This month, we’re seeing perhaps the last big, international game releases for the venerable console, though its not at the end of its life atleast here in India, and i’ll get to that a bit later.

25671a9a-d1ae-11dd-b05d-000b5dabf636.flvGrand Theft Auto is perhaps a good example here - the enormously controversial GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas were out on PS2 first. The Guitar Hero franchise had its roots here. Some of the great platform/action titles - Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, started out here. It was also the home of the Final Fantasy series - with the hugely succesful FF X and XII. There were also cult classics and experimental titles, like ICo, Shadow of the Colossus, Rez, Disgaea, Okami. Established franchises released landmark titles for the console - Resident Evil 4 was here. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3.

When first revealed, there was expected to be a close race between Microsoft’s original XBox, and and Nintendo’s Gamecube, but there was really no contest at all. 140 million units wordwide. Second place is the Nintendo DS with approximately 85 million units. Though both MS and Nintendo have got some degree of revenge with the Xbox 260 and Wii, both of which are more succesful than the PS3, no one will be, for a few years atleast, able to replicate the degree of success and influence that the PS2 did.

Now, perhaps the last big international title released for the PS2 is, rather fittingly, an role playing game. That game is Persona 4, or rather Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, which is the full title.

The Persona series of RPGs involve kind of balancing a normal life - in this game’s case, your life as a student in a high school, with standard RPG mechanics - which is exploring strange places, killing monsters, defeating the bad guys. And the game plays these two with each other very nicely. You go theough a normal day, attending classes, making friends, going for drama practice...and at night, you and your band of adventurers journey to diabloical dungeons defeating really strange monsters using the powers of your persona, which is like a manifestation of your personality. This itself is pretty neat, but the ace in the hole of the Persona series has always been it’s...well, weirdness. These are very surreal, often strange games with bizzare but intriguing storylines.

Here’s a sample: In Persona 4, there are rumors of something called ’The Midnight Channel’, which is a semi-mythical TV show that only shows up at midnight once every two weeks, when the TV is switched off. You then find out that you can actually enter said channel by umm..jumping into the TV. Once there, you meet a bear suit - not a person in a bear suit, just a teddy bear suit called Teddie, who gives you information.

And of course, this is the same Persona series which got into a bit of controversy last year. Persona 3, that game that immediately precedes 4, had the characters summoned their personas in battle by aiming a pistol shaped object called an Invoker, and shooting themselves on the forehead. Ofcourse, its not really a gun, and they’re not really shooting themselves...but it was quite rightly considered rather reckless of the game to involve imagery of teenagers aiming a gun-like thing at themselves in the backdrop of questions being raised about the school shootings in the US.

New lease of Life in India. Sony India country manager Atindriya Bose says that the ps2 is seeing robust sales 8-10 k sales a month, driven by titles like Bollywood Singstar, and a number of Indian game studios have cropped to develop games on this platform.

End with some of the games.

One is an action platformer called Hanuman, Boy Warrior, being developed by Aurora Tech of the Pyramid Saimira Group in Hyderabad. The second is a untitled collecteion of minigames based on indigenous sports - so far Kabbadi, Kho-Kho and Kite Flying have benn confirmed. This one is being developed by Gameshashtra. Also, and this is both a blessing and a curse, a set of Quiz software - both general and for entrance exams, engineering , medical, maybe even CAT, is under development for the PS2 by Candella Soft Bangalore. So, expect to get both work and play done on your Playstation 2 in the near future.

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