After talking about games that disappointed us, we decided it was time to sing the praises of those games that most people don’t talk about but they should. The Top 5: Most underappreciated games shall commence in 3, 2….
5. Journey to Silius – Overshadowed by both Batman and Blaster Master for the NES, Journey to Silius was a fairly short yet difficult game that had awesome music and thematic elements very similar to Terminator… well, if Terminator was primarily set in the future when an older John Connor was fighting SkyNet. Sure, the boy controlled almost like the tank in Blaster Master, but the things that they did with the tilesets, coupled with the fantastic music, will always be something I’ll remember of that game. Here’s some of those tunes I was talking about:
4. Power Blazer – Power Blazer is the Japanese version of Power Blade, a game released in the United States where the publishers (or was it the developers?) felt the urge to completely change the look of the game from the highly stylized anime style characters to beefy dudes and robots with sunglasses. Ok, maybe the robots didn’t exactly have sunglasses, but if you look at the original game, you can tell that they were going after Mega Man’s market. Oh, and I should probably mention that you use a boomerang this whole time.
3. Anticipation – If you’re noticing that there’s a huge slant of NES games in my list, it’s because it was very easy to overlook a lot of titles back then. And while no one will probably remember Anticipation, it’s one of the early Rare games that demonstrated that board games can actually be, in fact, feasible on consoles. You just have to make them specifically for consoles!
2. Rock Band – No. I’m kidding. This is what my real top 2 is:
2. Gitaroo Man – This music game was made by Koei for the PS2 and featured probably one of the most memorable serenades in video game history… that you can totally screw up. You’re a super hero who, by his namesake, is a great guitarist. Seriously. Ok, I admit I totally forgot the whole story, but I will always remember how incredibly awesome the songs were. Oh, and here’s said serenade, for the curious.
1. Mr. Mosquito – What if… someone made a flight simulator out of the mundanity of being a mosquito trying to suck the blood out of humans? Yes, someone actually made this game. In Japan. And apparently, someone in the United States thought it would be incredible to get this game over here to see what people would think and if it would actually sell. It’s endearing and a little bit charming, and often times chaotic… especially when you alarm the humans… but it’s one of those games that tend to stick with you because of its kooky nature.
5. Diablo III – Does the fact that the PC version of Diablo III sold more than 3 million copies make it ineligible for a place on this list? Well, I’m putting it here anyway, because it IS underappreciated. Granted, it has its issues, but Diablo III is still a great game. It’s just not exactly how a lot of people imagined it would be. After so many years of hype, it’s no surprise that it didn’t meet every expectation. Still, I played more than 225 hours of Diablo III, and I’m not done with it yet. Personally, I can’t wait for the expansion.
4. SimCity (2013) – Oh, boy… am I opening a can of worms here? Although I enjoyed the game enough to give it an 8/10, between the launch disaster, the month that followed, and the disappearing cities that remain a problem to this day, it’s hard to believe I ever gave SimCity such a score. And yet there really was a reason for it. Hidden beneath the drama was a city simulation game that had me absolutely addicted… well, when it worked, anyway. Watching a Sim drive all the way from its home to its work was something that was impossible in earlier SimCity games, and it made the cities feel alive in ways I only dreamed about when I was a kid playing the original SimCity on my older brother’s Amiga. I stand by my original score, and though many of the problems players were (and are still) forced to deal with are inexcusable from a customer service standpoint, I still consider the game as a whole underappreciated.
3. Beatmania IIDX (series) – As I mentioned in our recent Top 5 article about difficult games, Beatmania IIDX is one of the most difficult music games ever created. It’s also one of the must underappreciated, especially in North America. And don’t let the difficulty scare you: The learning curve is quite gradual, and the basics are easy enough to learn. The game plays pretty much like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, except that the controller consists of a turntable and 7 keys arranged like a keyboard (3 black, 4 white). To me, Beatmania IIDX represents the absolute pinnacle of music games, and it’s a shame that it never really took off in the United States.
2. Go – The crew is going to flog me for this… Go is the name of an ancient board game that you probably haven’t heard of, and if that’s the case, it’s the best game you never played. In the United States, it is desperately underappreciated. All anyone can talk about is Chess! But, in my opinion, Go is the better strategy game, and you can play it in videogame form pretty much anywhere. The Path of Go is available as an Xbox Live Arcade title, and is available now. You can also play it online on your computer, or using an app on your Android or iOS device. If you have any love of strategy games at all, you absolutely must give Go a try! Don’t let this gem of a game go unappreciated any longer!
1. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – I don’t care what anyone says, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is my favorite Zelda game, and it’s a damn shame that there hasn’t been another Zelda game like it since. I loved how Link gained strength by earning experience like in an RPG and how fun the combat was. The Metroidvania style palaces were fun to explore as well. Of all the old school games that I reminisce about, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the only one that I go back to and play through again regularly. It’s completely underappreciated, and if you don’t like it, you know where you can shove your Ocarina of Time.
5. Valkyria Chronicles – Created by SEGA, Valkyria Chronicles is an anime style turn based strategy game where one wrong move can potentially get all your characters killed. The game had a good story, good gameplay mechanics, and was fun to play. The first time I saw gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles, I wanted to play that game. I purchased it eventually, loved it, and think that other people should try it as well, especially if you’re a fan of turn based strategy games in general.
4. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy – Psi-Ops is a third person shooter where players take on the role of Psi-Operative Nick Scryer, who undergoes a mind wipe to infiltrate a terrorist organization. He is quickly captured and must escape using his psi powers, which improve throughout the game. This older PlayStation 2 game is fun to play and allows players to regain their psi powers by siphoning off the neuro energy from enemies, causing their heads to explode. Imagine running around shooting everyone in sight or just using your psychic powers to set them on fire. The only issue this game has is the old style controller interface, which is a little antiquated by today’s standards.
