One reason for my fondness of the Playstation 2 is the hype surrounding it at release. It was the first instance I recall a video game console becoming a national phenomenon. People waiting in line overnight and becoming violent to procure one were a rarity at the time. Being the most sought after item that holiday season, my father and I were surprised when we were able to purchase one at a Toys “R” Us on December 11, 2000. The date is stuck in my memory along with the image of my younger self gleefully walking through the store parking lot with my father holding system across his chest.
Despite claims the launch line was underwhelming, Ridge Racer V and Kessen, both games I had rented from Blockbuster, blew me away. The graphics were beyond anything its predecessor had done. My first purchases were NHL 2001 and SSX, the latter being a fantastical snowboarding game full of huge jumps, lots of flash and crazy tricks in the air. It was a much more enjoyable experience than snowboarding games aimed towards realism. At the other end, NHL 2001 was a substantial leap in realism over the last hockey game I had played, NHL 99. The hockey players looked like actual people instead of blurry pixels.
Like consoles that followed, the Playstation 2 offered more than just improved graphics. A vital component was the DVD player functionality. DVD players were still fairly new and still expensive in 2000. At $300, the inclusion was a defining feature of the system. Even after purchasing a DVD capable computer three years later the Playstation 2 would be the staple DVD player at our household for many years.
Looking past the initial novelty, what makes the Playstation 2 my favorite console is the shear breadth of exclusives and the selection of games both familiar and drastically unique. Series such as Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper harkened back to Nintendo games while titles like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Katamari Damacy were like nothing else available. What mattered to me most was that my favorite genre, Japanese Role Playing Games, was well represented on the platform. The quality of PS2 JRPGs equals or exceeds any console to date with the highlights being Dragon Quest VIII, Final Fantasy X and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. The Playstation 2 had something for everyone. As the first true entertainment system with an enormous selection of high quality exclusives, the Playstation 2 is my favorite video game console.