Having wide interest in various retro computers and console platforms, I decided to add in my collection another great hardware of the past.
I already have two Nintendo Famiclones in the form of GSD 1988 console and Hamy PocketGame.
I also have Sega Mega Drive clone called Extreme Land 16 BIT Mega Drive 2. This time I wanted to go for something newer, that have games released more recently.
The original Sony PlayStation was very good console, that gave me countless hours of fun. I used to have both models of the PS1 - the original and then the smaller variant. Unfortunately, not much
games are produced after the year 2000 for the old Sony PlayStation, that was put away, when the PlayStation 2 appeared on the market. It is quite understandable, given the fact that PS2 have much better characteristics and plays most of the PS1 titles almost flawlessly.
After browsing the shops and checking the games availability, the options given and the fun factor of various consoles, I bought Sony PlayStation 2 SingStar box for 280 BGN. I also bought for the console 8 MB Memory card, additional DualShock 2 controller, the games
Metal Gear Solid 2, SEGA Classics Collection and Capcom Classics Collection Vol.1 that was at the price of 80 BGN. Later I also bought for use with the console USB Mouse, USB Keyboard, 4 GB Flash Drive and 4-way USB hub for the price of 35 BGN.
The console came in a single box with dimensions 32 X 28.5 X 14.2 cm.
On the front side of the box is picture of black PS2 console on white background and black DualShock 2 analog controller. On the background are also the signs for the four main buttons of the PlayStation controllers - Triangle, Circle, Cross and Square.
On the lower-left part of the front side is written in blue circle in German - Enthalt SingStar DEMO mit 5 Songs & Mikros, meaning that the box contains demo of the game SingStar with 5 Songs and microphones.
On the lower-right part of the front side of the box is a picture of the package contents and the color of the console - CHARCOAL BLACK.
On the back of the box at the left is a short description of the demo of SingStar with screenshots and the songs in German. On
the right in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch, text says: PlayStation2: your complete entertainment experience. Experiencing is believing - with its slimline design and a games catalogue of over 3300 compatible titles, there's something for everyone on PlayStation2. Enhance your gaming experience - be the star of the game on your own TV with an interactive EyeToy USB Camera, become a pop idol with a SingStar Microphone or direct multiplayer missions with a USB Headset (For PlayStation2) - all using the built-in USB connectors.
Immerse yourself in DVD home entertainment - enjoy the latest DVD video releases with exclusive special features as well as your personally recorded DVDs. Discover living, breathing online worlds - thanks to the built-in network connector, thousands of gamers are waiting to welcome you to an ever-growing online community.
The EyeToy USB Camera and the USB Headset (for PlayStation2) are sold separately and Broadband internet connection is required for network entertainment as outlined by the text under the introduction.
In the specifications text under the introduction is written: Specifications: This product outputs PAL signal only when playing PlayStation and PlayStation2 format software. This product can not be used to record DVD content. PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software are sold separately. Some PlayStation or PlayStation2 format software titles may perform differently on this product than on previous PlayStation or PlayStation2 consoles, or may not perform properly on this product.
The package is from year 2009.
Inside the box is the gaming console in separate box looking like the original box, only smaller, with dimensions 31 X 26 X 9 cm, without the SingStar extras. On the back is almost the same text as the one on the back of the bigger box, separated at several sentences.
On the back of the smaller box are also depicted the PlayStation2 accessories sold separately - the Analog Controller DUALSHOCK2, Memory Card (8MB), Multitap, DVD Remote Control, Vertical Stand, EyeToy USB Camera and SingStar Microphone. My console is made in China as written on both of the boxes.
Inside the smaller box, along with the slim PlayStation console and the DualShock2 controller are also thick manual, in eight languages, including Portuguese and Arabic, 2.5 meters long TV cable along with RCA to SCART adapter. The power cable is around 2 meters long. The long cables of the console are a big advantage when placing it at home environment, where it is not always possible to be close to the TV or monitor set and close to the player.
With the PS2 I wouldn't have the same problems as with the
Extreme Land Sega Mega Drive clone, where the short cables are very often an obstacle. In the smaller box is the PS2 unique Network Access Code for registration on the PlayStation website.
In the bigger box are the game SingStar - demo - DVD put in paper envelope, two microphones (red and blue), USB to microphones adaptor, sheets of Score Pads for the game SingStar, introduction for the game SingStar and SingStar Microphone Pack manual in five languages.
