What is it about collecting games that is so addictive? Is it simply having them up on our shelves, or is it just that we like having a large catalogue of games to choose from?
One thing is for sure – price isn’t an issue. Nothing will stand between us and the game that we’ve been obsessing over for the past 3, 4, 5 weeks running, especially if it’s a rare one.
The PS2 is, for me and many others, one of the best retro consoles of our time. It ironed out some of the problems from the first PlayStation console, came with a cool new design, and had some cracking titles that we all still play today.
But what about the ones that we couldn’t get our hands on?
Sure; Spyro and Crash were great, but what about those titles of legend, those rare PS2 games that you’ve only ever heard spoken about by old fishermen on a full moon at midnight?
It doesn’t matter whether you are new to the world of PlayStation or are simply interested in delving into the forgotten realms of retro gaming. Either way, this list of mysterious and unknown games will blow your mind!
1. Kuon: – $120 – $400
If you scare easily, then you might want to look away now. Kuon is a horror/survival game based on urban myths and ghost stories that have taken root deep with Japanese culture. It revolves around a haunted mansion, but don’t expect a green plumber sucking up ghosts in this one!
You play as two different women, each with nerves of steel. They each have their own phase to play through in this dark and foreboding horror title, and there’s lots of blood and gore throughout.
It’s made by the same people as ‘Dark Souls’, which explains why so many people are hunting for it!
Kuon could have been a household name, but due to its graphic content and short length, it didn’t have as many production runs as the creators might have liked. If you can manage to get your hands on a copy, you’ll love it.
It’s horrifyingly good and might leave you with some sleepless nights, but it’ll be totally worth it.
2. Garfield: Saving Arlene: $250-350
Who would have thought that everyone’s favourite lasagne obsessed cat would have made it into our list of the most rare PS2 games of all time!
So, how does a game about a cat come to be so rare? Garfield’s other titles are selling for around $5 on eBay, so why is this one so special? It has a weird mixture of 2D characters in a 3D world, and it’s a title based on a ginger moggy. Is it because no one cared, or because everyone loved it?
The game itself is quite short, with just 9 levels to work through. Garfield and Odie have to save Arlene from ‘the pound’. While the concept might be a little weird, the areas that you have to explore look well-formed and vibrant – another reminder of why the PS2 is such an ace machine.
$250 might be a lot to pay for a virtual cat, especially seen as though you can probably get a real one for the same price. Still, if you’re low on ‘G’ games and have a thing for trying out titles that no one else has, then Garfield could be the feline friend for you.
3. Rule of Rose: $115 – $420
Aside from having the coolest cover art of any game, the Rule of Rose is a cracking title. It’s a psychological horror, and again, not one for the faint-hearted. It has a strong feeling of ‘Silent Hill’ around it and incorporated some pretty harrowing issues.
Like Kuon, it’s also based on the ‘mysterious and misunderstood nature’ of Young Girls. I’m not quite sure that this description fits in with what I’m about to write in the next paragraph – this still comes across as one crazy game!
So why did Rule of Rose become so popular? Well, it probably had something to do with the subject content. In the same way that Night Trap (one of our best SEGA CD games) became banned, this game joined the ranks of rare PS2 games due to its scenes of burying children underground and child sexuality/cruelty.
These topics don’t seem as scary compared to some of the horrors that we see today, but they were enough to force production to be cancelled in a number of countries back in 2006.
Morbid curiosity and the need to find out whether it really is ‘all that bad’ has made Rule of Rose one of the most sought after games on the console. Do you dare to give it a try?
4. Haunting Ground: $60 – $220
Ok, so with the exception of Garfield, there seems to be a pattern forming with these rare PS2 games. It turns out that defenceless young girls trying to survive in creepy places was a common theme back in the day!
Haunting Ground is a horror/survival game where staying alive is much harder than you might think. You play as an unarmed girl with nothing but her trusty dog to keep her company as she tries to protect herself from an army of weird characters. It’s filled with danger and not a game that you should play if you’re trying to unwind.
Haunting Ground received mixed reviews on release, but has steadily become a collectors item over the years. It’s almost quadrupled in price, with mint edition copies selling for over $200.
If you’re a fan of ‘The Clocktower’ series, ‘Dark Souls’, or that feeling that you get when someone is chasing you with an axe, then this is the game for you.
5. Ibara: $210 – $444
I’m not sure that scantily-clad Japanese girls have anything to do with this forward-scrolling shoot ’em up game, but who am I to judge.
Ibara combines old machines such as biplanes and fits them with modern blasters in a strange, futuristic style shooting title that is quite confusing to play. Think of it as Star Fox on acid, and you’re somewhere near to finding out what the content is like.
This Japanese 2D shooter is, however, a bit of a cult classic with a price tag to match. Ibara remains one of the hottest Japanese imports to date, with copies rarely showing up on eBay. It’s a must-have for anyone compiling the ultimate collection and for fans of games like Strikers and Ikaruga.
The question is, are you willing to spend $444 on a video game?
6. .hack Volume 4 Quarantine: $90 – $200
We’ve come to the first of 2 RPG titles in our list of rare PS2 games! If you’re a fan of games like Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star Online, then you may already have heard of the ‘.hack’ series. They’re a pretty big deal, and ‘Volume 4: Quarantine’ is undoubtedly the best of the bunch.
