Happy 20th PlayStation 2!

Can you believe it? 20 years ago today the PlayStation 2 released in Japan, and then roughly half a year later it came out here in the west. The PS2 was a special console, and in many ways it was ahead of it's time. It let people ditch their old VHS tapes for DVDs, which in return allowed for much larger games, it had online connectivity to help bring console players into the world of online gaming, and finally we could have massive 3D games complete with full voice acting and "movie quality" cutscenes! It really was a huge step forward, and is one of the reasons gaming is what it is today. So in honor of this console's anniversary, I figured I'd take the time to share my experiences with it. This is my PS2 story.

So I didn't get a PS2 when it first came out. In fact I didn't even get one until the Slim Model released. I still remember it though! When this thing came out my school was filled with kids hyping it, and even quite a few friends of mine would tell me how great it was. I got to hear all about Armored Core 2, the Dragon Ball Z fighting games, Final Fantasy, etc, and I got to sit there and watch as my favorite series ditched Nintendo and moved to the PS2 instead. "Mega Man X7 for the Game Cube? Nah, we'll just put that on PS2. What about the sequel X8? Yep, that can be PS2 exclusive too, but we'll give Command Mission to the GCN players. Why not?" That's pretty much how I imagined things were going down at Capcom. Heck even the Mega Man Anniversary Collection on PS2 was better than the GCN version! It really bothered me that all of these great games were going to this console I didn't have, and it was only when I got to visit my cousins that I even got a chance at playing the thing. Of course they didn't have any games I wanted, but at least I got to play it? Anyway this is how the first PS2 years went for me, and I hated it. That is until I was 13.

Near the end of 2004 the PlayStation 2 Slim was released, and that just happened to be the same year I was graduating from Middle School. When I realized the PS2 Slim was actually pretty cheap compared to the original PS2, and that I would be getting graduation money in just a few short months, I put my plan into action. My idea was to save up everything I could and go buy the PS2 first thing! I remember casually passing this idea on to my mom one day, and she actually agreed to buy it for me as a gift. As for the games? That's what the leftover money would be used for. So eventually graduation day came, and instead of getting ready for it me and my mom set out to find the PS2.

The first place we looked was the local Walmart I typically visit. It's in a town about 15 minutes from my house, and usually where I would see all the PS2 games I wanted to buy for years but couldn't. Sadly they didn't have it in stock there, but they did have a copy of Mega Man X8! I can still see myself standing in line at checkout as I read the back of the box. I was so excited to finally play the game, but I had to actually find the PS2 first. So we got out of that Walmart as fast as we could (after picking up some other things we needed), and then drove over to the second store roughly 30-40 minutes away. This time they had it! It was kinda hidden away at the bottom of the shelf, but there it was! What happened next is a blur to me, but eventually I found myself at home hooking the thing up to my TV and trying to figure out how to work it. The fact that you had to hold the power button to shut it off confused the heck out of me, but the rest of the setup was straight forward and just like every console before it. That day I sat there and played Mega Man X8 up until it was time for me to go to the school, and before I left I did the "rubber band" trick to hopefully gain some credits in X8 to buy some upgrades. It helped me get through the boring ceremony knowing that I was still technically making progress in X8 at home, as every step X took I gained currency for it. Man that was still such a long night... Doesn't help that we were told to dress casually, but my mom sent me in a suit. Yeah.... Me and one other kid stuck out like a sore thumb.

Anyway that summer became centered all around the PS2. I rented the 007 games I missed out on, finally got to play that Transformers Armada game, got an Eye Toy with SEGA Super Stars and Anti Grav for my 14th birthday, and I even rented games like Robotech Battle Cry (funny considering now days I won't even touch Robotech after seeing what it did to Macross and every other series it stole to create it) and put a lot of time into it. Of course I also had to try out Armored Core 2 (considering my friend would talk about it nearly every day), and by the end of the summer I got around to playing Mega Man X7. Sure it wasn't the best game in the world, but I didn't exactly hate it. So yeah, I still had fun with it -- just sucked knowing the next day was going to be my first day of High School.

After that the PS2 continued to be a big part of my High School, and even College Life. Freshman year I finally got to try out Kingdom Hearts, which eventually lead me to trying other JRPGs like .hack (another game my friend would always talk about), and eventually the PS2 was there for me to play Star Ocean 3, and Metal Gear Solid. Of course I've mentioned all of this in the past, so I'll just leave it at that. The point is the PS2 opened a lot of doors for me gaming wise, and even when I got an Xbox 360 years later it didn't stop me from continuing to go back to it. Actually, nothing has. Despite getting a Wii, Xbox 360, PSP, PS3, 3DS, Vita, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, and gaming PC... I've never once been pulled away from my PS2. It would continue on as one of my favorite consoles from there on out. Throughout my college years my PS2 was mostly used for RPGs like Tales of the Abyss, and horror games like Resident Evil. Now days that hasn't changed. I continue to buy PS2 games whenever I get the chance, and there's still so much out there to play that my collection hardly scratches the surface. Even taking into account the games that have since been ported to other consoles, there's still a lot out there! And that's exactly what made the PS2 so great. The library was not online massive, but it was filled with quality games. A lot of hidden gems, and a lot of well known titles that would go on to be cult classics. It's the reason the console continued to be sold well into the PS3's life cycle, and why it is still relevant to this day.

Happy anniversary PlayStation 2! Hope to be playing you for another 20 years.

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