Saturday 28 March 2020

Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)

Sony PlayStation 2
Launched March 2000

Sony had been something of a late entrant into the games console, coming to market in the early 1990s in what was essentially a grudge match with Nintendo. Both companies had worked together in 1988 to make a CD-ROM add-on to the Nintendo Super NES console which fell apart spectacularly.

Sony became keen to demonstrate its expertise in consumer electronics, and this led to the original PlayStation console launched in 1994. The PlayStation was a successful fifth-generation console that beat Nintendo’s offering by a full year and a half.

Things move on of course, and in 2000 Sony announced the successor to the original PlayStation, imaginatively called the PlayStation 2 (or “PS2”). Based around a heavily customised MIPS RISC processor called the “Emotion Engine” combined with powerful graphics and audio processors, the PlayStation 2 was a massive leap forward from previous generations.

Bundled with an upgrade of the legendary DualShock controller, the PlayStation also had a wide variety of other peripherals that could be used for gameplay. One crucial feature it also came with was an integrated DVD player at a time when these were very uncommon and rather expensive.

Decent games took a little while to become available, but the PlayStation 2 maintained hardware compatibility with the original PlayStation (retconned as the “PS One”). After a few months the number of games started to increase, boosting the popularity of the PS2. The best-selling game on the platform was 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

It had its flaws – in particular online services on the PS2 were clunky and poorly though-out. But overall it was a well-executed packaging of hardware with a strong suite of software to go with it. Selling over 150 million units plus a staggering 1.5 billion games, the PS2 is – just about – the best-selling video console ever.

Later revisions of the PS2 were smaller and cheaper, but it continued to be popular even after the launch of the PlayStation 3 in 2006... in fact the last PS2 units shipped in January 2013 after being in production for more than 12 years.

The PS2 cemented Sony’s place in the console market, and it was largely responsible for the demise of Sega and a difficult period for Nintendo as well. Ultimately the only thing that really made a stand against Sony was Microsoft’s Xbox platform – between Sony and Microsoft eventually the entire old order of games consoles was swept aside.

Because of the large numbers of PS2s sold, there are quite a lot available for not very much money – usually including a collection of bundled games. There are plenty of buyers guides too if you fancy a bit of low-cost retro gaming.

Image credit: Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

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