The PlayStation 2 is really only rivaled by the Super Nintendo when it comes to the quality of its library. Both consoles are home to some of the greatest video games of all time. To this day, they still offer gamers the best bang for their buck, eclipsing virtually every single modern home console when it comes to both quality and quantity.
Of course, enough time has passed since the PS2’s time in the sun where most of its games have become obscured with time. What was once considered classics are now hidden gems and what were once hidden gems are now…forgotten. Fortunately, not every game has slipped through the cracks of time, and some are worth revisiting even today.
Updated October 26, 2022 by Ritwik Mitra: The PlayStation 2 is one of the most legendary consoles of all time. This system harbored some true gems that made the console such a household name, with its push towards more mature games paying off for Sony in the best way possible.
There were several great games released for this console, including some truly unappreciated gems that more people need to talk about. Here are some games for the PS2 that never get the recognition they deserved.
15/15 Berserk Millennium Empire Arc: Chapter Of The Holy Demon War
There’s a pretty solid reason why most people don’t know about this Berserk game — it was never released in the West! It’s a shame since Berserk Millennium Empire Arc: Chapter of the Holy Demon War had the potential to be a great game in its own right.
Serving as a sequel to Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage (which was released in the West), the game improved on its predecessor in many ways. It helped that the content covered in the game was stellar, and even the game’s filler villain plays a central role in the overall narrative of Guts.
14/15 Batman Begins
Batman Begins is the film that kickstarted the Nolan Batman trilogy in a definitive fashion. It also received a video game tie-in that is criminally underappreciated.
A lot of elements present in the Batman Arkham games are inspired by this title, which let Batman be a predator of the night before beating his foes senseless. It’s a great game that more fans need to check out, especially with a lack of any new games featuring the Dark Knight.
13/15 Shadow Hearts
Shadow Hearts is a JRPG with a pretty unique aesthetic. The gothic influence in this game is quite interesting, with a hint of H.P. Lovecraft making for one of the most unique horror JRPGs around.
It’s a shame that Shadow Hearts isn’t talked about more often, especially with its sequel being a marked improvement in every way. JRPG fans need to do themselves a solid and check this title out, especially if they’re seeking out an experience that isn’t generic in the slightest.
Xenosaga is the first game in a trilogy that didn’t really perform all that well on the console. Thankfully, Nintendo gave Tetsuya Takahashi another platform to shine with Xenoblade Chronicles, and shine he did.
That being said, there’s no denying that Xenosaga is also a pretty great title that fans need to check out. The early days of the PS2 saw its fair share of turn-based RPGs that were anything but generic, and Xenosaga fits within this mold too.
11/15 Odin Sphere
Odin Sphere is a side-scrolling action RPG that is another unique gem in its own right. The game lets players control five characters in an overlapping story that is a joy to play through.
Throughout the title, players will get to experiment with unique movesets and abilities that keep the gameplay fresh. The game received a remake in the form of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, which is the best way to experience this one-of-a-kind experience.
10/15 Red Dead Revolver
Poor Red Dead Revolver never stood a chance. The moment Red Dead Redemption was released, Revolver was all but immediately forgotten. This is to say nothing of the fact that Red Dead Revolver already wasn’t that well-known a game. Not helping matters was just how fundamentally different Revolver was.
Where Redemption was an epic, open-world romp, Revolver was an arcade-esque third-person shooter that emphasized the wackier elements of the Western genre. It’s exactly this distinction, however, that makes Revolver still worth playing today. It’s very much its own game and the few mechanical similarities it shares with its successors serve to really ground the Redemption sub-series.
9/15 Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. King Abaddon
The first Devil Summoner game on the PlayStation 2 has a great story and is pretty well written, but it isn’t much to write home about otherwise. Its sequel, Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, on the other hand, is easily one of the best action RPGs on the close.
With a great story to boot, Raidou’s second detective outing is better than the first. Using early 20th-century Japan as a setting is downright genius, and the fact that actual investigative work is narratively required allows the world to truly feel alive. The combat is great, there are plenty of demons to collect, and it has one of the best soundtracks on the PS2.
