Memory cards are already a strange and soon to be forgotten artifact from gaming’s past. How many kids growing up with consoles that include hard drives will remember or care about memory cards in a few years? Probably very few. But I bet even less will remember what strange things could be found on old memory cards. And that’s sad because those little save icons were so wonderful.
Twitter user Video1 shared some memory card icons recently and ever since spotting them on my timeline I’ve been digging around, finding more images and videos of these strange relics from the PS2 era of gaming.
There is a surprising amount of detail in these little icons. For example, look at this creepy save icon.
And this icon, which I believe is from a Silent Hill game.
The tweets don’t include game titles and finding memory card icons online is tricky. This is something Video1 actually mentions in the thread. The internet has collected and archived nearly everything, yet save icons seemed to have been missed by the gaming community and their desire to catalog all things related to games. As a result, there isn’t an easy to search database or wiki dedicated to them.
Which is unfortunate, because it makes me fear they might end up getting forgotten and lost to time. Hell, I almost forgot about them until I stumbled upon some tweets.
Across the web, I did find others who shared their love of these icons. Once NeoGAF user in 2013 booted up their PS2 and discovered old memory cards filled with the colorful little save icons. A memory card filled up with saves creates a weird collection of totally different models, items and animations not connected to each other in theme or style.
It seems there weren’t any hard rules about what could and couldn’t be a save icon or what they needed to look like. So each game has wildly different styles and icons. From fully modeled characters and objects to floating boxes to plain logos or letters.
This inconsistent style means a jam-packed memory card is like walking into a mess of memories and creations. Sure, a gun over here, a giant hand over here, some words over there, an anime girl next to all that and a giant box over there. Why not?
The closest thing we have to memory card icons, in terms of variety and color, are achievement artwork and icons. But while some studios opt for more elaborate icons and others just use concept art, none of these are quite as weird or charming as a low polygon model of a dancing woman.
Or as funny to me as Gordon Freeman from the Half-Life games, just chilling in his suit and slightly shifting around like he’s at a dance club but isn’t quite ready to get on the floor so he is just standing off to the side, wobbling to the music and building up his courage to get down.
Black Mesa can wait. Gordon Freeman has some dancing to do. Eventually.
The rest of the thread is worth checking out and once you’ve done that, you should start digging around the web and looking up videos and images of other PS2 save icons.
For me, it has been a weird trip down memory lane. I didn’t realize how many of these I would recognize and how damn cool they were. Maybe the next generation of consoles can bring back memory card icons? Maybe update them for the future? I don’t know, have them be ray traced or in 4k or something.
Today, Star Wars games are usually very serious and dedicated to authenticity. Nearly all Star Wars game released these days are also canon, connecting to other comics, movies, books, and TV shows. Which is cool, I love modern Star Wars. But I can’t help but miss the days when we got games that were less focused on being the next big chapter in the Star Wars universe and instead were more focused on being fun and weird. Games like Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith released in 2005 for Xbox and PS2.
Revenge Of The Sith is the kind of game we don’t get anymore. Based on a movie and heavily inspired by the popular God Of War PS2 games, Sith is a relic of a different era. Back when every big movie had a tie-in video game released for consoles. While many of these games were bad, a few would be worth playing, like Revenge of The Sith. It might just be a clone of God Of War and other character action games, but it turns out reskinning Kratos and Greece with Jedis and Star Wars is a good way to make something entertaining.
If you’ve seen the original film this game is based on, then you still won’t know everything that happens. Sith takes the basic plot of the film and cuts bits that aren’t interesting or easy to turn into the gameplay and adds entirely new ideas, enemies and scenes.
For example, the game spends a lot more time with Anakin, now known as Darth Vader, while he kills Jedi in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. It even has a cutscene showing Vader killing Jocasta Nu, the old librarian lady from the Prequel films and then other Jedi attacking him. You also end up facing off against a master Jedi trainer and his apprentice. These additions are nice and help show just how much of a fight it was to kill all those pesky Jedi.
