The long journey of a neglected PS2

The year was 2010, and I was a junior software developer at a consultancy in Guatemala City – one of my coworkers, my good friend Nacho made the comment that he was getting rid of his PS2 for whatever reason...

The long journey of a neglected PS2
Photo by Nikita Kostrykin / Unsplash

A few weeks ago I was able to make a trip back to my home country to be with family and friends. After being in the US permanently for about a year and a half, it was not only a welcome disconnection from the daily grind and routine, but also a very good opportunity to do some much needed introspection and self-care.

A very important detail to this story is that before I left my country to come live in the US, it was necessary to get rid of pretty much all of my worldly possessions. My two cars, all of my home office furniture, computer monitors and stuff had to go. The most painful part of the process though was getting rid of my not so small videogame collection.

A tiny fraction of my collection. Yup, I was really into finance at the time... or at least my job required me to.

It wasn't by any means a comprehensive or a particularly large collection, but it was a reminder of a long gone era. Being an adult with tons of responsibilities now, I no longer had the time and the mental energy to continue playing endless hours after work was done for the day, but in the back of my mind I was hopeful that I would someday come back and finish my backlog. The sad reality is that I knew all along that this was probably never going to be the case but I wasn't going to get rid of it... until, of course, your priorities take a 180 turn and what was once important is just an afterthought.

I started building this collection probably the minute I received my first check. I didn't set out to build a collection, it kinda just happened. I started buying a few games here and there around 2007 and never really stopped until probably late 2022. I had games starting all the way back to the NES up until PS4/Xbox One. At one time I was close to 300 games but hey, who's counting.

Leaving everything behind

I had to leave my country on a very short notice. My wife stayed back with my son for about two months while I was setting up our living arrangements. I came to the US with one piece of luggage and a backpack, so not much room for pretty much anything besides some clothing and the bare essentials to get me by a few days until I could start making some progress. Bringing videogames with me was honestly the last thing on my mind, and I knew that even bringing them was not a very realistic and financially wise decision so I instructed her to sell everything, including all the games and systems.

Luckily for me, my brother always shared a similar interest in videogames as me. He ended up buying pretty much the whole lot, so I wasn't that sad that my beloved videogame collection ended up with a complete stranger.

A second chance

Going back to my recent trip, I was finally able to be reunited with most of my old hobby (and my family, of course). One thing I need to point here is the fact that my brother doesn't care for pretty much anything before the Xbox 360. That was a pivotal console and games during our years together during college so it brings lots of memories, but anything game-wise before that is non-existent for him. I mention this because I noticed that a few games and the actual consoles were just collecting dust and I figured he was just not interested in them – so a thought crossed my mind: would it be too crazy if I was able to bring some of them back with me to the US?

When you go back to visit your family in Latin America, it is a given that you will be bringing a lot of souvenirs and stuff for family and friends. Bringing stuff down with you is a great way to save everyone a good chunk of change in shipping and also local taxes. So understandably I brought with me two large luggage pieces filled with stuff our family bought online and shipped to our home in Atlanta before the trip. That left me with two mostly empty luggage pieces to bring back to the US...

After coming to an agreement, I was able to bring back home a small amount of games and a couple of consoles, which brings me finally back to the topic of this story.

The neglected PS2

Why neglected? Let's start with how this console actually came to be in my possession.

The year was 2010, and I was a junior software developer at a consultancy in Guatemala City – one of my coworkers, my good friend Nacho made the comment that he was getting rid of his PS2 for whatever reason. I asked how much he was asking and he said Q250. The Guatemalan Quetzal and the US Dollar exchange rate have remained pretty much in the same range for the last 20 years, fluctuating around Q7.5 and Q8, meaning this bad boy exchanged hands by a whooping US$35.

Actual picture of the day I bought it - my old iPhone 3GS picture metadata says this was March 10, 2010
Excuse my poor photographic skills, these are objectively awful shots but you get the idea. Pay attention to that white stain just below the PS2 logo.

This PS2 was already in rough shape when I got it. A prominent white stain is visible from day one, the disc tray really struggles to open and I'm pretty sure the controllers I got were junk. But hey, I never owned a PlayStation 2 console before so this was an exciting acquisition for me!

Along with the console I got a few games from Nacho. He has always been a fan of fighting games so I got a small batch of them, not much else worth mentioning. I don't think I ever played any of them but I was at that point just happy to see my small collection grow. Come to think about it, I don't think I played more than 30 minutes with this console for the next 8 or 10 years? I bought a few games for it whenever I saw them at a bargain but I was never interested in playing them.

This particular PS2 then was safely stored for the most part of the next 13 years. I remember getting nostalgic around the time everything shut down because of the pandemic and played some Winning Eleven (Pro Evolution Soccer) for a solid night, only to put it away for good after that. And it was in this state that I last remember it, until a few weeks ago...

Bringing it back

As for actually bringing it back, there's not much to say about it. Putting it in the luggage and pad it with enough clothes around as to avoid any rough handling during the trip. What I actually mean by bringing it back is restore this to its former glory and then add some much needed upgrades.

Without further ado, this is the current condition. I was so tempted to start this before writing this up but was able to restrain myself. This poor PS2 definitely has seen better days and is in dire need of a deep clean and restoration. Here are some pictures of its current condition:

Remember our white stain? Well, here it is 14 years later, plus a lot more scratches than I remember
Lots of dirt but overall the front doesn't look THAT bad, does it?
A closer look at those filthy vents...
The bottom is even worse with these scratches
As expected, the fan in the back is on par with the filthy vents on the front

So, what's the plan?

The remarkable thing about this PS2 is that it works just fine even in this condition. My plan moving forward is as follows:

  • Disassemble it and do a thorough, deep clean
  • Even though the DVD drive is able to read games, I want to add a hard-drive and load the games from there to avoid further wear and tear to the ancient laser on this drive
  • Install an internal HDMI solution to replace the current AV output
  • Swap the fan with a more efficient third-party replacement

I do plan on documenting this but this is currently my plan of action. Some things will probably change as I get further down this plan and learn new tricks but this is the gist of it.

Feel free to leave your comments!