The Very Best Games for the PS2 and original PlayStation

Obvious JRPGs:
FF12 - One of the better (and weirder) FFs. It tried to do a whole range of things differently than the series usually does, including MMO-inspired combat with user-programmed AI.
Persona 3: FES - Arguably the best JRPG of the generation. Mixes some light dating sim / time management with RPG dungeon crawls. Modern fantasy setting, which many find refreshing.
Persona 4 - Some say the story is better than P3.

Disgaea - The start of something beautiful on the PS2 (and now 3), Disgaea is a series of utterly bizarre, mind-bogglingly deep tactical/strategy RPGs set in a world of demons, high school students, and parliamentary politics where you upgrade weapons by fighting inside of them and recruit monsters to your side. (It’s possible I’m mixing features from 2 and 3 into 1, but honestly, the whole damn series is awesome)

Final Fantasy X - Some cheese-riffic dialogue aside, this was probably the last truly great FF game (12 was decent, but the combat got pretty stale for me and the story never quite clicked due to the odd choice of not really making your PC the protagonist of the tale, at least IIRC). Great combat, a fun endgame, a kooky and original plot, and a sports minigame that Not Everyone ™ hated!

Rogue Galaxy - It was essentially FFX in space. I don’t really know if there’s more I can say than that except that it was baller as hell.

Tales of Legendia/the Abyss - The Tales series of RPGs with their innovative real-time 2.5D side-scroller combat and upbeat plotlines are all pretty much awesome, and these two don’t disappoint at all. Perhaps not quite as phenomenal as Symphonia on the GC, both are absolutely deserving of your playtime.

Seconding Dark Cloud 2, and Katamari Damacy; absolutely amazing! The music in the latter is sublime; the town-building in the former is surprisingly fun :)

O_O Can you fly spaceships in it?!

Never owned a PS1 and I’am mostly a PC gamer but handpicked some games to play in the PS2.

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, now best played in the PS3.
Katamari Damacy never played the sequels but first was very good.

Ratchet and Clank series, played all of it in the PS2, Up Your Arsenal was probably the best.

Psychonauts, now best played on PC but at the time chose the PS2.

God of War series, Devil may cry was not for me but God of War controls were simple enough and full of epic moments.

Resident Evil 4, the only shooter I played and enjoyed in the console I’m still not able to play FPS with a controller.

Technically, spaceships are flown by your character. . . but IIRC, it’s more of a glorified map screen than actual, like, Star Control 2-style zooming around the cosmos and fighting baddies.

I am not a fan of JRPGs by any means, but I absolutely loved Dragon Quest VIII. Absolutely charming game that seemed like a modern Japanese Ultima.

I forgot the Dynasty Warriors series. My friend and I put so much time into DW 3, slaying tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers.

Oh God. Back in college, I got really, really far into this game on the back of an ass-load of very dedicated grinding (an almost absolute requirement). Like, probably 30-40 hours in at least?

Had my memory card in my bookbag one day from a gaming session at a friend’s place. The next day, I went straight to a concert venue from my last class to see Dream Theater and had to stuff my bag underneath the tiny seat there. Just my luck, the compartment with my memory card in it was open, so it got left at the Orpheum Theater in Boston and never recovered -.-

I was pretty crushed and never really worked up the gumption to start the game over again.

Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. Arcade flight gaming done right. You get almost 30 missions, a decent overall storyline, campy dialogue, vicious dogfighting and a superlative soundtrack, and you can probably find it for a song if you bother to look for it. If you like this, then Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is a prequel (meant to be played after AC5) and is arguably even better, but a bit less meaty.

Everything else has been covered throughout the thread rather well, I’d say.

Playstation 2 is my favorite console. Just reached 200 games for it, and I could see myself getting 100 more. There are options for just about every genre I can think of. Here are some of my more memorable and unexpected favorites:

Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land - A Japanese take on an American franchise. RPG with roguelike elements. Loved the atmosphere and soundtrack.

Dark Cloud 2 - I was addicted to this for weeks. The story and characters are horrible, but the gameplay kept me going.

Baroque - I was so absurdly hyped for this game to the point where I started to brace myself for massive disappointment. It was brutalized by reviewers, but I loved it and it completely met my high expectations.

God Hand - Gameplay footage I watched of this made me wary, but I’m so glad I took the plunge on this one.

Suikoden V - I had never played a Suikoden game before and this one didn’t really wow me at the start. Once it hit the 5 hour mark though the story took off and I ended up sinking 80 hours into the game. Suikoden is one of my favorite series now and I just bought a copy of Suikoden 2 since fuck you PSN. You tease me by releasing Suikoden and I think “Oh! Suikoden 2 must be coming soon as well…years pass…fuuuuuuu!!!”

