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Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore

PlayStation 2 : A Retrospective (Part 1)

Nine years and counting! We take a multi-part look at the history of one of the greatest consoles to grace our televisions. Part One - The Arrival!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: November 5, 2009
This story begins on the blustery night of October 25th, the year of our lord Twenty-Double Aught. I was firmly in the PC Gaming trenches, having sold off my launch PS1 (actually a scammed replacement I had for said launch unit which had died [after successfully being kept alive an extra 3 months by running it upside down]) and my N64, happily playing games like System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, which were miles beyond anything a console could offer at the time (and some would say still can). I knew of the upcoming PlayStation 2, but to be honest I wasn't that keen on it. I was a very poor college student, and the $300 price tag was scaring me off, plus I had been doing pretty well without consoles for the past couple of years. But my best friend Mike had just moved up to Fairbanks, Alaska to live by me, and he was pretty excited and insisted we needed to get one. Immediately. Like the next morning when they launched. I'm pretty easily swayed, so I agreed.


One thing to keep in mind... before the PlayStation 2, there really was no such thing as a console shortage. Sure, it might have been a little tricky to get an N64, but not that hard. However, the overwhelming success of the PS1 made demand for the PS2 quite a bit higher than expected. Word got to us pretty quickly that it might not be as simple as walking into GameStop the next morning to grab one. In fact, we might have to go wait in line a few hours before the store opened if we really wanted one on day 1.

Well, I was a college student and Mike didn't really have a job so that wasn't out of the question. We figured we'd be good if we got there at 4am or so for a 7am store opening. Thankfully, an evening news story alerted us to the fact that all over the country folks were already lining up at stores. Well, we though, this is Fairbanks-Motherfucking-Alaska, home of the farthest north Denny's and Harley Davidson Outposts in the world. Things can't be that bad here! We decided to head out around 1am instead and scope out the situation.

As you may have gathered, Fairbanks Alaska is not the largest town. Besides our very recently opened GameStop, the only other options for buying a PlayStation were an old run down Sears and the two Fred Meyer stores. If you aren't from the Northwest of the USA, you probably don't know what a Fred Meyer is, but it is essentially a classier Wal-Mart, and it is pretty much the center of everything in Fairbanks. You can't go to a Fred Meyer without running into 5 people you know and 5 more you don't want to know (Fairbanks is a weird place). So Mike and I drove over to the Fred's that was nearest to us. The "good" one.

We pulled into the parking lot and saw a line of people already stretched pretty far. As Mike pulled up, I rolled down the window and asked if they were waiting for PS2's (duh!) and a helpful fellow told they were, and that he had just gotten there, and he was the twenty-fifth in line and that the store had 25 PS2's to sell the next morning. SHIT. We were literally minutes too late. Another fellow in line chimed in that maybe we would want to try the other Fred's, which likely had some as well. Hells Bells, we thought, that's all the way across town! Then we remembered that across town is two miles in Fairbanks, so we hopped back in the car and got there as fat as we could. Pulled into the parking lot, and, nothing. No one there at all. Oh man, we thought, they don't have any! Nevertheless, we parked and got out.

Imagine our delight when we got to the door and the sign said they had 16 PS2's for the morning! We looked around again. No one. Could we really be the only ones here? The other Fred's was totally filled! But we were! The first in line! It was now close to 2am, 5 hours until the store opened. There is one other thing you should know about Fairbanks. In Late October, it is reallllllly cold outside. For reference, when I woke up this morning it was 8 below. That is not unusual. So we decided that since no one was there, we might as well wait in the car with the heater. Not 5 minutes later, another call pulls up, and out hop 3 elementary school kids whose parents are willing to leave them at this Fred's, ALONE, at 2am and pick them up at 7am. They are still going to school in the morning, but they talked their parents into leaving them there. Impressive! So, not wanting to lose the primo number one spot, we get out and dutifully waited outside.

Within 2 hours, we had 16 people in line, including my friend Mike and I at the front, but we were only buying one PS2. I was about to tell the 17th person who showed up they were OK, when one of the elementary school kids, bless his little heart, said "Hey you guys should just get an extra one and sell it... no way you couldn't make at least 400 bucks selling that thing". Ahhh young capitalists. We weren't all about the idea, but then another fellow (Dave Limon, who I never spoke to again, but whose name I remember to this day) who was in line said, hey, I got a buddy, he will give you 100 bucks if you get him a PS2. How could we say no (really sorry, I don't condone buying up consoles and selling them at markup... but this guy asked us to do it for him! And in a way we earned it!).

Finally, at 530 am, an employee came out and said "This is how it's going to go down. I am going to hand out tickets to the first 16 people in this line. Come back at 7 when the store opens with this ticket and get your PS2." EXCELLENT! No more waiting in the freezing cold! Although it had been nice, since the 16 of us had really become friends in that strange huddled mass outside of Fred's. So I got my number (1) and Mike got 2 and the three little kids got 3-5 and Dave Limon got 14 and we all headed over to Burger King to get some breakfast and get warm. Dave Limon went to the ATM and got us 80 dollars (what happened to 100, I don't know) and took number "2" and gave it to his buddy.

Seven AM rolled around and we headed back to Fred's, burst in as soon as the doors opened, grabbed our PS2 and headed home to set it up. When we got there, we realized we had failed to get, you know, a game... We threw in my PS1 copy of Twisted Metal 2 (which I still have to this day... also Twisted Metal 1 in the old long box!) and played for a bit, feeling a little underwhelmed. Clearly we needed to go back to the store. So we headed to the GameStop at the mall, where the selections were a little bare. (Editor's Note: I'm impressed that you guys didn't pass out on the couch by then) Using the 80 bucks we got from Dave Limon and a little of our own cash, we got Armored Core 2 and Dead or Alive 2 : Hardcore.

Leaving the mall, I stopped at the ATM to get some more money for food or something, and it just so happened that the last person hadn't remembered to get their card back and the ATM was asking if I wanted another transaction. I don't condone stealing either, but I'm not going to lie. I took 30 bucks out of that guys account and went back to GameStop and bought a second controller so we could play DOA2 together. Oh the crimes I committed in the name of PlayStation! (Seriously, at least 2 cases of fraud, scalping, straight up stealing... I might get into murder and rape or something by the time the PS4 hits!)(kidding, at least about the rape!)

To be honest, neither of those games were that much fun, but of course the whole new experience made it seem that much better. There wasn't much else out there at launch anyway, so we did what we had to. And so began a nine year love affair with Sony's precocious little second child. It still sits under my television today (well, the replacement one I scammed from the OTHER Fred Meyer after the first one died three years into its life).

Next time: The Games!

Oh and in honor of the Ninth Anniversary of the PS2, here is the original ad campaign, featuring (serendipitously) the PS9!