When thinking of video consoles, it’s hard not to mention the PlayStation 2, the best selling console of all time. After its release, the PS2 quickly became one of the most played consoles and still is, featuring some of the best games ever made in video game history.
Of course, the amazing, well-known games that made the PS2 so awesome are still being remade in today’s gaming world, with titles such as Final Fantasy X, Persona 4, Kingdom Hearts and Tales Of the Abyss all seeing series refreshes of some sort. However, since the PlayStation 2 was so well-known, it had a large library of memorable yet underrated games, and those games should be re-recognized to this day.
The PS2 contains some of the best games ever made, and many of them have become forgotten treasures. Although the critically acclaimed titles are often talked about, there are several underrated games that are well worth playing and should never be forgotten. From dark RPG comedies to funky space moves and a devil summoning detective, there are several games that are definitely worth playing in our world of next-gen consoles.
So without further ado, are 10 underappreciated and underrated PS2 games you probably never played:
1. Shadow Hearts series
Shadow Hearts (2001)
Shadow Hearts Covenant (2004)
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (2006)
Shadow Hearts is easily one of the most overlooked JRPG series of all time, and it shouldn’t be. Combining dark humor with fun turn based gameplay, Shadow Hearts isn’t the typical JRPG experience. The first and second games follow Yuri, a rude and hilarious protagonist who has the power to fuse into demons and gain supernatural powers. Combat involves choosing moves and hitting rings for accuracy. Encounters are random, but are in no way unmanageable. Perhaps one of the best things about these games are the casts of unique characters, the weird sense of humor, and the crazy storyline. Many of the events follow before and during the World Wars, and often have references or major figures from each involved in the plot. Amidst the comedic moments are also serious ones, as well as an amazing romance between Alice and Yuri. The third game follows a completely different protagonist and storyline, but is still worth playing. Shadow Hearts really is a masterpiece in disguise, and hopefully, it will receive a re-release or reboot one day, despite the studio closing down.
2. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Release date: 2004
Part of the main Shin Megami Tensei series, Nocturne is the third installment of the core titles, and is often overlooked — especially the localized version. In Japan, the Shin Megami Tensei series is a hit, but did not have as much as a success as the United States, besides its spin-off series, Persona. However, just because it wasn’t the most successful game in the west doesn’t mean that Nocturne was a bad game. In fact, Nocturne is amazing. The SMT series plots all seem to revolve around contracting demons and saving the world from being destroyed by an opposing force. Players must navigate various dungeons while contracting demons in order to form a powerful party. SMT games have endings that side with Chaos, Neutral, and Law. Nocturne heavily emphasizes this, and morals are put into question. The protagonist, after visiting his teacher in a hospital, gets pulled into a world full of demons and becomes one himself. Using his new powers, he tries and gets to the bottom of why the world around him has been destroyed. If you end up playing this game, it isn’t an easy journey. This game is very hard. Another reason to play this game? It features Dante from Devil May Cry.
Release Date: 2001
For a game that won multiple awards, Ico did not get enough recognition. Ico is a puzzle platformer that revolves around a boy and a girl who meet after a chance encounter. The boy is discriminated against for having horns on his head, and finds himself locked away in a fortress, meeting a girl who is the daughter of the queen who is in danger. After they decide to escape, the boy and girl must go through a variety of puzzles, fighting monsters along the way. What’s interesting about this game is that it was completely unique for its time, featuring innovative gameplay and not too much dialogue to create a unique experience. Even when compared to today’s games, Ico is a gem waiting to be discovered by gamers.
4. The Xenosaga series
Episode 1 (2002)
Episode 2 (2005)
Episode 3 (2006)
Monolith Soft’s Xeno series contains some of the best games ever made, from Xenogears to Xenoblade Chronicles. However, the Xenosaga series for the PS2 is a masterpiece of its own, containing three games, or episodes, in the sci-fi RPG series. In Xenosaga, players are dropped into a world in which people live in space colonies across a galaxy, defending themselves against various threats.
An organization called the Galaxy Federation keeps control of the humans, and there are various conflicts that the amazing cast of characters must overcome. The lead character Shion Uzuki’s life is explored as well as the various cast members who have deep backstories. Xenosaga has quite a bit of text and dialogue, combining RPG gameplay and movie-like elements. It was a very innovative series that is by far still worth playing today.
5. Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit)
Release Date: 2005
When we think of episodic adventures, it’s easy to think of some of the biggest hits such as Life is Strange, Heavy Rain, and Telltale games. However, one of the earliest episodic games existed on the PlayStation 2, and it was called as Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit in some countries). This game is from the creators of Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls and was their first attempt at an interactive movie-like story, that would set an example for the years to come. The plot revolves around a string of murders that are linked to people being possessed at the time of the crime by supernatural entities.
