Despite the PS2 generation feeling like it was only a blink ago for some gamers, Sony’s celebrated successor to the PlayStation 1 is now comfortably joining the ranks of retro gaming consoles. The lasers are starting to give out, the disc trays are starting to break, and the games are getting hard to find. They’re also getting costly. Some of the rarest PS2 games can easily hit $1,000 on eBay these days.
Diving into the world of PS2 games in 2022 is quite an interesting journey and illustrates why the console is still so beloved today and why some of these games are so rare and expensive now. As one of the last consoles that still stuck to the antiquated notions of region locks, moral panics, and limited prints, the stories surrounding some of these PS2 games are truly fascinating. In this article, we’ll run down the top 10 rarest PS2 games right now and dig into what has made these games so coveted in the first place. For the purposes of this piece, all pricing information will be gathered by Pricecharting.com and based on the complete in-box (CIB) prices that most collectors look for these days.
Many retro gamers will point to Obscure as one of the sixth generation's most forgotten PS2 survival horror games. Today, games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Siren, and Fatal Frame all hold legendary statuses within the horror fanbase that Obscure never reached; however, that would make it a prime candidate for becoming one of the rarest PS2 games ever. This early 2000s American College take on survival horror let players swap between five characters and even had a co-op mode which was quite unique to the genre at the time.
Currently, Obscure goes for around $200 on most online markets due to poor review scores and a small run of prints in 2004. What is particularly interesting about Obscure is that, unlike many games coming up on this list, it was not exclusive to the PS2. In fact, it even has a PC port that players can buy on Steam right now. Obscure isn’t a particularly difficult game for anyone to get their hands on if they want to play it digitally, but the price is still high online. Obscure’s price tells us that fans love playing survival horror on the PS2 and are willing to dish out some extra cash to get games specifically for that system. There is a novelty among retro collectors for PS2 and survival horror as the genre grew and refined its style heavily in this era. Almost 20 years later, even the lowly Obscure is finding renewed interest thanks to the PS2’s celebrated catalog of horror games.
The PS2 generation was no stranger to over-the-top gameplay and bizarre stories; after all, those styles of games became some of the highest-selling titles on the platform. However, Echo Night Beyond took a step in a different direction, offering a slower-paced sci-fi narrative experience. Developed by FromSoftware and released in 2004, Echo Night Beyond plays out like a haunted mansion murder mystery but in space. Unfortunately, not everyone was keen on picking this game up, leading to another case of limited prints before outright discontinuation.
Like many FromSoftware titles of that era, Echo Night Beyond has a lot of great ideas, but the execution was clunky and mediocre. It would take multiple tries for FromSoftware to really refine its craft. Moreover, the slower nature of the game and lack of action meant that many gamers passed on this game at the time. Echo Night Beyond has become increasingly rare as time has progressed, especially as some retro collectors claim this is one of those PS2 hidden gems and seem to enjoy hanging on to their copies. These days, Echo Night Beyond costs around $205 for a complete in box copy.
Futurama is one of the most celebrated animated sitcoms of the 2000s, right next to The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy, but the series was also subject to a lot of internal turmoil. In 2003, Futurama was canceled after numerous disputes between Fox and the showrunners. However, a video game tie-in was already in development by the time the show was in its final run.
On August 12, 2003, two days after the last episode of Futurama aired on Fox, a video game adaptation developed by Vivendi Games would release. Unfortunately, the game was deemed mediocre, and only die-hard fans of the show decided to pick up copies. When combined with the first run of Futurama on Fox being over, the PS2 game saw a very limited run of printings before falling into obscurity and now becoming one of the rarest PS2 games. On eBay and pricecharting.com, you can now find Futurama on the PS2 for around $230.
Before Monolith Soft created the incredible Xenoblade series of games on the Wii and Nintendo Switch, it made the Xenosaga of games on PlayStation consoles. Overall, Xenosaga was a bit of a mixed bag, featuring three games of varying quality. However, one thing that both reviewers and gamers agreed upon was that Xenosaga 3 was the best of the bunch.
Due to the mixed reviews of the first two games, Xenosaga Episode 3 had fewer copies printed as Bandai Namco forecasted similar sales and reviews as the previous two entries. What it didn’t expect was that Xenosaga 3 would blow up the way it did. But, thanks to the awkward timing of the PS3 release that same year, Bandai Namco didn’t issue many copies of Xenosaga 3, expecting players to move onto the new console. Xenosaga 3 is $250 right now, but the limited Best Buy exclusive Lenticular Cover is considerably rarer and goes for a much higher $330.
The .hack series is one of the most elusive franchises for game collectors because even at the time of its popularity, .hack was catching some flak for being so expensive. Unlike many franchise sequels today that operate as fully playable standalone games in their own right, .hack Quarantine requires players to have played and understood the previous three games to know what’s going on. The barrier to entry for .hack Quarantine was a hefty $150 for three games in 2003 when the franchise was still going.
Needless to say, .hack Quarantine was fairly niche, and only the most dedicated fans gobbled up the copies in circulation. What’s more, as the fourth and final game in the series, Quarantine is the entry that completes the .hack set and even forms a piece of artwork along the spines when all four games are lined up. Its collectability has made .hack Quarantine easily one of the rarest PS2 games, shooting the price up to $310 on online marketplaces.
