Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010
One surefire way to incite nerd rage is to ask what the best gaming console ever is. The only reasonable answer is Sony’s Playstation 2.

One surefire way to incite nerd rage is to ask what the best gaming console ever is. “Dreamcast!!”, the savvy gamers will say. “Super Nintendo, no doubt”, retro fans will argue. “Xbox 360”, the foolish young’uns will say.


However, the only reasonable answer is Sony’s Playstation 2.


I won’t recount the history of the console here.  For an in depth look For that, I’d point you to Mike Fahey’s “My Ten Years with the Playstation 2” (Kotaku, 4 March 2010).  Instead, suffice it to say that the system launched in 2000, ten years ago last week, and games are still being made for it. And it’ll probably still see new titles for one to three more years. Its library is unparalleled in terms of quality and depth, as it is home to scores of great RPGs, fighters, puzzle games, and every other genre that anyone could want. For me, it is impotant because it’s the console that turned me into a “hardcore gamer.”


The PS2’s father hooked me on gaming with a score of Final Fantasy titles and action games. But it was with the PS2 (and games like the Metal Gear series, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, and, of course, more Final Fantasy titles) that I began to take gaming more seriously. I’d say that the seeds of becoming a quasi-professional games writer were planted in me in its early days.


But this is less about my experiences with Sony’s console and more about why it’s the best console ever. And really, in terms of its competition, nothing comes close.


The amount of classic games on the system is astounding: two Metal Gear games (arguably the best two in the series), two God of War games, four Final Fantasy titles, even though many discount the underrated X-2, and two surreal Katamari games to name a few. It also facilitated the birth of the Guitar Hero series and included RPG standouts like two Persona games, a Dragon Quest, and two installments of Kingdom Hearts. Oh, and Grand Theft Auto’s best are there too. It’s unreal how many AAA titles the console boasted in its decade of existence.


If the parameters for “best console ever” are quality of titles, length of run, sales, graphics, or anything else, the PS2 wins without a doubt. I have to believe that any of the big three console makers look at the PS2 as the gold standard of success. Backwards compatibility? DVD player? Price points and multiple iterations over time? It really laid the blueprint for how modern consoles work today.


However, today my PS2 is probably also on it’s last legs. I tried to play Silent Hill 2 on it recently, and it struggled and wheezed like an old dog. In many ways, it’s fitting. Mine is a first generation system that is still chugging along . . . barely—much like the PS2 as a console itself. Will I get it replaced? Probably, as there are many games that I want to continue to play on it. And anytime you can get some money out of someone for a decade-old system, that’s success.


So happy birthday PS2. May you have a great farewell run.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Nov 20, 2008
A brief overview of the top winner of this year's Machinima Festival in New York.

Gamasutra has an excellent write-up and collection of links for the 2008 Machinima Festival. Winner of several prizes was ‘The Monad’ whose creator was interviewed at Popmatters in this feature. Since his work received extensive coverage in that piece, this post is instead going to focus on the other breakout video of the awards: Egils Mednis’s The Ship.


The video contains no dialogue and is 11:18 minutes long. A man and a small boy, fully clothed, trudge through a long icy valley. When they eventually stop after several long minutes of them walking, the pair collapses and sleeps on the ground. Before long, a dull roaring sound awakens the man and boy. The Ship finally reveals itself, an enormous black monolithic structure that encompasses the entire valley and slowly approaches at an equally mind numbing pace. The movie continues on with the agonizingly slow chase of the Ship while the pair, dragged down by their own physical exhaustion, eventually succumb to its inhuman, constant pace. I’ll leave the ending’s surprisingly poignant comment on what this elaborate metaphor represents for those willing to watch the entire video. It’s open to interpretation and yet…not as much as one would expect.


As with other Machinima, the film is remarkable on its own and yet still serves as a prime example of what a director can accomplish without financial inhibition. This is a small project that is visually depicting what would usually cost thousands in animation or live footage. Counting in that you would have to use CGI to create the ship and that the icy valley would be impossible to depict without computers, the video’s sad metaphor and plodding pace would probably not justify the expense of making this video under normal means. Where would you find someone willing to pay for it? Yet with Machinima, such art not only has a place, it is warmly welcomed. Having an artistic medium where a director can achieve whatever he imagines is only half the struggle, having a welcoming audience and means of distribution for that creativity is the other half. I like to think ‘The Ship’ would be praised at any film festival, but at Machinima 2008 the artist walked away with top honors and praise. You can watch it anytime online through the link.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.