Top 10 PS2 Games in my Backlog

Top 10 PS2 Games in my Backlog

Sony’s PlayStation 2 is a system I completely missed out on growing up. I played some PS2 games at friends’ houses, but I never had an opportunity to play the big PS2 single-player games.

Since those days, I have experienced a few PlayStation 2 titles myself, both on actual hardware and via emulation. But for the most part, I’ve still played very few PS2 games. Some classic PS2 titles that aren’t in my PS2 backlog include Final Fantasy X, as I plan on playing an HD remaster version someday, and the Kingdom Hearts games, as I own both the 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix collections on PS3, and have played a bit of both. Still though, there are quite a few PS2 games that haven’t seen an HD remaster on another system. Some of them are available to download digitally and play on other Sony systems, but many PS2 games have only had a release on the PS2 itself.

That said, here’s my list of the Top 10 PS2 Games in my Backlog! Read on, and discover how I plan to try (likely in vain) to catch up on all the PS2 games I missed out on!

10. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht

  • Developer: Monolith Soft
  • Release: February 25, 2003

Xenosaga is part of a JRPG trilogy on the PS2. The setting is pretty sci-fi, the game takes place very far in the future during a time when humanity has left earth. Battles are turn-based, but require inputting different button combinations to utilize different attacks with various effects, so it sounds like that should keep things interesting.

Rather than having random encounters, enemies can be seen in the environment and avoided if you don’t want to fight them. I much prefer this approach to enemy encounters, as random encounters seem invoke a feeling of dread sooner or later since they generally can’t be avoided.

All those things combined together should make for a pretty great game, I hope!

9. Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity

  • Developer: Atlus & Pinegrow
  • Release: April 26, 2005

Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity is a strategy RPG set in a fantasy world that is being overrun by a deadly mist called the “Miasma.”

There’s a lengthy main story here as well as side quests, and as I said at the beginning, this is all tied together by the strategic gameplay. The voice acting has drawn some flak in some reviews for not being enthusiastic enough at times, but the graphics have received plenty of praise for their colorful, hand-drawn aesthetic.

As a Fire Emblem fan, I’m hoping Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity proves to be an enjoyable experience!

8. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release: October 12, 2004

Edit: Finished! …Well, I didn’t play the original PS2 version, but instead played the HD Remaster on PS4. I really enjoyed it! It’s a fantastic RPG where gameplay is the focus. You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free!

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne puts you into the shoes of a Japanese high school student who is turned into a half-demon when the apocalypse begins and the world is transformed and filled with demons.

Having enjoyed the battle system of Persona series, which is a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei, I’d like to get into the Shin Megami Tensei series itself. The battle mechanics should be relatively similar to what I’ve experienced in Persona, at least in terms of needing to exploit enemy weaknesses while protecting your own, and the facing enemies that can and will hit your weaknesses at every opportunity.

I’ve heard that Nocturne is brutally difficult at times though, and that does make me hesitate to pick it up a bit. Persona 3 FES was tough at times, but if Nocturne is even rougher…yikes! Nocturne is also not as character-focused as Persona I believe, it’s more skewed toward dungeon exploration than character development or plot I believe.

7. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release: April 5, 2005

Edit: I ended up playing Nocturne before Digital Devil Saga, but I’ve now played both games! Digital Devil Saga is definitely more approachable than Nocturne in many ways, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of challenging moments! I really enjoyed it, and you can bet I’ll be playing the 2nd game as well! You can read more of my thoughts on the game here, spoiler-free.

Like Persona, Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga is another spin-off of the main Shin Megami Tensei series. My understanding of Digital Devil Saga is that it is more focused on story than the main series, which is something I think I’d enjoy. It’s primarily that feature that draws me to Digital Devil Saga more than Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.

Rather than summoning Demons as the characters in Persona do, the characters you play as in this game transform into Demons during battle. They get this ability after their tribe is infected by a demon virus, drawing them into conflict with the six other tribes of the Junkyard, the world they live in.

The premise definitely sounds interesting. Additionally, there’s a direct sequel as well, so if I finish Digital Devil Saga and am hungry for more, Digital Devil Saga 2 is available!

6. Steambot Chronicles

  • Developer: Irem
  • Release: May 23, 2006

Steambot Chronicles takes place in a world where machines called Trotmobiles are used heavily, for transportation and battling. I’m not sure what you battle in this game to be honest, but I like the idea of customizing a Trotmobile, which you do over the course of the game as you acquire more parts.

To make things more unique though, the other half of the gameplay is all about playing music. Your character is a musician, and as you progress through the game you can play more instruments which control differently, and you also join a band eventually and gain more fame, I think.

The whole package sounds super unique to me, I have to try it someday!

5. Shadow Hearts

  • Developer: Sacnoth
  • Release: December 12, 2001

Edit: Shadow Hearts was a fun RPG with some unique elements that make it stand out. The Judgement Ring, setting, and story were definitely the highlights for me. You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free.

