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SYFY WIRE Playstation

Newly unearthed PS2 treasure trove lets you play 700+ old school demos & prototypes for free

By Benjamin Bullard
Sony PlayStation 2

Hard to believe, but the PlayStation 2 is now more than two decades past its original North American debut date of October 2000. While that may not make Sony’s beloved beast an outright retro console (and there are tons of people who never stopped playing), it does put the PS2 on the fast track to being a decidedly old-school machine. And with what’s probably the largest library of any console ever, there’re definitely a lifetime’s worth of games to play.

Thanks to the efforts of a community of devoted game preservationists, the idea that it’s even possible to play through the PS2’s full history may have just reached blissfully impossible heights. A trove of more than 700 game demos and prototypes for old PS2 games, curated all by one anonymous person and handed over to the gaming historians at Hidden Palace, has just been put online — and the entire thing is free to play for anyone with a computer and a little emulation know-how.

Hidden Palace has become the designated clearing house for what it’s calling “Project Deluge,” a massive undertaking to put a huge number of donated old-school game demos online. It’s a project so big that the 700+ PS2 game dump is only the first step: The group calls it “a gigantic lot of various video game prototypes, pre production assets, and archival material spanning multiple console generations,” all of which “were miraculously rescued from being destroyed, thrown away, or sold through the herculean efforts of one person.”

We didn’t count up the full list (which can be found here), but Polygon reports there are a total of 752 games included in Hidden Palace’s PS2 highlight reel. Many of the game files represent prototypes that developers worked up for hands-on playtime at trade shows like E3, or for consumer-facing demos to jump-start the fan buzz ahead of a game’s release. “From press previews, reviews, localization prototypes, tech demos, debug builds, and so on — there’s something for everyone,” teases Hidden Palace.

Is this just a clearing house for obscure PS2 games that most players skipped the first time? Not really. Of course there are games on the list you’ve probably never heard of (or avoided), but there are plenty of pre-release versions of stone-cold PS2 classics. Final Fantasy X, God of War, Shadow of the ColossusTony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and Okami are just some of the titles that appear here. Via VGC, the group’s weekend Twitch playthrough also featured “preview versions of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, God Hand, Ratchet & Clank (2002), Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc,” and more.

With game files from other console generations already being sifted through for future online updates, this is only the beginning. But for PS2 fans equipped with nothing more than a PC and Hidden Palace’s emulation software (which it’s continuously updating to make even more games playable), it’s the kind of beginning that might just be downright impossible to finish.