Rule of Rose is the most expensive Playstation 2 game, but why?
Remember the glory days of the PS2? I really hope so, otherwise you’re going to make me feel old and send me into an existential crisis. Oh gosh.
But among the vast sea of games that gave us countless hours of procrastination, there’s this hidden gem called Rule of Rose. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but If you’re looking to buy it, you might be in for a shock, with it costing more than a brand new console. Why does this game easily fetch over half a grand? Let me start counting my pennies as we dig in…
Released in 2006, Rule of Rose was a bit like that indie band that only your most pretentious friends knew about. Punchline, the game’s small developer team, didn’t have the resources for a big marketing campaign, so the game was hard-to-get from the start. It’s a little like a one-off vinyl record; if you’re not in the know before it releases, chances are it’s gone forever.
And this mythical status was only exacerbated with a good old dose of controversy.
Rule of Rose ignited significant controversy, notably in Poland, where the Ministry of Education questioned its suitability for minors, citing concerns over child violence and sexual themes. The fact a game sold and targeted exclusively to adults just goes to show how games were still so misunderstood not that long ago. Anywho, Italian weekly magazine Panorama, especially its journalist Guido Castellano, intensified the debate. Castellano criticised the game for its alleged erotic and violent portrayal of young girls and inaccurately mentioned a “burying alive” game mechanic, which I stress, didn’t exist. While there’s a scene where the protagonist falls into an open coffin, it’s later extracted, not buried.
By November 2006, three French deputies advocated for the game’s ban, alleging it promotes horrific child abuse and murder. They warned about video games potentially spiralling into unbridled sources of violence. Adding fuel to the fire, the European Union justice minister, Franco Frattini, decried the game for its “obscene cruelty” and called for a review of Europe’s PEGI rating system.
By March 7th 2007, some MEPs were pushing for a European Parliament resolution to ban the game in Europe and set up an observatory on minors’ issues. However, the game’s European publisher, 505 Games, proactively pulled the game from the UK market due to mounting pressure and misleading media narratives. While the game was still released in Europe and copies were sent to UK journalists, it already had one arm tied behind its back, really through no fault of its own.
That’s all pretty heavy, but what is Rule of Rose actually all about?
Set in England during the 1930s, Rule of Rose follows the story of a 19-year-old woman named Jennifer. As the game begins, Jennifer finds herself lured into an abandoned orphanage and later trapped on a mysterious airship that’s controlled by a group of malevolent young girls. These girls, who refer to themselves as the “Red Crayon Aristocrats”, enforce a strict and often cruel hierarchy based on a series of monthly “gift” offerings, which Jennifer is forced to participate in.
Throughout the game, players uncover Jennifer’s memories and piece together her tragic past. It becomes clear that the events on the airship are deeply intertwined with Jennifer’s own history, involving childhood friendships, betrayals, and a beloved dog named Brown, who assists Jennifer throughout her journey.
A central theme in Rule of Rose is the cruelty children can exhibit towards one another, especially when unchecked by adult supervision. The game delves into the dynamics of power and submission, the vulnerabilities of childhood, and the distorted memories of past traumas.
While the story of Rule of Rose can be quite ambiguous and is open to interpretation, it’s known for its emotional impact, mature themes, and unique narrative structure that defies many conventions of the survival horror genre.
And while you often get some pretty jank games that rise in value solely down to rarity, it never hurts for a game to be half playable too, and Rule of Rose is genuinely a hidden gem. It’s more like a haunting indie movie with complex characters and a unique plot. Think Wes Anderson meets Tim Burton. The fact that it’s so offbeat makes it super attractive to those who love something a little different.
And you can never underestimate the power of word of mouth. As forums, blogs and social media blew up in the years after its release, Rule of Rose became one of THE holy grail games to hunt down. And here’s the kicker: there’s no digital version of Rule of Rose out there. So, it’s like that one band that refuses to put their music on streaming platforms. If you want in on the Rule of Rose experience, you gotta go old school and snag the original. You know, unless you find a ROM online. But what kind of ethical channel would we be if we suggested that?
You should. You should do just that.
In the end, the story of Rule of Rose is a testament to the unpredictable nature of the gaming world. What was once an overlooked title now commands a price that few would have expected, becoming a piece of gaming folklore in its own right. Whether it’s the allure of its unique story, its rarity, or simply the desire to own a piece of gaming history, Rule of Rose serves as a cautionary tale to never turn down the opportunity to pick up an obscure game on a whim. You never know how much it might be worth.
But have you played Rule of Rose, or are you currently hunting it down? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your thoughts. And while you’re down there, don’t forget to subscribe and like the video for plenty more on all things gaming, and make sure to visit upsidedownshark.com to keep up with everything else we’ve got going on.
Until then my name is Tom, this has been UDS and we’ll see you next time.