However, some of the changes are a tad more silly. In the early levels of the game, you encounter some giant super battle droids that feel like a “videogame enemy” and not a droid that would have shown up in the films. They have giant claws and basically hug enemies to do damage.
Another new addition are the Clone Assassins. These are Clone troopers that use small blades attached to their arms to fight people. They have some backstory and lore, but really only exist to diversify the Clones and make them more interesting to fight against. They feel like they were created by a 14-year-old boy who was like “And then, the Clones have swords!!”
The thing is, I don’t mind these odd additions and the changes made to the story. In fact, I love Revenge Of The Sith and all of its non-canon enemies, moments and ideas.
As much as I do enjoy the current Star Wars universe and how everything is canon and feels connected, I do miss the stranger detours and spin-offs we used to get in Star Wars games. There is a sense of playfulness found in Revenge Of The Sith that isn’t really found in modern Star Wars games. Sure, Jedi: Fallen Order looks great and might end up being a really cool game. But I highly doubt it will include a weird alternate ending, like Revenge Of The Sith.
That ending, by the way, is a perfect example of how playful the game is with Star Wars lore.
In the alternate ending, which is unlocked after beating the game, players take control of Darth Vader on Mustafar during the fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi. But unlike in the films, Kenobi’s high ground means nothing and Vader easily defeats him. Then he returns to Palpatine and is given a new Sith lightsaber, which he promptly uses to gut and kill The Emperor.
The Clones guarding The Emperor point their weapons at Vader and then lower them, presumably because they realized he would just kill them and Vader screams about how he controls the galaxy now.
It’s a totally non-canon ending and feels really weird and funny and I love it. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will get these types of moments in future Star Wars media. The way all new games, comics, books, and shows are focused on fitting into the canon makes it basically impossible to include stuff like this ending. Which I think is a shame.
Maybe in the future, we can get some weirder and sillier spinoff games released and marked as Legends, aka non-canon. Though I also think moving forward it would be great if EA didn’t have exclusive access to make Star Wars games. I don’t hate EA or think they are evil or anything like that, I just think more studios having more access to Star Wars is a better way to get different games in various genres and styles.
Regardless of any of that happening, going back to play Revenge Of The Sith today is a great way to see how strange and silly Star Wars games could get back in the pre-Disney era. I’m excited about the new Star Wars film and to read more Star Wars comics. But in the future, I also hope Star Wars games are allowed to be more than just shooters and mobile games and that they are permitted to fly their freak flags once more.
I have a lot of memories of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The first time I got to the top of Mount Chiliad. The first time I saw that big Golden Gate Bridge knock-off. Playing the last mission and actually beating the entire game. But my favorite memory from GTA San Andreas is when I got to fly out of the map and explore a small section of Liberty City, the location of Grand Theft Auto 3.
I remember the moment very clearly. I was 13 and it was the weekend. A mission asked me to get into a plane and fly to Liberty City. I expected the game to show me a cutscene of me flying to the city and then maybe a cutscene of C.J. in Liberty City before spitting me back home. Instead, I was shocked to find I was actually going to the city and would get to do a whole mission in this East Coast metropolis.
Grand Theft Auto games rarely let the player truly leave the map and visit another location. Grand Theft Auto V is maybe the only other example of this, sending the player to the snowy town of North Yankton twice in the game. Once at the very start and later on during a story mission towards the end of the game. And while I enjoyed these moments in GTA V, they aren’t as cool as getting to re-visit Liberty City in GTA San Andreas.
The main reason the San Andreas detour is more memorable for me is because of the location. In GTA V you fly to a small town in the North, which is neat. We don’t get to visit rural small towns very often in GTA games. But I don’t have much of a connection to that location.
Liberty City, on the other hand, is a place I know. I can navigate the streets of that digital city better than most real-life cities I’ve lived in. I can get to the Banshee spawn blindfolded. I know where the airport is and where the Dodo is located at that airport. I remember the first time I crossed the bridge. I can still find gun stores without looking at the map. It has a special place in my brain and I’ll never really forget it.
