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The PS2 Startup Screen Had A Secret You Probably Missed

It's probably been a number of years since you booted up a PlayStation 2, which Sony discontinued after a respectable 13 year run in 2013. But, if you think back, you might remember that the startup screen had some interesting graphics, the meaning of which likely eluded you at the time.

The PS2's startup screen featured a boot-up sound and the words "Sony Computer Entertainment." The text appeared over a background that included a mysterious monochrome group of 3D columns, or floating boxes, in different sizes and depths. The meaning of these columns had long escaped gamers: apparently, no one knew what it signified during the PlayStation 2's life span. Or maybe they didn't think about it, or knew and didn't tell anyone.

Either way, a YouTube video from DidYouKnowGaming? revealed the secret in 2014, but it wasn't until 2016 that it really gained traction thanks to some social media posts. Here's what gamers found.

The screen is customized to each player

As it turns out, the blocks or columns represent the user's play history on the PlayStation 2's memory card. @DidYouKnowGaming points out that the save files are rendered on the screen in real-time based on the number of files and their sizes, which means that the depth of each column represents how long the player has played a title on that PS2 console.

In 2016, a user named @FinalBossFight may have been the first to explain the meaning of the blocks to a Twitter audience, calling the secret "Awesome!"  In 2017,  @A3rgan, another Twitter user who figured out the secret, provided more detail: "It's tied in with the number of saves on your memory card, if you remove the card, it will revert back to none on boot up," he said.

It's a nice Easter egg, and one that still has gamers talking today. In fact, a few eagle-eyed fans pointed out that you can see the startup screen in an upcoming game. Cute, somewhat self-referential (to Sony, anyway) 3D platformer Astro's Playroom, a free title that will come pre-loaded with the PlayStation 5, features the distinctive white columns in the background of a scene in its trailer. Now, that's a cool little throwback.