The things I go through to play decade-old games...
April 18, 2018

I got tired of playing my PS2 games on a dinky flatscreen TV with blurry visuals, so I decided to get something cheap yet decent. I ended up with an inexpensive Westinghouse set that does the job. Bear in mind that this isn't my main TV, but one I keep in the basement so I can play some of my older systems. After purchasing it, I fished out my PS2's component cable and fired it up. What greeted me as I started The Punisher was a horribly discolored cutscene, where Soap and Molly questioned Frank Castle about his shootout with Kingpin while blue and red hues flashed all over their faces. I thought this couldn't be right and feared the TV was to blame. I didn't want to take it back.

So I experimented and came to the conclusion that it was the component cable that was the culprit, and that replacing it would be no big deal. I could buy one off Amazon, but I do really want to pay for next day shipping on something like this? Not really. So I decided to hit up a few stores, hoping they still had a PS2/3 component cable.

Oddly, a lot of stores I went to had PS3 controllers, but not a single PS3-related anything else. I nearly gave up and added all of the PS2 games on my backlog to a the growing list of games I temporarily couldn't play. For me, this is torture because when I begin a project, I like to finish it. Also, I'm a mix of stubborn and kinda nuts.

Thankfully, the mom 'n pop joint Trade-A-Game came to my rescue yet again and actually had the cable in stock. All of this nonsense took me about a week.

Prior to all of that, I tried searching my house for a spare component cable I convinced myself I still owned. However, another voice reminded me that I have a terrible memory and that I tossed that old cord out, which is why I was using composite on my PS2 for so long. Still, I stubbornly searched the crevices and deep closets for a cord that I knew in the back of my mind was probably long reduced to ash at the county incinerator.

It's as if the games I own don't want me to beat them. I had to labor a little just to fix a simple situation, and even when I got The Punisher up and running, I met horrific resistance. The final six levels proved to be quite the task. Fighting Bullseye was the biggest pain, because I needed to score headshots on him to win, all while struggling with the game's wonky aiming physics. Meanwhile, he threw multiple daggers at a time for massive damage, and dodging them was tricky.

Later on, I had to survive a frustrating encounter with infinite waves of Yakuza. After killing their boss, I had to figure out how to escape his home. His office held the answer, and that was locked. I had to search for a key while endless waves of foes spilled in and shot me from every angle. For those not familiar with the game, there are only two ways to heal yourself: enter Slaughter Mode (which you can only do by filling a meter on your HUD, and it takes ages to replenish it) or successfully interrogating a criminal. When you have scores of Yakuza pouring in from several entry points, some of them armed with flamethrowers, you can't exactly torture someone until they break without taking tons of damage.

I eventually found the key and entered the office, only to discover that there is no exit there. Instead, you interact with a security system that unlocks a secret passage. However, you have to wait four minutes for the lock to disengage. Remember, bottomless Yakuza. I died several times around this point, only to discover there's a guy in the kitchen that I could convince to unlock the passage more quickly. After that, I was home free and onto the final stage was assailed by tons of trained assassins positioned in the escape tunnel. Of course, I died.

Finally... FINALLY... I made it through the scene and onto the final level. The stage itself wasn't bad, actually. You fight through a besieged prison, making your way to the main antagonist Jigsaw. This one wasn't a straightforward fight, either, as Jigsaw managed to steal some of Tony Stark's tech. He wore a bulletproof suit, but harbored only one weakness: his jetpack. It took me most of my health to destroy the jetpack, but then he entered a second phase where he could easily blast me multiple times at a go.

I died several times before discovering something rather cheap. There's a corner where some mines continuously spawn. You're supposed to nab these every so often to use against his second form. Anyway, I tucked in that corner during both phases of the fight, and he had a hard time targeting me. He would often float right above the corner and wait, and if he wasn't vulnerable, I could at least make him so. While hiding in this nook, I racked up a good collection of mines that brought his second form down to mere ribbons of health. I returned to the corner and stocked up my supply, and he never approached me. I could hear him yelling at Frank Castle in the distance. At last, I tossed the last few explosives and vanquished Jigsaw, finally scratching The Punisher off my backlog.

I wanted to shove off to bed, but decided to pen a review for this hodgepodge of great and worrisome material. It's a fittingly sadistic, hard R-rated game, but not a very good shooter. Sad thing, that. Hopefully my PS2 doesn't figure out some other way to bone me before I can finish the next titles I decide to fire up on it: Tales of the Abyss and Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (which I have finished before, but I intend to replay).

Also, my "review" of Wrestlemania 34 is still coming.

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honestgamer honestgamer - April 19, 2018 (11:01 PM)
It's getting difficult to play the really old games because more and more systems crowd our abodes with each successive generation, and not enough of them are backwards-compatible. That's why I'm glad the Xbox One, though it's not a great gaming machine for other purposes, is at least good at playing Ultra 4K discs AND letting me play the bulk of my most desirable Xbox 360 and (I'm reading) original Xbox stuff. I hope it continues to become easier to play those old games, rather than more difficult, because I have a massive personal library full of them and I don't like having to struggle to take advantage of that fact on a whim.

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