There is no full game coming with the console, so I did good by purchasing some extra games together with the PS2.
Set up of the console ready for play is very easy.
Insert the smaller part of the power cable in the console via the AC IN plug and then the other end of the cable into a power cord.
Then attach the console to TV set via the Video cable in the AV MULTI OUT plug using RCA or SCART jack. Finally insert the DualShock controller into the console via the front plug, insert the game you are going to play into the DVD drive, located at the right and press the power button, located at the front right part of the console.
Attaching a memory card into the console is not required for play, but most of the games I have tried, warn me to use the save game capabilities of the console and always ask me if I am sure to continue without being able to save. Good to know that I bought memory card, so I stopped to receive the annoying messages every time when I started to play, but only after creating savegame files on the memory card for most of the games.
Insertion of second DualShock controller is required only for two player games.
Installation of the SingStar microphones is also very easy. Plug the USB converter of the microphones into any of the two USB plugs located at the front of the console and plug the microphones to the USB converter. Start a game utilizing the microphones, like SingStar, set the options and start singing.
Connecting the machine to a network is as easy as connection to any other machine with LAN plug-in. Connect the local area network cable to the NETWORK plug at the back of the machine.
Today, the main advantage of the gaming consoles in their ease of use. The graphic, sound and processing capabilities of the computer systems are surpassing the game machines for a long time now, but the consoles are still preferred by the people who love to just play, without following complex installation procedures for each game, operating systems and protectors from malicious software.
With the console, the usage is very easy and playing a game is as easy insert of a game DVD or CD and pressing the power button. The PlayStation 2 is not an exception of the rule. To use the console for games does not require any extra effort. The built-in ROM allows easy management of the contents of the memory card, setting correct rendering for the PlayStation Driver, playing DVDs, Audio CDs and PlayStation or PlayStation 2 games.
The firmware of the console (SCPH-90004 for my variant) allows check of the versions of the built-in software. For my Slim PS2, the versions are as follows: Browser 1.4, CD Player 2.00, PlayStation Driver 2.00, DVD Player 3.11E. Shown is also the MAC address. In the System Configuration accessible from the BIOS are possible for setting the built-in real time Clock, the language (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese), Remote Control, Component Video Out mode, Digital Out (Optical) and
the Screen Size (Full, 4:3 or 16:9). I tested the console on old cathode ray tube Samsung CK21S1TB TV, where the output picture was flickering most of the time, due to the high resolution and interlace mode used. Later I connected the console to LG M228WA 22 inch TFT monitor, where the output picture was much better, without flickering, by using the same cable. Use of the console on old CRT television set is not recommended because of the flickering that can cause eye strain, especially when read of text from the screen is
The PlayStation 2 Slim console that I have is very tiny and easy to put everywhere. It have a size of only 23 X 15.3 X 2.7 cm. It is recommended to install the console away from walls and heating objects because of the possibility for overheat, but during my usage for more than a week now, I did not noticed the console being warm.
I placed it over the HP Photosmart C6280 All-in-One (Multifunction Device), where it have no trouble working.
Games - literally thousands of game titles were developed for the PlayStation 2 during the past ten years. There are games present in every genre that one can imagine -
adventure - Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest,
music - SingStar, Guitar Hero 5, American Idol,
sports - FIFA Soccer 11, Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, NBA 2K10, PDC World Championship Darts, Agassi Tennis Generation,
wrestling - All Star Pro-Wrestling, WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010,
role playing games - Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy,
racing - Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Gran Turismo 4, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, TOCA Race Driver,
fighting - Fight Club, Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 1, Tekken 5,
puzzle - FantaVision,
retro remakes - SEGA Classic Collection, Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1,
action - God of War, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Well known game publishers are constantly developing and releasing new titles for the platform even to this date, like
Bandai, Namco, Sega, Acclaim Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Atari, Codemasters, Midway Games, THQ, Capcom, SunSoft, Cryo Interactive, Activision and many more.
Some of these publishers were active back during the Amiga era, and now they are still active on the newer platforms, that is nice to see.
Additionally to playing PS2 games, the console can play PlayStation (PSX) games as well. I have tried several games, including the USA Racer and they worked fine.
