My “Deserted Island” Games — Playstation/Playstation 2 edition

Image by Flickr user jontintinjordan
Image by Flickr user jontintinjordan

It wasn’t until I met my husband that the PlayStation came in to my life.  He was knee-deep in Sony territory when we met. Though I was knee-deep into Nintendo, we somehow still managed to make things work.  Anyway, he had amassed a large collection of PS games, some of which he didn’t play very often. (These tended to be RPGs or platform games.) So while he was engrossed with the likes of Tony Hawk and SOCOM, I took the occasional chance on a few titles in his library that weren’t getting much attention. The same process kind of went for the PlayStation 2. Except by this time, I was paying more attention to gaming and game news, and I found a few PS2 titles that I wanted to explore on my own. Even so, I never spent an extensive time with either PS console, which is why I’ve combined them into one list. The nice thing is that with the PS 2 being backwards compatible with PS1 disks, I’ll only need to keep a PS2 on my island…and maybe a backup. The PS2’s were known for being notoriously finicky. Hmmm, and the five games I choose will need to have some staying power…a tough decision lies ahead…

When Sony entered the market with its CD-based console dubbed the “PlayStation” in 1994, gamers everywhere seemed to hold their breath in anticipation. The PS wasn’t the first CD-based gaming console, but it became the most successful. Following a range of mostly lukewarm responses to the likes of the Sega CD (a Genesis add-on), the 3DO, and the Sega Saturn, it seemed people weren’t ready to just throw their money at another “new age” system, particularly with some of the wonderful games, a la Rare for example, that were being released on the SNES at the time. However, the PlayStation was bolstered with a strong selection of games and multifunctionality – it could play both audio and video CDs as well as games. Here we are almost 20 years later facing the 4th PS incarnation, and the Sony train shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Final Fantasy VII
Sadly, I feel like FFVII will forever remain in my unfinished pile. Years ago I got really close to the end, and then I got stuck on a particularly hard boss. I tried and I tried and I tried to beat it, but I never managed to issue the final blow. Time passed and FFVII sat quietly on the shelf awaiting my return, which has yet to happen. At this point, I’ve been seriously considering picking up an old PS1 on eBay for the sole purpose of finishing this game. (Seems like a worthy investment of $15, no?)  So is FFVII the best RPG of all time? Some say yes, some say no. All I know is that it’s a wonderful and fun game with an engrossing story and a very memorable cast of characters. It was my first FF game…and it just might be my last. Well…with the notion of “last” being relative on a deserted island.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
I can’t possibly imagine my PlayStation experience without Symphony of the Night. It was one of those lightly-played games in my better half’s library that immediately caught my attention. I had garnered a little Castlevania experience, so I was intrigued by the title to say the least. Nothing could have prepared me for the gorgeous, magical game that awaited. The story of protagonist Alucard and Dracula played out in the most beautiful set of pixels ever put together by a developer at that point. (Sorry Rare.) This 2D side-scroller played so well and told a great story besides. There’s no way it’s not getting a spot on my island. If anything, I’d need to keep up my vampire-hunting skills, because one never knows.

Capcom vs. SNK 2
Prior to playing Capcom vs. SNK 2, my fighting game experience had been mostly with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games. So playing something as encompassing as Capcom vs. SNK 2 was a breath of fresh air. As the title suggests, CvS2, like its predecessor (that I never played), brought together characters from Capcom games – mostly Street Fighter — and SNK games such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Art of Fighting. CvS2 was a fast, 2D, bright, and massively fun fighting game with plenty of in-game options – from the choice of characters to modes of play. It also introduced me to Morrigan, who remains one of my go-to fighters in any such games she’s appeared in since.

Kingdom Hearts
Oh Sora, my Sora, how do I love thee? Let me count…er…I mean…Kingdom Hearts, what a great game!  At the risk of getting all sappy, I adored the heck out of Kingdom Hearts, and Sora was a fantastic protagonist to play. Combining Disney  characters, new characters, and those from other games (Final Fantasy) was a genius move for Square Enix.   It’s always interesting to see how others might make over a known universe, and the Kingdom Hearts version of Disney was one of the best re-imaginings I can think of. But the game wasn’t all Disney happy magic. There were plenty of darker and creepy moments that added necessary depth to the story. It never feels like a “Disney” game – KH holds a place all its own in gaming.