Digital Devil Saga - My first experience with the Shin Megami Tensei series. I think this game did pretty much everything right. Amazing soundtrack and that battle system made the high encounter rate never bother me. This one is tied with Suikoden V as my favorite JRPG on PS2.

Drakengard - Didn’t think I’d care for this one much, but I ended up loving it. Repetitive, but since the game alternated between ground and air missions it didn’t really bother me. Really dark, messed up story.

Shadow of Destiny - Time travel adventure game where you have to prevent your own death. Why aren’t there more time travel games? I still need to play Timesplitters.

Klonoa 2 - I beat this one a couple months ago and it renewed my interest in platformers. The cell shaded graphics hold up very nicely.

Spartan: Total Warrior - Really satisfying hack and slash. I’d choose it over God of War any day.

Growlanser Generations - You get two SRPG’s with this one. I’ve only played Growlanser 2 so far, but I loved it and heard Growlanser 3 is even better. Fantastic pacing.

Resident Evil 3 - RE2 is considered the “classic” but I thought 3 was better.
Colony Wars - Where are this console generation’s epic space battle games??? This one was simply amazing.
Final Fantasy Tactics - Best overall FF game, imo. Excellent musical score, fun and challenging gameplay.
Final Fantasy IX - Best of the PSOne FFs in terms of writing, visuals, music and overall polish.
Castlevania: SOTN - Greatest Castlevania game and 2nd best 2D actioner (after Super Metroid)
Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain - Great writing/story, very atmospheric music/sound effects and some of the best voice acting EVER in a game (though a bit clunky today).

Final Fantaxy XII - best gameplay of any FF
Persona 4 - The best modern JRPG, great story/writing/characters
Dragon Quest VIII - The best modern CLASSIC-styled JRPG, a joy to play.
Rogue Galaxy - Very underrated JRPG, huge game, fun battle system, great visuals.
Grand Theft Auto Vice City - Who hasn’t played this? Best GTA for me.
God of War - Amazing technical feat on the PS2 and fun gameplay.

I know I’m missing a bunch, my memory is failing me atm plus need to get to bed.

Oh, have to give a nod to GLADIUS - though I’ve only played the Gamecube version, but that is one of my favorite games. Also Resident Evil 4 (also only played on the GC) which is one of the greatest action/adventure games of all time.

Robot Alchemic Drive

One game that hasn’t been mentioned yet that I really enjoyed wasValkyrie Profile 2 for the PS2. Very fun take on party based rpg combat, I thought. Solid in most of it’s other aspects, too.

Oh, right, seconding God Hand. It’s an 3d update of a Final-Fight type brawler, but it adds a bunch of new systems on top. Most notably, you unlock attacks, and then you customize your combo, so there’s a lot of mech-style “build-test-build” cycle. Also, it has a very punishing and very explicit dynamic difficulty system. The plot is a widely-ranging send-up of anime tropes.

Also, I’ll add (because nobody else has) Killer 7. It’s a Suda51 game, with all that entails, but it’s probably the purest Suda51 game. It’s also probably the purest expression of mood as central element in any game I’ve played (aside from the better Silent Hills).

Speaking of which, Silent Hill 2 is probably the best survival horror game, if you like that kind of survival horror game.

I need to actually look at my shelf, because I know there’s probably something big I’m missing.

I wasn’t thinking much about the PS1 at first, but want to throw a couple quirky-but-awesome games out there:

Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy.

I believe both are on the PSN; I know for certain Lammy is because I picked that one up. :) The babies song in Lammy is priceless!

Loved this game, so unique, great art style and soundtrack, wacky story - another title I played on Gamecube.

On the PS1: One was such an underrated shooter. That first level on those rooftops with the helicopter chasing, glass shattering, rain falling, it was an incredible adrenaline rush. Platforming bits were frustrating, but still an excellent game. Would LOVE to see a remake or an HD re-release.

The PS2 remains my favorite console of all time thanks to the plethora of RPG games developed for it. Everything from JRPGs to Diablo-likes, from solo adventures to classic party-based role-playing.

A pair of great action RPGs that should not be passed over on PS2 were Baldur’s Gate : Dark Alliance and Baldur’s Gate : Dark Alliance 2. I played both co-op with my son, which was amazing fun. They were not PS2 exclusive, so they can be found for Xbox as well and I think Gamecube for at least the first one.

Baroque and Dark Cloud 2 were previously mentioned by folks in this thread. And they were 2000% correct. I can’t believe that I didn’t mention them.

Fatal Frame 1, 2 and 3 are also up there with Silent Hill 2 as the best survival horror games on the PS2. Is there any other game that can match the tension of staring through the camera lens at rapidly approaching ghosts?

Another vote for FFXII, which I agree is the very best Final Fantasy game yet made. Shame they keep hammering the somewhat awful FF13.