As we leave 2009 and move into this new decade, we will do so with little or maybe even no more PlayStation 2 exclusive RPGs. 2009 saw only a small handful, so we've likely finally hit the end of the system's lifespan. No doubt a system for RPGamer, the PS2 will be missed. Here's our top pick for 2009.
Despite heavy controversy over the game's translation and willingness to freeze at key points, RPGamer extends a hearty handshake to Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica. Although 2009's major headlines focused on a newer generation of gaming delights, PS2 afficianados still had ample reason to keep their "obsolete" technology plugged in. Ar tonelico II demonstrated that a solid gaming experience can exist in harmony with glitz and fanservice.
The reasons for Ar tonelico II's success orbit around the rich characterization of its principle wielders of technological song magic and the world-techno array of sounds used to represent the magic in-game. The influence of these characters and their songs is embedded in the most imaginative of the game world's flourishes, adding a subtle taste of otherness to the game's Japanese console RPG core. This flavor continues into the combat system, which is a balancing act of multiple interlocking subsystems. Although mastery of all of them is not necessary to complete the game, watching them hatch all in a row is a true joy. Ar tonelico II, you are this year's PS2 Best in Show!
by Zach Welhouse, Michael Cunningham