The PlayStation 2 was home to many innovative and truly unique games. This list highlights 10 of these games that happened to be developed in Japan and have that distinct Japanese flavour that's hard not to love. All of these games were released in North America.
10 Shadow of Destiny
Gamers have played many games that claim to allow your in-game decisions to have an effect on the game. Besides giving you a slightly different ending or only effecting minor details, most games don't live up to this promise. Shadow of Destiny (also known as Shadow of Memories in Japan and Europe) definitely does. The game starts with the main character being murdered and then brought back to life by a mysterious entity who gives him the ability to travel through time. You play the game time travelling to find out who your killer is while also preventing your own murder. Depending on what decisions you make, the plot points change drastically from abstractly absurd to introspectively philosophical. There is much to see and do in this game yet there is no combat in any form.
9 Mad Maestro!
Rhythm games are a dime a dozen. However, Mad Maestro! breaks many rhythm game staples. For example, you only use 1 button to tap in tempo to the icons on screen either lightly, normally, or heavily depending on the icon colour. Sometimes you may have to push the left stick in the direction specified on the icon, but other than that the game is incredibly simple to play. That being said, this is one of the most difficult rhythm games I have ever played. Being able to control the pressure you apply to the button is deceptively difficult.
As a sequel to the PlayStation puzzler Devil Dice, Bombastic delivers some mind-bending puzzle gameplay. Like its predecessor this game is played by rolling dice in order to match other dice on the playfield. For example, if you get four dice with four dots facing up next to each other, you'll score points as they slowly disappear. In order to quickly run across the playfield while trying to match dice, create combos, and score big you're going to have to have some serious skills.
7 Dokapon Kingdom
Have you ever wanted a party game that will alienate most of your friends? Unless they like JRPGs, they won't like playing this game. That's right; it's a JRPG party game. Pick a character class and traverse the board-game-like overworld map to battle monsters in rock-paper-scissors style bouts, level up, hire goons to obstruct other players, and control cities all while trying to make more money than your opponents so that you can marry the king's daughter. It's a pretty fun game... if you like JRPGs that is.
6 Disaster Report
We've all played survival horror games, but what about a survival game without the horror? Disaster Report (also known in Europe as SOS: The Final Escape) accomplishes that quite nicely. The protagonist gets a job on a man-made island but little does he know that the island will soon start to collapse into the ocean. The game is played by trying to survive the catastrophe while finding your way through obstacles, drinking enough water to survive, stabilizing yourself when tremors start to shake, and taking care of companions that come and go. An equally cool sequel called Raw Danger! in which you try to survive a flood was released a few years later.
5 Mister Mosquito
When a game developer wonders what it's like to be a mosquito, they make a game about it. That's exactly what Mister Mosquito is. With its strange control scheme and off-the-wall sense of humour, Mister Mosquito is truly a unique gaming experience. Players take control of a mosquito that flies around the Yamada family's household while trying to suck a certain amount of blood from various family members. In order to suck blood you must interact with objects in the room to get your victim distracted or just simply wait until they expose their sweet suckable spots. It makes one itchy just thinking about it.
4 The Adventures of Cookie & Cream
This game answers the age old question: how do two bunnies on their way home from the Moon Festival get the missing moon back so there can be another Moon Festival next year? By playing a super fun 2 player co-operative adventure game of course. Each player controls a bunny that navigates an obstacle course and interacts with mechanisms to allow the other player to progress. Both players work together to try to reach the end of each stage within a limited time. You can also play the game single player but trying to control 2 bunnies with 1 brain is a lot easier said than done.
3 Ribbit King
To make golf a lot less boring, replace the ball with a frog! Ribbit King does that in its fictional sport called frolf. The player plays as Scooter who is a happy little carpenter who has a passion for frolf and a picnic basket friend named Picwick. Frolf is played by whacking one end of a small catapult with a mallet while the frog on the other end goes flying. A series of Rube Goldberg-esque events usually follows when the frog lands. For example, the little fellow will bounce off spider webs, jump up to eat flies, swim through water, and get attacked by snakes all while collecting points. Once you get the frog in the hole (which is a well full of water with a large diamond floating above it), you will get more points and the player with the most points wins.
2 Under the Skin
If you thought Jar Jar Binks was an annoying alien then you should meet Cosmi from Planet Mischief. When citizens of Planet Mischief reach the age of 3 they must travel to a planet and cause as much mischief as possible. Cosmi happens to be the son of the greatest mischief maker on Planet Mischief and Earth happens to be the most difficult challenge for mischief makers. So, when Cosmi reaches the age of 3, guess where he's going? Playing as Cosmi, the player takes the form of various Earthlings and tries to annoy the humans as much as possible by using items like tacks, farts, bowling balls, and karaoke. Annoyed humans will drop coins and attack you. Get hit once and you're in your undies a la Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins. Get hit again and you'll be back in alien form.
1 Katamari Damacy
Alcoholism is a problem, especially when you're the King of All Cosmos where during one night of drinks he wipes out all the stars in the sky. You play as his 5 centimetre tall son and it's your task to repopulate the night sky. This is accomplished by going to Earth with a magical ball that allows all smaller objects to stick to it. You roll this ball around with awkward tank controls like a dung beetle while getting exponentially larger as you accumulate more and more objects. Your ball eventually gets large enough to replace a celestial body in the sky. Repeat this process in each of the game's many stages and the sky will fill up yet again. With a crazy sense of humour and a hilarious soundtrack this game and its many sequels compose one of the most unique game series ever made.