The Silent Hill series was destined to show up on this list at some point, but surprisingly, it would be the forgotten Silent Hill: Shattered Memories hitting the rarest PS2 games list instead of the critically acclaimed Silent Hill 2 or 3. Shattered Memories reimagined the original PS1 Silent Hill game and was initially developed for the Nintendo Wii with ports for the PS2 and PSP. Oddly enough, Konami never green-lit a PS3 port despite releasing Shattered Memories in 2009, well after the PS3 had been on the market.
Due to many of today’s gamers having some contempt for Shattered Memories’ Wii motion controls but still craving a Silent Hill fix, the PS2 version became the go-to version for retro gamers. Unfortunately, this game had a limited print because many gamers had already switched to PS3, and Shattered Memories sold quite poorly on PS2. Right now, you can expect to pay around $330 for a copy, and that price is only getting higher as Konami has expressed interest in making new Silent Hill games.
Throughout the PS1 and PS2 eras, Capcom was at the top of its game with survival horror, practically defining the genre's future with Resident Evil 4. Naturally, it would make sense that one of Capcom’s last and most underrated games on the platform would end up being one of the rarest PS2 games right now. As a spiritual successor to the Clock Tower franchise, Haunting Ground would fix many of the issues fans had with Clock Tower 3, but unfortunately, the game saw a very limited run due to poor review scores.
Haunting Ground can now be found for $340 on the internet, and that price has grown astronomically over the past two years. Haunting Ground’s unprecedented rarity and price hike can likely be attributed to Capcom’s current excellent standing with gamers. Between fantastic remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 and the well-received Resident Evil Village, fans feel nostalgic for some classic Capcom survival horror these days. While it was reviewed poorly at the time, Haunting Ground has also achieved a bit of a cult following as the years have gone on. Those who can find a copy out in the wild tend to hold on to it.
Blood Will Tell easily makes the cut as one of the PS2’s hidden gems, being an underrated game that was overshadowed by the platform’s biggest titles. Released in 2004, Blood Will Tell is a video game adaptation of the Dororo manga created by Osamu Tezuka and published by Sega. At the time, Blood Will Tell received very mixed reviews praising the story but criticizing its dated gameplay.
As time went on, however, gamers caught wind that Blood Will Tell actually had some great ideas at the time and was by all accounts much better than what most reviews at the time said. The budding cult classic status of Blood Will Tell would begin to propel the title to the most-wanted lists as retro gamers wanted to see what this game was all about. These days, Sega’s 2004 slice-em-up goes for around $350.
In the current day, games are more respected in their artistic intent, with less moral panic surrounding edgier titles with evocative narratives. However, in the mid-2000s, it seemed like politicians everywhere were targeting video games as the source of society’s ills. While Grand Theft Auto barely managed to escape the clutches of prohibition, Rule of Rose would not be so lucky.
Rule of Rose was developed by Japanese studio Atlus, a team that often skirts around sensitive issues with their popular Persona and Shin Megami Tensei franchises. With Rule of Rose, Atlus decided to get into the topic of child abuse and the odd nature of children overall, and it was subsequently the source of controversy. The EU banned the game outright, leaving a whole part of the world seeking imports from North America and Japan. Additionally, Rule of Rose sold very poorly in the West due to launching well after the PS3 was on store shelves. Regarding the rarest PS2 games, Rule of Rose is one of those “holy grail” items that some gamers may never see in the open again; it currently sells for close to $650.
Kuon takes the title as the undisputed rarest PS2 game at the moment, and it’s not even close. This Japanese survival horror game mainly flew under the radar when it was released in 2004. As a matter of fact, it didn’t even review very well at all and held a 57/100 on Metacritic. Kuon is undoubtedly a visually compelling game, set in a beautiful rendition of the Heian period of Japan, with an engaging narrative that plays off Japanese folklore for its scares. Still, the game is bogged down by some rough gameplay and strange puzzles. Due to the critical panning of the game and the niche nature of Japanese horror in the West at the time, Kuon received an extremely limited print and mostly ended up in discount bins throughout GameStops and EB Games due to a lack of interest.
That was until Dark Souls launched in 2011.
The release of Dark Souls shot developer FromSoftware to wide acclaim, and as it so happens, that was also the studio in charge of Kuon in 2004. As Souls-mania grew throughout this past decade, so did the interest in FromSoftware’s back catalog, making the limited number of Kuon copies out in the wild extremely coveted. At the time of writing, Kuon goes for close to $850 CIB, with sealed versions going for $1,400, making it the number one rarest PS2 game right now and the undisputed “holy grail” game for PS2 collectors. It’s a horror title that will scare both you and your wallet.
For those of us who were around when the PS2 was thriving, it can be kind of surreal to see what used to be a $10 game end up worth the price of a new console today. Many gamers today may regret selling that drawer filled with PS2 games to GameStop for some in-store credit during the Xbox 360 days because I know I do. That said, it’s also worth mentioning that so many of these games are rare because they really aren’t that great.
Subjectivity obviously will play a factor here, but as someone who has played many of these games on PS2 or through other means, I can state that quite a few of these games are just total duds. Kuon, the most coveted game on this list, is quite a snooze-fest when you realize that there is a whole mechanic that lets you recharge your health, in turn killing the tension and horror of the entire game. Some of the better games on the list, like Xenosaga 3 and Silent Hill, are definitely good and can be worth their high asking price these days to the right person, but just because these are some of the rarest PS2 games ever doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best PS2 games ever. Remember to shop smart and collect retro games responsibly.
More in Gaming: