Ruth's Diary


Happy Epiphany. Tomorrow all the street/exterior Christmas decorations are taken down. And today the guy living in the flat above me is choosing to make furniture. I assume. I keep hearing screws being dropped, heavy things being moved, drilling etc. It's very annoying.

But I didn't start this entry to complain about surrounding noises. This week, the announcement came that the production of the Playstation 2 will now officially cease. My reaction: why didn't that happen years ago? Mind you, the overwhelming reaction from gamers really was to reminisce on their favourite memories from the period. I have plenty myself: playing Metal Gear Solid 2 and realising that video games didn't have to be just time-wasters/light entertainment, and could be (and are) great story-telling mediums and works of art.

Playing Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale also made me realise just how bizarre the PS2 era was for me as a gamer. The simple explanation for me saying that is, I played on the first Playstation as a child, on the Playstation 2 as a teenager, the Playstation 3 I played on as an (legal) adult. So much like with all other forms of growing up, the PS2 era was really the point when my tendencies, preferences and characteristics as a gamer were starting to mould and take shape.

And now for the long explanation: ready?

Jak and Daxter is a video game franchise that, until a few years ago, I was completely unaware existed. I didn't even see what the characters looked like until promotional material for Battle Royale (I'm not typing out the full name anymore, it's too tedious) started floating around. Now playing with them in this game, as well as seeing which parts of their games featured, made me interested. So interested in fact, I read the games' stories on Wikipedia and I was awed. I really wanted to play the games to witness these great events myself. It's also a set of games that featured on the PS2 very early in its lifecycle. So I was aware of the existence of Rachet and Clank, as they appeared later, but not Jak and Daxter, despite their apparent (and proven) success.

And I'm wondering how it was possible they passed me by. And I'm also reminded of something else: I only played 3 platform games on the PS2 (Crash Bandicoot 5, Crash Twinsanity and Sonic Heroes). I remember specifically not being bothered enough to play Rachet and Clank (still ain't) but I would have loved Jak and Daxter, 2 and 3 especially. How ironic, as the games were developed by Naughty Dog, who either lost/sold the rights of the Crash Bandicoot licence, so I was stuck with the latter instead of playing the former. But again, I had never heard of them. I don't remember any TV spots, I don't remember any in-store advertising...

But then, I sort of know the answers to this. Sony, in general, is very bad at advertising itself, so most of the games that get TV promotion are 3rd party titles. Naughty Dog is a 1st party developer, so it's actually a miracle that the first Crash Bandicoot got TV advertising. As for in-store promotions, I remember that I rarely went out to buy PS2 games, and if I did, I didn't necessarily go to game shops; half the time I bought the games from HMV, Woolworths or even WHSmith (a bookshop). When I didn't go out to buy games I bought them off Amazon. I also didn't keep up with gaming news, I only really followed franchises I already cared about (hence why all the platform games I played on the PS2 were already pre-established). The last time either my brother or I bought a Playstation Magazine was before Metal Gear Solid 2 came out (see how much this impacted my life?) and he bought that issue specifically to get the demo disc for it. Also, there was this pathetic excuse of a video game review show that Sky1 aired that followed gaming news...but only to a point. The only upside was learning about a few pretty obscure titles, like Red Star. So when it came to choosing to buy games that I had never heard of, the titles were picked partly by walking into a shop and seeing what there is (what a casual gamer thing to do, oh and Nathan and I did this when buying Rumble Racing) or by doing the tried-and-tested route of trying out games on demo discs (that was how I discovered Gitaroo Man, a promo video for Rachet and Clank was on the same disc). (Thinking about it, Nathan must have bought more issues of these magazines later on, because how could we have accumulated the demo discs otherwise?)

So PS2, I salute you. I salute you for having so many games that completely passed me by (Shadow of the Colossus) at the time, but I also salute you for the massive range of games you have. Now if only the PS3 could have caught up on the variety thing before 2012.

Oh yeah, next Let's Play I watch will definitely be for Jak and Daxter.

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