The setting of Shadow Hearts sounds very interesting. Set in an alternate reality in 1913, it brings monsters and shapeshifters into the mix in a historical setting.

Gameplay-wise, it has turn-based battles but with the “Judgment Ring” mechanic that has you do timed button presses during your attacks in battle in order to increase their damage. I think systems like that keep the battles a little more interesting than if they were straight turn based, as you have to be paying attention and have some skill to hit the button presses at the right time. I’ve always enjoyed the similar Action Command systems of Paper Mario for the same reason.

I think the combination of setting and what I expect the atmosphere of this game to be like are what have drawn it up to this spot in the list. It just has a mysterious vibe, and I find myself intrigued by it! There’s also two other Shadow Hearts games that follow this one, but I’ve heard mixed things about the third. The second one though, Shadow Hearts: Covenant should be solid if I play Shadow Hearts and find myself wanting more.

4. Dark Cloud 2

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Release: February 17, 2003

Dark Cloud 2, known as Dark Chronicle outside of North America, is a hack ‘n’ slash RPG adventure. It also features some city-building in that you can build things in the environment outside of the dungeons. Primarily though, you explore procedurally-generated dungeons while collecting items.

The story has been criticized a bit, but the gameplay has received much praise, and there’s a ton to do. Dark Cloud 2 is available on the PS4 as well on PlayStation Network. The PS4 version has trophy support as well, which is something I always enjoy seeing brought to games that didn’t originally have trophies or achievements. I’ll probably try to grab the PS4 version on a sale!

3. Tales of Legendia

  • Developer: Namco
  • Release: February 7, 2006

Tales is one of my favorite JRPG series. I’ve played quite a number of the entries that received an English localization, but Legendia is one I’ve not yet had a chance to play.

Legendia seems to be regarded as the dark horse of the series, it came out at a weird time. Legendia features a battle system that takes place on a 2D plane, similar to the first few Tales games. However, it came out after Tales of Symphonia, which was notable for being the first Tales title to feature 3D battles, in which characters could move across 3 axes instead of just 2. Tales of the Abyss would release just a few months after Legendia in Japan, and went back to 3D battles.

Having played only 3D Tales games, Legendia’s 2D battles might be jarring for me. However, I’ve heard enough praise for it that it’s definitely secured a place in my backlog.

2. Rogue Galaxy

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Release: January 30, 2007

The concept here seems really cool. Basically, it’s a JRPG with a real-time battle system where you play as a space pirate and travel between different planets on a spaceship. That brief summary alone pretty much has me sold!

Like many JRPGs, besides a fairly lengthy main story there’s also a wealth of side quests to pursue if you are so inclined. Another selling point of Rogue Galaxy is that entering combat is seamless. There’s no loading screen between exploring and entering battle. While this concept seems like a good thing, I can’t help but be reminded of Tales of Zestiria when I hear this. From the sound of it, the system in Zestiria might be similar to what’s in Rogue Galaxy, but I felt that in Zestiria it kind of forced level design to be bland since there always had to be enough room in a level to accommodate battles. The end result in Zestiria was a lot of large, box-ey areas that looked odd and felt very artificial.

Hopefully that’s not the case in Rogue Galaxy, because the promise of being a space pirate and sailing through space is too good to pass up! Plus, it’s available on PlayStation Network for the PS4, and that version includes trophy support!

1. Radiata Stories

  • Developer: tri-Ace
  • Release: September 6, 2005

Edit: Finished! I enjoyed the first half of Radiata Stories most, but the whole experience was good overall. It dragged a little at times, I recommend following a guide to make the best use of your free time in-game. You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free!

The art style of this game seems cool, I’m not really sure how to describe it. Even the cover art makes me want to play this game, I just love the look. Radiata Stories is an action RPG set in the fantasy world Radiata. You play as Jack Russell, and begin the game in the central hub Radiata City, having just joined the Radiata Knights.

Radiata Stories is notable in that you can recruit a ton of NPCs to fight in your party. 175 NPCs are recruitable according to Wikipedia. That’s incredible! I mean, they’re not all usable at once since you are limited to a party size of 3 in battles I think. Still though, there’s so much flexibility there. I don’t even know if all of the potential recruits are useful but I know I would have fun trying to recruit as many as possible.

Since it’s an action RPG, combat takes place in real-time, though you can only directly control Jack in battle. The other members of your party are controlled by the game, but you can give them commands to influence their actions.

The game also features a day/night system, and NPCs have a schedule that they adhere to day to day. There’s also a whopping 300 characters in the game, all of which are said to have unique backstories and personalities. That’s a lofty claim, and I imagine they’re not all as equally fleshed out. However, this game world just sounds more and more intriguing, and I absolutely have to check it out for myself!


The self-proclaimed "Guy with the Backlog", as of this writing his Steam backlog is slowly growing to the point of consuming him. Meanwhile, he spends most of his time trying to catch up on the retro classics he missed, as well as replaying the games he grew up with.

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