The PS2 boasts one of the widest, most iconic libraries out of any console. With legendary titles like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, GTA San Andreas and so many more; it’s not hard to see why. However, with so many amazing groundbreaking titles and series, there are so many games that don’t get the recognition they deserve. The games that have a niche fanbase, a cult classic or are barely known by anybody. These are our Top 10 Most Underrated PS2 games. Some you’ll probably have heard of, or maybe they’ll be brand new to you and you’ll be awoken to a new hidden gem.
I think I know about 10 people who have actually heard of this game, let alone played it. Magic Pengel is a turn-based Pokémon-Esque RPG that has you create your own monsters; letting your imagination bring your favorite designs to life. You sketch out the different appendages, the body, head, etc and depending on how much magic ink was used, it would be given different stats. The combat system worked like a rock-paper-scissors system except with additional abilities and the ability to repeat any move you’ve used prior. This game really is one of a kind, and with a beautiful cel-shaded art style; it will stand as one of the most creative and unique RPGs to ever be created.
Dark Cloud 2
It is criminal at how underappreciated Dark Cloud 2 is. The sequel to the eventually critically acclaimed Dark Cloud, it improved on nearly every aspect its predecessor had. Developed by Level-5, the studio that brought you games such as Professor Layton, Dragon Quest VIII, and Yo-Kai Watch, this title was lauded by critics as revolutionary. A real-time combat RPG with building mechanics that shaped the world you resided in, this is the definition of a cult-classic. There is so much to do in this game, it’s even got the tried and true RPG favorite, fishing. How can you not love an RPG with real-time combat, a building mode called “georama” AND fishing? A beloved classic that should be beloved by so, so many more.
This game is absurd, and that’s why I love it so much. It’s so hard to put into words what exactly God Hand is, aside by a complicated rewarding action 3D Beat ‘Em Up. A game that was a commercial failure and has found its place as an underrated masterpiece because of it. The main character is Gene, who wields something called the God Hand. The power of God in your hands really can be felt if you master this needlessly complicated combat system. You have your base combos, punching, kicking and uh, spanking? Yeah, it’s that kind of game, but on top of that, you have combo modifiers and combo modifiers for those combo modifiers. You can customize your combat system to your heart’s content and you still haven’t even scratched the surface and because of that, this game is brutal. This game is not for the faint of heart, and that’s one of the many reasons it’s scared the casual consumer away. A game specifically for skilled gamers, if you’re an elite at beat ’em ups and love the wacky presentation, you’ll love this one.
Destroy All Humans!
Have you ever wanted to play as an alien, abducting cows and vaporizing humans? Destroy All Humans has that, and so much more. You play as Crypto, a foul mouth raunchy relentless alien in search of human brain stems. His race, the Furon, needs these as they are the key to stopping them from cloning themselves into extinction. If the summary didn’t set the tone enough, the gameplay surely will. You fly around nuclear America completing missions given to you by Pox, the emperor of the Furon empire and mad scientist. You really can do just about anything you want, including destroying entire cities with your UFO, scanning the brains of cows and humans, and of course, zapping the daylights out of poor unsuspecting humans. I really don’t know how this game isn’t more popular, but it remains a cult classic among third-person shooters.
Now before I get into this wonderful gem of a game, please put this on as I describe to you the premise of this game. Ready? Okay, you play as the prince of the cosmos tasked by the king of the cosmos to recreate the stars and constellations as the king’s late-night drinking spree had him accidentally erase, just about everything. He sends you to earth and with your trusty giant spinning sticky ball of something, you roll around different environments collecting all kinds of objects, increasing the ball of mass. You eventually will be rolling up cars, buildings, airplanes, and even sea monsters. These giant clumps of… things become the new stars and planets! I really don’t have to say anything else, if you haven’t played this game you need to. It is one of my all-time favorite games to just, casually roll giant things up into a ball.
