I have to be honest here, I didn’t own a PlayStation 2 until late in the generation (I had a GameCube) and even then my library was really small. As such this list is more about games that were important to me personally rather than an all-time best list.
Inuyasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask
I’ll admit flat out, this one is reaching a bit, but it’s a game that as I tried to put this list together kept popping into my head. I was never really a fan of the show itself, but I knew enough because of some friends so I decided to give it a shot.
The game stars an original character by the last name of Kururugi whose first name changes depending on if you choose to play as a male or female protagonist. This does lead to some subtle changes throughout the game’s storyline (mainly in how characters interact with you), however for the most part the overall plot remains the same.
You’re character ends up in the past and needs to find a way home. Along the way you end up meeting and assisting the main characters from the series who decide to help you in your quest, especially as it seems series antagonist Naraku is involved somehow. However it’s here where the game really sticks in my mind.
The interaction with the characters is really good. It feels like you’re actually getting to know these people and befriend them. This is helped out by the game taking some cues from Dating Sims and allowing you to befriend one particular party member by spending time with them. In my case I chose Sango because giant boomerangs are awesome, though because I was playing as a female main character it was more of a deep friendship than anything romantic. Guess I’ll have to look elsewhere for my Yuri.
Still give it a shot if you’re a fan of the series, it’s not an amazing game, but worth a playthrough I think.
Mega Man X8
I actually really like this game, it’s not perfect by any means; however it was a massive step in the right direction after Mega Man X7, the only game to actually give me a migraine. Personally I’d put this game right up there with Mega Man X3 I enjoy it so much.
As for why, well I think a lot of that can be attributed to a return to basics. Mega Man X8 didn’t do anything superbly, but it did things well. The things I didn’t like were the ride chaser sections, but those were tolerable. The music was awesome, which is a staple of the franchise, and it served to wrap up the story with Sigma and Vile.
Also who didn’t love being able to play as the lovely ladies of the Maverick Hunters?
Yes you read that right, that’s the first Kingdom Hearts and not the second. Honestly though either game could fit here, however weirdly I like the first game more than the second. I’m usually a plot and character over gameplay kind of guy, but in this case the first Kingdom Hearts gameplay just wins me over between the two. Also add on the fact it was one of the first games I bought when I finally got my hands on a PS2.
Disney crossed with Final Fantasy and led by a protagonist who swings around giant keys? It’s was just crazy enough to work.
Super Robot Wars Z
The first import game I ever bought. I’ve always loved the Super Robot Wars franchise, and it’s a shame, if understandable, as to why it’s never come out here. Save for the Original Generations series, which hasn’t seen a western released since Super Robot Taisen OG Saga Endless Frontier in… 2009.
If you’re not familiar with the series it’s basically another of Namco Bandai’s staples in Japan, having run for almost 24 years. It takes giant mecha from many different franchises, most notably Gundam, Getter Robo, and the Mazinger Z franchises, and throws them into a Strategy RPG that I feel can go toe to toe with Fire Emblem any day of the week mechanics wise. Story wise… I don’t know that much Japanese yet. Even with that limitation I had a blast with this and I’m hopeful one day this amazing series will get its chance to shine here in the west.
Besides one of the main mechs is a lion that carries a giant wrench and uses spanner nunchucks. How can this not be awesome?!
Sakura Wars: So Long My Love
I’ll just come right out and say it, I love this game. I love everything about it, its story, the characters, the music, heck even the English dub, which is a point of contention among many fans. There was so much thought and polish put into it, and the localization done by NIS America, that I’m always surprised that people don’t know of this little gem.
For those of you who don’t know the story of Sakura Wars, I encourage you to take a look at the Sakura Wars Series Overview in our Campaign Hub, and in particular the article relating to this very game. The simple version is that in order to combat evil in the world young women with special spiritual abilities are trained to pilot mecha and fight. Their cover is to work in play houses, and through the power of song and dance, try quell the darkness that plagues the city. However they always seem to be led by that one guy who can somehow utilize the same spiritual energy that only the girls are supposed to be have. Funny how that works, almost as if the writers wanted to make him the main love interest for all the girls.
Convenient plot tropes aside, one of the reasons this game works so well is because it is a game. One of the largest criticisms of Visual Novels tends to be the lack of interactive elements. However much like Resident Evil 4 which came out the same year (In Japan at least, we had to wait till 2010 for this game in the west), the game utilizes quick time events to keep you on your toes as well as serves to break up the novel sections; and I haven’t even touched upon the actual gameplay during fights where the game switches to a Strategy RPG.
What I will say on that matter is that while the battles are the weakest aspect of the game, they are by no means bad. Also members of this team would go on to make Valkyria Chronicles. Small world isn’t it?
With all that said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little list. Please let me know what you think and let me know if you’ve played any of these. Thanks for reading, and I leave you with these words.
“We are the brilliant warriors of Earth.
We can overcome any hardship.
We shall be the guardians who defeat evil.
Blessed be us, and advance!
We’re the New York Combat Revue!”
Sakura Wars: So Long My Love, Opening Theme ~ Warriors of the Earth
Want to check out what other contributors think? Click here for the rest of the lists.