When Pac-Man Walked On Water: A 16 Year Old’s Nostalgic Homage To The PlayStation 2

By Kimari Rennis

Unlike a lot of gamers in today’s day and age, I’m not old enough to say that I’ve grown up playing the Snes or the Sega. Most of my gaming memories from when I was young came from the PlayStation 2. My older brother and I spent a lot of time stockpiling and playing these now ancient games like Maximo: Ghosts to Glory or Mark of Kri. So when I found the console in good condition in my room, I couldn’t help but return to some of my favorite games.

I’m surprised that crystal clear 4K televisions still support consoles that need AV ports because we are no longer in the age of tube TV’s. I was relieved to find space for the separate cables for the console among five HDMI ports.

Out of my collection of Grand Theft Autos and other various games, I chose three that really spoke to me when I was younger. These three games, Pac-Man World 2, Jak and Daxter, and Crash Bandicoot, soaked up a lot of my time in the early 2000’s, and made me the most nostalgic when I revisited them. These games are probably my favorite of all time. I was mesmerized by the different genres of music, I fell in love with each and every character, and I was blown away by the vastness of the game world around me and what area I would explore next. Looking back on those games now lets me see first hand how creative game developers were back then.

There were a lot of other PlayStation 2 games I got to play after so many years. I’ll admit that I had a copy of Alvin and the Chipmunks which would be similar to the dancing in Persona games. But I was shocked to see that the save data I had from so many years back said that I had perfected every song in the game. But I had a copy of the game Tarzan by Disney, and I could not for the life of me beat any of the surfing levels in the rain forest. And lastly I found my copy of SpongeBob’s Atlantis Squarepantis which I immediately turned off because the controls were abysmal. Nonetheless, looking back on those games now lets me see first hand how creative game developers were back then.

The first game I revisited was Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, aka the first and last Jak and Daxter I played in my entire life. Honestly, if it weren’t for this review, I would’ve never found looked up and found out that this was the first game in the series because of its name. In all honesty I never sat down to finish it because it was one of my first semi open world game experiences. I could practically skip a whole village and complete a mission somewhere else. There’s just something special about Jak and Daxter even though it wasn’t my favorite of all games; whenever I did sit down and play it, I enjoyed myself. The world opened up itself and there was a lot I could explore and find out – no matter how clueless I was about the story. There were different paths I could take leading to new obstacles amid towns tucked away in the hills. I’m sure that anyone who has played this game has tried swimming across the ocean to get Misty Island at least once.

The second game is Pac-Man World Two. I’m absolutely obsessed with this game in every way because of its upbeat music, beautiful environments, and fun gameplay. The joy-filled light green plains and hills transition into levels that unfold in a deep dark luscious forest. In fact, this game is the reason why I love winter; the ice world was so beautiful. The whole area was covered in snow and ice as you traverse mountainous areas, defying all odds to collect fruit off of slippery slopes. Also it’s pretty epic to see Pac-Man run on water as piranhas try to catch him. I still remember all the attempts it took to defeat the Red Ghost Boss and how infuriating he was to fight. Similar to the other Ghosts, he powered a large, hovering robot in the shape of a ghoul. But little me could never avoid the flames the robot spit at me. Rev rolling as Pac-Man through the hills and dodging buzz saws in the forest is what put a smile on my face every time.

The last game that I revisited was Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. The red label imprinted on the top of the cover boasts the words “Greatest Hits” and I can totally agree with it. This is my favorite game out of the Crash Bandicoot series and probably my favorite game of all time. I beat it twice and I wouldn’t mind beating it once more now that I’ve found the console I grew up with. Armed with bazookas and exo suits, I would sit for hours playing through the levels in each zone before coming face-to-face with a boss. Each boss is powered up by a posse of evil masks that can’t help but taunt you before the fight.

Graphics, age, and platform don’t matter, if anything we should cherish our old games and consoles while technology allows it. Your old favorite game may not be on the latest console or run at 1080p. So if you can, clean off that dusty controller or blow on that cartridge before it’s too late. There’s a lot of fun to be had on older consoles, and I might even find a way to buy more games for my reliable PlayStation 2.

Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.

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