8/15 Makai Kingdom
By far NIS’ most overlooked and oft-forgotten game, Makai Kingdom was one of many Disgaea spin-offs NIS released on the PlayStation 2. Of note, it’s the only game in the series still locked to the PlayStation 2 outside of Japan. It saw a Japanese PSP re-release but said game never came Westward.
Gameplay-wise, it’s a bit more creative than Disgaea. The strategy elements are still very much present, but the movement is far more freeform. Like most games in the series, Makai Kingdom makes grinding addictive, and multiple endings plus an incredibly entertaining story keep playthroughs constantly engaging.
7/15 Breath Of Fire: Dragon Quarter
The black sheep of the Breath of Fire franchise, Dragon Quarter understandably put the series on a lengthy, almost unbreakable hiatus. It just wasn’t the right game to follow two of the best RPGs on the PS1. It was too different, too unique, and barely resembled a Breath of Fire game. All the elements that ultimately made it good.
For the same reason Dragon Quarter became a pariah in the eyes of fans, it excelled as one of the most creative games on the PS2, period. There’s nothing like it on the system either gameplay-wise or narrative. It’s mature, thoughtful, intense, and appropriately meditative.
6/15 Yakuza 2
While the first Yakuza’s English dub is anything but appropriate, the first two Yakuza games really are one of a kind. Well-told crime dramas with great beat ’em up action make up a great series and Yakuza 2 is still one of the better games in the franchise. Yakuza 2 is dripping in style from its soundtrack to its presentation.
While combat can feel stiff at times, action ultimately becomes rewarding once players master the controls. The story itself is the real driving force behind the game, presenting one of the most emotionally mature narratives on the PlayStation 2. It’s even better than its remake, Kiwami 2.
5/15 Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne
One of the hardest games on the PlayStation 2, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is challenging for all the right reasons. It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s never poorly designed. Players have so much variety in how they proceed with the game, from different demons as party members, to different builds entirely.
The story isn’t all too present, but the game’s atmosphere is unmatched. Nocturne’s world is downright oppressive at times. Of note, the game also features Dante from the Devil May Cryseries in a rather active capacity. Multiple endings stemming from multiple routes make Nocturne an immensely replayable RPG as well.
4/15 The Sword Of Etheria
Only released in Japan and in Europe, The Sword of Etheria is a Konami action RPG that aesthetically lifts a lot from Castlevania and The Wizard of Oz (of all things). The game is even titled Oz in Japan. It’s going to be hard to track down a copy, but it’s a game worth exerting some effort on.
Not only does it feature a great script, but it also has one of the best English localizations from its era. The combat isn’t too in-depth, but the gameplay loop is incredibly fun, the music is outstanding, and there are an insane amount of unlockables to hunt down.
3/15 God Hand
Despite infamously reviewing poorly by some big-name publications, God Hand is considered by many to be one of the greatest character action games of all time. Mechanically complex and rewarding with addictive gameplay, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to God Hand. It may not be Devil May Cry, but it’s not trying to be.
God Hand is also incredibly tongue-in-cheek, making fun of both video game and movie tropes. Its wacky stage design also pairs well with a genuinely great soundtrack. Higher difficulties just make the game more engaging, the already killer boss fights in particular.
2/15 Radiata Stories
Tri-Ace was never as big as it needed to be even at its biggest, but they always produced— if nothing else— very memorable and unique games. One of their signature PS2 action RPGs, Radiata Stories features life simulator elements, over 100 party members, and dozens of weapons to choose from.
There are also two routes branching off into distinct endings and both stories are frankly some of Tri-Ace’s best. Combat is a bit simplistic at its core and the difficulty curve isn’t much to write home about, but Radiata Stories also has a healthy post-game with a lot of great content.
1/15 Digital Devil Saga Duology
Technically two games, but essentially one game, Digital Devil Saga Volume 1 and Volume 2 are two of the best RPGs on the PlayStation 2 and two of the best game in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. They’re turn-based and use the series’ same battle system, but demons aren’t recruitable this time around.
Instead, players need to build their party members accordingly. Best of all, though, is the outstandingly written story. Both games culminate into one of the most thought-provoking video game narratives out there. Digital Devil Saga is amazing and both games deserve to be played back to back.