So getting to fly back to Liberty City while playing San Andreas was amazing. Getting to see my old stomping grounds, now covered in snow, was wild. Things had changed while I was away visiting Vice City and San Andreas.
The location C.J visits during the mission is Marco’s Bistro, a location that I remember very well from my time playing GTA 3. This is where you park a car with a bomb to kill a mafia member dining at the bistro during an early mission in that game. Getting to go inside this location, something you never do in Grand Theft Auto 3, was so exciting for young Zack at the time.
The mission C.J. is tasked with completing in Liberty City isn’t very interesting. You just kill some mafia thugs and leave. But getting to visit a snowy Liberty City more than makes up for a dull mission.
To pull this visit off, Rockstar recreated part of the city and then placed it high above the San Andreas map. Weirdly, this area is actually considered an interior, even though it looks to be outside. This is due to how San Andreas handles locations and rooms. Basically, when you fly to Liberty City, Rockstar teleports you inside a big room that is the city and the Bistro. Another fun fact about this mission and trip across the country: This is the first time we got to see snow in a Grand Theft Auto game.
15 years after San Andreas was released, I still think about this mission. I hope in the future, with the inevitable Grand Theft Auto 6 coming one day, that Rockstar lets us fly to another city. Even if it’s just for a mission. These types of missions help make the world and game feel bigger. Plus, who doesn’t want to take a vacation every once and while.
Let’s take a look at video games’ favorite scene from the Star Wars series: the battle of Hoth. Developers have been trying for over 30 years to get it right.
Which is your favorite?
(This post was originally published in May 2010. We’re bumping it today in celebration of Star Wars Day.)
1982: The Atari 2600 presents The Empire Strikes Back with the abstract-painting level of technology gamers were stuck with back then.
1985: Atari’s follow-up to the 1983 Star Wars Arcade Game, The Empire Strikes Back, used vector graphics to recreate the epic battle.
1992: The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Hoth’s looking good here. Impressive snow-speeder turning radius
1993: What a difference a year makes. Let’s take it to the Super Nintendo for some Super Empire Strikes Back. This is, I believe, the least-authentic Hoth level we’ve seen in a game. Or were there actually floating hearts in the movie and I missed them? (Warning: NSFW language in this clip.)
1993: This year also saw the release of Star Wars: Rebel Assault for the PC, Sega CD, Mac, and 3DO, the first CD-only game published by LucasArts, with one of the best looking on-rails Hoth battles to date.
1996: Here we see Snow Speeders battling AT-ATs in one of the first Nintendo 64 games, Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire. Note the verrry simple radar. But I remember this level blowing my mind. It was like I was playing the movie!
1997: And then there was Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, a fighting game that featured a Hoth stage.
1998: Sega’s Star Wars Trilogy Arcade marks Hoth’s return to the arcade, keeping the action on rails but filling in the wire frames.
1999: Back to the Nintendo 64, three years later. This is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. The AT-ATs look better. The radar is way better. And we’ve got some voice acting.
2000: Luxoflux of Vigilante 8 fame developed Star Wars: Demolition, a vehicular combat game that featured the Hoth battle as a backdrop to fights between “vehicles” like Boba Fett and the Rancor.
2001: New console. Nintendo GameCube. But same development studio as the previous one, the now-defunct Factor 5. This is video game Hoth and this is a leap up.
2001: And who can forget the real-time strategy take on Hoth from Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds?
2003: Factor 5 does Hoth again, and does it with Luke on foot and on Tauntaun. Madness.
2004: First Star Wars Battlefront. Hoth on foot. On Xbox, PS2, PC
2006: But what if Hoth was a Lego playland? What if the battle there was just a tad more cheerful? Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy answers those questions.
2006: In the same year, we had Star Wars Battlefront II doing Hoth on foot.
2008: The Battle of Echo Base went massively multiplayer as an instance in Sony Online Entertainment’s Star Wars Galaxies.
2009: The Hoth expansion for Star Wars: Force Unleashed takes the battle to a more personal level.
