Adieu, Playstation 2 – Alexander Lucard
by Alex Lucard on February 1, 2011

With no new titles in development or anything scheduled for publication in 2011, we can now officially declare Sony’s Playstation 2 dead. It becomes one of the longest lasting systems of all time, outlasted only by consoles like the Neo*Geo and its original arch-rival, the Sega Dreamcast (which still has games on tap for 2k11). To celebrate the life of the Playstation 2, Diehard GameFAN staff members will be presenting their list of their ten favorite games for the PS2.

1. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
2. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1
3. Shadow Hearts
4. WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006
5. Sakura Wars V: So Long My Love
6. Neo*Geo Battle Coliseum
7. Gradius V
8. Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
9. Shadow Hearts: From the New World
10. Street Fighter Alpha Anthology

As you can see, my PS2 experience revolved primarily around JRPGs, shoot ‘em ups and fighting games. Even so, it was hard to narrow this down to just 20 games. After all, there were a lot of games that could have made the cut: Growlanser Generations was a game I remember loving (as well as being the last title by Working Designs), but for the life of me I can’t remember anything about either game. Culdcept was the best video game board game since Top Shop. R-Type Final and Raiden III were wonderful shooters. Makai Kingdom was the deepest and most complex SRPG I think I’ve ever played. Persona 4 was good, but not good enough to make the top 10. Final Fantasy XII was the first game I’ve liked in the series since Tactics… at least gameplay wise. Fatal Frame III is a game I JUST received for the 2010 Holiday season, so I don’t feel comfortable ranking it just yet. I could go and on about the games I love for this system, but in the end, really three franchises dominated the system for me: Megaten, Disgaea and Shadow Hearts.


#10 Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: 2-D Fighting
Release Date: 06/13/2006

I have to admit I’ve always been more of an SNK fighting game fan than Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken and the like, but I’ve always had a soft spot for both the Darkstalkers franchise and Street Fighter Alpha. It’s well known that ports of Capcom fighters have never fared ware quality wise on Sony systems compared to competitors. If you wanted Night Warriors, Street Fighter Alpha 1 and 2, Marvel Vs. Capcom or X-Men vs Street Fighter… you went to the Sega Saturn instead of the PSX. If you wanted Marvel vs. Capcom 2, you went to the Dreamcast. Same with nearly every fighting game on the market when both systems were directly taking each other on. Now, that wasn’t Sony’s fault. Capcom built many of these games in the arcade with Sega’s technology, especially NAOMI for a lot of games, so it only makes sense they played better on a SEGA system, right? Well what makes SFAA so special is that it was not only the first time Capcom released something on a Sony system that was arcade perfect… but it was my favorite Capcom series of all time to boot. In fact, had SFA3 had “world tour” mode in this game as well, there’s no doubt this would be even higher up on my list to me.

So true story, I absolutely adored the first SFA when it came out. I was a huge fighting game fan back in high school and I eagerly awaited its release. Now I’m not really what a person thinks of when you picture a typical gamer. I was more of a weird jock-goth hybrid back then. Yet I gained instant gamer credit at the Pirates Den when I became not only the first guy to beat Street Fighter Alpha there, but I did it on a single quarter using my trusty old Sagat who has been (and always will be) my favorite Street Fighter character (so I can’t say i was too disappointed in Sagat being top tier in SFIV…). I have to admit I had a gleeful smile on my face when I finished Ryu off with a Tiger Genocide in front of nearly 100 onlookers. It was even better when the next guy in line behind me (who also happened to be a good friend of mine) beat the game with Ken (but needed three quarters). 1-2 punch baby. Since then, SFA has always held a special place in my heart as one of the two games where I officially became a diehard gamer (Shining Force I was the other) and to have it and its siblings all in one disc in an arcade perfect format just made me happy in a way that is hard to explain.


