Sony came out swinging into the console space with the PlayStation, released in 1994 for Japan and 1995 for the US. Their debut system beat the competition with its aggressive marketing campaign, competitive price tag, and stellar game lineup. Many of the most iconic game series got their start or became household names on the PS1 like Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil. The console also served as a quality CD player, signifying the company's wish for their gaming device to be for more than just video games.
Their sophomore effort was the PlayStation 2, released in 2000. The PS1's younger brother managed to outsell it and have a longer life. No one thought Sony could top themselves, but they did. The PS2 is often considered to be one of the greatest consoles of all time. The graphical jump between it and its predecessor was simply astonishing, allowing for developers to better realize their visions for games. The system was home to several iconic exclusives like Metal Gear Solid 2, Final Fantasy X, and Silent Hill 2 (though these all made their way to other consoles later).
Given the PS2's extreme popularity, there is a lot of information online about it. But what do you need to know about behind the scenes? Here are 10 secrets of the PS2's development.
10 Work On It Began In 1994
Consoles take a long time to make. We might think that a company would wait only a few years before planning to release a console to start development. This would ensure that it could use the latest in graphics technology. But the truth is that a lot much more hard work and effort goes into it.
You should know that work on the PS2 commenced almost immediately after the PS1's launch in Japan. The company had to think carefully about every aspect of a console's design, so it makes sense that they would take this long to make it.
9 It Was Going To Have Upgradable Firmware
One of the mostly unused features for the PS2 was upgradable firmware. The plan was to release discs for owners to upgrade without an internet connection. We say mostly unused because one firmware update disc released in Japan.
Because the PS2 didn't have a hard drive, the update was saved onto a memory card, and the system would lose the update if the memory card was removed.
8 The DVD Player
Sony always thought of ways that they could get nongamers to become interested in their consoles. The PS1 was a high quality, low-priced CD player. The PS2 was one of the cheapest DVD players at the time of release.
While DVD players could be between six hundred and a thousand dollars, the PS2 was two hundred ninety-nine dollars and could run DVDs as well as play games.
7 Backwards Compatibility
The PS2 launched with backwards compatibility for all PS1 games. A select few had bugs when running on the next gen console, but the majority of them ran fine.
While this may seem quaint, it was huge in the days before HD remasters. The PS2 already launched with a massive catalog of games because of its ability to play its older brother's software.
6 It Was Leaked To The Press In 1997
Consoles often start development in secret. Of course, this is because it wouldn't be very helpful if their competitors caught wind of features they were trying to implement. Still, no matter how hard they try, the press always finds something.
The media caught wind of the PS2's specs in 1997. Sony eventually revealed the PS2 to the public in 1999, just a year before its release.
5 Lofty Ambitions
The PS2 was originally going to have capabilities closer to the PS3. Ken Kutaragi wanted it to stream music and video from the internet. This obviously never came to fruition, except in Brazil where a disc was released which allowed for Netflix streaming.
It would have been interesting to see such goals met on the PS2, but gamers didn't have to wait too much longer to get streaming on a Sony console.
4 Metal Gear Solid 2
The PS2's launch lineup was solid with games like Timesplitters and Dynasty Warriors 2, but those didn't wow the same way Metal Gear Solid 2 did. The game's first reveal at E3 2000 floored audiences with its graphics and new level of environmental interactivity.
Everything presented in this game was clearly impossible on the PS1, and made the PS2 a must buy. The game eventually came out in 2001, which was a pivotal year in gaming as a whole.
3 The First Console To Stand Two Ways
Before the PS2, every console had one proper rest position. Sony's 2000 system allowed for it to be either laying down or standing vertically.
It may seem like a simple feature, but it helped differentiate the PS2 from everything that came before and was to come in the near future. The PS2 didn't feel like any normal console.
2 The Design
The PS2's design bears a striking resemblance to Atari's Falcon 030 Microbox. The Microbox was never released and was the last computer the company designed before focusing on consoles.
This theft didn't go totally uncredited, though, since the PS2's design document actually does it. It is funny though, considering the PS1 crushed the Atari Jaguar in the mid-1990s, stopping their rival's prospects at future consoles in its tracks.
1 The Blue Against Black
The PS2's color scheme is as iconic as its software. It looks cool, but it also has meaning behind it. Teiyu Goto, who designed the PS1 and PS3's look, chose black and blue to represent the earth and space.
The blue letters were the planet's blueness, and the black was the cosmos. The whole image reflects Earth in space's massive, empty vastness.