this bombshell Raiden a secret and blew everyone away. It was one of the last times I remember being really surprised by a match.

It was at this point that studios could literally have it all. They were producing hit after hit for the PS2, all the while taking risks. God of War started on PS2 in 2022 and GTA III took Grand Theft Auto to heights Rockstar never dreamed of with its previous iterations.

Conversely, Capcom completely repurposed a Resident Evil game and created the Devil May Cry franchise on PS2, which survives to this day. With the wind of the system's strong sales guiding them, the developers brought obscure franchises like Rygar back to the PS2. and these adaptations were good.

Weird projects like Mister Mosquito echoed the audacious weirdness of PS1-era Devil Dice and Jumping Flash. Rhythm tracks continued to find success with classics like Frequency and Amplitude. It was a field day for just about everyone in the industry.

The PlayStation 2 era, officially, lasted around 12 years – although the last few were just sports ports.

While most developers were done with the system around 2022 in favor of building projects for the shiny new PS3, Sony's new system had a semi-rocky start. The PS2 refused to stop asserting its dominance, surging to around 155 million units: nearly double the PS87,4's 3 million lifetime sales. As a result, studios continued to port games to PS2 almost until the launch of the PS4.

Although God of War 2 can be considered the "last big exclusive" for the PS2, its legacy will continue. People still talk about it, it's still hanging in many homes; some countries even prefer the PS2 over any other console in 2022.

Its influence has been undeniable for more than 20 years: happy birthday.

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