2015: Disney Infinity’s Battle of Hoth surprisingly features one of the better control methods yet seen for keeping your speeder steady while flying around a walker’s legs.
2015: EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront brings us the most “realistic” version of Hoth yet.
Sony started porting PlayStation 2 games to the PlayStation 4 in December 2015, beginning with the games like Grand Theft Auto III, Twisted Metal: Black, and Dark Cloud. There are now just over 50 PS2 games playable on the PS4, but the pace of new releases slowed from a trickle to a drip. It now appears to have dried up entirely, but there are plenty of great classics that were left behind.
“We will be working tirelessly to bring you your favorite PS2 games with new releases on a regular basis, and we hope you love playing PS2 games on PS4 as much as we did making them!” wrote then-President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida in a post on the PlayStation blog when PS2 Classics on the PS4 were first announced. That no longer appears to be the case.
Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It might not be surprising that the program has tapered off as we approach the end of this hardware cycle, but it raises questions about Sony’s plans for past titles. In an April interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, the architect behind the PS4, confirmed that its next console will be backward compatible with the PS4. Not only will last year’s discs for Spider-Man and God of War work on the PlayStation 5, assuming Sony decides to call it that, but the current slate of PS2 Classics will presumably be available as well. If anything, now would seem like as good a time as any to continue porting that part of the PlayStation catalogue.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go back to 2004’s Spider-Man 2, previously one of the best Spider-Man games around, after playing Insomniac Games’ modern take on the web crawler? Or what about the original God of War? While Sony remastered and ported God of War III, the first two games in the series remain confined to the PS3 and Vita.
There are, in fact, a surprising number of great PS2 games that haven’t been ported yet. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater never made the jump to current gen, nor have PS2 favorites like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Gran Turismo 4, or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. While many of the most high-profile PS2 JRPGs, like Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, and Kingdom Hearts have all been ported as remasters, others like Dragon Quest VIII, Drakengard 2, Suikoden III haven’t. And then there are cult classics like God Hand, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, and Black, which might never see the light of day again without being part of the PS2 Classics initiative.
Microsoft has invested heavily in making backward compatibility a robust feature for the Xbox One. Every month, new Xbox and Xbox 360 games become available to download, with some then also getting added to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s download-only version of PS Now. While there are only 33 original Xbox games currently on the Xbox One, there are over 500 Xbox 360 games, approximately a quarter of the 360’s library. It’s now possible to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, and Star Wars: Battlefront II all on Xbox One as a result.
While it’s possible that the PS4 will overtake it, the PS2 is currently Sony’s best-selling console. It deserves a bigger part of PlayStation’s present, and whatever its future ends up holding.
Many games are about escapism. Allowing the player to escape from their boring or shitty life and experience something incredible or impossible. In the popular shooter series Halo, players become the Master Chief; a badass super soldier capable of destroying armies of enemies by himself. He is in command of soldiers on the battlefield and travels around the galaxy, seeing gorgeous planets and fighting evil aliens. And for the most part, the player and the Master Chief always win.
This form of escapism, allowing players to do the impossible and save the world, is common in tons of games released every year.
Manhunt is different. It isn’t about escapism. Manhunt instead is a game about punishment and suffering.
The game starts with James Earl Cash, the character you play as, getting tied down and given a lethal injection. He is being executed for being a criminal who murdered people before the start of the game. Regardless of how you feel about lethal injection, in the world of Manhunt, this is Cash’s punishment for what he did.
Yet you escape death, thanks to a murder loving snuff film director named Starkweather. He pulled some strings and instead of lethal poison, James Earl Cash is given a powerful sedative. This is when Cash discovers the real punishment isn’t death. It is sneaking and running his way through Hell.
Sometimes, death is better.
After that brief setup, players are thrown into a rundown city filled with hunters; organized groups of killers who want to murder you.
Manhunt might seem like a game all about murder and violence, for example, you’ll see multiple executions and fights while playing. But that’s only a part of Manhunt. Most of the game is spent hiding and sneaking from shadow to shadow, avoiding enemies and danger.
