Sony PlayStation 2 Dead in Japan, But Its Legacy Lives On

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Sony has finally took the long-in-the-tooth PlayStation 2 to the back of the shed and put one between its eyes. In Japan, anyway.

The rest of the gaming universe, technically, will continue to enjoy PS2 hardware manufacturing, but it’s obvious that Sony’s most beloved console isn’t long for this world. But that’s OK. Sony manufactured PS2 systems for an astounding 12 years. Few consoles have enjoyed such longevity—the Atari 2600 remains the console lifespan king with an incredible 14 years between 1977-1992. All good things come to an end, after all.

The PS2 was a damn good console that saw groundbreaking sandbox action in Grand Theft Auto III (and its two follow-ups, Vice City and San Andreas), post-modern hijinks in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, a handful of Final Fantasy games, and cult classics like God Hand. There was a lot to like, and if you’re looking to get into PS2 action, you can purchase a new console for $99.99 (and about half that if you go the refurbished route).

It didn’t start all aces, though. The PS2 lacked a strong, centralized online component unlike the Dreamcast and original Xbox, and its disc-read errors flaw was so prevalent that Sony was sued (and lost). On top of that, the PS2′s launch was quite unremarkable. It was headlined by Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore, Madden 2001, Ridge Racer V, and others. Still, the console was able to squash the incredibly innovative Sega Dreamcast (with lots of help from Sega shooting itself in the foot several times since the 16-bit days), Xbox, and GameCube thanks to strong brand recognition, backwards compatibility with the original PlayStation, and its true killer app: The Matrix.

Keanu Reeve’s rock’em sock’em cyberpunk flick was a must-purchase DVD in 2000, the year of the PS2′s debut. The $299 system was on a par, price wise, with DVD players on the market, so many people who purchased the PS2 had their hybrid movie player/game machine. It’s rivals—the Dreamcast, GameCube, and Xbox—either couldn’t run DVDs, or did so with an adapter. It was an immensely smart, game-changing move that Sony tried to emulate by including Blu-ray in the PlayStation 3 (though not nearly as effectively for a number of reasons).

There’s a legacy here that shouldn’t be overlooked. The PS2′s longevity and strong game library made the system as cherished and valuable to the younger generation as the NES and SNES was to my generation. Sony sold over 150 million PS2 units—that’s a big deal. The snarky among us will attribute the large numbers to gamers buying the system multiple times due to hardware issues, but even if that were true, the fact that people would double-dip speaks volumes.

As Sony, and the gaming world, looks toward the future where the PS4 resides, take time to blow some dust off your PS2, fire up Snake Eater, and enjoy one of the greatest home video game consoles of all time. The PS2 may not have topped the hardware and software charts in years, but it’s truly the end of a video game era.

By Jeffrey L. Wilson, PCMag


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