PlayStation 2 Hidden Gems (Part 1)

PlayStation 2 Hidden Gems (Part 1)

Devils, Soviets, and weasels; oh my!

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Retrospectives on

Sony's second mainstream console has one of the most impressive libraries in gaming history. So, I put together this list of five underrated titles that are sure to impress. Enjoy!

Bombastic

If you're intimately familiar with the original PlayStation's lineup of puzzle games, you've probably heard of Devil Dice. It's such a unique and addictive puzzler that I included it as the top spot in my Top 10 Obscure PlayStation Puzzle Games list. Anyway, Devil Dice had a little-known sequel for PlayStation 2 called Bombastic. On top of the original's modes and rules, it also included a fresh new spin on the classic formula in that dice explode after they're matched. Watching a chain reaction of explosions unfold is oh-so satisfying and will remind retro gamers of Bomberman. On a personal note, I remember playing this game when I went to university to wind down after classes and ended up more often than not spending more time with it than studying. Oh well, education is for chumps!

Bombastic screenshot
These little devils sure love their dice

Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball

Before Zen Pinball mastered imaginative pinball tables, Flipnic blew pinball wizards' minds with its reality-altering stages and trippy setting. Developed in Japan by Sony Computer Entertainment, it's odd that this fantastically addictive pinball experience didn't reach a wider audience. Whacking the ball around and racking up points then transitioning to other sections of the massive stages while making the ball jump from its rail in order to collect coins then challenge the odd super-tough boss is so much fun.

Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball screenshot
You won't find these pinball tables at any arcade

The Red Star

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, The Red Star takes place in an alternate reality version of Soviet Russia. To put it simply, this game is one of the best genre-blending arcade-like adventures you'll ever play. You'll fight many enemies as you would in a traditional beat 'em up although you have long-range weapons, too, so there are shooting elements as well. Some enemies and bosses will spray a cloud of projectiles thus incorporating bullet-dodging gameplay similar to a classic shoot 'em up. Finally, there are some RPG elements as you can upgrade your character to become a more capable fighter. Speaking of which, there are three distinct characters to play as (one is unlockable) so playing through the campaign more than once will feel like a whole new experience.

The Red Star screenshot
Looks like the Kiselev Aggressor is at it again...

Downhill Domination

If the concept of speeding down the side of a mountain on a bicycle sounds appealing then this is one game that you need to play. The sense of speed is incredible as you whip down obstacle-filled courses while collecting power-ups, jumping off ramps, performing tricks, and physically assaulting your opponents as you pass them. It's an absolutely ridiculous game that plays better than most modern racers. One aspect that stands out is the menu system as it's full of flashy and innovative transitions that make simply setting up your next gaming session a ton of fun. I hope crazy racing games like this make a comeback sometime soon.

Downhill Domination screenshot
I think that helmet was a good idea

Whiplash

Buddy platformers have been around for a long time. However, none of them have an off-the-wall premise as zany as Whiplash. You play as Spanx (an untalkative weasel) who is attached to Redmond (an indestructible and witty rabbit) via a chain. Spanx uses Redmond as a weapon that he swings around to harm the workers of the animal testing facility that they're trapped in. He also utilizes the poor little bunny to solve puzzles by doing things such as jamming him into electrical wiring and using him as a grappling hook. One of the cleverest aspects is that your score is reflected in how much damage you've caused the evil corporation. There's nothing more satisfying than smashing everything in sight and being rewarded for your efforts. Overall, this is still one of the most fun platformers around.

Whiplash screenshot
Spanx cooks up his delicious friend Redmond for lunch
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