Monday, February 16, 2009

One Expensive Wooden PS2

If you're strapped for cash (and who isn't in today's poor economy?), then perhaps you can make a few extra bucks by shaping and painting a block of wood to make it look like an actual PS2 and then returning it to a store. For added realism, add a serial number so it'll scan in their store system like a normal PS2 would, earning you back $130 and tax.

At least that's what some money-hungry trickster did.

This wooden unit actually made it all the way to Sony's distribution center, which is the source of this photo. I'm thinking that the employee at the store merely scanned the bar code through the box opening and didn't even give the actual system a look. The person who duped the store also put dumbbells inside the unit to make up for the otherwise low weight. Truly, it's amazing that someone got away with this ordeal. And in terms of all the wooden PS2 consoles I've seen, this ranks among the nicest by far. Wait, I haven't seen any non-plastic PS2's prior to this date...


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Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Tribute to My Dreamcast

Yes, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Sega’s revolutionary white box. While I got into Dreamcast fever rather late (in 2004, when games for the console were long out of production), I still had a blast with it. Picking it up for a mere $9.99 at my local EBGames (a game store that was actually – gasp!- good) along with a few cheapie games, a blue VMU, and an extra controller, I brought the Dreamcast home a played it well into the night.

Perhaps the most fun of all was going from second hand game store to store and finding the most desirable games for the platform. Since I got into the console late and didn’t purchase games online during this time period, it was fun going from city to city and not knowing what you’d end up with. Coming home with a mint copy of Power Stone or Street Fighter Alpha 3 meant that I had a good run.

Although collecting games for the platform was enjoyable, I can’t forget about the gameplay aspect of the games. Street Fighter Alpha 3 was one I played with friends until the wee hours of the morning, Sonic Adventure 2 provided some of the best platforming action of its time period, and Virtua Tennis was an undeniably addictive tennis simulation.

Fast forward a few years later, however, and my Dreamcast has been ignored for quite some time. Sitting in a box in my dark closet and getting no love whatsoever, possibly jealous of all of the attention my new-fangled Wii’s and 360’s are getting.

I decided that it’s finally time to give this console a new home.

I listed all of the games and the console online for sale, and now I’m just waiting for a buyer. It’s not all bad news, though. Not only will I get some extra dough and save space, but I’ll be able to repurchase many of the best games for the console on other platforms. I’ll always miss Sega’s gorgeous final console, but the games and memories of it will live on.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

PS2: The Games You Missed

The PS2 has one of the largest and most diverse list of titles of any console ever released. I still play last generation's dominating console on a regular basis - sometimes even more so than the more recent batch of consoles. Due to it having such an unusually enormous game library, there were unfortunately many titles released that failed to get the recognition they deserved. These titles, despite being great experiences, were largely ignored by the gaming public during the time they were released and faded into obscurity as a result. Check out a bargain bin near you to see if you can track down any of these releases.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (2001)
Klonoa 2 offered the beauty of a 3D game with the rock solid game play of a 2D classic. Old school in game play but new school in look, Klonoa 2 is a simplistic blast from the past with tried-and-true 2D platforming and intriguing puzzles. Also, even though the length of Klonoa 2 was a bit on the short side, the level design was so great that you wouldn't mind playing through this a couple of times. If this was released by Nintendo it would have unquestionably garnered more respect.

Victorious Boxers: Ippo's Road to Glory (2001)
Whether you're familiar or not with the original Japanese manga is irrelevant. Victorious Boxers is simply a fun boxing title and the first noteworthy one on the PS2. Due to to this being based off of an unfamiliar property in the U.S. (and the lack of marketing), Victorious Boxers flopped horribly when it was originally released in 2001. So while it's a bit tough to track down in stores due to its limited print run, it's well worth it if you're in the mood for an enjoyable boxing title with Japanese flavor.

Viewtiful Joe (2004)
Capcom's Viewtiful Joe found mild success on the Nintendo Gamecube but was sadly ignored on Sony's platform. Which is a shame, because the PS2 version not only featured a new difficulty level but the ability to unlock Dante from the Devil May Cry series as well. Despite its sometimes unfairly hard difficulty, Viewtiful Joe is still among the most stylish and flat out entertaining brawlers found on the PS2. Henshin a go go baby!

Taiko Drum Master (2004)

Any fan of Japan, rhythm games, or random, cute, colorful crap would be doing themselves a disservice not giving Taiko Drum Master a try. Although the overly poppy soundtrack was slightly disappointing in some regards (Britney Spears? Blech.), the included drum peripheral made Taiko a multiplayer blast.

Street Fighter EX3 (2000)
Street Fighter EX3 was among the best of the PS2's launch games. Featuring unique tag-team combat that separated this from the rest of the series, EX3 is the most underrated entry in the Street Fighter franchise by far. Being released during the same time period when 3D fighters like Tekken Tag Tournament and Dead or Alive 2 dominated the scene probably didn't help its commercial fate though...

Steambot Chronicles (2006)

Steambot Chronicles proved that an RPG didn't have to be an epic experience ala Final Fantasy to be enjoyable. While the visuals were a bit lacking, the nonlinear game play and lighthearted dialogue made Atlus' overlooked title a true role-playing treat.

And so that wraps up this list. However, this is by no means the definitive assortment of missed PS2 titles, and I'm definitely going to have to complete a part two in the future to get such excellent games like Ico and 50 Cent Bulletproof in. Wait, maybe you should scratch that last title out...

Related article:
PSX: The Games You Missed

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