Although it has been 20 years since the release, PlayStation 2 is still considered as a stepping stone in RPG development. Popular franchise such as Kingdom Hearts series started its debute on PlayStation 2, and still lives until present day. As a website that provides reviews for anything watchable, Metacritic has made polling about it. So, here are the top 7 PlayStation 2 JRPG according to Metacritic.
7. Shadow Hearts: Covenant (Score: 85)
Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a RPG developed by Nautilus (Sacnoth) and published by Aruze for PlayStation 2 in Japan in 2004. The game was released internationally by Midway Games in 2004 (North America) and 2005 (Europe). This game the sequel of Shadow Hearts game and the second entry in the Shadow Hearts series.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant takes place in 1915, six months after the event of the first game. At the height of World War I, German Army lieutenant Karin Koenig is drawn into a conflict between original protagonist Yuri Hyuga and the secret society Sapientes Gladio. During gameplay, the player explores various locations through a growing party of characters.
6. Dark Cloud 2 (Score: 87)
Dark Cloud 2 or also known as Dark Chronicle is an action RPG developed by Level-5 and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 2. The game was released in Japan in 2002, in North America in 2003, and in Europe also in 2003. In January 2016, an emulated version of the game was made available for the PlayStation 4 through the PlayStation Network.
Players control two main protagonists, Max and Monica, who must work together to stop the main antagonist, Emperor Griffon from destroying the world. The game features themes of time traveling, with Max and Monica trying to prevent Griffon’s destruction by altering the past to change the future. As a sequel to Dark Cloud (2000), Dark Cloud 2 shares the same game mechanics.
5. Kingdom Hearts II (Score: 87)
Kingdom Hearts II is the sequel of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories which was released in 2005. Kingdom Hearts II is still developed and published by Square Enix. It is the third game in the series and the fifth game in the timeline. Also released for PlayStation 2, this game still focuses on Sora and his friends continued the battle against Darkness.
Kingdom Hearts II offers a number of improvements over the previous game with many new features, most notably Sora’s Drive Form function, and improved camera, and in-battle options called Reaction Command. The popular theme song of the game is “Sanctuary”, performed by the famous Japanese female singer Utada Hikaru.
4. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Score: 89)
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was originally made for PlayStation 2, and ported to 3DS with the same title. The Android and iOS version of the game was released in 2013 in Japan and worldwide in 2014. The trademark of this game is its artwork made by Akira Toriyama (known as the creator of Dragon Ball), and the cell-shading textures that was popular in PlayStation 2 before.
In this game, we will play as the silent hero (players can create a name for him) who is a royal guard of Trodain. One day, the villain boss Dhoulmagus cast a spell on the castle and turn everyone into animals and plants. It is the job of the hero and his companions to bring peace back to the world.
3. Persona 4 (Score: 90)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is the fifth game of the Persona series which was released in multiplatform: PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. The successful initial release for PlayStation 2 has made Atlus decided to bring the game into next-generation consoles. The enchanced port of Persona 4 titled Persona 4 Golden was released for PlayStation Vita/PS TV in 2012 following its success.
The story follows a group of high school students dealing with a mysterious TV channel which distorted the truth of who they are and their identities. A string of bizarre murders related to the TV channel begins to disturb their peaceful town. Together, they explore the mysterious world inside the TV and rescuing other victims from death. The answer of who was the serial killer lies inside the TV.
2. Final Fantasy XII (Score: 92)
Final Fantasy XII is a fantasy JRPG developed and published by Squaresoft for PlayStation 2 in 2006. This game is a part of Final Fantasy series with some changes in gameplay: an open world, a seamless battle system, a controllable camera, and many more. In normal gameplay, this game requires about 65 hours of gameplay, excluded the optional contents that spends about 40 hours of play duration.
The game takes place in the fictional world of Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozzaria are waging an endless war. Ashe, princess of Dalmasca which caught between the warring nations meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of becoming a sky pirate in command of an airship. By creating a resistance movement, Ashe and the party rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire.
1. Final Fantasy X (Score: 92)
Final Fantasy X would be one of the best PlayStation 2 games that have ever been played by any RPG lover. The popularity of the game made by Square Enix proved to be on top of mind of every player at that time. Final Fantasy X was originally released in 2001 for PlayStation 2, and later released in PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita with better graphics.
The story follows Tidus, the main protagonist and a famous Blitzball (a kind of sport played inside a sphere of water) player from Zanarkand and the son of Jecht. His adventure begins when his hometown attacked by an enormous monster called Sin. He traveled along with Yuna, a summoner who is trying to put an end to Sin.
Two decades and those games are still gold. Even if you play them now, you will not be disappointed with the plot and mechanics. If you are talking about graphics for sure recent games outmatched them, but not in terms of storyline. My favorites would be Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the turn-based RPG and Kingdom Hearts II for the action RPG.
Which one is your favorite PlayStation 2 JRPG? Do you agree with the ratings? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.