You Bought What?!

This post was originally written in January 2022 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the Patreon site One Prime Plus to receive this monthly newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.

As I’ve said a number of times on our podcast, I’m not a huge gamer. As a kid, I spent a good chunk of time playing games on my original Xbox and later, on my Xbox 360, but this decreased as I progressed through high school, then went to uni and started full-time work. I never bought the subsequent consoles and these days, I play almost no games on my iPhone or any other devices, except for a few casual things on my Apple TV, like Rush Rally, Tiny Wings TV and even a remastered version of Nanosaur. That’s not due to a lack of interest, but a lack of time.

Occasionally, I become somewhat nostalgic and crack out an old console, but this always feels like a massive hassle, as I prefer not to clog my entertainment unit with unnecessary gear, cables and power bricks. I pull them out, fire them up, then put them back. To an extent, it also bothers me even to keep these things around, as they’re bulky and take up considerable room in my wardrobe. More recently, I thought that I would pull out my original Xbox to play some old games; while the console turned on, it did not want to display on my LG OLED TV through the composite AV input, nor did its disc drive wish to open. Everything was stuck. After some research, I found that I could repair the disc drive’s stupid rubber-band thingy, but it all seemed like a lot of effort to get something working that would see hardly any use.

Although I’m not wedded to my saved data, it saddened me that I couldn’t play classics in my collection, such as Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, Colin McCrae, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Enter the Matrix and The Matrix: Path of Neo. Many original games don’t work on later consoles, as Microsoft did a poor job of ensuring compatibility for old games, especially The Matrix ones, which are my absolute favourites. Then, it hit me: if my saved campaigns for these games aren’t important, why am I worrying about such an old console? Why not get a different one to play the same games, which by now would be dirt-cheap to buy again?

While I’ve owned only Xbox consoles, this has never been due to a brand allegiance, like the one that I possess for Apple. My choice to own and play these in my youth came down entirely to playing games from the Halo franchise, which continues to have amazing support across Xbox consoles; I’m even able to play it on my iPad Pro with Xbox Cloud Gaming, so nowadays it’s hardly something that keeps me tied to the platform.

Natasha and her siblings, on the other hand, grew up in a PlayStation family and loved it. Realising that she has a collection of PlayStation games back at her parents’ home, including Singstar and EyeToy discs that she would also still love to play, I decided to do something (perhaps absurd) at the beginning of 2022.

PlayStation 2 Slim and Wired Controller

I bought a PlayStation 2.

After doing some brief research online, I found that the local CeX shop in Wollongong (providing electronics exchange, etc.) had slimline PlayStation 2 (PS2) models with controllers in stock, along with a selection of games. Rather than pouring money or time into an ailing Xbox, which can easily be recycled instead, I realised that I could just buy a discounted, refurbished PlayStation, buy the games that are most important to me, and revisit them in my current lounge room. For the later games that I love, my Xbox 360 can remain. Furthermore, with the appropriate PS2 AV-to-HDMI adapter, I can now view the games at a much higher resolution than was possible on the original Xbox, which showed a cropped image on my large TV (when it did work). With this package, I get a bigger, sharper picture, save space in my entertainment unit and can finally clear out things that were clogging my wardrobe. I CAN’T EXPLAIN HOW MUCH SMALLER THIS IS THAN THE ORIGINAL XBOX.

While I won’t have all the time in the world to play it, its permanent position under my TV should make it more an easier, more attractive proposition.

Not to mention, the entire process of buying the PS2 ended up being a lovely shopping date with Natasha, as we handed Mac over to his loving Baba Tatjana (grandmother) and also visited a few other shops and bought cookie-butter frappes. WINNING!

The other thing that excites me about this is the fact that I’ll be able to show Mac older games from my childhood in an easier, more accessible way (when he’s old enough to be interested… hopefully). Of course, the PS2 is already dated and will be even more so in the next few years, but that doesn’t matter to me. I want to be able to fire up the console, enter Focus mode in a Matrix game and say, ‘Yep, this was cool when I was your age’. Whether it’s a grin or an eye-roll, I’ll be satisfied.

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