This is a partner series to our Retro Let's Play FAQ, aiming to assist people finding ways of playing old games from these old systems. All talk of resolutions, PAL vs NTSC and upscaling are covered in the Retro Display Solutions thread. The Sony PlayStation 2 (or "PS2") was released in all regions between March and November of 2000. It still retains the world record for being the most popular video game console of all time (155 million units shipped, followed very closely by 154 million for the Nintendo DS), and for being the console in active production the longest (with sales closing in March 2012, a full 12 years after release). The initial "fat" model was shipped with a tray-loading DVD-ROM drive, and an upgrade slot that could take a Hard Drive addon for adding a standard Parallel ATA hard disk, which also added a 10/100 network port for online gaming. The fat model had an internal power supply, which means that caution is needed in ensuring the right voltage is sent to it. US and Japanese models require 100V, and plugging them into an Australian 240V power point can cause permanent damage. Years later several "slim" models would be released. These would feature a top-loading DVD-ROM drive, built in 10/100 Ethernet, no ability to add the hard drive option, and an external power brick with DC converter, which meant it was much safer to use a US model in Australia. The PS2 saw an explosion in console game development. Best estimates put the official games library at 3,874 titles, but it could well even be higher than that. The sheer variety of titles, from indie developers to high-budget Triple-A titles of the day to obscure Japanese arcade ports made it a must-have console for a wide variety of game tastes. The system itself spat out the standard 480i (NTSC) / 576i (PAL) resolutions native to standard definition CRT TVs, however the internal GPU supported resolutions all the way up to 720p/1080i. The console required RGB SCART cables to spit out 480p (equivalent to VGA resolution) over RGB, but annoyingly featured what's know as "sync-on-green" (described as "RGsB"), where the composite sync signal was embedded in the green signal, rather than a separate csync signal like SCART, or separated hsync/vsync signals like VGA. This made it especially tricky to feed 480p RGB into displays, as RGsB is quite uncommon (although scalers like the OSSC can handle it). Alternatively, the PS2 also supported component out, which did allow for all video modes from the standard SD resolutions right up to 720p/1080i, if the game supported it. A list of games with officially supported high resolution modes are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_PlayStation_2_games_with_alternative_display_modes There are ways to force higher resolutions, which will be covered in the modding section below. All models of the PS2 also featured full PS1 backwards compatibility. Original models featured 100% hardware backwards compatibility (with Sony doing what many vendors did - using the PS1's original hardware for lessor tasks like IO inside the PS2). Later models with consolidated chips emulated some of the PS1 hardware, resulting in occasional compatibility or accuracy issues. PAL vs NTSC Unlike earlier generations of consoles, the speed difference between PAL and NTSC consoles are almost entirely gone on the PS2. The systems do feature regional lockout, however. If your system can be modded (hardware and software options available, depending on model), that's by far the easiest way to bypass region restrictions. However if you're against the idea of modding for whatever reason, you'll need to purchase a console that matches the region of the games you own. Mentioning once again that fat PS2s from the USA and Japan require 110V input, and will be damaged by Australian 240V power. For slim PS2 models, just ensure that the DC voltage and amperage out from your power brick matches what the console expects. Playing the original system today PS2s are still readily available second hand, and hardware supply is good. Buying units from Japan can often be cheaper, but again be cautions of region locking if you do. There are also a few models of PS3 that are backwards compatible with the PS2. Again, region protection is an issue (and harder to bypass). Some models are 100% hardware compatible, some use a percentage of emulation. Later models including the PS3 Slim had this feature removed all together. MLIG covers a wide array of playback options, focussing on picture quality, in their excellent video. They also have great advice on playing some of the brilliant lightgun games the PS2 had to offer: Official re-releases Sony have done quite a good job of offering PS2 games on their more modern PS3 and PS4 platforms, albeit digitally only. So if you've got original discs, you'll need to find another way to play them (see above). However if you've got a more modern Sony console and want to purchase old PS2 games, you can do so online: PS3: https://store.playstation.com/en-au/grid/STORE-MSF75508-DISCOVERPS2ONPS3 PS4: https://store.playstation.com/en-au/grid/STORE-MSF75508-DISCOVERPS2ONPS4 As always, if you have this ability, please do so as it encourages game companies to know that there is commercial value in keeping old games alive. There are also a huge array of PS2 games that have been remastered for PS3 (and sometimes even PC) in HD