9. Shadow Hearts: From the New World
Developer: Nautilus
Publisher: XSEED
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 03/07/2006

Looking back, it’s funny that this makes the list but Covenant didn’t. For me this game aged better, while Covenant aged poorly in terms of story and characters. I guess I just have found that I loved the light hearted aspects of the third and final Shadow Hearts title while Covenant is just so f’n bleak and depressing. Contrary to the impression my monochromatic wardrobe may give, I’m just not that kind of guy. I loved Shania and the heavy use of Native American folklore in addition to the (sometimes erroneous) aspects of 1920s America that filled this game, from Al Capone to H.P. Lovecraft. Every character still brings a smile to my face, like the Deadpool-esque South American Ninja Frank, the greedy talking cat Mao, the final vampire in the Valentine family (and a three way dance that was an optional route towards the end of the game) and more.

Then of course, there’s the judgment ring. SH3 had the best customization of the ring I’ve ever seen and I still mourn the loss of this series. It was the most interesting and engaging turn based system I’ve ever played and even if you didn’t like the story of SH3 compared to the previous games, there was no denying the engine at least reached its peak here.

SH3 was actually our runner up for GOTY in 2006, narrowly losing to Twilight Princess by one or two votes. That’s pretty impressive for an obscure JRPG with a low print run. If you are lucky enough to find a copy, by all means pick it up. It’s a stand-alone game with only the most fleeting of connections to the first two titles.


#8. Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 08/29/2006

Although nowhere as good as the first one, Disagea 2 is a wonderful SRPG, honing the mechanics of the first game and giving us two wonderful characters in Adell and Rozalyn. Unlike the first game, which was about maturity, destiny and a coming of age story when there wasn’t Prinny torture and Mid-Boss mocking, Disgaea 2 was a story about family and love. You had Adell, who was the only human remaining in his world, wanting to kill the Overlord so that he could save his family and all humankind from the curse they were under. You have Rozalyn, the daughter of the overlord who adores her father but is forced to participate in Adell’s scheme to kill him due to a spell not working right. You have Adell’s family, who are adorably insane, Tink, a perverted tadpole thingie, and of course Etna and the Prinnies tag along in a major supporting role. There’s also a great twist towards the end you don’t really see coming and out of all three Disgaea games released so far, Adell and Rozalyn are most defined and deepest protagonist duo in the series, and you really get to see them evolve through the course of this very long game.

Then there’s the usual Nippon Ichi comedy bits, the amazing amount of optional battles, dungeons and item world shenanigans (Don’t pistol whip me Brian Cox!) that you can get up to and some fun appearances by previous Nippon Ichi characters ranging from Laharl to the freakin’ bad ass overlord himself, Zetta. There’re also nearly a dozen endings to this game, so each time you play it, you can get a dramatically different outcome (as long as you’ve kept the same save data). Disgaea 2 really is a SRPG fan’s dream come true. It’s also available for the PSP (and I really should get that version) with a brand new Axel mode and various other bells and whistles, but I know I’ll always keep coming back to my PS2 version, if only for the fact I keep using the same Save Data to encounter newer and harder challenges.


#7. Gradius V
Developer: Treasure
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Side-Scrolling Traditional Shooter
Release Date: 09/14/2004

I love shoot ‘em ups. I love Treasure… unless they are making sequels because they’re always sub-par compared to the original. Luckily, Gradius V is their one and only Gradius game so it doesn’t fall into the sequel trap. Instead it falls under “amazing.” Gradius V was easily Treasure’s best game since Ikargua, and they’ve yet to make a game that comes close to its quality in the past six years. It’s not only a return to greatness for the Gradius series, but it was my favorite game of 2004. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I put into this thing. The graphics, music and gameplay were all magnificent and even now I can’t think of a shoot ‘em up released since that I’ve adored as much as this wonderful game.

The game gets a lot of replay value out of the four weapon arrays you can choose from at the beginning of the game. You can even customize the fighter, which may be common now with shooters, but was pretty out there at time. Then there are the visuals. Honestly, Gradius V is so beautiful you’d almost think it was a PS3 title. This is one of the best looking games for the PS2 and it’s wonderful to see how much care Treasure put into another company’s franchise. Unlike the other games on the countdown which I can wax nostalgically about in terms of story of memories, Gradius V is a game that can’t be described, only experienced. Whether you’re flying the Vic Viper solo or engaging in two player co-op, Gradius V is not only the best shoot ‘em up for the PS2, it’s the best shooter in six years.