As with the other games in this list, Quarantine built up a small but dedicated following. It’s not as pricey as some of the banned or ‘misunderstood’ survival horrors we’ve covered, but you can still expect to pay upwards of $90 for a copy.
Some fans of the series thought that Quarantine was the perfect ending to a great story. Other fans thought that it was a confusing game with a muddled ending. Sounds a bit like a popular TV series that recently ended…right?
7. Dragon Blaze: $150 – $340
It’s time for our rare PS2 games list to head back towards top-down shoot ’em up territory. Dragon Blaze is another rare shooting game made by the same minds as Gunbird and Sengoku Ace.
You can get a port for the Switch if you’re looking for cheap handheld thrills, but the original PS2 copy will set you back a pretty penny. I guess whether you actually want to buy a copy all depends on how much you want to ride a Dragon that can blast enemies to smithereens…
That caught your attention, didn’t it!
Players ride Dragons that can do rapid or charged attacks as they fly through the different zones. It’s harder than it sounds, however, and you’ll need a lot of practice if you want to get through to the end of the game.
Dragon Blaze has maintained its costly sum due to the small number of copies produced, making it a true collectable. Europe did see a small number of copies released in 2006, so hang onto yours if you managed to get hold of one – it might be enough to buy a house one day!
8. Blood Will Tell: $70 – $400
Everyone loves a good Samurai game, which makes the lack of good reviews for Blood Will Tell very surprising. Unfortunately, this title got lost amongst other more popular action games that were released at the same time. Despite the glowing sword, it wasn’t strong enough to hold its own and break through the crowd.
Still, all good things come back around, and now BWT is one of most rare PS2 games on the console. It’s also had one of the biggest jumps in price too, moving from $15 to up to $400 for a mint-edition copy. That’s some serious money!
If you want to know some credentials for this game, it was developed by SEGA Wow (House of the Dead, Skies of Arcadia). It’s also based on the Japanese manga series ‘Dororo’. A lot of work into making this title, and it’s actually a really fun game to play. If you’ve got the cash, give it a bash! (Catchphrase is still a work in progress).
9. Futurama: $44 – $250
I’ve always loved Futurama, but like Garfield, I wouldn’t have expected it to be a name that featured in our list of rare PS2 games. This is a prime example of a game coming out at the wrong time, and a bit of a blow for Groening fans.
Audiences were still struggling to get to grips with Fry and the gang when this title came out, and as such, it kind of fell by the wayside. It was released after the show’s cancellation, which isn’t exactly a great time to be marketing a new video game. It had new material that had never been seen before too – a homage to the space delivery squad, perhaps?
Even though the show was later revived, the game never really made a comeback. Fox’s choice to abandon the series must have put other developers off, and the completed runs of the XBOX and PS2 game were very small.
As such, you can be looking at a cost of up to $250 for a game that would have originally cost around $30. It would be nice to see a remake, but maybe Matt Groening thinks that it’s a bit of a bad omen now. Still, the graphics were good and it was pretty fun to play through, and I’ll always be a fan.
10. Xenosaga 3 (Hologram Cover) – $80 – $280
The last title on our list of rare PS2 games is also our final RPG game too. Xenosaga 3 came with a hologram cover that changed image when you tilted it. That’s got to be worth the $280 dollar price tag, especially if it’s in mint condition!
Xenosaga 3 was one in-depth and impressive RPG game with imaginative characters, epic villains, and some weird and wonderful areas to explore.
I’m not quite sure why that woman thought fighting in her underwear would be a good idea. Each to their own, I suppose!
You can buy a normal copy of this game for relatively cheap, but the Hologram cover (also known as a ‘Lenticular’ cover) will add about 60-70% more onto the overall cost. Damn our need to collect rare things! I blame the 90s Toys phase for starting it.
Speaking of collecting things, you have to fill a database of items, monsters and other collectables while playing your way through this game. So in a sense, it’s the perfect collector’s collector’s item (that made my head hurt).
Why do some PS2 games become collectors items?
There isn’t an exact science as to how ordinary PS2 games turn into rare PS2 games, but there are a few reasons that could explain how a $40 game can turn into a $400 collectable.
- The game didn’t do well at launch. It happens all too often, whether to do with a poor marketing strategy or just released at ‘the wrong time’. Some games are too ahead of their time and might only be appreciated years later. And if the company only made a few production runs, then there won’t be many in circulation.
- The game got banned. Banning something instantly makes it more appealing and intriguing, which makes us want to get our hands on it even more. It’s a warped rationale, but a true one. If a game is banned and production stopped, then the ones that are available instantly rocket in price on the second-hand market.
- The game was so good that no one ever wants to sell it. Every now and again you get an absolute whopper dropping onto the shelves. We’re talking about a game that sells out in minutes, one that everyone goes wild over and never wants to sell. Those are the games that you can expect to get top dollar for.
- The game was an import. It happens all the time. There’s a title that was only released in Japan that you want to get your hands on, and you’re willing to pay anything to get it. With shipping thrown into the mix, you can easily be looking at $150+ for a game that originally cost $30.