The time has come to tell the tale of my Playstation 2.
I would like to say that I have had generally good luck with video game hardware over the years. My first hardware failure was a SNES Advantage that somehow got stuck in “slow mo” mode (aka automatic turbo start button) that I eventually disassembled and… thought I could put back together? Every once in a while, I’ll sort through old toys, and find an ancient, forgotten giant Y button. I played my first Dreamcast hard with Soul Calibur, and it eventually shut down and never properly booted again. Remember the Dreamcast boot sequence, with a little ball bouncing along the Dreamcast letters? Well, that little ball would get up to the “E” and, before hitting “A”, just infinitely wobble back and forth while the sound of a jackhammer trumpeted through the speakers. Luckily, Dreamcasts were valued at around thirty bucks six months later, so I didn’t go without for too long. And, like pretty much everybody, my Xbox 360 “red ringed” on two separate occasions, and just recently completely gave up properly outputting a video signal. Eh, I needed to upgrade the hard drive anyway…
But I still recall the most strange hardware issue of all.
Travel with me now back to the time when the Playstation 2 was new, and not nearly 16 years old. This was the birth of what I’d consider “current” graphics, that is to say, no more weird looking polygons comprising every surface, object, and person, no more pre-rendered, completely static backgrounds, no more tinny midis in place of full orchestral scores. Alright, yes, all of those things could still appear, but look at the difference between Final Fantasy 8 and The Bouncer (which, let’s face it, both starred basically the same characters), and you’ll see the insane improvement between generations. This was a whole new world of advanced graphics, and the Pixar-level graphics that had previously been relegated to ending sequences were now fully functional and an absolute blast to play.
But you have to remember that someone enjoying these graphics firsthand may also have survived practically every other video game generation. Comparing Playstation to Playstation 2 graphics is one thing, but when you compare it back to the Donkey Kong days of the NES, it was hard to believe this kind of thing was even possible. Once you leapt over that mental hurdle, though, you began to realize that the people making these games were likely the same or related to the people that actually were involved with Donkey Kong back in the day, so, while the graphics may be upgraded, there’s no reason to believe the “allowable” glitches wouldn’t still exist. Nobody puts their million dollar game on hold just because a character’s hair doesn’t look right for exactly one scene, so let’s just collectively ignore the fact that Vincent’s cape is clipping into another dimension while we’re supposed to be mourning Aeris. Accidents happen, and I can safely say, for now and then, that some games are better off just shipped as glitchy messes. Yes, I’d rather play a game without glitches, but given the choice between a glitchy Skyrim and no Skyrim, I’ll take the glitched version.
So, when it appeared I broke Hwoarang’s spine during a bout in Tekken 4, I thought nothing of it. “It’s just a glitch,” I told myself, and I moved on (or fought on, as the case may be). I should have known better.
Look at this, probably just a silly capture of one frame, right?
Well, we could look at this in motion…
Maybe I’m just seeing things?
Months earlier, I had played through Final Fantasy 10, and while it was primarily glitch-free, there were occasions when a character would stretch and distort to the full size of the screen before awkwardly snapping back to regular size. The experience would always be quick, and, given this was from the same company that produced Vincent’s cape, I thought nothing of it. I mocked the random events with a friend whom I knew was also playing Final Fantasy 10, and he seemed completely unaware of such a thing ever happening. “Oh well,” I thought, “dude just doesn’t even notice that kind of thing.” I should have known better.
And then came Kingdom Hearts. To be clear, I had already played through Final Fantasy 10 at this point, and Tekken 4 I had borrowed from a friend and played for a solid week or so (In retrospect, I think we had a parasitic relationship where he had money, and I had the drive and skills to unlock all characters in a new game. Here’s your Tekken back, and I copied the data to your memory card just like you asked.), so I had already written off this issue in two games previously. In Kingdom Hearts, however, it was hard to ignore…
Huh. That’s weird. Is that only in menus? Maybe if we look at just one character?
Whoa, Wendy, what happened to your leg? Maybe if we hit someone without legs?
What you’re seeing there is a capture from my ol’ original Playstation 2. What’s happening there? Who the hell knows, but it happens to nearly every model in Kingdom Hearts 1. It only effected the gameplay in one location, where Sora glitched “behind” a gigantic Ursula, and thus had a really easy time of it just plinking the back of her neck to death. But while the whole experience may not have made the game unplayable, it was certainly… more than a little distracting.