#6. Neo*Geo Battle Coliseum
Developer: SNK Playmore
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Genre: 2-D Fighting
Release Date: 12/17/2007

It may be available on the 360 now, (with online play!!!), but back in 2007 this was one of my favorite games to play on the PS2. Now I’m a long time SNK fan. I own a Neo*Geo and nearly fifty carts, which breaks my cardinal rule of “only 20 games per system.” This is mainly because I picked up a ton of carts for $5 a head at an old pawn shop in Beaverton, OR and they’re not really the type of games you can just trade in. Now since the original SNK died, SNK Playmore has done a decent job of trying to revive SNK’s properties, but… the KoF series just hasn’t been the same. Back in the day the NGPC “SNK Vs. Capcom” games were easily a match for Capcom’s three “Capcom Vs. SNK” titles. Playmore’s SVC Chaos… was not. Their remake of Card Fighter’s Clash was so bad it had to be recalled. And let’s not even get me started on KoF XI and XII or the fact they still haven’t given us the original Baseball Stars for the NES on the Virtual Console.

Sometimes, though, SNK 2.0 has hit it out of the park. Metal Slug 7 was one of those titles, and Neo*Geo Battle Coliseum was another. Man, there’s so much to love about this game. Look at the roster. You have standbys like Kyo, Iori, Yuri, Mai, and the like, but look who else you have. Geese Howard (best fighting game end boss EVER)! Rock Howard! Your fighting game savior himself Terry Bogard in his Garou outfit! Mr. Karate without the damn mask! Mr. Big from Art of Fighting! Athena! Marco and Mars People from Metal Slug! Shiki the hermaphrodite from SS64! You had characters from The Last Blade, Samurai Showdown, World Heroes, Art of Fighting and more! Hell, there’s even a King of the Monsters character or two for you. I loved this roster so very much and it’s very much a love letter to long time SNK fans.

The gameplay was wonderful too. It was two-on-two, something SNK had never really tried before, and it worked perfectly. I loved mixing and matching teams and discovering which combos gave you special endings and/or special moves. I loved that there were four possible end bosses, each of which played radically different from one before it. The soundtrack was great (as SNK games usually are) and about the only thing to quibble about was that the graphics were a bit behind the times (yet still snazzy for a SNK game).

Looking back it is funny how every long time SNK fan I know adores this game, but reviewers didn’t really quite get the zaniness of it. Poor SNK – always the redheaded step child of fighting games. Still, I’ve loved seeing this game revived on XBLA and seeing people send me comments about how much they are enjoying it and that they picked it up after remembering my original PS2 review all those years ago. NGBC (not to be confused with NGPC) is my favorite fighting game on the PS2 for so many reasons and I still play it regularly.


#5. Sakura Taisen V/Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
Developer: RED Entertainment/Sega
Publisher: RED/Sega/Nippon Ichi
Genre: Tactical RPG/Dating Sim hybrid
Release Date: 07/07/2005 (Japan) /03/30/2010 (North America)

If you’ve talked to me about video games at all in the past fourteen years, than you know that my #1 RPG franchise of all time is the Sakura Taisen aka Sakura Wars series. I’ve imported and devoured every one and whether it’s the story, characters, amazing game play or beautiful music, the series has never been anything less than brilliant. Even though the series is Sega’s #1 most popular and best selling franchise of all time, Sega of America never saw fit to bring it stateside, even while the series was winning GOTY nomination and awards on the Saturn and Dreamcast or dwarfing Sonic’s sales back home in Japan. There were always rumors and even failed attempted to bring it over by Sega and Atlus just flat out shat on fan requests to do so regularly. But hey, I could read/understand Japanese enough to get through an imported RPG, so screw both those companies, right?

