During my recent trip to the states I visited with family and friends; traveled via plane, bus, and car; wandered the streets of Chicago; and climbed [[!wikipedia Medicine_Bow_Peak desc="the highest peak in the snowy range"]]. But today I'm going to talk, in stead, about the pile of games that I acquired.
GameStop has apparently decided to get out of the used PS2 market. I can hardly blame them: they have an incredible inventory with a low signal-to-noise ratio. The Illinois stores that I visited all had "buy two, get two free" sales ongoing, and the Wyoming stores still had lots of boxed and unboxed games at pretty low prices.
I only got my PS2 in 2009 while I was stuck in hotel rooms waiting to move to Saudi. There's a lot of good PS2 games that I have yet to play, and the huge GameStop inventory means I'm bound to find at least a few good games. The aforementioned low signal-to-noise ratio meant that I spent a lot of time leafing through the same Guitar Hero, sports, and racing games. That said, I almost never left a store empty-handed.
I also picked up a few DS games. I ordered Dragon Quest V and Retro Game Challenge from Amazon before we left the kingdom: Dragon Quest V has always interested me since I read Jeremy Parish's writeups on GameSpite and 1UP; and I played Retro Game Challenge back at Argonne with Daniel and Cory, but... less than legitimately.
I've been tangentially aware of the Professor Layton series for a while, but never with any detail. I originally thought it was some kind of RPG, but my interest waned a bit in the face of its more traditional puzzle structure. Andi took to them quickly, though: she's already finished "The Curious Village," and we got a copy of "The Diabolical Box," too.
Like I said, I've come to the PS2 a bit late, so I'm doing what I can to go back and visit the classics. I found boxed copies of "Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance" and "Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence"... awesome! I've already started enjoying MGS2 (though I must admit that I have been disappointed by Raiden in comparison with Solid Snake, even without any preconceptions or hype.) I later found out that Subsistence contains ports of the MSX versions of "Metal Gear" and "Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake." Very cool: now I won't have to suffer through the horrible NES localization.
I heard about "Space Channel 5" on Retronauts' Michael Jackson episode. Knowing that it (and its "Part 2") were just forty minutes each, I tackled those first thing when I got home. Aside from possibly Incredible Crisis, these are the most Japanese games I've ever played. The first in the series had a few technical flaws (at least, the PS2 port I got did), most off-putting being the incredibly picky controls. That was cleaned up in the second game, along with the VCD-quality pre-rendered backgrounds from the Dreamcast original.
I jumped on a disc-only copy of Suda51's "Killer7" on Yahtzee's recommendation: "As flawed as it is, get it anyway, because you'll never experience anything else like it." I haven't even put this one in the console, yet, but the last game I played on a Zero Punctuation recommendation was Silent Hill 2: one of the best games I've ever played. I don't expect Killer7 to be as significant (or even comprehensible) as that, but it should at least be interesting.
A copy of "Oni" seemed familiar, but only in the back of my mind. Turns out it's pre-Halo Bungie. (Actually, Bungie West.) The Marathon influence is obvious, but the default controls are really twitchy. Hopefully I can adjust the sensitivity a bit when I come back to it.
I didn't have any multiplayer PS2 games yet, so I picked up copies of "Soul Calibur II" and "Gauntlet: Dark Legacy" for parties. Of course, I forgot that I only have one PS2 controller. Hopefully I can pick up few more up along with a four-player adapter. (Otherwise, what's the point of Gauntlet?) Soul Calibur is as well-made as I expected (though the disc is FMV-skippingly scratched); but Gauntlet comes off as a bit cheap. The gameplay seems good enough: it just doesn't feel as classic as it deserves.
I keep hearing mention of the "Ratchet and Clank" series, but I haven't touched a PlayStation platformer since MediEvil. It hasn't really caught my attention yet, but maybe "Jak and Daxter" will.
I picked up a copy of "Batman Begins," but I apparently had it confused with "Arkham Asylum." "Tokobot Plus" was actually a "new" game, but priced down such that you couldn't tell. I guess it didn't sell well: but it reminds me of the "Mega Man: Legends" world. Hopefully it will, at least, be interesting.
All told I got twelve games (fourteen if you count the MSX games included with Subsistence). [edit: turns out that I only got disc 1, so no MSX games.] Despite Batman's misdirection, I think I did alright--all for less than you'd spend on two current-generation games--and not one generic brown FPS in the lot.