Lots of you have probably picked up Final Fantasy XII this week. You may have also heard words and phrases like "the PS2's swan song" and "the PS2's last gasping breath" associated with Square-Enix's latest opus. Well, I did, anyhow -- in line at GameStop's midnight release two days ago. Everyone's so geared up for the onslaught of next generation hardware that playing Final Fantasy XII on the nigh-forgotten PS2 seems like a bit of a chore.
Once the line got moving, the clerk let loose his standard volley of pre-order offers. The usual suspects were named, followed by a surprising mention: Level 5's Rogue Galaxy, recently bumped back to January. There were a couple of confused exchanges of confused glances between customers, as if to suggest the question, "Why would I bother so long after the PS3's release? I'm going to be up to my neck in next-generation hardware and software! To hell with your Johnny-come-lately RPGs, sir!"
But for those of us who just can't stretch their dollars far enough or wait in the bitter cold long enough to net a shiny new launch console, there's still some life to be squeezed out of our friendly ol' black box: the PS2. Here are some titles to keep on your radar into next year.
Metal Slug Anthology - 12/01/06 If you happen to lose a fistfight to a hard-knuckled soccer mom in line for a Wii at Target, you can always pick up one of its more desirable launch titles for the PS2. Every Slug title, including fan favorites 3 and X, is represented in this compilation. Granted, you miss out on some of the more novel control setups available on the Nintendo Wii, but who really wants to play Metal Slug by tilting a remote back and forward? ... I mean, besides me? Not-so-bargain-priced at forty bones, but your cash-to-gameplay ratio will never be higher.
Lumines Plus - 01/02/07 A repackaging for those of us who prefer buying our puzzle games in a single purchase and anybody who may have missed out on the original PSP rendition. Tetsuya Mizuguchi's puzzler, priced at $29.99, will come complete with all of the features packed into its PSP predecessor and hopefully a few new extras -- enough to merit that extra $10 over the original's current price tag. Maybe they'll include EyeToy support so I can see how ridiculous I look when I scream like a six-year-old girl at my CPU opponent. Just hearing it reverberate off the walls ain't enough.
Rogue Galaxy - 01/30/07 If you aren't familiar with Level 5 yet, you will be soon. White Knight Story looks to be one of the most visually stunning titles in the works for the PS3, and after a series of A-List titles on the PS2 (Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest VIII) we should expect nothing less. Take the art and graphic style perfected in Dragon Quest VIII, mash it up with a little bit of Sci-Fi RPG adventure, and Rogue Galaxy's what you get. Importers love it, some going so far as to declare it one of the best adventures available on any console, let alone on the PS2. I love Final Fantasy XII, but here's your swan song, everybody.
God of War 2 - 02/27/07 Though it's doubtful that this title will be missed by anybody aware of its development, God of War 2 is still worth noting. Lots more blood, mythology, and brutal slaying of opponents in a sequel to one of the best action-adventure games to date -- it's a small wonder that it wasn't bumped to the PS3, a la Zelda: Twilight Princess or Super Paper Mario. Call it a bonus.
Dawn of Mana - 03/30/07 If the last three Mana titles haven't completely spooked you away from the series, it might delight you to know that the first true sequel to the Seiken Densetsu series in over a decade is mere months from release. From what media we've seen thus far, Dawn of Mana looks to be one of the prettiest games ever produced on the console, and plays more like the classic series than its spin-offs. We can only hope that, come April, we'll be beating woodland creatures senseless just as we had on the SNES -- and really, isn't that what Springtime is really about? Don't fret, my fellow penny-pinchers. There's hope for even the emptiest wallets (like mine) after the launch.