Well, finally we got a Sakura Taisen game in English thanks to Nippon Ichi, which is one of the few publishers out there that truly cares about their audience and customers. Sure the game was five years late, but it was a Sakura Wars title in English so that every gamer could get to experience it. Sure SWV is considered the worst game in the series (although I would put IV there since it’s just a short fan service game) by long time fans, but that’s like saying platinum is not as good as a truckload of diamonds. Seriously, when the worst game in a series is still a massive seller in its home company and a GOTY nominee to boot, that tells you the sheer quality of the franchise. Here in the US, it was no exception, even being a bit late.

I could wax on about the series as a whole. How it is one of the first pieces of steampunk out there and how it’s been wildly influential on that genre, despite Western steampunk going far too dark (and overplayed) while Sakura Taisen stays bright, colorful and positive. About how this franchise kept both the Saturn and Dreamcast alive in Japan while Shenmue and Sonic Adventure flopped. About how this was one of Sega’s last bright moments as a publisher before Sammy bought them. Hell, I could even bring up how our own Mark B., who really doesn’t enjoy most modern JPRGs, flat out loved this game and everything about it. But the best thing I can do is link you to both of our reviews of the US release of the game.

Mark on the PS2 version.

Myself on the Wii.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Sakura Taisen without something batshit stupid happening. Even after the game was critically applauded and won several awards (including PS2 GOTY, RPG of the year and Best Gameplay from us here at Diehard GameFAN), Sony decided to tell Nippon Ichi they couldn’t bring over a PSP version of Sakura Taisen I and II because they felt it was a visual novel and they didn’t want that on the PSP. You know, even though they approved Disgaea Infinite.

A visual novel. Yes, because a read along is going win multiple GOTY titles back in Japan. This hurts my head and makes me so very angry. When Sega first became a third party developer, the request both Sony and Nintendo has for them was “Give us a Sakura Taisen game before anything else.” Not Shining Force. Not Sonic. Not Phantasy Star. No, both companies knew what Sega’s crown jewel was and they wanted that. Yet Sony of America still doesn’t want Sakura Wars stateside. Seriously Nippon Ichi, tell Sony to fuck off and bring that to a Nintendo or Microsoft system. It also doesn’t help that Red has refused to let another Sakura Taisen game be made since Sega became Sammy Sega due to fears that the end result will be a sub-par mess that tarnishes the legacy of the series. Considering that the vast majority of Sammy Sega’s games have indeed been horrible, this is a rightly held fear and most ST/SW fans agree it’s for the best. Still, when you have a series that is five-for-five in terms of sheer quality and awesomeness, that’s a great legacy to have, even if SWV marks the end of one of the greatest franchises of all time.

Seriously, if you haven’t picked this up for the PS2 or the Wii then shame on you. This is a game that needs to be experienced, nay, to be savored. Pick it up, fall in love with it and then remember that there are four BETTER games out there than this in the series and that you should bug the crap out of Sega, Sony and Nippon Ichi until we get the rest stateside. If we can raise enough hell to get Sam and Max as a freebie for Playstation Plus after months of seeing Europe’s version outclass the North American one in every way, we as a fandom can certainly pull this off.


#4. Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006
Developer: Yukes
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Pro Wrestling
Release Date: 11/14/2005

Like most people that have the bulk of wrestling games on both sides of the pacific, it’s hard to deny that Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 is the best Yukes made WWE/WWF wrestling game ever. Sure it doesn’t have the lineup of Raw 2 or Here Comes the Pain, but in regards to the engine, overall CAW system, story mode and the like, Sk6 is unbeatable. As well, it’s the game with the best version of GM mode where you can pit Raw vs. Smackdown for a full year ala the old Monday Night Wars that made pro wrestling so awesome in the late 1990s. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this mode. It’s as close to a console version of EWR/TEW as it gets. You have to manage personalities, pushes, income, expenditures and more all in an attempt to get better ratings than the opposing fed. Because of this mode, I’ve actually spent more time with Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 than any other game in the past five years. I just keep coming back to it and pitting my two feds against each other to see who has the better matches and events. I’m only a week or two away from the next Wrestlemania, which ends the year right now, and RAW champion Brock Lensar puts his title up against The Sandman while Smackdown champion Ultimo Dragon defends against the Royal Rumble winner, Raven. I also have the Smackdown vs. Raw best of three series that is forced on me every Wrestlemania. This year it’s Raw IC champ Tommy Dreamer vs. Smackdown US Champ Christian, Raw’s Taz vs. SD’s Rob Van Dam and Raw’s Undertaker vs. SD (and the longest reigning world champion of all time)’s Hayabusa.

