games / Columns

The Top 8 Playstation 2 Games: Kingdom Hearts, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, More

March 10, 2020 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Kingdom Hearts

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I was originally going to talk about console variations, but I figured with the 20th Anniversary of the PlayStation 2 being launched in Japan, it might be more fun to talk about that system instead. Here below is a list of my favorite games for the platform, not necessarily the “best” games, but the games I most enjoyed. Let’s begin:

#8: Viewtiful Joe

I realize that Viewtiful Joe originally came from the GameCube but the PS2 port was demonstrably better. It looked crisper, the controller wasn’t a nightmare, and the game added in Dante from Devil May Cry who played vastly different than Joe did. Dante was able to have more ranged attacks, which could decimate a lot of the enemies and bosses. Really though, I just enjoyed the game and wish it could come back.

#7: Persona 4

It’s weird, considering how much I loved Persona 5, and some other SMT games, you’d think I’d be gangbusters over Persona 4 but it just didn’t click with me, like it should. I still liked playing it, but I think the only characters I liked were Rise and Funky Student. God, why couldn’t Funky Student be one of your party members?! It was still a vastly improved game over Persona 3, letting you directly control your party member will do that, but I personally found Nanako a tad annoying. Still, I played through it twice, so I guess that’s something.

#6: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Funny story, when I got my first PS2, my dad got me the PS2 and GTA: Vice City. What he didn’t get me was a memory card. SO, for about the first week or two, whenever I shut off my PS2 after a night of playing, I lost my progress. I got really good at the first few hours of Vice City. This anecdote aside, San Andreas was such a larger and more fleshed out game that it belies belief. While original GTA 3 just had Liberty City, and Vice City had both islands, San Andreas had a huge country, full of three different, distinct cities, and a ton of stuff in between. I liked the story, characters, even the RPG-lite leveling system. Of the GTA games, it’s still probably my favorite.

#5: Kingdom Hearts

I have a ton of nostalgia for the original Kingdom Hearts. It tried to take two ideas, Final Fantasy & Disney and mix them together. It failed in this experiment, as the Final Fantasy parts got vastly over-shadowed compared to the Disney stuff, but it’s still a novel concept. The game was clunky back then and hasn’t aged particularly well, especially certain lands (Little Mermaid, Alice), but I think the original Kingdom Hearts still has a naïve charm the later games really missed. Plus, having David Boreanaz voicing Squall was alright in my book.

#4: Katamari Damacy

What a unique and creative game. Just rolling around the Katamari was fun, as the ball has some floaty physics but once you knew what you were doing, you could really get moving. Picking up stuff, to grow your Katamari, to pick up even larger items, is a gameplay loop that will never end. Oh sure, the frying pan and basketball might be too large for you now, but roll around the house a few more times picking up smaller stuff, and soon you’ll grow it big enough to be able to grab it. Also, the story is just crazy in the best way with your alcoholic King of all Cosmos dad, alongside the Japanese suburban drama.

#3: Bully

While San Andreas is my favorite GTA game, Bully is my favorite Rockstar game. It’s mainly due to how it follows its own rules. At the start of the game, you only have access to the school, and not even every building. As you go through the various story chapters, more areas of the school and surrounding town become unlocked. You get to explore the carnival, mental hospital, even the outlying town area, as you progress. It’s all about the story having meaning in these new areas, and forcing the developers to make it special. Also, Jimmy is great, hell, almost all of the kids in the game are unique, and it still holds up 14 years after it originally came out.

#2: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

This is probably the first modern-ish RPG I can remember playing. I did play Mario RPG on the SNES and a few Sega CD RPGs (yeesh), but SMT: Nocturne is still something you can look at now and see where a lot of it trickled down into newer games. I just really loved the setting of the world, you play a half-demon after the world has happened and you are just trying to find your friends who are lost in the new demon-infested world. The map system is fairly weird compared to current games, but the battle system, with its turn-based combat is as tried and true as most other SMT games out there.

#1: Okami

Every time Okami is re-released I go out and buy it. At present I have it on PS3, PS4, Switch, and PC, I think. I doubt I’ll buy it if/when it ever gets released on iOS/Android. I just still love the mechanics of the game. The combat itself is fun, especially later on, when you having to start urinating and crapping on enemies to get special currency. The weapons feel good, the God powers you get, both in combat and just exploring are impactful and unique. I’ll play this game every two or so years and still find new things to do and way to play around with it.

For comments, list your favorite PS2 games and why.

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Top 8 Console Variations