10 Stellar PS2 Games That Deserve a Next-Gen Reboot
I’m not ashamed to declare my undying love for Sony’s PlayStation 2, one of the greatest consoles to ever exist. It built on everything good about the PS1, doubling down on hardware and software, resulting in a long-lasting piece of kit that played hundreds of must-have games. It also launched several franchises that continue to this day, such as this week’s God of War: Ragnarok. Still, there are plenty of other PS2 games that deserve modern reboots – here are 10 of our picks.
Cel-shading as a visual style came into its own in this console generation, and a little-seen example was Atlus’ SkyGunner, a dogfighting action game that was surprisingly deep and fun. As one of three playable characters, each with their own missions and aircraft, you are tasked with protecting an experimental engine housed aboard a massive floating museum. This one overflows with character and detail, and the gameplay is brilliantly tuned with plenty of combo and score attack potential for hardcore players. Developers PixelArts don’t seem to have made anything else, so who knows the IP status?
Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
Capcom’s Breath of Fire series was, for the most part, a competent but unspectacular batch of RPGs. However, the fifth game in the series was completely different – a stylish, gloomy, post-apocalyptic dungeon crawler with brutal and obtuse mechanics. As tunnel dweller Ryu, you must ascend to the planet’s surface in the company of a mysterious girl. A clever combat system that mixed turn-based strategy and real-time action, along with “D-Ratio” that unlocked new story opportunities on multiple turns throughout the game, made it a cult classic. It also had one of the best soundtracks of all time. Another Breath of Fire game was created in 2016, but it dumped everything cool about it and became a free-to-play, online action RPG with lots of microtransactions.
Devil May Cry was a huge influence in the PS2 era, and many studios took a chance on the stylish action genre. One of the weirdest was Konami’s Nanobreaker, produced by Castlevania mastermind Koji Igarashi. As cyborg Jake Warren, the “Genocide Hero”, you invade an island ravaged by nanomachine-mutated beasts, hacking and slashing with a transforming weapon that unleashes massive gout throughout the levels. But all that mud isn’t just for show – before games like Doom reboot, spilling juice restores your health. Throw in a plasma whip to whip enemies around and you have a super fun action game that would be great for the PS5 generation.
The PS2 had a number of deeply charming RPGs, but none quite as sweet as Steambot Chronicles. Released as “Bumpy Trot” in Japan, the game puts you in the shoes of a shipwrecked boy named Vanilla who finds a bipedal mech and takes it on a series of adventures. The surprisingly rich, non-linear story makes every minute a joy, especially with the pass of odd side quests and activities. Vanilla joins a band, learns to play multiple instruments and songs, battle other Steambots, and more. A sequel was planned but was canceled in 2011, and the franchise has been dormant for over a decade.
The intersection of gaming and creativity is a fun place to play, and one of the most curious entries was 2002’s Magic Pengel. Published by Taito with input from Studio Ghibli, the game plays much like Pokémon with one major exception: all the monsters are drawn by the player’s hand using in-game art tools. The varying sizes, shapes and colors of the parts determined their attacks and stats. Its follow-up, Graffiti Kingdom, expanded its creativity while transplanting the genre into more of a platform action thing.
One of the most infamous cult classics of all time, Capcom’s God Hand was a brutally hard fighter with a demented sense of humor from the brilliant mind of Shinji Mikami. As Gene, you stroll through a wild west full of monkeys, punks, dominatrixes and demons, using a massive, customizable martial arts moveset to kick their asses – sometimes literally. While the wacky humor was a big selling point, God Hand stands the test of time in how it embraced difficulty and challenged players, and in a post-Dark Souls world, the opportunity is ripe for a modern reboot that fixes the terrible graphics of the original.
Robot Alchemical Drive
Another unique robot pilot game, Enix’s RAD, had the unique twist of not having your protagonist ride around the massive mech, but rather control it with a remote control. That means to see the action, you have to climb to the top of a building and hope it doesn’t get smashed in the melee. The plot pays homage to the classic giant robot anime, with your high school hero or heroine battling an alien invasion while trying to keep property damage to a minimum. One of the coolest things about this game was how it really played with the sense of scale between the human-sized characters and the giant robots, and today’s technology can make that even more effective.
Recommended by our editors
Survival horror really came into its own in the PS2 generation, and one franchise that wowed gamers at the time was Sony’s Siren. The gimmick is that your characters can “sightjack” the Shibito zombies that prowl the levels, learning where they are and how they behave before going through them. It’s a uniquely tense experience that’s certainly frustrating at times, but once you figure out how the system works, it’s deeply compelling. The series saw a sequel and a remake on PS2, but there’s still so much potential there, especially since Sony owns the IP.
The PS2 was home to some unusual concepts, but few were as wacky as Mister Mosquito. Developed by Japanese studio ZOOM, the player cast as a blood-sucking insect that lives in the home of the Yamada family. In each level, you swipe around the massive human figures that suck blood from specific points on the body. It was a Japan-only sequel, but think what modern console power can do – imagine a bigger, open-world bug simulator with even more potential.
Blood will tell
Based on a manga series by the legendary Osamu Tezuka, Blood Will Tell is a curious little game that obviously draws inspiration from Devil May Cry, but delivers something quite different. As the swordsman Hyakkimaru, you must recover 48 body parts stolen from you by demonic devils. With a variety of prosthetic parts to compensate for what’s missing, you hack and slash your way through enemies and spirits. The original game was good, but it’s such a killer idea that taking another crack at it seems like a no-brainer.
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