Jade Cocoon 2
Jade Cocoon 2 is a collaboration between Genki and Ubisoft, and sold about 100,000 copies worldwide. Taking place several years after the previous installment, the game was unfortunately overshadowed by other, more popular PS2 titles that were released around the same time at the tail end of 2001. Players and critics alike were mixed on reviews, but enjoyed the game for the overall gameplay and battle mechanics. Many have even referred to Jade Cocoon as “adult Pokémon.” While no one might have asked for it, it’s a game that fans loved and have enjoyed coming back to over the years.
This post was originally written by Katrina Convey.
Konami knocked it out of the park with Suikoden III with its 10/10 story and (almost) flawless gameplay. One of the things that sets this game apart from its predecessors is the character development, as most of them have actual purpose and aren’t there solely to take up memory or stand in your way. Packaged with multiple endings and plenty of side questing, Suikoden III’s replay value should be ranked as one of the highest for the era… and let’s not forget the graphics. Though one of the biggest complaints is the lag, the character designs and environments are something to be marveled at, especially in the PS2 era.
Bujingai: The Forsaken City
A collaboration between Taito and Red Entertainment, Bujingai: The Forsaken City was reviewed by critics as only mediocre, and many players thought about the same. However, there are some that would agree that this title deserves much more love than it gets all around. Visually, the game is stunning. Plot-wise, while critics found it lacking, the narrative actually puts an interesting twist on a post-apocalyptic world trope.
Fans of Japanese music culture were excited for J-Rock artist Gackt’s involvement with the game. The game’s protagonist, Lau Wong, bears a striking resemblance to the rock star, and Gackt even helped with promotional material.
Victorious Boxers: Ippo’s Road to Glory
Developed by New Corporation, Victorious Boxers: Ippo’s Road to Glory is an adaptation of the Japanese manga series Fighting Spirit. As you can gather from the game’s title, you follow the story of Ippo as you climb your way up the ranks in the boxing world. Most complaints were focused on the graphics more than anything, but both critics and players agreed that the game offered the best mechanics in a boxing game. It’s a shame that it was overlooked in the North American market in favor of games such as Knockout Kings or Ready 2 Rumble.
This action-packed, beat ‘em up RPG developed by Clover Studio is lewd, crude, and hilarious. While the gameplay itself is pretty standard per the genre, the overall mechanics make this game stand out from the rest with context-sensitive situations and a move set that ranges from formal martial artist to drunken-style, bare fist brawler. God Hand doesn’t take itself seriously, which is something that fans loved about the game upon its initial release in 2006. Critics, on the other hand, rated the game only a smidge above average, though they praised the game in later years as one of the PS2 titles everyone should play, but probably haven’t.
Vanillaware and Nippon Ichi joined forces to bring the world of GrimGrimoire to life, a real-time strategy game that follows a young magician as she, well… learns magic and stuff. Released in 2007, the game offers a surprisingly dark storyline riddled with secrets and a visually pleasing, colorful yet gothic aesthetic. Overall, GrimGrimoire was well received… to those who actually played it. With a mere 50,000 copies sold worldwide, the game’s greatness was vastly overshadowed by other, better selling titles. If enthralling storytelling laced with intrigue and vague Harry Potter references are your kind of thing, we suggest checking out his hidden little gem.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Shadow Hearts: Covenant takes various historical characters and events (such as Rasputin and Anastasia Romanov) and religious concepts and warps them into an oddly original, off the beaten path RPG. Although the game is in the middle of the trilogy, it’s easily considered to be the best of the three. It’s the first in the series to offer a fully voiced cast, and the voice acting is on point despite several points in the game where the lines don’t match the subtitles. The dungeons are long, and there is a myriad of items to collect, but the innovative judgment ring battle system is such a breath of fresh air that it makes crawling through long narrow hallways seem less daunting. The game features colorful cast of characters and an abundance of abilities to learn for each party member, and they’re surprisingly unique, though in a clichéd sort of way.
Wild Arms 3
What? You want another lengthy, turn-based RPG on the PS2? And set in the wild west? Perfect.
If you’re new to the Wild Arms series, don’t worry! You don’t really need to have played the first two to enjoy this game, which is nice, as it was the entry that turned many players into lifelong fans. Critics gave the game a mediocre rating due to high encounter rates and the search system implemented on the world map, but fans will sing their praises about the phenomenal story and fleshed out characters. Using magical arms (or guns), players control a party of four to, you guessed it, save the world.
Is it pretty standard? Yeah, it is, but there’s just enough unique capabilities and elements that make Wild Arms 3 one of the more underappreciated games on the PS2.
Rule of Rose
Punchline developed this survival horror game back in 2006 and was met with widespread controversy prior to its release. This was due to the heavy dealings in mental and psychological health in young girls that many critics condemned. As for the ones that were able to get past that, they had quite a few positive things to say about the orchestral sounding music, intriguing story, and haunting horror elements. Complaints about the game mostly surround there being only two major settings and a somewhat disjointed story arc. Overall though, Rule of Rose is a game that all fans of the genre should experience.
A Taito/Garakuta Studio creation, Graffiti Kingdom is an RPG of artistic proportions. Players have the ability to create characters by drawing individual body parts and labeling them accordingly. From there, you’re able to choose how the character will move as well as give them a voice for a one-of-a-kind gameplay experience. While critics gave the game overall average reviews, players loved the simple but fun battle mechanics, as well as the collectibles and replay value. The premise is childish in nature (it is a children’s game at its core, after all), but Graffiti Kingdom is a quirky, lovable PS2 title.