So I want to say that my Playstation 2 has some kind of issue with polygons staying where they should. I’ve never heard of anyone else with this issue, but I haven’t looked very hard, so maybe it’s a known glitch? Maybe my Emotion Engine is sad? I don’t know. What I do know is that the stupid thing makes some games completely unplayable.
Just so I don’t keep picking on Squaresoft, I’ll mention Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which, by and large, was free of this glitch. However! During one of the stalking missions (the one where you purchase a gimp suit… it’s a weird game), every time I would reach a certain spot on the road in my tracking, my car would glitch out, fall through the planet, and rematerialize right on top of my prey. Mission failed. Every. Single. Time. In a desperate attempt to complete the mission, I used cheat codes to pile up cars and tanks over the “soft spot”, but, no, every single vehicle just popped through the wormhole and onto my poor mission objective. That poor woman exploded so many times, under so much rubble…
And, yes, it was just a result of my Playstation 2, and not some weak Rockstar coding. I took the game and my memory card over to a friend’s house/Playstation 2, completed the mission successfully, and then returned home and didn’t experience anything like that again.
But back to mocking Squaresoft, here’s the most insidious application in Full Metal Alchemist and the Broken Angel. The whole game was pretty easy on the glitches on my run through, and I rather enjoyed the game (mainly because I like the franchise/pulling weapons out of nowhere), so I nearly completed the game. I made it to the final chamber before the final boss, and hopped on the elevator that would transport Edward Elric to the final challenge. What happened was… heartbreaking…
Yes, Edward glitches up to where the elevator eventually stops, but, without proper footing, falls back down the shaft. The elevator, now devoid of a passenger, returns back down to terra firma. Edward lands back on the elevator, it slightly ascends, and the whole thing starts again.
Thus, on my Playstation 2, completing the game is completely impossible.
Yes, I certainly pursued the same “just do it on another Playstation 2” solution I found for my GTA issue, but, given this was the absolute end of the game, it was an aggravating experience. Way to go, crazy Playstation 2.
So, yeah, if I’m going to remember Tekken 4 for anything, it’s those first notions of, “wait, I didn’t see this happen at my buddy’s place, what gives?” The glitched PS2 would obviously go on to more radically affect other games, but Tekken 4, over everything else I could recall about the experience, well always be that game where Jin suddenly has a floppy skull for some reason.
Tekken 4 reminds me that I’m special.
FGC #82 Tekken 4
- System: Playstation 2. That’s kind of important. Arcade, too. That’s less important.
- Number of players: 2, as, ya know, fighting game.
- Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I like Tekken 4, but it’s one of those fighting games that, after an edition that was wall-to-wall crazy and featured every character so the bear and the dinosaur could fight the sumo and the schoolgirl, “rebooted” the franchise and limited the roster to the more serious characters with more technical moves. I mean, at least the bear and the zombie got to stay, and we picked up a robot that would go on to hangout in Xenosaga, but I still miss the kangaroo, and Paul just isn’t the same after his hair fell down.
- Favorite Character: Hwoarang is my main man when I just want to kick someone in the head hard and often, and Yoshimitsu is the reason I play Tekken games at all (that’s a story for another article), but, of the Tekken 4 lineup, Bryan (the zombie) is my favorite. He is just so… completely insane. I mean, I would be too if I routinely had to fight a bear, but he’s the only one in the cast that actually shows it.
- Cosplay Corner: If I could dress as Violet every day, I would. I’d dye my hair and everything.
- So, still use that Playstation 2? Nah, I replaced it eons ago, tired of getting mission-blocked by random glitching. I say “replaced”, but I couldn’t get rid of the ol’ girl, so she’s sitting in my attic, trotted out only on occasions when I want to capture the insanity for a global audience. Most of my Playstation 2 gaming gets done on a “launch” Playstation 3 nowadays, anyway.
- Did you know? Kuma, the bear, has appeared in every Tekken game (also Street Fighter X Tekken and Playstation All-Stars), but he hasn’t been the same Kuma in every game. From Tekken 3 onward, Kuma is Kuma Jr., the son of the original Kuma. Kuma Jr. is a very smart bear, and has won controlling shares in a worldwide conglomerate on at least two occasions. Fighting game plots are awesome.
- Would I play again: Even including the original, I want to say that Tekken 4 is my least favorite Tekken. This isn’t because it’s a bad game, but, as previously mentioned with that “reboot” comment, this is the least interesting Tekken, and, really, that’s why I play Tekken. Tekken 4 is, at best, the Vassal of the Iron Fist.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast (though I reserve the right to play it on the Gamecube). Are you ready for some high speed fishing action? ARE YOU!?! Please look forward to it!