Five Hidden Gems for the PlayStation 2

I love the PS2, it’s my favorite console.  One the great things about PS2 was the vast number of games for it, covering a wide array of genres and experiences.  Because of the sheer number of games, many very interesting ones flew under people’s radars.  Here is a selection of 5 of my favorite games that you may not have heard of before.

ps2 hidden gems cover

God Hand

From the creator of Resident Evil 4 comes his follow up, God Hand.  God hand is beat-em-up game that continues Shinji Mikami’s exploration of 3rd person action games and dynamic difficulty adjustment.  The story is mostly nonsense, but very funny.  Combat is extremely difficult, requiring reflexes and as well as strategic planning.  All your characters moves and combos are customizable, so if something isn’t working, you need to change it up. The combination of difficult combat and customizable movesets makes this game very difficult, requiring an amount of dedication and attention that only the hardest of the hardcore may be willing to put in.

god hand

 

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

Desolate, minimalist, macabre, stylish.  As beautiful as it is stressful.  Dungeons are large, towns aren’t safe.  The game hands you nothing, but demands mastery of its systems to press on.  This is my favorite game I’ll never beat.  I love being in its world, witnessing the twisted architecture of a world already gone.  Its combat systems are extremely engaging, it laid the foundation upon which the modern Persona games are built. Although Nocturne’s is more obtuse and unforgiving than those games.  Unfortunately, the length and labyrinthine nature of dungeons makes exploring them a stressful experience.  That said, I love this game’s dark tone, themes, and soundtrack.

smt3

 

Gitaroo Man

Gitaroo Man is rhythm as fighting game.  You and your opponent will engage in a musical duel, in a call and response fashion.  On your turns, you play guitar to damage the opponent, utilizing a unique system where you must move your cursor along a snaking path, and press or hold a button at designated points.  On opponents turns you will dodge their attacks by timing specific button presses to the music. While fun the gameplay is a little simple, but its enhanced greatly by cartoon visuals, a silly storyline, and very very catchy tunes.

gitaroo man

 

Steambot Chronicles

One of the more unique games on the PS2, I can’t think of too many games like this one.  It’s an open-world action adventure game where you pilot a customizable giant mech, called a trotmobile. In your trotmobile you can explore the countryside and towns, engage in battles, hold music concerts, as well as many more things.  What makes this game stand out most to me was its very deliberate laid-back tone.  Although you may have to deal with things like bandits, no situation is ever too dire.  In this way, it reminds me of Stardew Valley, so if you enjoyed that games tone, check this one out.

steambot

 

Culdcept

Magic the Gathering + Monopoly. You roll dice to move around a board, but instead of buying space, you put a monster card there.  Where it gets interesting is when a player lands on a space controlled by an opponent.  Instead of just paying out the fee, you can choose to battle their monsters.  The great thing about Culdcept’s battle system is before the combat resolves each player has an opportunity to secretly select a battle card to improve their monster’s stats, adding a fantastic moment of tension as they are revealed.  While maybe not as fun as regular MTG, it’s a vast improvement on Monopoly in my opinion.  Pretty cool in single player, but I’d imagine is a blast with 4.

culdcept

 

These games can be hard to acquire in their original PS2 forms, but there are some options:

  • God Hand & SMT Nocturne are both available as downloadable title for PS3
  • Gitarooman had a remake for PSP called Gitarooman Lives
  • Culdcept has sequels on Xbox 360 and 3DS.
  • No other ways to get Steambot Chronicles 😦

5 thoughts on “Five Hidden Gems for the PlayStation 2”

  1. Gitaroo Man isn’t a hidden gem. IT’S THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF GAMING! That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s the game I adored the most from that era. The music, the art style, the references, the BONKERS characters. Everything that shouldn’t have worked together somehow made something I genuinely loved and always wanted a sequel to. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, I imported the soundtrack.

    If I had to throw something else into this list, I might suggest Ring of Red as being something a bit different.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. God Hand is very funny. I like the ending credits. Cudcept sounds like something I should enjoy, but I must admit that the recent 3DS was not to my liking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a cool post, thanks for sharing! I often think about how many great games there are out there across systems (especially for older systems that have largely fallen out of use) that never took off but are still worth a play. Just like novels, there are too many overlooked gems out there.
    Haha I really liked the way you described that last one. MtG and Monopoly. Sounds awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

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