Editorial: Five PS2 JRPGs I need to play, before it's too late

  • Posted January 10th, 2013 at 20:16 EDT by Kyle Prahl

Only time will tell if 2013 becomes the stage upon which the PlayStation 4 will make its long-awaited debut, but history tells us a bit about how the landscape of gaming will change if it does. One look at your online retailer of choice will tell just how rare and (generally) expensive your favorite original PlayStation games have become during the current generation, while a majority of PlayStation 2 titles are still rather easy to come by.

It's an undeniable trend. The last generation is "old", but the one before that? Classic. The market follows suit, which is why you can buy the original God of War for $19.99, but Mega Man Legends 2 will set you back $350. Admittedly, these disparities fluctuate - a new copy of Final Fantasy VII goes for $219 on Amazon, while a new copy of IX can be had for $15 - but there's a central idea to stay mindful of.

If there are PS2 games you've always wanted to play, but never got around to, you're running out of time.

I'm not saying that every one of your backlogged gems will become artifacts spoken of only in the darkest recesses of gaming-dom. The PlayStation 4 (Orbis?) won't automatically spell the end of every PS2 game you've ever wanted to play, but many will become harder to find and, as a result, markedly more expensive. There's never been a better (or, more urgent) time to go back and play what you missed, which is why I've set out to name the five last-gen JRPGs I most regret not playing; five games that I will acquire and finish post-haste, so my chance is not forever lost behind financial walls.

DARK CLOUD

Release date: May 29, 2001
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
ESRB: T for Teen

The PS2's first several months on the market were nothing if not peppered with titles that would go on to become legends. Among the likes of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Final Fantasy X were gems much easier to miss, including Dark Cloud, a 2001 Action-RPG and the debut effort of Japanese development studio Level-5.

During a time when gaming magazines were still the go-to publication, great press brought Dark Cloud into the PlayStation fan's consciousness. So too did knowledge of this game's existence rest within me, but not acting on instinct and seeking this title is a regrettable oversight. An innovative RPG even today, Dark Cloud places emphasis on dungeon-crawling for a variety of items that are used to rebuild the world after its pieces are scattered by a priest seeking to save it from the Dark Genie. The depth of weapon customization and development was unprecedented. In fact, weapon upgrades were EVERYTHING in Dark Cloud. Weapons leveled up as enemies were slain, and the ability to fuse two weapons to create a new, more powerful hybrid took Level-5's PS2 genesis to another level entirely.

Dark Cloud is becoming increasingly rare with each passing year, but its sequel is perhaps even more so. If you've any interest in experiencing a truly unique PS2 JRPG, it would be wise to act fast.

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA

Release date: April 5, 2005
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: M for Mature

If you only know Shin Megami Tensei for its remarkable offshoot series Persona, you're not alone. What started as a moniker for a new kind of demon-infused RPG gaming in 1992 has since become a worldwide media brand with games on a staggering number of platforms. Eight of these titles landed on the PlayStation 2 in North America, and amidst the company of Final Fantasy X, XII, and their ilk, it's easy to draw comparisons with one in particular.

Digital Devil Saga brought a fresh take to JRPGs with a minimal, anime, sci-fi aesthetic and a narrative that infused post-apocalyptic desperation with demon summoning. This formula, when combined with the trademark Press Turn battle system of other Megami Tensei games (including Persona), made for a classic adventure that's further distinguished as only part of the entire tale - Digital Devil Saga 2 directly continues the story, and is necessary for any gamer seeking the journey's true end.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I never got around to playing Digital Devil Saga, but I have little doubt that Shin Megami ... (continued on next page) ----

Kyle Prahl is a PSU senior editor and a Communications student at the University of Minnesota. If you care about PlayStation or the life of a pale Midwesterner, you should follow him on Twitter.
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