The whole experience is terrifying.
Unlike the Master Chief, James Earl Cash is vulnerable and always being hunted. You’re not a hero or a badass in Manhunt. You’re a scumbag murderer trying to escape a nightmare.
I don’t want to be James Earl Cash, even for a brief period of time. His life and his situation aren’t things I want to “escape” into. Instead, I watch from behind my controller, happy I’m not there.
One of the main reasons I never felt like escaping into the world of Manhunt, is because of the fantastic work done to make the atmosphere of the game feel oppressive and shitty. Every level in Manhunt is awful. I don’t mean the level design is bad, instead, I mean they all look and sound like shitholes. Shattered glass everywhere, crumbling buildings, broken down cars on every street. Oh, and did I mention the hundreds of dangerous killers everywhere?
In a game like Skyrim, you want to stop and live in the village you just saved. In Manhunt, you never want to return to that slum you just sneaked your way through.
Playing Manhunt is about being afraid and suffering. Even when Manhunt throws you a bone, it quickly takes it away and calls you a piece of shit for even thinking about touching that bone.
For example, towards the end of the game, you fight a large and dangerous naked man who is also wearing a pig head as a mask. His name is Pigsy and his weapon of choice is a rusty chainsaw.
Eventually, after a tense and dangerous fight, you defeat Pigsy and take his chainsaw. In every video game, chainsaws are often shorthand for “Go kick some ass!” In Doom, getting the chainsaw is fun. You feel powerful and it improves your ability to fight demons.
But in Manhunt, this isn’t the case.
After getting the chainsaw, The Director calls in a team of well-equipped mercs to hunt you down and kill you. That new chainsaw you got, well good luck using it. To kill with it you need to turn the motor on and rev it. This creates a loud and continuous noise, which is very bad when you are trying to sneak from shadow to shadow, quietly.
All of this might sound bad. It might make Manhunt sound awful, but I actually really enjoy Manhunt because it is so different from so many other games.
For a medium filled with heroes being heroes and saving the day, it’s a nice change of pace to have a game like Manhunt spit on you, kick you in the stomach then point towards another room where you’ll get kicked and spit on some more. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a masochist?
This always oppressive and shitty atmosphere is why the executions in Manhunt are so great. It’s the one time where you get some revenge. You get to dish out some punishment of your own and you decide how brutal you want to be. And you might be surprised how brutal you can be when you hate everything around you and feel no remorse for the people hunting you down.
Manhunt doesn’t let you choose to be non-lethal or give you an option to be good. Your only option with enemies is deciding how quickly and painfully you want to kill them. Sure, you can avoid a few enemies, but many during many enemy encounters it will be nearly impossible to complete levels without taking a few lives.
Murdering in Manhunt is all about timing. How long you hold the button will decide how brutal the murder. Hold it long enough and you will stab people in the eyes and cut heads off.
By the end of Manhunt you probably won’t like James Earl Cash, which is fine. Manhunt is a wonderful example of a game with a protagonist who is someone you probably wouldn’t want to spend any time with. No one wants to go get a beer with James Earl Cash, that dude’s a deranged murderer.
Unfortunately, going back to Rockstar developed games from this era is always tricky. The games use awkward and clunky controls and they never look very good. Manhunt is (mostly) different than other Rockstar games from the PS2.
Due to being more linear and smaller than something like GTA San Andreas, the game’s visuals hold up better than you might expect. And the low res textures and grimy feel actually work in the game’s favor. After all, Manhunt was never meant to look “nice”. It was meant to look depressing and dirty, and it achieves that goal in every level.
Manhunt’s controls, however, don’t hold up nearly as well. The main issue is that the controls and the gameplay feel loose and yet oddly rigid. But again, because the levels are smaller and you move around slower, the controls hold up better than say Vice City’s awful movement and combat controls.
If you do go back and beat Manhunt, you’ll find it has no happy ending or nice cutscene where you save the day or turn the evil bad guy into the police. Instead, you kill his lackeys and then kill him. Then you leave. Credits roll. Good job, scumbag.