2K7-2k11 just don’t match up. Sure the games are prettier, but the A.I. is pathetically easy, the matches last maybe a minute or two, and the gameplay is pretty poor. 2K6 still provides a degree of challenge and it’s not unheard of to have 30+ minute matches, especially if it’s a last man standing or six man tag match. I absolutely adore this game and although there are three I rank higher, this is the one I can just pick up and play for an hour and not come back to for a while. The others? I can’t really do that with…


#3. Shadow Hearts
Developer: Sacnoth
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 12/11/2001

So, not only is this the oldest game on the countdown, but it’s the game I purchased a PS2 for long ago. This game was my system seller and it was worth every penny. See, I’d always been a fan of Sacnoth. A big one, actually. I loved Koudelka and Faseli! is one of my three favorite games for the Neo*Geo Pocket Colour along with Match of the Millennium and Ogre Battle NGPC. So when their first PS2 game was announced, I knew I had to get it… even though I didn’t have a PS2. I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was a direct tie-in with the plot of Koudelka, but you’d only catch it all if you played that game (but really, who has?). To anyone else it would just seem like a perfectly awesome stand-alone.

The game is kind of short for an RPG if you stick to the main story, as it’s only about twenty hours long. If you do all the optional battles for extra equipment and the like (and really you should if you6 want to stand a chance in the last battle), it’ll add another fifteen or so hours to your game. However it’s not the length one should be concerned about with here – it’s the sheer quality of the game. The visuals haven’t aged well, but for one of the first PS2 games, this thing looks amazing. You have a wonderful storyline featuring characters like Yuri, Alice, Roger Bacon, another Roger Bacon, a friendly vampire, a French secret agent and more. You have a wonderful backdrop against World War I era Europe and a good dose of Lovecraftia thrown in for good measure. I also loved that with each battle you fought, Yuri would absorb “malice,” and eventually have to purge it by traveling to an inter-dimensional graveyard where Yuri would have to fight demons made of his own psyche. The game was so detailed and complex and it really changed the way one looked at turn based RPGs which were, at this point, pretty stale until Shadow Hearts came along.

Most of all though, was the Judgment Ring. This simple but amazing battle engine remains the best I’ve ever seen in a turn based game. Unlike other games of this ilk where you pick actions from a menu and that you can pretty much play in your sleep, you have actually have to pay attention (and have pretty good reflexes) for the Judgment Ring. You have to stop the ring at three different specific spots (depending on the character used and the items they have equipped). If you hit those spots near the outermost edge, you do extra damage. I love this thing and it keeps you on your toes through the entire game. I also love how the game (and both sequels) are pretty stats intensive and the game keeps track of everything from how many steps you’ve taken to a percentage of how many times you’ve done a perfect J-ring rotation.

So a Cthulhu Mythos inspired RPG coupled with the best turn based system I’ve ever encountered? It’s no wonder it’s this high up on my list. I’m still sad that Sacnoth/Nautilus no longer exists and that we’ll never have another game that uses the Judgment Ring or this engine again. Still, as long as I have a PS2 (or my 60 Gig PS3), I’ll always be able to play this excellent game. You can pick it up pretty cheap these days, so by all means, grab this game if you ever see it. Horror RPGs are still pretty rare, and one of the best on the PS2, but as we’ll see shortly… it’s not THE best.


#2. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 04/05/2005

Digital Devil Saga was not only our 2005 Game of the Year winner, but it remains one of the three best Megaten titles I’ve ever played, along with Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, both for the PSX.

