Today, March 4, 2015, marks the 15th anniversary of the best-selling, most popular home gaming consoles in history. The PlayStation 2 became an instant seller worldwide by selling 155 million units sold to date.

It remains one of the top ranked video game consoles of all time, and will forever be celebrated as one of the defining steps toward next-gen that gamers have now come to know, love and appreciate. To commemorate Sony and the PlayStation 2’s historic achievement, the official PlayStation Australia Twitter account released a hodgepodge of images celebrating the PS2’s birthday.

In addition to that, popular video game retailer GameStop opened up its coffers to accept trade-ins for the system. Overall, the PlayStation brand continues to decimate the competition (Xbox One, Ouya, Wii U) as its latest console, the PlayStation 4, has sold a whopping 20.2 million systems worldwide, as of yesterday.

To honor the classic console on its 15th birthday, here are five of the greatest video games from the PlayStation 2 era. While we aren’t claiming this to be the comprehensive bible for all things related to the PS2, out of the hundreds and thousands of possible games to choose from, we’ve decided on these handful of colorful titles for your perusal.

Do you agree with our choices? Do you think something should be replaced? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

5. Grand Theft Auto III

Coming in at the top of our list is a favorite game from that rockstar company, Rockstar Games. Grand Theft Auto III marked the tipping point for the gangster sandbox epic title. The DMA Design (which would eventually become Rockstar North) developed game marked the beginning of a revolution within the franchise and the medium as a whole. From sidestory missions to jacking any car on the road to shooting explosives at police and military, Grand Theft Auto III offered limitless fun to gamers who owned the PlayStation 2.

4. Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Ubisoft Montreal itched to do something new within games. The French developer surpassed expectations by taking Jordan Mechner’s original Prince of Persia concept and infused some new elements that surprised the gaming industry. By introducing parkour (which is now a staple in most video games) and time-bending, Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time stood out and differentiated itself from the masses.

3. Katamari Damacy

One of the best games ever for the PlayStation 2 was Keita Takahashi’s beautiful brainchild, also known as the irresistibly charming Katamari Damacy. A game that still has universal appeal to this day, Takahashi’s effort to branch out the Japanese video game landscape worked by mixing compelling gameplay that had you roll everything up in sight, a stellar soundtrack and zany, colorful characters such as the planet-sized King of All Cosmos, his diminutive son (the character you control, the Prince), an Astronaut who is unable to go to the moon, and his daughter Michiru. Play it yourself and you can see why this game won Japan’s Good Design Award in 2004.

2. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

While Hideo Kojima plans on finally ending his wildly popular series, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was critically lauded by press and gamers alike. Players were shocked when they didn't once again lace up as the embattled soldier-of-war, Solid Snake, but instead played as newcomer Raiden. The action-packed sequel would go on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide and score a Metacritic aggregate score of 96%. While winning multiple awards at E3, the Japan Game Awards, and with publications such as Game Informer and Game Spy, Hideo Kojima’s ambitious script and otherworldly (at the time) gameplay encouraged many to believe Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was the first example of a postmodern video game.

1. Kingdom Hearts II

Funny how things, ideas, and even people can come together. Did you know that the original Kingdom Hearts game would not have happened if executives from Square-Enix and Disney never rode the same elevator? The action role-playing game marked the first time Disney’s most popular characters shared a universe with anyone. And it was a terrific success, with sequels and spin-offs released to this day that continue what has become a convoluted, surprisingly dark storyline. The somber tone of of the sequel, Kingdom Hearts II, wasn’t just limited to the game either as it was also the last time anyone would hear Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid series and the Emperor of China in Mulan) and his wonderful voice ever again.

Despite crying grown man tears from playing the game, Kingdom Hearts II was the second best-selling game of 2006, eventually selling over 4 million copies worldwide. Famitsu ranked the game in its top 30 on its "All Time Top 100" list, while the game won a Satellite Award for "Outstanding Game Based on Existing Medium" in 2006. All in all, Kingdom Hearts II showed just how important it was to gamers who owned the PlayStation 2.

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Photo: Michel Ngilen | Flickr

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