News > Top 10 Overlooked Video Games
April 11, 2007
Great games deserve recognition - in one form or another. Unfortunately, sometimes excellent games are passed over, and never receive the play-time (or pay-roll) they deserve. Here is GameWad's list of the Top 10 overlooked video games:
10) The 7th Saga (SNES) - I've spent hours upon hours trying to figure out what other super-popular RPGs of the SNES era had that The 7th Saga didn't. What I've come up with time after time is that the 7th Saga has just as good graphics, sound, and gameplay as most of its contemporaries. It's no Final Fantasy 6, but compared to others, it is very solid. It has an extensive list of magic, weapons and armor, and also offers a nice alternative to purely random battles. With a choice of SEVEN different main characters, the 2-person party system allows for 42 possible party configurations, with resulting rivalries or friendships between the player's selections and the characters left unchosen. The game features over 60 locales and 30 boss battles, as well as a huge assortment of standard foes in a 50-60 hour quest. It may be a difficult journey, but in the end this game offers a great sense of fulfillment to complete.
9) River City Ransom (NES) - Simply awesome. Barely recognized. This game is a harmonious fusion of classic beat-em-up gameplay mechanics with RPG-like character progression. Made by Technos Japan, RCR has a similar style to the popular Double Dragon series, but shows improvement upon just about every aspect of the game. Rather than progressing from level to level, leaving the gamer with a sense of disconnectedness, RCR features a continuous world that can be explored back and forth at any time. Town areas are interspersed throughout the area between Cross-Town High and River City High, and serve as small havens for the gamer. There are no hostile gang members here and there are a variety of shops where one can buy assorted foods to increase stats, as well as books to learn new combat techniques. Overall, RCR is an incredibly enjoyable experience, especially in two-player mode.
8) Space Station: Silicon Valley (N64) - Another offering from DMA Design, SS:SV toyed with vehicle commandeering way back in 1998, as well. Instead of cars, however, the means of transport is a menagerie of robotic animals on a lost space station. The operator is a small chip that crawls around like an insect and jumps into each new host, since it is unable to sustain itself in the outside environment. What makes these creatures special are their individual attributes and abilities, such as the hyena's contagious "laughter," the sheep's "floaty hop" or the penguins "snowballs." The game is undoubtedly quirky and cartoonish, but the creative puzzle-solving elements and unique level design are well-implemented to create an engaging assemblage of trials for the gamer to conquer. Yes, it's fun.
7) Killer 7 (GCN, PS2) - This game was a sort of love-it-or-hate-it affair. Brian and I rocked this one together, and I don't know that he liked it as much as I did, due to its highly scripted nature - but what a script it is! The gameplay here is simple, and actual control is limited, but the game more than makes up for it with its plotline, which is nothing short of incredible. However, even though the on-rails exploration isn't the most appealing to many gamers, the first-person shooting segments are quite satisfying. Really, though, this game is about making the gamer think, leaving its content open for interpretation. From the graphical style and overall presentation to the general insanity of the narrative, Killer 7 is an edgy and wholly enjoyable experience.
6) WinBack (N64, PS2) - WinBack is a tactical 3rd person shooter, with an emphasis on taking cover, then popping out to neutralize your enemy. Moves like ducks, rolls, hopping walls and dropping from balconies allow for different approaches to each situation. The fast-paced hide-and-seek gameplay is similar to the newly released Gears of War, and even includes an addicting multiplayer mode. There are a few different weapons, ranging from a pistol to a rocket launcher, and the single-player game is divided into 20+ stages, with mini-bosses interspersed throughout. In the wake of games such as Metal Gear Solid, WinBack was easily passed up by too many gamers.
5) Shadow Man (PC, N64) - Developed by the now-defunct Acclaim Studios, Shadow Man is a completely non-linear action-adventure game. Level design is excellent, and the diverse environment manages to come together in a maze of grim rooms, passages, and atria. There is no such thing as a "level" in Shadow Man - the focus here is on self-directed exploration and discovery. Progression into new areas is regulated by the acquisition of new items and abilities. It feels like a hellish version of a Zelda game and makes use of the classic dichotomy of worlds - in this case Liveside and Deadside. The storyline is intriguing and is heavy with occult themes such as voodoo and serial murders, not to mention the army of hell.
4) Body Harvest (N64) - A personal favorite of mine, Body Harvest was not what you'd call a high-profile game by any stretch of the imagination. Released on the N64 in 1998, it pioneered gameplay lauded three years later, with the release of GTA3. Body Harvest featured an expansive 3D world, navigable indoors and outdoors either on foot or in any of 60+ vehicles - land, sea and air. A variety of weapons were available, and the game featured intense combat - including the vehicular kind. It becomes quite obvious that this paved the way for GTA's jump into the 3D realm when you consider that the developers, DMA Design, later transformed into Rockstar North. Too bad the graphics sucked - maybe more people would've given it a chance if it was nice and shiny.
3) Indigo Prophecy (PC, Xbox, PS2) - Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit, in Europe) is a 3rd-person adventure that unfolds like a mystery novel, but plays like a choose-your-own-adventure. You will be captivated from the opening sequence, and taken on a roller coaster chronicle of three individuals' lives, beginning with Lucas Kane's murder of an old man in a NYC diner's bathroom. Interestingly, the other two playable characters are the detectives assigned to the case, and the game goes through chapters, alternating between the three. The most appealing aspect of Indigo Prophecy besides its storyline is the feeling of urgency imposed on the player by timed responses in its dialogues, and gameplay sequences that fly off the rails into the realm of uncanny action scenes. These scenes are complex situations that are ultimately resolved by some fantastic riposte of the main character that cannot be achieved through any traditional means of game control. Indigo Prophecy incorporates these scenes though rapidly cued and mimicked successions of button-presses and control stick movements, presented over the action in a transparent command graphic. The action in this adventure gets intense and leaves the gamer exhilarated.
2) Beyond Good and Evil (PC, Xbox, PS2, GCN) - Not so much overlooked by critics, but by the masses. BG&E is an exercise in storytelling that brings to light the issues of government and media manipulation during times of crisis. The protagonist, Jade, is charged with unveiling the underlying truth of it all. The player guides her on her mission via a game that blends various genres such as stealth action and racing into a classic action-adventure experience. The pacing is excellent, and there are plenty of little side-quests to partake in. The characters, the plot and the world of Hillys make it beautiful, but the gameplay makes it great.
1) Psychonauts (PC, Xbox, PS2) - Perhaps the most highly-rated on this list, and always included when people talk about under-recognized games, Psychonauts is truly a unique, fun, and fascinating entry into any gamer's library. From the hilarious depths of Tim Schafer's skull comes this tale of Raz, an aspiring Psychonaut, who has to save Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp from uncertain evil. The game is divided into a hub map and smaller worlds - a common general game design - but the worlds just so happen to be the very minds of various characters encountered along the way. Each mind is vastly different from the last, often with a novel artistic style, and always with an off-the-wall theme. Not much in this game isn't a completely original idea. It truly must be played to be fully appreciated.
There you have it, a list of games often overlooked by either the media or the general public. If you haven't played these games, you owe it to yourself to do so. Actully, it is your responsibility as a gamer to enjoy these gems!
-Eddie R Inzauto
*This article originally appeared on my personal site gamecrush.blogspot.com in November of 2006.
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