If you had to decide who won the sixth-generation console war, it would be hard to argue against the PS2’s supremacy. This second iteration of the original PlayStation wasn’t only powerful but also accessible to both game developers and consumers. Not to mention totally backwards compatible!
This made the PS2 into the best-selling video game console of all time, counting over 3500 game releases under its belt (including Japanese exclusives).
And I think we’ve all played PS2 classics like Resident Evil 4, GTA, Final Fantasy X, and Tekken 5. But there are many masterpieces on this system that went mostly unnoticed.
I’ll try to cover the best among the obscure in this massive ranking, just to show some love for the wonderful games that are still criminally underrated.
60. The Suffering (2004)
Psychological horror is usually the realm of Survival Horror and other such genres, you know, the ones that lend themselves well to suspenseful nature.
So what would it look like if you injected more action into a game like that?
Well, I guess it’d look like The Suffering.
Developed by Surreal Software, The Suffering is a fast-paced horror experience where running is only a last resort.
With a bit of a Silent Hill feeling to it, and a morality system affecting how other characters treat you & the ending you get, The Suffering is one of the best horror offerings on the PS2.
59. Manhunt (2003)
Psychological horror comes in many forms.
And disturbing apparitions from your past happens to be one of them.
Rockstar Games’ Manhunt puts us in a situation where the most horrifying scenes are of our own making, as we’re forced to record a series of snuff films to earn our life and freedom back.
We’re mostly killing gangsters. So it’s not like they didn’t have it coming.
But the visceral nature of the murder scenes is a little bit too… real. It’s more than enough to disturb some audiences, and while plenty of gamers do know this title, I’d argue a whole lot never even touched it.
58. The Adventures of Cookie & Cream (2001)
Before making the “hard but fair” roguelike series Dark Souls, developer From Software created titles in a pretty eclectic genre range.
The Adventures of Cookie & Cream was their first game on the PS2, with a cutesy aesthetic quite unlike what they’re known for nowadays.
I’d recommend it especially for the co-op functionality, as the game was clearly designed with this in mind.
And cooperation often feels like a need here, rather than an extra feature.
57. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (2005)
If you’re big on JRPGs, you can’t miss out on Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana.
This was the very first game in the Atelier series localized for Western audiences.
Developed by Gust, this slow-paced RPG puts the same focus on crafting as it does on combat… which you’ll be engaging in primarily to get materials you’ll then use to craft items.
It has two sequels on the PS2, which aren’t quite as iconic, but remain pretty fun.
56. Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (2009)
Rather than the sequels to Atelier Iris, you could also check out Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, the second entry in its spin-off series.
While crafting through Alchemy remains a core feature of the game, a lot more emphasis is put on combat and the fantastic storyline.
The 2D sprites are charming, and it has one of the best soundtracks in this ranking.
You should probably play the prequel, also on the PS2, but it just can’t hold a candle to the polished sheen of Mana Khemia 2.
55. Extermination (2001)
We’ve all played the classics.
Resident Evil, Parasite Eve, Silent Hill… shouldn’t we give something else a chance?
Developed by Deep Space, Extermination came out early in the PS2’s lifespan to showcase the system’s power.
It looks great, the controls are tight, and the focus on running rather than fighting works wonderfully to create a tense survival horror experience.
54. Primal (2003)
Attractive femme fatale protagonists go hand in hand with the PS2.
And Sony’s first-party action-adventure game Primal is simultaneously among the best and the most underrated for this.
It follows Jennifer Tate, a 21 years-old killing machine with the power to turn into demons on a quest to find her kidnapped boyfriend.
The puzzles are pretty standard, but the combat is engaging, and the game has a very high production value. This is evident both in its graphics and the excellent soundtrack by electronic rock band 16-Volt.
53. Shadow of Memories (2001)
I’m a sucker for time-travel stories. And Konami’s Shadow of Destiny was one of the first chances I got to experience one in a video game.
In this mystery-adventure game, players guide protagonist Eike Kusch as he tries to stop his own murder by going back in time, changing the course of history, and trying to determine just who’s behind the crime.
Not only did the team behind Shadow of Memories nail the presentation, giving each timeline a distinct look and feel, but the trial-and-error gameplay is very addictive.
52. The Bouncer (2001)
Looking at this game’s cover, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it with a Final Fantasy title.
Indeed, it was made by Square in association with DreamFactory. But it’s pretty different from their most well-known franchise.
This beat-em-up/ARPG takes place in a dystopian future more similar to Cyberpunk 2077 than any Final Fantasy.
Besides being incredibly stylish, it also features a solid plot that’s more than enough to keep you interested for the entire playthrough.
51. Maximo vs. Army of Zin (2004)
If you liked the original Ghosts’ n’Goblins, you’re sure to love Capcom’s Maximo vs. Army of Zin, which features new characters and a new art style.
Yet it still retains the same challenging gameplay all the way through.
Be prepared to lose everything but your undies. A lot.
Its prequel, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, is just as good, but the sequel is just a more polished experience, which is why I’m giving it this spot on our ranking.
50. 10.000 Bullets (2005)
One of the most overlooked games ever to come out on the PS2 has to be 10.000 Bullets.
Although a lot of that obscurity comes from the fact that it was only released in English for European systems and never got a US release.
Developed by Blue Moon Studio, this action-heavy TPS looks like a classic Mafia game, until you realize the main character can manipulate time in battle. This allows him to pull off bullet-time acrobatics and special moves straight out of an anime.
The gameplay is not its best feature.
But rather it has to be its incredibly stylish design, and the jazzy soundtrack fits the action perfectly.
These are just the first 10 games on our list, stay tuned for the remaining 40 underrated and unknown games that are worth playing on the PS2!