It’s not easy to say bye to our old friend, the PlayStation 2

By Keith Pereña and Rohma Sadaqat

Earlier this month, Sony pulled the plug on aftercare for the PlayStation 2. In 2012, the company ceased manufacturing the console. The end of repair and support marks the end of an era, the final rest of a console that many gamers hold dear; myself included.

When it debuted in March 2000 in Japan, the PS2 was not just a gaming console but a social tool. In my neighbourhood, gamers hung out at the café to either play a game or watch others play. Dare I say, multiplayer picked up steam with the debut of the PS2. It’s predecessor, the PS1 was solely a home affair.

According to Japanese news reports, Sony Japan asked PS2 owners to fill out an online form by August 31 to have their consoles fixed one last time before they ceased service on September 7. The repairs were done at the PlayStation Clinic in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture.

In Manila, my brother Charles and I were denizens of the local gaming cafés. The first of these cafés we frequented was a garage on the street to the left of our house. This café had five PS2 consoles and they would let you rent one for 20 pesos (Dh1) per hour. We would play split-screen — two players got half each for their character, and could taunt the other while competing in Twisted Metal: Black, Def Jam, and Need for Speed: Underground 2.

In this garage-arcade, we played alongside other kids as they played their own games (the café had a lot of titles).

Some kids would sit behind us, watching us, waiting for our one-hour time to expire so they could take over. In the modern age of gaming, this kind of spectating has moved to online streaming websites, such as Twitch. Long story short, you now have to watch someone play a game via video.

There was another gaming café near my school (right across the street from our house). It was called Code: Sentinels, and I remember staying there well past my curfew to watch this kid I don’t know finish Onimusha 3: Demon Siege in one sitting. I admired him for two reasons: He could ace a game in a single day, and he had fat pockets — Sentinels’ charged 25 pesos per hour and he would play from 12noon to 11pm. I was among the crowd watching this guy, cheering him on and laughing at his jokes. Even the caretaker of the café would join the party and watch the game.

That’s what the PS2 gave us, a platform for others to come together, cheer each other on, watch each other win, restart games, and bear witness to each other’s gut-wrenching expressions as we attempted to finish the boss level for the nth time.

Nowadays, these aspects are online. The PS4, for example, has a bevy of games that support online multiplay (that you have to pay for annually, by the way). The only way gamers get connected is through voice chat. Sure, there are communities for different games, but they can never replace the sensation of being with actual people, high-fiving over virtual victories, beating them in multiplayer games, and earning one’s bragging rights.

Keith’s completely owned his brother in Need for Speed: Underground 2

If anyone were to ask me, in all my years of gaming, which console left the deepest impression on me, I wouldn’t hesitate: the PlayStation 2. Having bought and enjoyed its precursor for many years, the decision to upgrade when the time came was an easy one. I still remember both my brother and I pooling our pocket money for the purchase.

Anyone who has ever had a PlayStation 2, will tell you that there are lots of fond memories attached to that console. The PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling gaming console of all time, having sold more that 155 million units worldwide. Back when we were in high school, the console meant fun after long hours of tackling homework. It meant fun on weekends when you could have friends over. It meant fun over the summer vacations when you would meet your cousins and get a chance to swap games.

Our PlayStation 2 was the Silver edition — a decision made on the spot, when we learned that it came in different colours. As always, when we went shopping for a gaming console, my brother and I picked up a spare controller; and then set our sights on the Sound Station 3D speaker system that was part of a bundle offer. Dad, who was highly amused and shared our enthusiasm, gifted us the remaining amount for the bundle offer, and we headed home to get it set up. The PlayStation 2 ended up being the console that we would have for the longest time, among all our other gaming consoles. It was special.

Why? Well, the PS2 was the platform that saw the rise of the most beloved gaming series titles. Max Payne, Kingdom Hearts, God of War, Star Wars Battlefront, Devil May Cry, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, Guitar Hero and Shadow of the Colossus — all began their journey on the PlayStation 2. Legions of fans will tell you that they spent hours playing and replaying the very first game in their favourite series on the PlayStation 2. The console set the foundation for many developers to follow through with sequels to all these memorable titles, many of which continue today on the PlayStation 4.

Another reason that cements the PlayStation 2 on the top of my list of favourite consoles is just how much fun it brought to the whole family. My dad would often sit down and go a few rounds with us on Tekken 4, and anyone who had a Guitar Hero controller was immediately considered to be the coolest kid on the block. But the main reason why I think back fondly to our days with the PlayStation 2 is due to one accessory that I knew I had to have the first time I saw it.

Dance mats were nothing new, but they were quite expensive. After months of saving, I was finally able to purchase one along with two titles — Dance Dance Revolution Max 2, and In the Groove. What followed was a whole summer of dancing, exercise, and a battle to see who would be crowned the DDR king. It seems surreal that nearly 15 years have passed. There remains no shortage of memories of my favourite gaming console.

Rohma still reigns as the undefeated Tekken champion at her home. Challengers are welcome

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