Even though the Nintendo Switch and the upcoming Steam Deck have demonstrated that there is still a market for portable game consoles, Sony has not attempted to return to the handheld gaming market since the underwhelming PlayStation Vita was released. Fortunately, a modder has created a fully portable PlayStation 2 system that allows players to play authentic PS2 games in their entirety.
The PlayStation Portable, which was released in the United States in 2005, included some PlayStation 2 ports, including Tekken 5, The Warriors, and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2: Remix. Despite the fact that these games were PlayStation 2 titles, they had to be scaled down in order to run on the less powerful hardware of the handheld. The PlayStation Vita, Sony’s successor to the PSP, was released in 2012 across the globe with significantly improved hardware, allowing the system to run much more impressive PS2 titles such as Persona 4: Golden, Final Fantasy 10 HD Remaster, and God of War Collection. Despite this, the full PlayStation 2 library contained 1850 games, and even when the PSP and PS Vita libraries were combined, only a fraction of the PS2 games were playable on handheld devices.
In order to create this device, which is known as the PS2 Eclipse, YouTuber GingerOfOz removed the motherboard from a PS2 Slim system, cut it down, and then placed it inside a 3D printed shell. The controls are provided by using the buttons on the PS Vita and the joysticks on the Nintendo Switch. Because it is constructed from components obtained from a PlayStation 2 Slim system, the handheld is capable of running all PlayStation 2 games in the same manner as they would on their original hardware. Because the project’s primary goal was portability, GingerOfOz chose not to include the PS2’s disc drive because it would have significantly increased the size and battery drain of the device, which already has a battery life of around two and a half hours to begin with.
The PS2 Eclipse is equipped with a 5-inch 480p screen, side speakers, a battery life indicator, and a headphone jack, among other features. Because there is no disk drive, games must be transferred via USB at a snail’s pace, which, as The Verge points out, can cause some games to stutter and take a long time to load in some cases. But, to be honest, those seem like minor concessions in what is otherwise an incredibly well-kept machine.
GingerOfOz has stated that they do not intend to sell the PS2 Eclipse at this time, though this may change if the product receives enough attention. For the time being, I’ll direct you to the creator’s technical breakdown of how their handheld PS2 works, as well as instructions on how to construct one for yourself.
Projects like this show that there is still a market for Sony portable consoles, despite Sony’s decision not to try again. Despite Nintendo’s undisputed dominance of the handheld market, the PlayStation Portable sold over 80 million units worldwide. Despite great games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the PS Vita was a commercial failure, leading Sony to abandon the portable market in favor of home consoles. So far, Sony’s strategy appears to be working, as demand for its latest PlayStation 5 consoles has outpaced supply. It’s easy to imagine how great a standalone PlayStation 2 handheld could’ve been.
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in handheld games, you’ll want to keep an eye out for Valve’s Steam Deck, which is essentially a gaming laptop with a handheld Switch-like design. Pre-orders are currently being accepted, but due to high demand, new orders will not be shipped until after Q2 2022, which is well after the initial December 2021 launch date.