3. Black Mesa – Not many people know that Half-Life was recreated with updated graphics and released as a fan project. Black Mesa is that game and it’s awesome. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never played Half-Life until I played Black Mesa. The game looks amazing and it’s fun to play. It’s free, but must be downloaded from the Black Mesa web site. If you want to play an updated version of Half-Life and perhaps have never played the original, then you should get Black Mesa – it’s worth it.
2. Dead Space – Dead Space’s biggest strengths is that its atmosphere is quiet and creepy. You never know what’s following you or where a necromorph will jump out until you realize they only pop out of air vents. The weapons are great and the game was genuinely scary. The game was a little slow paced but it worked well with this game. I was always on the edge of my seat waiting for something to pop out at me. Unfortunately that got old really fast and gameplay didn’t move beyond that particular type of scare mechanic.
1. Ghostbusters: The Video Game – Ghostbusters. What else can I say? If you liked the movies, then you’ll like the video game. It’s got the same type of humor and writing as the movies, as Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the screenplay, even going so far as declaring it the “third film” in the franchise. The game also has all the principles including the aforementioned Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson reprising their roles and likenesses in the game. If you’re a fan of the proton pack, then this is the only way you’ll get to bust ghosts the right way.
5. Mirror’s Edge – I feel kind of like I’m cheating by including this here since EA made such a big deal about its existence during their E3 press conference, but Mirror’s Edge is the very definition of “cult hit.” I’m pretty sure anyone reading this knows about this game’s beautiful art design and fantastic, if somewhat flawed free-running mechanics, so I won’t even waste your time going over those things… well, any more than I already have. The game didn’t light the sales charts on fire, so I’m guessing the game had legs (sorry, not sorry) enough to justify a sequel, even if it’s coming “when it’s ready.”
4. Dracula Unleashed – An FMV adventure game for Sega CD, Dracula Unleashed was like playing an interactive B-Movie. Shoddy production values, sure, but it had a low budget quality that – as a long time lover of horror – I could completely get into. I loved this game so much that I actually took the time to record it to a VHS tape while I played it and then edited it together into a complete movie. Wish I still had that tape.
3. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain – By far my favorite game of the entire Legacy of Kain series. The first one is the best! A brutal action RPG with a fantastic story and the first game I ever played where I wasn’t the hero. I remember very well choosing to take the throne and rule Nosgoth, damning the land for eternity. Mwuahahahahaha. Loved it.
2. Clock Tower – This twisted point and click horror/adventure game is one I never hear anyone mention and man, that is a crying shame. The Scissor Man and his music still elicit chills up my spine when I think about him. As someone who searches every possible nook and cranny in games, I remember distinctly clicking on a row of lockers when all of sudden The Scissor Man burst out of one, music blaring and the “shink….shink….shink” of him opening and closing his deadly, over-sized sheers forced me into a panic as I tried to find a place to hide. A really well-done game from the original PlayStation era that no one talks about.
1. Primal – Primal is pretty much the reason why I wanted to do this Top 5 list. Made by Sony’s Studio Cambridge in 2003, Primal was like Clive Barker’s Cabal in reverse. Instead of halfbreed demons invading our world, Primal tells the story of Jen, a halfbreed demon who leaves our dimension to enter Mortalis in pursuit of her boyfriend Lewis. While there she becomes tasked with saving the realm from being thrown into chaos forever with the help of Scree, her gargoyle companion. Yes, I’m aware of how ridiculous this sounds but it’s much more complex than a brief paragraph will allow. Solid and varied game play, an interesting premise and great voice acting make this a game I highly recommend to anyone. It’s only $9.99 on PSN so as soon as you’re done reading this go get it.
5. Phantom Dust – Phantom Dust was a Microsoft-developed game that was only released in Japan, until Majesco published it in America. It combined elements of a collectible card game with arena-based action. With the shutdown of Xbox Live on the classic Xbox, this game will be lost forever to the ages. It was a fun game while it lasted, though, and it had a unique single-player story.
4. DJ Max Technika Tune – There aren’t too many games that could truly ONLY be done on the Vita. Technika Tune is one of them. A port of the arcade DJ Max Technika, the Vita is the only available system with a multi-touch touch screen, making it the only platform that can play this. A limited physical release means you’ll have to grab this digitally, but there’s tons of music tracks in all kinds of styles.
3. Mega Man 6 – By the time this game got released, Mega Man was starting to wear out its welcome. Also, publishing an NES game in 1993, when the Super Nintendo was well established and dominating, wasn’t a business-savvy move. In fact, Capcom didn’t publish this title in America: Nintendo did. Even so, there are a lot of neat features in Mega Man 6, such as the ability to switch suit types, and much more unique robot masters (well, maybe not Flame Man).
2. La Pucelle Tactics – After the successful American release of Disgaea in 2003, publisher Mastiff brought out La Pucelle Tactics, its spritual prequel. It’s rougher around the edges and has a clunkier interface, but has a whimsical charm all its own. Sadly, the US release has a variety of censorship applied to it.
1. King of Fighters Neowave – This edition of King of Fighters sold in the four figures in America, exclusively on the Xbox. It got reviews in the 6’s, on average. However, I put this game here because of the feeling of community it engendered. It had awesome netcode, but more than that, everyone knew everyone else online. It was a heck of a time if you were a fighting game fan.
So these are the games that warm our heart, but for one reason or another just aren’t in the popular lexicon of gamers. Now that you’ve read our list, let us know some of your the games you think… scratch that… you know are underappreciated?