Art on the Playstation 2

I’m not a great console player. The last console I had was the original NES, and after that I’ve been a PC-player. Sure, I played the SNES, the Playstations, the Xbox and the less well known consoles at friends and stores, but the PC was simply it for me. It has more flexibility; I can tweak, mod, save, and the games are normally more open like MMO’s and the Civilization series.

Some time ago I bought a playstation 2. It was really quite cheap, so what the hey. I figured it would give me a chance to play through a catalog of classics, that until now had been unaccessible to me. The games to make my list of essential PS2 titles are classics, but also what I consider (or have considered) to be works of art. These requirements obviously make the list rather short.

I’ll write more of what I thought of the titles when I’ve played more. Now, let’s have a look.

Ico
The game: A boy, born with horns, scares his fellow villagers so much that they decide to lock him up in a castle and wait for him to die. There he breaks free from his imprisonment, and armed with nothing more than a stick and the naive courage of a child, he sets out the escape the castle. Soon he encounters the ghost of a girl, that becomes his protégé during the rest of the adventure.
Status: about 3.6 hours played.
Initial thoughts: A strange melancolic feeling set in from the moment I met the ghost, and her well-being became very important to me – not through words or standard story telling devices, but through animations, AI and game mechanics.
Ownership: I own it

Shadow of the Colossus
The game: Alone in a huge, desolate world, your sole goal is to fight 16 giants, “colossi”, to save a girl. Each colossus is unique, and works like a lethal puzzle that you have to climb and find a way to kill. Generally regarded as the highpoint of the Playstation 2 technically, containing graphical features that was thought to be impossible on the PS2 – but it is still more hailed for the atmosphere and the gameplay. Developed by the same developers that made Ico.
Status: Not played.
Initial thoughts: N/A
Ownership: I own it.

Katamari Damacy
The Game: You roll around a ball in different environments, collecting things that get stuck to your ball. The more stuff you collect, the bigger things will stick to your ever growing ball of… stuff. The goal is to collect a certain amount of things before the time runs out. Surrealistic and quirky, with lots and lots of strange humour.
Status: About 2 hours played.
Initial thoughts: I don’t understand why this is regarded as such a genious game. It is a fun idea for perhaps half an hour, but for me it gets old fast. It’s weird – mostly in a good way, but sometimes it feels like it is strange for the sake of being strange. The humour is funny though, most of the time. I won’t pick this up again.
Ownership: Borrowed copy.

Okami
The game: 3D, but seemingly an animated japanese watercolor illustration, this game is a an action adventure based on japanese myths. In the shape of a wolf, you play the role of a sun godess out to save the world from darkness. The gameplay is inspired by the Zelda series, carrying RPG elements like an explorable world, side quests and the ability to improve the abilities of your avatar. The player can paint brush strokes on a canvas to perform certain attacks, affect the environment or to create elemental effects.
Status: Not played
Initial thoughts: N/A
Ownership: I don’t have it.

Perhaps Psychonauts should be included on this list – I’ve been playing it a bit recently, and I was pleasantly surprised how fun, smart and well written it is. Got a tip on some other PS2 game worthy of being called both “classic” and “art”? Let me know in the comments.