Activision Anthology
Really, me choosing compilations should not be a surprise by now. I simply could not, and will not, pass up the chance to include the Activision Anthology on my island. We’re talking over 45 games games on one disk! Though they aren’t all the most awesome games ever, still, that hundreds of hours of gameplay, even including the games that kinda stink. But beggars can’t be choosers on a deserted island, so I’ll take what I can get. And with Activision Anthology I have a huge selection of classic Atari 2600 games, from Pitfall! to Enduro to Commando. Along with games like Plaque Attack that, yes, involves toothpaste and teeth. Duh. This disk will keep me plenty busy with games I’ve never played (and probably should not be played by most sane people) and games that I once loved.

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Well there you have it. A little platforming, a little RPGing, a little (or a lot of) retro. I should send a shout-out to Burnout 3: Takedown, which just missed being in my top five. It’s a brilliantly ridiculous racing game of sorts that’s great for letting out pent-up aggression. Man, the PS and PS2 really did offer some great games; and the same goes for the PS3, without a doubt. That’s up next in this series. Look for it in the coming weeks!

12 Comments Add yours

  1. thegeekyg4mer says:

    I’ve been waiting with baited breath for this one! lol Aww at both Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, loved them both. I adored ICO for the PS2, it was different and quirky and challenging and it was the first game to ever make me go “Ooooooooh” at the scenery lol

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    1. cary says:

      I remember Ico! That was the one with the kid with the horns, right? I never actually played it, but I watched it, and it was really mesmerizing in that strange, puzzle-y sort of way. Kind of like watching an Escher engraving come to life. And yes, it was so pretty!

      I’m glad you liked this list. 🙂 It’s been the easiest one for me to cull together so far.

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  2. im working on the end half of kingdom hearts as we speak………. coincidence? I think not……… such a good game, and FF7 will always be my favorite Rpg of all time.

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    1. cary says:

      Oh, I hope you enjoy the ending! KH was such an amazing game, and it’s terrible that I still haven’t taken the time to explore many of the sequels. I’m really looking forward to KH3 and hope it brings back the magic of the first game.

      FFVII was no-brainer for my list. I don’t know if its my favorite RPG, but it’s simply a classic that’s a must for any gamer’s collection!

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  3. duckofindeed says:

    I love the PS2 so dearly! I’ve never been as loyal to Nintendo ever since. My five games would be: “Kingdom Hearts” and “Kingdom Hearts 2” are just so awesome. “KH2” especially is one of my top games of all time. How they manage to have characters like the members of Organization XIII and Donald Duck in the same room without it getting silly, I’ll have no idea. But, they did it. Ahem. Maybe “Jak 1”. It’s really short, yet I adore this game. It’s up there with “KH2”. It just has this feel about it, and I can’t get enough of it. “FFX” was fantastic. It’s my second favorite “FF” game, and it’s long. And of course, “FFVII”. So great. And it’s the only “FF” game that beats “FFX”.

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    1. cary says:

      I had to fight with myself to not include FFX on this list. I really, really liked it, but I only played, or rather rushed through it once. I could see myself playing it over and over. But FFVII’s story wins it for me in the end.

      Great list, by the way. Plenty there to keep you occupied for awhile! 🙂

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  4. Hatm0nster says:

    I’ve had similar problems finishing FFVII. I’ve started over at least twice and my latest attempt has sat unfinished for 5 years now. I’ll chip away at it here and there but no matter how much I resolve to finish it, I’ve never been able to bring myself to do so. What is it about that game that defies the desire to finish it?

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    1. cary says:

      One of the signs of a great game is that players hate to see it end; and I think FFVII falls into that realm. As long as the game is unfinished, we always have a reason why we must visit it again, a reason to spend more time with characters we like. Of course, that happens too with replays, but by then, we already know all about the game. Part of me likes the fact that some part of FFVII remains as mystery that I’ve yet to solve.

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  5. A4man says:

    I have just started playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night!!! Awesome post this! Great read.

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    1. cary says:

      Thanks! And I’m kinda jealous. It’d be awesome to experience SotN again for the first time. Would love to know what you think about it when you’re done!

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      1. A4man says:

        Will do. So far, so awesome. I put it on my PSP and have a little of hour gaming before bed (remember that PSP thing? ha!) The game is fun so far, love how it has aged well too.

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