With the 8th generation of consoles arriving (the PS4 and Xbox ONE), many within the gaming community might find it intriguing to note that a lot of gamers are looking backward as well as forwards. Call it what you will, nostalgia or perhaps a need to exploit the incredible affordability of older games, but people are interested in older consoles like the much-lauded PS2.
The question of course is “why”? What is it exactly that makes an individual want to go back and delve into an outdated consoles back-catalog, anyway? Well, for starters, there’s a burgeoning class of gamers who consider themselves to be bona-fide “retro” specialists. Moreover, quite a few of these same people are also finding success in creating media for the internet (think: YouTube and Social Media). What better way is there to increase one’s total number of followers than to go back and do a “Let’s Play” series utilizing some of the biggest-selling and most well-known titles? Chances are you’ve already scanned a few of these types of videos yourself, perhaps in an effort to recapture some of that gaming magic from ages past, or to re-experience a campaign without having to dig out your old console.
Regardless, this is all beside the point; our focus here is on the PS2 itself and its accomplishments. For starters, let’s look at the history of the console as well as some of the more interesting facts surrounding it.
Sales and Appeal
Perhaps the most interesting factoid concerning Sony’s PlayStation 2 is its sales figures, which indicate that it is still the best-selling video game console of all-time (up to this point, anyway). Over 150 million units have been sold since the PS2 came onto the market in March of 2000 – an impressive feat in consumer electronics and marketing, to say the least. At the same time, over 3800 individual titles have also been created for the 6th generation console, which is truly mind-boggling if you think about it. In fact, you’ll find that it still has its own active fan base to this very day, as well as a few developers who are still pumping out the odd title for it here and there. (With “Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin” and “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014” being two of the more recent games to have been produced for it.)
Of all the games produced for the PS2, the total sales figures indicate that at least 1.5 billion copies have been sold! Needless to say, this isn’t even accounting for all the used game sales or trades that have taken place, had all of these figures been added up we would likely see that a good portion of the world’s population has probably played at least one PS2 game during their lifetime. In other words, it would seem that the PlayStation 2 is simply one of those consoles that found a way to reach unheard levels of appeal with regards to the tastes and expectations of the general (international) public.
Hardware and Specifics
The PS2 was one of the first consoles to incorporate the ability to play and utilize the DVD format, effectively turning it into a combination device suitable for playing games as well as movies. Without a doubt, this facility helped to propel it to even greater heights in terms of sales, with many people probably opting to buy one in lieu of purchasing a player that’s solely devoted to handling DVD’s.
Inside the console, you’ll find the following (from Wikipedia):
CPU: 128-bit “Emotion Engine” clocked at 294.912 MHz (299 MHz on newer versions), 10.5 million transistors
System memory: 32 MB Direct Rambus or RDRAM
Memory bus Bandwidth: 3.2 gigabytes per second
Main processor: MIPS R5900 CPU core, 64-bit, little endian (mipsel).
Graphics processing unit: “Graphics Synthesizer” clocked at 147.456 MHz
Pixel pipelines: 16
Video output resolution: variable from 256×224 to 1920×1080 pixels
4 MB Embedded DRAM video memory bandwidth at 48 gigabytes per second (main system 32 MB can be dedicated into VRAM for off-screen materials)
Texture buffer bandwidth: 9.6 GB/s
Frame buffer bandwidth: 38.4 GB/s
DRAM Bus width: 2560-bit (composed of three independent buses: 1024-bit write, 1024-bit read, 512-bit read/write)
Pixel configuration: RGB: Alpha:Z Buffer (24:8, 15:1 for RGB, 16, 24, or 32-bit Z buffer)
Needless to say, with the addition of this hardware (a significant upgrade from that of the PS1), a whole new world of graphical / processing capabilities opened up for developers to explore.
As far as connections go, the outside of the PlayStation 2 features an output slot which utilizes a cable that’s capable of connecting to a TV via RGB, VGA, Composite or even S-video. Additionally, there are even USB slots for connecting devices as well as a IEEE 1394 expansion port. Some titles require a hard drive to be installed (on the reverse side of the console).
Market Reactions and Retail Configurations
At the time of the PS2’s unveiling, its main competition was the Sega Dreamcast, a somewhat similar system. In a short amount of time it became clear that Sony had effectively trounced Sega and this led to increased popularity which resulted in short-term shortages of the console. In fact, some people were actually spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on online retailing sites for a PS2!
It should also be noted that the PlayStation 2’s design has also been altered a number of times. The first iteration, also known as the “fat” model, was eventually replaced by the “Slim”, which itself, also was revised later on.
To put it bluntly, the PS2 is a hell of a console – truly a first of its kind. If you take into account its incredible popularity as well as its prolific library, it’s not out of place to label it the most successful home video game system of all time. Of course we can never know what the future holds; perhaps it will be usurped by the PS4? Regardless, if you’re a gamer and are looking for something to occupy yourself with, you might want to consider picking up a PS2, they’re basically dirt cheap now and the games are literally everywhere.