There are lots of reasons to love DDS. You have an incredible character customization system, the use of the turn based press system first introduced in Nocturne, excellent graphics for the PSX, and the most flexibility in terms of equipping and developing your characters in the history of Megaten. I think one of the reasons I liked Final Fantasy XII so much is that its skill tree format was heavily based on that of DDS and character customization is the main thing I care about in an RPG, so…

What I love most though is the story. I’ve always loved Megaten for its use of philosophy, metaphysics and deep storylines that other RPGs don’t even compare too, but Digital Devil Saga is amazing for the way it takes Descartian philosophy and turns the entire “Cogito ergo sum” into a video game. Yes, the entire game revolves around Discourse on the Method and Principles of Philosophy the same way the REAL Persona games are all about Jung. Of course, the game doesn’t stop there. It extends Descartes’ philosophy and writing the same way Phillip K. Dick used them in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? except in a far more subtle fashion. I can’t go into more detail without ruining the story, but holy hell, there are so many twists you won’t see coming and every one is amazing. You could also tell the reviewers who actually beat the game and those that played a few hours based on their commentary regarding the voice acting in the game, especially around Cielo. If they complained about it being weird or bad, you know they barely touched the game.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game was the cannibalism bit. Yes, your characters can transform into demons, and then you can devour your enemies for extra Atma points and even powers. It was a concept I expected back in 2005 to be met with angry cries from parents and religious leaders ala Night Trap or Mortal Kombat, but nothing ever came of it. Probably due to Atlus being a smaller publisher here in the US.

Although the game didn’t make our official Hall of Fame (Ironically thanks to me voting against its inclusion due to it being so damn esoteric), it IS my second favorite game for the Sony Playstation 2, and if you want to see just how much I loved it then, feel free to read the review from five and a half years ago.

Interestingly enough, if you fully read the review you’ll notice that my #2 game back in early 2005 is now my #1 game on this list….


#1. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: Atlus
Genre: Tactical RPG
Release Date: 08/23/2003

…and here we are with my #1 game. It’s probably no surprise. It’s one of our most award winning games here at Diehard GameFAN, it was our 2003 GOTY winner, and it was the first ever game inducted into the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame. Truly this is a game that is well loved here at DHGF, and along with Shadow Hearts, this was the game that got me to buy a PS2 when I moved back to the States (No way I was going to buy a Region 2 system when I knew I’d be moving back here). Seven years later, I’ve played this game on my PS3 (60 gig model is the only one worth owning), my PSP and my Nintendo DS… although the latter was a bit lackluster compared to the other two.

Disgaea was not only the game that brought SRPGs back in a big way to North American gamers (the genre had basically peaked stateside with the 16 bit era and then went a bit comatose during the 32 bit era save for a few gems like Ogre Tactics: Knight of Lodis and Shining Force III), but it was also the game that really put Atlus USA on the map. Sure they’d give gamers a lot of amazing titles like the Persona series and the like, but none of their games had really been big sellers until they decided to publish Nippon Ichi’s latest title. They almost didn’t you know. Rhapsody was panned critically and financially (I liked it though!) and they didn’t bother to pick up La Pucelle, but Atlus must have seen a special magic in a game where you are the son of the devil and you are trying to reclaim your rightful place as the ruler of hell that they didn’t in their own demon-themed Megaten titles like Soul Hackers or Innocent Sin, but the end result was a blockbuster success for Atlus in terms of sales and getting their brand name out to people other than a small but fanatically loyal group of gamers that basically considered them, “The OTHER Working Designs.”

This game was a parody of RPGs in every way, from the comedic story and characters to the names of weapons and special attacks. However it was also one of the biggest and most time consuming games made up to that point. Level 99 characters HA! This game went to level 9,999! You had dungeons that were a hundred levels long AND were randomly generated. You had to kick the crap out of a Satanic version of Congress to get special things added to your adventures. You had to team up with a scheming demon queen and her mob of exploding peg legged bat winged penguin thingies that said “dood” at the end of every sentence dood! You had to constantly deal with the Dark Adonis aka Mid-Boss, along with an angel assassin, space heroes from Earth and hordes of demons who wanted your throne. Most of all you had to deal with a story that had you laughing and falling in love with the cast of characters that inhabited the underworld. Disgaea put Atlus on the map. It convinced Nippon Ichi to open a stateside branch. It caused a renaissance in SRPG gaming. It reminded gamers everywhere that a story could be deep, engrossing and memorable and still light hearted and comedic instead of GRIMDARK.