Like Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy contains several QTE combat scenes as well as simple day to day actions controlled by analog sticks and the buttons on the controller. The players take control of many protagonists, have a mental health meter, and must go through multiple choices that affect the endings. The story for Indigo Prophecy is very intricate and well thought out, and it’s definitely a must-play for fans of episodic adventure games.
6. Space Channel 5
Release Date: 2000
Rhythm games are usually really great, and can be a niche title for any gamer. However, one of the best least-known
rhythm games is Space Channel 5. This video game revolves around the protagonist Ulala, who uses the power of dance to rescue others when threatened by enemies. In the setting, Ulala must use her dance moves while reporting the various news that goes on in her world. Players use buttons on the controller in order to complete the various songs, with a gameplay style similar to the Rhythm Heaven series. Released for the Dreamcast and Ps2, Space Channel 5 remains as one of the most unique rhythm games ever released for consoles, and that’s why we’ve included it on this list of underrated PS2 games.
7. Shadow of Destiny (Shadow of Memories)
Release Date: 2001
Stories with time travel always have a certain type of charm to them, exploring the ideas if time travel actually existed, and the problems when messing with time. Shadow of Destiny follows the protagonist Eike Kusch, as he continuously travels back in time to prevent his demise, which players must prevent each chapter. He goes through several eras, which is something not often explored in some of the more recent time travel adventures, making Shadow of Destiny stand out in terms of story.
Eike tries to find out through his traveling between eras the motive of his murderer, fighting against time in order to stop himself from dying. Rather than solely focusing on the theory of multiple worldlines, Shadow of Destiny focuses on traveling years in the past and the future, with a focus on dialogue and character interaction. The characters in this game are also unique, from the waitress Eike accidentally takes with him to an alchemist from the 1500’s. This game contains eight endings, each with a different outcome than the last. As a time travel story and interactive adventure, Shadow of Destiny holds up, and is worth playing for any fan of this genre.
8. Devil Summoner: The Raidou Kuzunoha Series
Raidou Kuzunoha and the Soulless Army (2006)
Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon (2008)
As stated before, Shin Megami Tensei games have their own form of unique storytelling, with different endings that revolve around Chaos, Neutrality, and Law. The game series is immensely popular in Japan and has somewhat of a presence in the west, with several underrated games that are definitely worth playing. The Raidou Kuzunoha series is one that was often overlooked and is one of the most memorable SMT spin-offs to date.
Players take on the role of Raidou Kuzunoha, a teenage detective who is the “devil summoner” of the famous Kuzunoha family, who can contain demons in a tube, solving cases along the way. The setting and gameplay set Raidou’s story apart from the other Shin Megami Tensei games, especially with the real-time action battle sequence that replaces turn-based battles that SMT is known for. Like all SMT games and spinoffs, Devil Summoner’s two Ps2 games are definitely worth playing and looking into, especially for fans of detective stories with Pokemon-like elements.
9. Taiko Drum Master
Release Date: 2004
If you have ever been to an arcade at an anime convention or at a bigger venue, it’s not unlikely that you have come across some form of Taiko Drum Master, a unique rhythm game that involves using sticks on a plastic drum. However, many people do not know that Taiko Drum Master actually had a home release for Ps2, with a plastic drum set included.
The drum gameplay is not like Rockband’s, as it only contains a single drum for players to either hit the middle or sides in order to achieve a higher score. The track list contains enjoyable hits and songs such as “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, as well as the Dragon Ball Z Theme. The style and gameplay of Taiko Drum Master are really fun, and if you regret selling your copy as I do now, the price is very reasonable for a new set. Taiko Drum Master is undoubtedly one of the most underrated PS2 games.
10. Beyond Good and Evil
Release Date: 2003
Probably one of the most underrated PS2 games is Beyond Good and Evil, an action-adventure game that released on the console in 2003. The game takes place in 2435, and revolves around the strong female protagonist Jade and her newfound photography job that leads to a discovery that she can never forget, and must stop before it’s too late.
Players must obtain evidence through many puzzles while completing other segments and mini-games. Beyond Good and Evil is very unique, combining futuristic elements with day-to-day objects we are familiar with. The method of storytelling is executed very well, keeping players interested until the end. Although this game has won multiple awards, it somehow was overlooked several times. Luckily, it still is available as a physical copy, as well as being on the PSN store. And, hopefully, we’ll get that Beyond Good and Evil 2, one of our most wanted video game sequels.
Comment your favorite underappreciated PS2 games below — we’d love to hear from our readers.