The PS1 games played on the PS2 console does not have any enhancements, despite played on more powerful hardware. The graphics and the sound are the same as on the old console, giving a real retro feeling. There is an option in the PlayStation driver to set Smooth texture mapping, but it did not enhance the graphics much. The old games look very outdated on this console,
especially with the racing games, where buildings and obstacles appear from nowhere. The possibility to play old PlayStation games on the PS2 console is a real plus, but for eye candy look of the old games, is better to use PlayStation emulator and 3D graphics driver like the Warp3D GPU plugin for FPSE on AmigaOS 4.
The commercial games for PlayStation and PlayStation 2 are not all the software available for the console. There is an active homebrew scene for the console that developed unique for the PS2 software, ported games, emulators and even operating systems.
There was an official Linux distribution for the PlayStation 2 released by Sony for the original old PS2 consoles that had the possibility for installation of hard drive. Unfortunately the official Linux for PS2 is no longer supported by Sony and very hard to find. Additionally I need an old console in order to be able to use it.
Despite the main intention of the PS2 console for playing games, looking further into the capabilities of the machine, I was able
to run Linux - the distribution BlackRhino, that have Live DVD in version 2.
The installation of Linux went almost straight away - boot from the Live DVD, and start playing. However for the sound, which was missing at the beginning,
I needed to find the specific versions (version 2.0 or smaller) of LIBSD.IRX and SDRDRV.IRX files, which are
present on almost any PS2 DVD I have looked into, but they were newer versions. Hopefully, I found demo of the game SSD, which is one of the first released games for the console, that had the right versions,
copied them to the memory card and selected the sound modules from the Linux Boot menu and the sound worked very nice.
With Linux Live DVD version 2 distribution for PS2 is included XMMS - Media Player. The media player played fine Internet Radio, so I made use of the Ethernet adaptor of the console.
Installed on the Live DVD are Dillo - Internet browser that is old, but good enough for causal surfing, slideshow program, screen grabber (ShutterBug), BitTorrent client (Transmission), chat client (PidGin), File Browser, File Editor, Virtual Keyboard that can be used if there is no Keyboard attached to the PlayStation 2, Pysol Solitaire, MPlayer, C64 emulator (VICE) and IBM PC emulator (DOSBox).
The Linux operating system is very stable, fully multitasking, but on the PS2 the low amount of memory (32 MB) is a main stopping factor for using it more seriously. When trying to open several applications at once, some of the more resource intensive applications started are closed because of lack of free memory. For example running the media player and the browser is not possible with such low memory.
It was hard to run the browser and other applications, but I managed to run the screenshot utility somehow, and was able to take screengrab, which was then sent by e-mail to my Amiga machine where I was able to use it for this review.
The console can be used for more serious tasks than gaming, but the Linux installation was not possible to install on the USB for more speed. Only the initial modules were possible to be set to load from the USB, but then the applications are started from the DVD, which is much slower. There is no live USB available for the console. On top of that the Linux USB support for the PS2 slim model is reported to be unstable, so for the time being
using the DVD is a better choice. Despite the limitations, now I have another machine living in my home network, next to the MacOS X 10.4 (Tiger) and AmigaOS 4.1 Update 1.
The Memory Card (8MB) accessory is a must for almost all the games for the PlayStation 2 and most of the games for PlayStation. If no memory card is present, the PlayStation 2 games I have tried require approval from my side that I know that I am not using a memory card, that gets annoying after a while.
The purchase of the Memory Card was something I did not regret as I used it for saving my Linux settings and the progress in the hard to beat games. Bigger than 8 MB cards are possible to buy for the console that are not built by Sony, but I was not able to find such cards and test how they are working.
The other possible accessories including cordless controllers, dance pads, arcade sticks, cameras and multitaps are nice to have, but as I did not need them, I did not test them how well they perform with the console.
The SingStar microphones that came with my package worked fine on computer and I was able to use them for talking via Skype, without the need of drivers or additional software. Just plug them and start talking. It can not be easier than that. Knowing the USB PS2 accessories work flawlessly on another hardware makes them more attractive for purchase,
than the custom made DualShock Controller and Memory card.
I did not have to wonder why the PlayStation 2 is the best selling console of all time. The PS2 have prolonged its expected lifespan with many years. The high quality and durability of the hardware, the addictive and very well developed games,
the wide availability and easy to find accessories and software,
the very little investment, required to turn the console into a fully usable computer machine with multitasking operating system are only some of the factors that make the console great.
With the PlayStation 2, Sony defended well it's leader position into the gaming market for years to come. There are still games developed for the old but not forgotten console that will guarantee me fun for many years.