It was an exciting time for gamers. During the last round of the console wars Sony had taken the throne away from Nintendo with the release of the original Playstation. Sega’s latest attempt, the Dreamcast, was innovative but destined for failure. Nintendo had announced a successor to the N64, but it was still a long ways away. As was Microsoft’s first foray into the home console arena. But despite that, executives at Sony knew that it was no time to rest on their laurels. Nintendo had already indicated that they were hoping to shed themselves of their “kid friendly” image and make every effort to take back the lead. If Sony wanted to stay on top, they’d have to act fast. The successor to the Playstation would have to be a hit from day one.
Development of the Playstation 2 began almost immediately after the original Playstation hit the stores. By the time it was officially announced in 1999, the console was already largely complete and ready for production. The PS2 took everything that fans loved about the original system and amplified it to new levels. The sound and graphics were vastly improved, the controller was revised, yet still familiar. But most importantly, it was compatible with games from the previous generation.
To ensure that fans stayed loyal to the brand, Sony announced that the Playstation 2 would not only usher in a new generation of games, but it would also be backwards compatible with original Playstation titles. This was a pretty big deal. Up to now, most gamers were used to the idea of having to stow away their old consoles to make room for a new system. Or worse, losing access to their library of games should their old console bite the dust.
Their strategy seemed to work. The Playstion 2 was an instant success. This was true not only with consumers, but with developers also. Almost every big third-party title saw an initial release through this system – a fact that only helped further cement the PS2 as the winner of this new generation of the console wars.
For me, I purchased a PS2 shortly after its release. I never owned an original PS console and after I got married and things settled down, that itch to start gaming again popped back up. My first purchase was a Game Cube (a system that I enjoyed immensely), but it was soon followed by a PS2. It was through this system that I was able to catch up on a number of great PS1 games I missed the first time around, as well as getting my first taste of online gaming via a home console.
That’s right, even though it’s a little known fact, the PS2 also had online gaming capabilities. With the purchase of an optional network adapter, a select number of games were able to connect online and provide a multiplayer experience. The biggest title to take advantage of this functionality was Final Fantasy XI – a game that changed the way I looked at online gaming forever.
But it wasn’t just gaming that allowed the PS2 to thrive. The system also doubled as a DVD player. At a time when DVDs were still fairly new to the scene and with dedicated DVD players often costing just as much as the PS2 itself, opting for a piece of hardware that could both was a choice that made a lot of sense for consumers.
In the end, shrewd business decisions by Sony combined with booming advancements in media and technology resulted in the PS2 emerging as a clear winner in this new round of the console wars. The system played host to some of the best games of the era – many of which I have already discussed on this site over the years. But there’s still plenty left to talk about. I look forward to diving into this generation and sharing my thoughts with you.
If you want to catch up with some of my previous PS2 reviews, I’ve included a list below of games that have already been reviewed on this site: