The news came last week that Sony has discontinued production of the PlayStation 2. This may come as a surprise to many who thought that the life of the console had finished years before, but developers continued to support the console until the very end. Today I will be looking at the history of this great machine and how it became a part of my life.
I was seventeen when the PlayStation 2 was launched. I had a full time job and still lived at home, so I had cash to spare. I was not queuing up to buy the console on launch day though. I had recently bought the Dreamcast at release five months previously and decided to stick with the machine I had. Sega had done much to impress me with software available for what was to be their last foray into the hardware market, enough to make up for the shoddy handling of the Shining Force game at the end of the life of the Saturn. The games to be released over the next year included the likes of Phantasy Star Online, Skies of Arcadia and Time Stalkers. The future for Sega looked bright.
That was until the PlayStation 2 hit homes across the world, bringing with it a list of exclusive titles. Still convinced I had made the right choice, I stuck to my system of choice. My brother however, just turned sixteen and decided to spend his first wages on the new Sony console. Great, our house now had both current generation machines. Not so great was the sibling rivalry that prevented us from allowing the other to play on our shiny toys. It would be a full year after its release that I would break down and buy my own PlayStation 2.
Retail DVD players were still fairly expensive when the PlayStation 2 launched, so either machine was often hooked up to the main television to watch films as a family. Not only did this technology give the console a place in the family room, it also gave it an advantage over the Dreamcast which had stuck with older storage media. It only took a year from the launch of the machine to put its rival of of the picture. The Dreamcast was discontinued in March 2001. This gave the system a full year without competition before the Xbox was released.
Both my brother and I bought an Xbox at launch, but the PlayStation 2 still got its fair share of usage. The Xbox required an extra expense to play DVDs, the PlayStation 2 did not. Each machine got their own exclusives, but as a lover of RPGs, most games I wanted to play ended up on the Sony console. Some did not make it over to the UK though, which led me to buy a second system imported from the US. I now had access to a huge library of games that had eluded me from the previous console generation. I spent a fair amount of my wages and time collecting and playing through the back catalog of PlayStation games. I made full use of the backwards compatibility of the machine over the summer and autumn of 2002, and I also had the ability to play new games six months before most others in the country got to see them.
By late 2002 I had found a relationship and spent time playing games with my new girlfriend. For Christmas that year I bought a third PlayStation, this time for her. It was the first console she owned, but never really got into playing games by herself. She enjoyed watching the story unfold in games, so it was down to me to play them so she could watch and follow what was going on. She had already bought Summoner 2, but we soon started adding more games to her library, good ones this time.
Skip ahead a few years and we were living together in 2006. Our evening were often spent playing Final Fantasy 12 while our young child slept. My family still had a spot in the living room for the PlayStation 2, only this time it was a family of my own. When my UK console died a year later, we still had a second one to take its place. Even today, both PlayStation 2 consoles have a place along side my PlayStation 3. The Dreamcast and Xbox have long since retired, but the PlayStation 2 still sees activity today.
Readers, has the PlayStation 2 lasted you longer than any other console? Do you have fond memories of its launch? Let me know in the comments!