On March 4, 2000, Sony unleashed the successor to their wildly successful PlayStation on an unsuspecting world. Ten years later I've still got PlayStation 2 games on preorder. And to think I didn't even care until 2002.
In 1999, I was still new to the internet video game press business, but that was okay, as it was still new to itself. I hooked up with an outfit called Videogamers.com (now very, very defunct) the year before, mainly because I lived in Atlanta, home of E3 1998.
A year later, E3 returned to its Los Angeles home, and rather than have the show covered by the members of our staff that lived in L.A., me and a sixteen-year-old named Joshua flew across the country on our own dime to cover the show. Perhaps I, at the age of 26, was there to represent the more mature face of Videogamers.com, a site where I was the only writer old enough to legally drink. At one point my editor-in-chief showed up at our hotel, and I had to run down the street to buy him beer. Good times.
While Sony announced the next PlayStation months before E3 1999, they didn't bring much to the show, outside of upcoming releases for the original PlayStation. There was an impressive demonstration of the console's new Emotion Engine chip, recreating the ball scene from Final Fantasy VIII.
The company also had Gran Turismo 2000, the game that would become Gran Turismo 3: A-spec, playable on the show floor, but it wasn't running on anything resembling a PlayStation 2. If I recall correctly, and it's been quite a while, they had Plexiglas cubes with the console's guts inside of them. Cubes that would, on occasion, overheat. The game looked astounding, but Gran Turismo was never a franchise that got my motor running.
Sony had big plans, but it wasn't Sony's year. It was Sega's. It was the Dreamcast's year. It was the year Soul Calibur was all over the show floor, with arcade cabinets on hand to demonstrate how much better the console version looked. Sega announced a release date of 9/9/99, and a price of $199, much less than the debut price of its predecessor, the Sega Saturn.
I fell in love with the Dreamcast. Hell, everyone there fell in love with the Dreamcast.
By the time Sony released the PlayStation 2 in Japan, ten years ago today, I was content to sit in my living room, clunky-yet-comfortable Dreamcast controller in hand, listening to the reassuring and extremely loud whir of that console's GD-ROM drive.
That's not to say I didn't feel a strong desire to possess a PS2.
As the console's October 2000 release in North America approached, I began to experience the feeling of my stomach twisting in knots that I've since come to associate with the possibility of not having the latest gaming technology the moment it hit store shelves. I was reading everything I could about the console, poring over screenshots and what passed for internet video in 2000. Commercials like these did not help.
It got so bad that come October I was desperate to own Sony's lovely new black and blue console. Unfortunately Sony had other plans.
Sony launched the PlayStation 2 in North America on October 26, 2000. No, let me correct that. Sony released approximately a dozen PlayStation 2 consoles in North America on October 26, 2000. Or so it felt. Parts shortages kept Sony from bringing sufficient numbers to the market to meet demand, and those that did show up at retail were grabbed by rotten bastards and sold on eBay for over a thousand dollars a pop.
The console's solid launch line-up didn't help my cravings. As a fighting game fan, the lure of Tekken Tag Tournament, Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore, and Street Fighter EX3 had me shivering with (mostly unfounded) excitement. Rockstar had Midnight Club and Smuggler's Run. Namco brought Ridge Racer V. EA was there with SSX, which was probably the best game out of the bunch (we miss you SSX!). Unreal Tournament and Timesplitters scratched the first-person shooter itch. KOEI released Kessen, for some odd reason. There were even four role-playing games released during the console's launch window, though none of them was Final Fantasy, so no one particularly cared.
And that really was my saving grace. There was no PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy title at launch. If there had been, I would have robbed a church, or sold my nephew on the black market, just to fund an eBay purchase. I suppose I have Square Enix to thank for not writing this article from prison.
Between some amazing Dreamcast games and the November release of Final Fantasy IX for the original PlayStation, I managed to curb my impulses.
In December of 2000, I re-discovered EverQuest, which didn't go so well for me.