Few video game consoles, dating back to the days of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, have had as heavy or as lasting an impact as Sony’s PlayStation 2, which arrived in North America in October 2000 to massive hype, massive demand, and one of the most massively awful launch lineups in the history of the medium. Sure, the PS2 would eventually play host to some of the greatest games of all time—many of them arriving as soon as the middle of the following year. But for anyone who actually managed to brave the hordes and secure a PS2 on its Y2K launch day, the pickings were shockingly slim, split between half-assed racing games, cheapo sports titles, and a truly bizarre selection of Japanese role-playing games and other oddities.
Discounting ports of games from the arcades or other consoles—including the latest entry in the venerable, system-shifting Madden franchise—the PlayStation 2 offered up 22 titles to the perplexed U.S. consumer, any one of which was almost guaranteed to disappoint someone looking to justify their $299 purchase. In the interest of exploring that same sense of “Wait, why was I so excited for this?” confusion, we here at The A.V. Club have gone back and offered up a frank assessment of all 22 games of this exclusive day-one lineup, from the all right, to the awful, to the “Why are they charging me $50 for this lousy fireworks simulator?” And, in the interest of us thinking it’d be funny, we’ve also assigned each game a rating, ranging from zero PlayStations (bad) to two PlayStations, the most PlayStations it was possible to have at the time.
(A note on selection: We’ve tried to limit these reviews only to games that were available on, and only on, the U.S. PlayStation 2 in the last week of October 2000, when the console launched. Release records from this era can be a little spotty, so we can only hope you’ll extend us the same compassion that the gaming public extended to the creators of Surfing H3O.)