And while Manhunt would get a sequel, it would have almost no connections to the previous game and instead would take the series into a different direction. That game is fine, but it never comes close to capturing the horror and oppressive feel of Manhunt.
Honestly, I’m not even sure if Rockstar could re-capture that feel in a future game. Improved visuals might end up making a Manhunt 3 feel too real and uncomfortable.
I’m fine with the world never getting another Manhunt 3. Instead, I recommend for those curious to creep back to their PS2 and experience Manhunt, preferably in a dark room. Alone. Good luck, killer.
When I think about the animated Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force many things come to my mind. The weird villains, Carl, the numerous name changes it had towards the end and that one time people thought their street ads were bombs. One thing I don’t associate with the series is golf. So it’s bizarre that their first major video game is a golf game.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am is a title that sounds more like someone took a few darts and chucked them at a board covered in different and unrelated words. The title also fits for a series that had a name that was so unrelated to the actual show that the creators kept changing it.
The game was developed by Creat Studios. They also developed two video games based on the American Chopper reality TV series. ATHFZNPA was released on the PS2 in November 2007. This was 2 years after the Xbox 360 was released and nearly a year after the PS3.
The actual gameplay is a strange mix. A large portion of Ninja Pro-Am features the stars of the show, Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock, playing golf. The game uses the standard three-click system, where players hit a button to start a meter, hit it again to set the power and finally hit the same button again to set accuracy.
However, Ninja Pro-Am isn’t just a golf game. This is nice, because the golfing is pretty boring and not very good.
ATHFZNPA also features on-foot combat with enemies, including radioactive living trees and giant crabs that were originally found on their neighbor Carl. Combat controls are simple, having players hit the X button to bash enemies with their golf club.
Does adding mediocre combat to a bad golf game help improve the game? Sort 0f. It at least adds a bit of novelty appeal to the game. It also feels true to the show. Of course Master Shake and the gang go to a golf course and start getting into fights. Honestly, compared to some of their other adventures this is fairly tame. But you don’t just fight enemies and play golf. Ninja Pro-Am also includes kart racing!
At certain points in the game’s short campaign, players are forced into a race against different enemies. Using golf carts, the trio of living food items speed across the course to win. Similar to the combat, the kart racing sections are simple and serviceable. Though like the combat, it at least makes the game feel even weirder and different.
Many of the villains and other characters from the show appear in Ninja Pro-Am. One of my favorite villains from the show, Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, is one of the two commentators who provide introductions to each of the various golf courses. The other commentator is ESPN’s very own Scott Van Pelt. I’m not sure how the developers got him to do this, maybe he really liked the show?
Regardless of how he ended up in the game, he adds a perfect amount of reality to the proceedings and pairing him with the absurd Cyberntic Ghost is wonderful.
That is the main reason to play this game or at least to look up the cutscenes on YouTube. The writing and voice acting feels like it was ripped out of the show. Many of the cutscenes were actually included on the season 6 DVD of ATHF. These scenes and the commentary intros are easily the best part of the game, assuming you like the show.
If you hate Aqua Teen Hunger Force, you will hate this game and probably more so than I did when I played it years ago. I at least was able to enjoy the comedic cutscenes between the boring golf gameplay and dull combat. If you just can’t stand the show or find it dumb, this game is going to be a miserable and annoying mess to play.
All cutscenes from the game
While (deep breath) AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE ZOMBIE NINJA PRO-AM is a bad game. It’s also the kind of game we just don’t get anymore. Licensed games are now found mostly on mobile phones. Which is fine, I enjoy some phone gaming. But I miss these awful and strange games based on TV or movies we used to get on consoles. Maybe they weren’t great, but they had a sense of personality and quirkiness to them that most licensed games today lack.
If you can find a cheap copy of Ninja Pro-Am for PS2 and enjoy the show it was based on, I totally recommend checking this game out. And if you don’t have a PS2 or can’t find a copy, you can find all the cutscenes up on YouTube and they are certainly worth a watch for fans of ATHF.