Why do people glorify PS2-era graphics? Players who claim they don’t need any better urged to do a reality check

A post on Japanese X/Twitter comparing the graphics performance of the PlayStation 2 to the PS4 has users discussing how the PS2 visuals hold up in modern times. The PlayStation 2 showcased groundbreaking graphics when it launched in 2000 and fans have been praising its capabilities ever since, to the extent that “I don’t need anything more than PS2” becoming an often heard statement. However, some online users question if the people who think this way really know what they’re saying, wondering why it’s such a common sentiment.

In the post that started it all, the OP claims that, while many gamers today might believe that the graphics of the PS2 can hold their own even in the presence of modern-day consoles, this may not be the case. The OP states “I often hear people say things like “PS2-level is more than enough” whenever game graphics are discussed, to the point that the imaginary performances of the PS2 seem to be closing in on the PS4. But I think that most of the people saying these things would go “That looks terrible!” if they saw actual PS2 game graphics nowadays.”

When the PlayStation 2 first launched in 2000, players were amazed by its groundbreaking graphics performance. The system’s use of new hardware such as their custom-designed Emotion Engine (CPU) and Graphics Synthesizer (GPU), showed everyone just how appealing video games could look. According to IGN, “The Sony Graphics Synthesizer is used in the PlayStation 2 and can handle 20 times the simultaneous data of some PC graphics accelerators and can render 75 million polygons per second.” This was a massive jump in graphics performance as the PS1 only had the capacity to process 360,000 polygons per second. While the visuals were revolutionary for the time, some gamers remember the experience so fondly that, even with newer consoles having more advanced processing capabilities, they still claim not to need graphics any more advanced than the PS2-era ones.

Post translation: I think it has to do with people’s perception of PS2 graphics being stuck on only the cut scenes. The pre-rendered stuff looks great (save for the low resolution) even when viewed nowadays, so I can understand people thinking they don’t need anything better if this is the idea of standard PS2 graphics they have in their heads.

However, with so much time having passed since the PS2’s release, users questioned if some gamers are possibly misremembering how the console’s titles actually looked in-game. One user commented, “When I revisited the graphics of games that I thought were beautiful at the time, they were actually quite rough…My mind had been correcting them.”

Post translation: Left: Strictly speaking an arcade version, but the core is based on the PS2 Idolmaster. Right: PS4 or higher Idolmaster Starlit Season.

While there’s no denying that the PS2’s visuals were game-changing, some users questioned whether it was the effects of nostalgia that had players still praising the console’s graphics. 

Post translation: It’s most easy to tell with the graphics of cars. GT4 had graphics that utilized the maximum capabilities of the PS2 at the time, so it looked quite amazing back then. However, when GT5 was released, GT4’s graphics suddenly started looking so outdated. On GT4 on the left, and GT5 on the right.

Another user pointed out, “This is the same as when people say games were better in the good old times. When someone says, “Games from the PS2 era were more fun,” they are not necessarily talking about the quality of the games themselves. They’re talking about the “enjoyable experience” that includes everything from the environment at that time to the friends they played with and the enthusiasm felt by their younger selves..” It’s possible that the fond memories of playing games at such a formative time in many PS2 fan’s lives may have enhanced the greatness of the console.

Technological advancements not only in game consoles but in televisions at the time, also played a part in making the PS2’s visuals even more appealing. By the time the PlayStation 2 was released, many people began transitioning from CRT TVs (the bulky ones with a protruding backside) to televisions with LCD displays. This shift to clearer displays further showcased the advancements in graphics of the PS2 at the time, however, with even more recent advances in both hardware and software, we can now see the quality of the PS2’s visuals even better than in the past. 

Post translation: It was originally 480p so even with HDMI, it looks like this. However, if you upscale the definition with an emulator, it looks like the third image. The polygons have great potential.

There are many aspects of a game apart from graphics that one can enjoy, however, for players accustomed to the eye-catching visuals of modern games, when replaying older games, the difference in visuals may be offputting for many. However, more recent games with graphics reminiscent of older titles such as Minecraft, Undertale, Stardew Valley, and many more, have achieved success and garnered numerous fans, showing the retro style is still quite popular, perhaps partly due to the nostalgia they evoke. 


  1. It’s the graphics have more charm to it than modern day which only seems to be focusing on making games looking as real and possible which ends up being bland in comparison.


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