This is the second part of a four-part series that will look at how I became the nutball, Sony fanboy, obsessive gamer I am. As you read this, if you have similar thoughts or your own stories please add them to the comments, click here to read part 1 of this series.
Back to consoles…the SNES and Genesis days were great. My brother and I played the hell out of so many games like Breath of Fire 2, Star Fox, Shining Force 1 & 2, Chrono Trigger, ShadowRun, Final Fantasy 3 (6), Streets of Rage 2, and many more.
I was still a 'kid' and relied on presents or buying myself a game once a year…but that was about to change. Around 1993/1994 I had a job, disposable income and heard about the Sega 32X addon for the Genesis. This was the start of the next generation (so I thought) and I wanted it badly. Thankfully around that time I started a habit I still have to this day — research. I researched the hell out of the 32X and discovered it was crap. The technology was misleading, it was expensive, the games were barely an improvement, and there was little support for it.
That was around the time the immortal PlayStation term started to creep out into the industry. Sony, the makers of Walkman and Betamax, making a console? It will never work. I researched the hell out of it and found out that this was actually an incredibly powerful and well thought out console, that it could do 3D games like we have never seen before and that it would change the gaming world. I didn't buy it; it was too good to be true. The screens for Battle Arena Toshinden were too good to be true, and boy was it expensive.
I couldn't afford it at the time and there was nothing on it yet to interest me (except the nerd factor), besides there were tons of SNES and Genesis RPGs coming out that were keeping me busy. One game changed all of that for me, and that game was Final Fantasy 7. I may not have mentioned it enough, but I am a Square fanboy. I devoured every Square game I could get and back then Japan would have a game one to two years ahead of us, which killed me. I then found out that Square would not support the Nintendo 64 due to their insistence on cartridges (I was strongly considering an N64 for RPG reasons) and would support the PlayStation. They would be globally relaunching their Final Fantasy brand on Sony’s new console; hence the decision on whether to purchase the PlayStation was made for me.
I bought my PlayStation (one) in September 1997 with a shiny copy of Final Fantasy 7. I played this game like the world was ending, and so many moments still resonate with me. To this day the thought of Aeris sinking below the water or the sound of Sephiroth's theme music sends chills down my spine. For the next three years I bought, played, and traded dozens of games for that system. But that wasn't the height of my obsession, for it was the PlayStation 2 that brought me to new heights of gaming geekdom.
In June of 2000 I placed my pre-order for my PlayStation 2. I had no DVD player at the time and that functionality was a huge draw of the machine for me. Not only could I keep playing my unfinished PS1 games (with better load times and smoother textures) but I could play new PS2 games and watch DVDs! Sold!
On a cold morning of October 26, 2000 I woke up insanely early and got to EB Games at 6AM (3rd in line). I gleefully bought my PS2, a memory card, and three games, all for about 650 bucks. My wife (fiancé at the time) asked how much it cost, and in typical guy speak I said a few hundred dollars (this came back to bite me later).
I had taken the week off and went home and proceeded to geek out for days. I bought three launch games (Summoner, SSX and Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore) but only SSX and DOA 2 had a long life on my shelf. A few days later I bought The Matrix on DVD and saw why people were crazy about this newish format.
What can I say about the PS2 and how much I enjoyed playing on that system? Over the next five or so years my gaming encompassed so many different titles — games like Final Fantasy X and XII, Metal Gear Solid 2-3, Burnout 3, God of War 1-2, Tekken 5, Suikoden 3, Devil May Cry 1-3, Okami, the Prince of Persia series, and many, many more. I would safely say that between trading and buying I had dozens of PS2 games (over 100). I still have about 25 PS2 games in my collection today.
Many people have said that the PS2 was the greatest console of all time and I have to agree. It is still the most successful console in the history of the video game industry. Here we are eight years later and it still has some life. Even while the PS3 was ramped up and launched we had great games coming out for the PS2 like Yakuza 2, Persona 3 and 4, Odin Sphere, The Red Star, Rogue Galaxy, and many others. It was the perfect mix of hardware, amazing software, phenomenal 3rd party support and great marketing.
It was a great time to be a gamer, but all of life is in flux and things were about to change in both my life and gaming technology.
To be continued in Part 3 – The Gamer Evolves