How the iPad took me back to the year 2000, the PlayStation 2 days

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It’s hard to believe that the PlayStation 2 (PS2) is now 22 years old. Talk about time that flies by. At the very least, it’s made us some of the best games ever in my opinion.

With his arrival, the rise of open world games and heavily story based adventures began, with solid storytelling and finally – high quality voice acting.

Games began to move away from the childish, colorful and harmless art form they were in their infancy, and evolved into legitimate, interactive movies with impressive open worlds to explore.

These days, buying a used, working PS2 and hooking it up to a modern TV can be a hassle… But luckily these days it’s much easier to relive some of those memories from the golden age of video games than to go through all of that.

Led by Rockstar Games, the developers behind Grand Theft Auto, the iPad App Store has been inundated with legitimately impressive PS2 game ports over the past decade. Do you just download it?

I don’t know about you, but even when I’m not playing my childhood games, I like having them with me. Honestly, I’ve outgrown playing games in general, but this doesn’t change the fact that starting up Final Fantasy 8 takes me back to when I was about 10 years old.

And I really mean it – the music, the images, together conjure up in my head the kind of spectacle that I’ve forgotten is even possible; vivid memories that I have completely tucked away in the back of my mind resurface more than two decades later. I get to see the sort of seemingly random snippets of the early 2000s, even time has forgotten, let alone me, with my finite human mind, filled with current things and concerns. It’s surreal.

The same way listening to old music can take you back to the days when you were a kid, a feeling that is sometimes so overwhelming that some people can burst into tears, video games you grew up with can do that, maybe even better. High production games, which started to become a thing around the PS2 era, contain so much more than just one song to tickle your nostalgic senses.

I think this is a long-winded way of saying – even if you don’t play games anymore, fire up a few PS2 games (or whatever you grew up with), for a while, and see what happens in your head. Chances are it will be fine.

So, what better way to relive those old PS2 games that required a loud, disc-spinning console and a giant, heavy TV of questionable picture quality… than on a thin, light, quiet, futuristic device like the iPad Pro? Or… whatever model you have.

You only need a few things to get started, which are a supported gamepad and of course money to buy those games, some of which are quite expensive on the App Store. Because certain game publishers know how much nostalgia means to many of us and how much we are willing to pay to feel some things. And they are not ashamed to exploit it! But again… it works, right? I can’t really blame you, Square Enix. Well, maybe a little.

iPad + gamepad = the best portable game console!

That’s obvious, of course, but you need an iPad. And not just any iPad, but a fairly modern one, updated to the latest iPadOS version, so we can be sure that it will support wireless gamepads without any hiccups.

Now the gamepad options you have are either a wireless Xbox controller or a wireless PlayStation controller. No shock absorbers there. It’s obviously sacrilege to play PlayStation games with an Xbox controller, but I’ll do that since I already have one. If you have a wireless PlayStation controller, use it!

To be thoroughly informative, these are the exact controllers Apple says you can use with your iPad…

Xbox controllers you can use with your iPad:

  • Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708)
  • Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
  • Xbox adaptive controller
  • Xbox Wireless Controller Series S and Series X

PlayStation controllers you can use with your iPad:

  • PlayStation DualShock 4 wireless controller
  • PlayStation 5 DualSense wireless controller

Once you’ve got them and they’re paired with your iPad, it’s time for us to download some PS2 games and get this nostalgic party started!

The app store has these great PlayStation 2 games

Fortunately, some of my favorite children’s games are available to play on the iPad, such as Max Payne, Final Fantasy 8, and Grand Theft Auto: III. You can buy and download those PS2 game ports on your iPhone or iPad, and start playing right away! In fact, here’s a list…PlayStation 2 games available on iPad:

  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
  • Max Payne
  • Bully: anniversary edition
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

As you can see, it’s not a huge list, but it does include some of the biggest, best PS2 games ever made (and some of the best games ever made, period), which more than makes up for it. San Andreas alone is an 18 year old game that people play like crazy to this day! It’s that big and fun.

If you prefer a strong story rather than open-world chaos, I’d recommend Max Payne or Final Fantasy VIII instead. Both have entertained me for many months, culminating in the fond memories I carry with me to this day, and I bet they can do the same for you. Even if you’ve never played any of these games, now’s the time! Don’t sleep on the classics!

Want even more games? You have Apple Arcade and countless other App Store games

A quick word about Apple Arcade – it’s a subscription service, basically like a Netflix for video games. You pay $5 a month and get access to over 200 games, many with controller support. NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition is arguably the most console-like game out there.

But you also have countless, countless other games in the iPad App Store to discover, download and play! Maybe even other PS2 games we missed (let us know in the comments), plus some great PC gameports like the likes of Limbo, Inside, PubG Mobile, Minecraft and Call of Duty – they’re all available!

In fact, here’s another list of console games, and it’s another console I grew up with: the SEGA Genesis. These are the games that SEGA has brought from it to the iPad…

SEGA Genesis games available on iPad:

  • Sonic the hedgehog
  • Sonic the hedgehog 2
  • Streets of anger
  • Streets of anger 2
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Changed Beast
  • Shinobi .’s Revenge
  • golden axe
  • comix zone
  • Fantasy Star
  • VectorMan
  • Decap Attack
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Ristar

Of course, there’s a lot more we can get into depending on which console you love the most. For example, fans of the PS1 will be happy to hear that there’s another game available that I’d like to call “one of the best”, Castlevania: Symphony of The Night. If you’ve never played this massive Metroid-esque PS1 classic that changed the series forever, I highly recommend it.

Important! Not all iPad games have gamepad support. Always read the descriptions to make sure they do that before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Want the classic couch gaming experience? Connect that iPad to your TV

Now there is always the wireless option to connect your iPad with AirPlay to your smart TV, but in my experience the latency is a big issue. Your quick reactions should translate to the on-screen action just as quickly, but AirPlay isn’t exactly lag-free, it’s best to look at photo albums or watch a movie now and then.

What you need to connect your iPad to your TV for absolutely latency-free gaming are, of course, dongles. If you’re serious about this, you should either buy a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter, or, if your iPad is one of the older models with a Lightning connector, get a Lightning to HDMI adapter instead.

That’s not all, you also need an HDMI cable to go from that adapter to your TV, and of course your TV needs to have an HDMI port, which most have. There’s even a chance your TV came with an HDMI cable, so at least you might not need to buy one.

But either way, once everything is plugged in, you can hop into bed with just your controller and do some classic (or not so classic) gaming on the big screen TV. Without a real game console, just your iPad.

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