Before Shadow of the Colossus, Team Ico, and SCE Japan Studio made Ico. A platformer/puzzle-solving adventure combined with beautiful graphics and a majestic score to boot. The entire game is an escort mission, BUT WAIT, it’s a good escort mission? Yes, the AI of the princess you’re escorting can be annoying but for the most part, if you fail, it’s your fault. There isn’t really any combat, more like enemy encounters that you must outsmart or escape from. The environments look stunning even by today’s standards and the story is one that beloved by all who have played this game. It’s emotional, frustrating and beautiful when people say video games are art, this is one that will always come to mind.
Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is one of THE most underrated Platformer/Zelda/Metroidvania/Action RPGs ever. You play as Jade, a reporter who is on a mission to uncover the secrets of an alien war conspiracy. You have your melee weapons and attacks, stealth sections, puzzle-solving and areas of the map that can only be accessed after obtaining a specific item or NPC to help out. This is honestly a blessed amalgam of so many different genres and they all work so well together. You have so many options as well as how to progress in the game; sidequests, the main quest and optional areas all at your fingertips. An amazing experience from start to finish, if the gameplay doesn’t fully satisfy you, the story definitely will.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
When you think of platformers, what are the first ones to come to mind? Mario, Crash, or maybe.. Klonoa? One of the most criminally underrated platformers and overall videogames ever, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil is the sequel to the original PS1 platformer Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. There really isn’t anything like Klonoa, you play as a self-described “cabbit” with an interesting move set. You wield the “wind bullet”, a magical jewel at the end of Klonoa’s ring he carries. You blast enemies with it and they inflate where you can then carry them, placing them to traverse obstacles or just throw them around for fun. The ability to use the enemies along with everything else in the environment is really what makes Klonoa 2 so fun. The puzzles you have to solve and levels to traverse are almost entirely based around using your enemies as leverage. You also have these beautiful three-dimensional backgrounds with two-dimensional artwork and character design. This only adds to the variety of gameplay as you can go into the foreground and background in levels, and even some boss fights. The level design, the music, the gameplay, the story and everything else in between makes for an unforgettable experience. If you like platformers and haven’t played this yet, please, please do yourself a favor and experience the beauty firsthand.
Okami is art, plain and simple. The main gameplay mechanic is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and the paper art style is one of a kind. Based on Japanese mythology, you control Amaterasu, a goddess that assumes the form of a white wolf. Using your “celestial brush” you can do a plethora of things such as create different types of objects, use gusts of wind, make things grow and so much more all contributing to restoring life to the land the Demon, Arochi, has tainted. The gameplay is heavily inspired by Zelda with dungeons, an open world, sidequests, and incredible boss fights. The formula may not be brand new but the way it’s innovated in this game is breathtaking. It may not be the hardest game you’ll play, but the difficulty won’t really be an issue when you’re immersed in the beautiful environments, being whisked away by the soothing score all the while painting a world of wonder.
What is Psychonauts? On the surface, it’s a fun cartoonish 3D platformer; but it’s so much more than that. You play as Raz, a psychic-in-training at a summer camp for others like him. Training to be a “Psychonaut”, Raz must complete his training while interacting with all the different kids and counselors at the camp. It not only has a very unique art style with its character design, but the writing in this game is also quite exclusive. The deadpan writing mixed with the wacky world design makes for a dynamite combination. Of course, the gameplay isn’t just your typical run and jump adventure, it combines the elements of platforming with different telekinetic abilities you can use to traverse each environment. What are the environments you may ask? The main HUB world is a summer camp, but what makes up the bulk of the levels and worlds are, the inside of people’s minds! They’re called Mental Worlds and they can be just about anything, so lack of variety is never really an issue. The story is always engaging, with tons of twists and turns, and the characters are so unique and lovable, you’ll never get tired of all the banter between them all. The main progression is always at the forefront, but there are so many optional things to collect you’ll never run out of things to do. Psychonauts is an adventure unlike any other and will keep you interested well after the credits have rolled. This wonderful entry also has a sequel in development, slated to release in 2020. A cult classic, it’s a shame this game didn’t get the love it deserved, otherwise we wouldn’t have had to crowdfund the sequel.