re-releases. Always worth keeping an eye out for those if you're after some of the better games from the PS2 era. Modding There are a range of modding options for the PS2, both hardware and software. Hardware generally involves soldering a chip to the board, and due to the component size and number of pins/wires required, is best left to experts (plenty of people around Australia offer modding services, best to ring a local group up and ask for pricing and options). Software modding is another option, but note that compatibility is limited (generally all fat models can be software modded, but only earlier slim models can). The most popular software mod is FreeMCBoot ("MC" standing for "Memory Card"). It uses a boot-time memory card exploit to hijack the PS2's bootloader, and inject custom code. Installing FreeMCBoot is a bit of a catch-22 (it requires an already modded console), however penty of eBay sellers offer memory cards with FreeMCBoot pre-loaded, allowing you to boot from that and create more/newer FreeMCBoot tools. From here, a variety of secondary tools can be loaded. Of these tools, some useful ones are: OpenPS2Loader, aka OPL: https://github.com/ifcaro/Open-PS2-Loader This allows you to rip disc-based games to files (either on the PS2 itself, or on your PC), and load them from a hard drive (using either the official fat PS2 hard disk addon, or third party models), USB thumbsticks and hard drives, or even from an SMB share off a computer or NAS on your network. Speeds vary (the hard disk is the best, while network is limited to 10MB/s, and USB is a very slow USB1.1), but the main benefit is that even a PS2 with a faulty laser/drive (generally the one component in a PS2 that fails) is still fully functional and can play games. PS2 GSM (Graphics Synthesizer Mode selector): http://www.ps2-home.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=12 Most games on the PS2 support the standard SD resolutions, with a handful supporting extra modes. GSM can be loaded via homebrew tools to force the PS2 to spit out video modes not normally native to a game. These can be everything from forcing games to 240p (great for retro and arcade gamers), to forcing games up to 720p and 1080i (great for HD TVs). Compatibility is highly dependent on games, and there's quite a lot of discussion in the link above as to what games work, as well as hacks and patches to make games perform better under custom modes. Third party hardware As always, the Chinese hardware hackers ensure we've got plenty of options for hardware addons. Whether it's as banal as video cables and controllers, or more interesting like: Memory cards - PS2 standard memory cards for saving games are 8MB, which can be annoyingly small. Third parties go much larger sizes like these 64MB cards: https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20180823214939&SearchText=ps2+64mb There are also 128MB and 256MB models, although from my experience going too high reduces compatibility. Given their cheap prices, if you're buying these for use either in games or via FreeMCBoot, I recommend buying a couple of different ones (brands and sizes) just in case. Hard drive adaptors for fat PS2s: https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20180823215134&SearchText=ps2+hdd Including newer models with SATA support (yes, they support SSD too): https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20180823215201&SearchText=ps2+sata Just be wary that many of these DO NOT come with a functional network port (often there's a hole for one, but nothing inside). However if you just want to add a hard disk to your fat PS2 for loading games without disc swapping, these are a great option. If you want a network port option, make sure to read all of the descriptions and reviews. For light guns games, arcade hardware manufacturers Ultimarc have an excellent product called the Aimtrack, which includes support for the PS2. Unlike the original Guncon controllers that required an all-analogue SD CRT, Aimtrack devices use a system similar to the Wii with IR-LED tracking sensors, so you can use this on any HD TV, including LCDs and OLEDs. It also supports PC (which means PS1/PS2 emulators work with it too). https://www.ultimarc.com/aimtrak.html Emulation PS2 emulation has come leaps and bounds in recent years. PCSX2 had a tough time with some internal fighting between developers in years gone by, but thankfully that's behind them, and the tool is now very much compatible with a huge number of PS2 games. The best way to play the emulator is of course from your original discs in your PC, and from there you can enjoy all sorts of extras like save states and beautiful, crisp, high resolution graphics. The team recommends and i7 or equivalent CPU at around 3GHz with a DirectX10 GPU for best results (at time of writing, my Intel Core i7 3632QM laptop with Radeon HD 7670 DX9 can hit 100% speeds in most games with a bit of fiddling per game). https://pcsx2.net/ https://pcsx2.net/getting-started.html The official compatibility list is here: https://pcsx2.net/compatibility-list.html And the team maintain a YouTube channel showing off games in 1080p and higher resolution in full speed: https://www.youtube.com/user/PCSX2team/videos As with GSM (see the modding section above), keep on the lookout for game patches that offer things like fixes for 4:3 to 16:9 gameplay to keep aspect ratios correct.