If any of you happened to catch one of my “Not Zangief” videos over on United We Game’s YouTube’s channel, particularly the one involving a first stab at Mortal Kombat vs. D. C. Universe, you’ll know that our PlayStation 2 recently passed on to that magical kingdom of video game hardware in the sky. If you didn’t know that, you know now. But…maybe you should check out that video just in case…
Of the game consoles that we own or have owned, this particular PlayStation 2 probably had the most unusual life of them all.
PlayStation 2, this is your life.
When the original PlayStation 2 first came out in 2000, we were excited. It came with the promise of so many cool, new games that purchasing one wasn’t even a question. Plus, the design of the thing looked so sleek and powerful compared the relatively clunky Nintendo 64, the other game system that reigned supreme in our house at the time. In short, the original PlayStation 2 was a fantastic system.
But then…six years later, it went on the fritz. It had trouble reading game disks and often cut out in the middle of play. With a sizeable stash of PS games, something had to be done. We found the answer in a newer and smaller version of the PS2 colloquially called the “Slim.” I remember when we first took it out of the box, it seemed so little and fragile compared to the old PlayStation 2. Yet, it worked the same if not slightly better than the original PS2, though I was always nervous that I’d break off that flimsy-feeling CD cover. So on we when within out PS fantasy world playing and playing and playing.
But then…a mere few months later, the PlayStation 3 arrived on the scene. And by howdy, was that a sexy machine! From what we learned of it, its specs left the PS2 in the dust, and its games were top-notch. As we had really only just bought the PS2, the PS3 wasn’t an immediate need. The PS3 became a present to ourselves in 2007 upon moving into a new place. And since that still-early version of the PS3 was backwards compatible with both PS and PS2 games, the little PS2 was unplugged and set aside.
Upon another move a couple years later, the PS2, which had been gathering dust next to the PS3, was packed into a container with another lightly used (at the time) system, the GameCube, and various gaming accessories, such as spare controllers, that we had collected over the years. We labeled the container “Games, etc.” That was sometime in 2009.
Between 2009 and 2012 we moved twice more. For those three years, the PS2 remained in that container. For three years, we hardly ever opened that “Games, etc.” container, except on the rare occasion to make sure that everything we remembered that was in it was actually in it. For three years, the PS2 remained sequestered. With the PS3 and the Xbox 360, we just didn’t need it (or the GameCube). And in order to get games for our newer consoles, we started selling off parts of our old Nintendo and PS game collections. We were so forward-thinking back then. (read: regret regret regret).
Only, we didn’t get rid of every PS2 game. A good dozen of our favorites survived – fighting games and Tony Hawk games, primarily. At a certain point they became worthless in the eyes of a trader, so it was better to keep them.
But then…the PS3 kicked the bucket in 2012. We ended up getting a new system, a “slim” version nonetheless, that was not backwards compatible with older PS games.
…I can only say in hindsight because at the time that didn’t really matter. The PS2 would sit safely in that “Games, etc.” container for another couple years still. The box, which now contained our small stash of PS2 and GameCube games, moved into our newly-purchased home along with every other box. Only it didn’t get unpacked.
The PS2 big second break came just last year, when we decided, on something of a whim, to turn a portion of one of our home offices into a retro gaming space. In a manic fit of cleaning, we started going through a backlog of unpacked boxes to see if we still needed their contents. When we came upon the “Games, etc.” we both stared at it for awhile. The question loomed: Did we NEED this stuff? The old PS2. The GameCube. The jumble of old controllers, games, and memory cards. Though we tried to address the NEED IT? question rationally, sentimentality got in the way. After all, we had all the right cables, an old TV, and an extra space in one our extra rooms… And then I chimed in with the whole notion of YouTube, because United We Game was just starting its own channel. Maybe I could record games from these systems…that could be fun? Maybe? Or, at least it would give the consoles a regular purpose over the infrequent and occasional use. (Frankly, we had too many ways to play games already. Did we really need more? And it’s not like we had a ton of old games at our disposal anymore anyway.) Our packrat-ish natures won out in the end, and our retro gaming space was born.
Before being placed, both the PS2 and the GameCube received thorough checks and cleanings before they were tested. With everything connected in that old-fashioned A/V cables sort of way, we were suddenly back in our little old apartment circa 2005, playing the likes of the Activision Anthology, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Tony Hawk’s Underground, and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. It was a hell of a lot of fun.
That was in September 2015. And even then I’m guessing that the PlayStation 2 Slim’s days were numbered. It made it through handful of sessions – twelve “Not Zangief” episodes, which I didn’t think were terrible intensive – before calling it quits. At one point during those months, we noticed that the system had trouble reading a couple of the Tony Hawk games. They each eventually worked, but only have several tries loading. And it would read Tekken Tag Tournament 2 at all. Maybe we should have thought then that the PS2 wasn’t going to make it. I don’t know. I guess I was too involved in classic and phenomenally fun fighting games to notice.
Really, I should have paid more attention.
It was not long ago, right in the middle of recording Capcom vs. SNK 2, that the system quit. I reloaded the game, and it started again, but then the system quit again. Eventually, it wouldn’t read the disc at all. I tried every other PS2 game (and one PS1 game) we had, and got the same result each time. No disk could be read; the system’s drive had completed conked out.
…I say with conviction because I had some plans for the PlayStation 2. With the system working again, I had conjured up a dreamland of PS2 games that I could now play. Sure, I could probably download them, play emulations, and such, but I wanted to use the actual system itself. Because that was a big part of the enjoyment, and the novelty. And now that dreamland was demolished. And I was sad.
Though my official morning period is over (and I can’t say that it lasted all that long anyway), I’m still sad about losing the PS2. Sure, I could pick up a used system on the cheap (or not so cheap), but I think I have to let the PS2 go for good. The reality is that there are other ways to play PS2 games today. And I’ll just have to get over the whole nostalgia factor in spite of myself. It wasn’t all that noble of a cause anyway.
So I bid you adieu, PlayStation 2, you were a worthy companion, even though I ignored you for about 60% of your existence. Well…maybe it was more like 80%. It was in that box for a long time.