Seven years later Disgaea still remains the first game I think of when I hear the words “Playstation 2,” it remains the game I’ve recommended the most over the years for the system and it is my number one game of all time for Sony’s sophomore system. With availability on two other systems, you really can’t make excuses for not having played this. If you have a PSP, just download it from the Playstation store and get cracking. The anime’s just been re-released as well, so give Funimation and Nippon Ichi some of your money for that too!




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Alex Lucard

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  • Phil

    It’s unfortunate that nobody opted to bring over Thunder Force VI; one of the PS2 games that I wanted to purchase and play the most, whether the game is as good as its’ three predecessors would not even be of importance, I just wanted to play through the darn game, and have it alongside my Gradius V, R-Type Final, Raiden III, and Castle Shikigami 2.

  • Samurater

    This would be a very difficult list for me to do. Only ten? Out of all those games? I would rather do a Top 100! Nonetheless, good list. … I would put R-Type Final in place of Gradius V, but that is entirely personal bias.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Phil – the PS2 was a wonderful system for Shoot ‘em ups. All those games you named are ones I loved. Oddly enough they are also in order from best to worst.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Samurater – R-Type Final makes my top 15/20 easily. I love that game and it was actually the first PS2 game I ever reviewed. I’m pretty much a sucker for any game put out by Treasure that isn’t Advance Guardian Heroes and Sin and Punishment 2. Oh and Bangai-O Spirits. Ick.

  • Phil

    Ever since being blown away by Gunstar Heroes in 1994, I would look out for Treasure developed games with high anticipation. Over time they have become more inconsistent and mildly overrated. In addition to Advance Guardian Heroes (Not terrible, just average) and Bangai-O, I would add Gunstar Super Heroes GBA as a letdown also; Astro Boy was their best GBA effort in my opinion.

    While I own and value the system, I really couldn’t come up with a formal top-ten for PS2 since I have not played the catalog of games extensively enough,(Had a Gamecube instead during the peak period of the era) kind of a byproduct of not spending as much of my time gaming as in previous generations. But I do value most of the arcade compilations, 2-D fighting games, and schmups that found their way onto the console for sure, also liked Suikoden V and Ys VI for JRPG’s.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Phil – i think a good rule with Treasure is “If it’s a sequel, it will be a letdown. If it’s original, it will be pretty good.” Gradius V escapes this clause since it wasn’t really a sequel for them as they had never made one before.

  • Phil

    Alex: It is true that Treasure had a beef with the idea of making sequels for a long while there; perhaps when they actually became less stubborn about it and appeased the fanbase the level of passion for creating the follow-up was still less then enthusiastic.

    I like to think that if they had a more sequel-friendly disposition and made a Gunstar Heroes sequel for the Sega Saturn following the release of Guardian Heroes it probably could have been one of the best run-and-gun shooters ever made.

  • Sean Madson

    I didn’t think Sin & Punishment 2 was too bad. It was kinda ugly, but I thought the gameplay lent itself well to the Wii controls.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    Sean – I didn’t think S&P Sin Successor was bad either; just that it was a letdown compared to what Treasure did with the original, and especially with the graphics. look at something like Gradius V and then S&P2 and if you can find anyone that thinks S&P2 is prettier, they are insane, lying, or both.

  • Sean Madson

    Oh, I agree with you there. The game is definitely an eyesore and it does seem like they treat their sequels with a sort of half-assed effort, S&P2 included. I just think it’s still a pretty decent game though, especially when you compare it to something like Advanced Guardian Heroes. The first time I played that I was like “… This is what they came up with? Really?” Luckily I only payed $5 for it, so it wasn’t a huge loss.

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