Top 10 Video Game Underdogs
Author: Geoff Larsen
Friday, 12 October 2007
It is easy to see why no one bought this game. The developers Suda 51 may actually be staffed by insane conspiracy theorists. There are a ton of websites dedicated to making sense of the bizarre storyline in this game and I doubt any of them have completely unravelled it.
The story, bizarre as it may be, is excellently told however - and joining it is a completely different take on the first person shooter genre, valuing accuracy over the amount of shots. This game is a little extreme in the content department featuring levels splattered with blood, psycho killers, murderous school girls, strange demons and invisible giggling enemies. If you’ve seen the anime Elfen Lied then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect here.
Excellent stuff but not for everyone and don’t expect to understand what is going on. (You are a serial killer who has seven personalities that explode into blood whenever you see a camera... right…)
A little known developer named Nippon Ichi released this game a few years back and it took the hardcore gaming crowd by storm. After its release Disgaea was followed by several spiritual sequels all equally excellent which ate up your time like the old person next to you on the bus. Disgaea not only redefined strategy RPGs but also showed us that games can be great without fancy graphics… unfortunately this is also the reason no one bought it. Most casual gamers would be buying the blockbuster titles and the Nippon Ichi games looked like they were high priced budget titles.
While fairly unknown, the games have a heavy cult following and chances are that if you pop one of them into your PS2 that you’ll soon be apart of it too. If Disgaea appeals to you La Pucelle Tactics, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom and the soon to be released Soul Nomad should float your boat as well.
Guilty Gear XX2 Reloaded
With the rise of 3-D fighters such as Tekken and Soul Calibur, 2-D fighters are fading into oblivion… well that is what the sales figures would have you believe. Developers are, however, creating a fist load of titles, many of which are more frantic, more insane and more playable than their 3-D brothers.
Of all these titles the Guilty Gear series stands as the real king of fighters. Bigger than Street Fighter in Japan, Guilty Gear sees a profane group of individuals ducking it out in a game that has more content than some of the bigger titles of the last generation. Even though there were a huge amount of titles released from this series Guilty Gear only was snapped up by hardcore fans.
Perhaps it was its close release to Zelda: Twilight Princess or its budget price tag to sell so abysmally, who knows, but one thing is for sure: Okami is one of the greatest experiences you’ll have on any console. An epic adventure immersed in ancient Japanese folklore Okami seamlessly blends the action/adventure world with the art of calligraphy to make one of the most unique games available today. Clover, the developers of the game, seamlessly merges honour with humour, fear with fun and art with action in what truly is a labour of love.
Sequel to the biggest game on the Dreamcast, Shenmue II allows the player to delve into a living breathing Hong Kong. The game follows Ryo Hazuki as he attempts to track down his father’s murders. Entire districts of China are open to be explored with a level of interaction that, at the time of release, was unheard of. Today, the game is eclipsed in detail only by the also excellent Oblivion. If you’ve got a great deal of time to spare Shenmue II will envelope your world.
As a bonus the events of the first game are shown on a bonus disc, so you are kept up to speed.
Shadow Hearts Covenant
Like RPGS- Like History- Like gay wrestling vampire superheroes- Then your game has finally arrived. Following an eclectic bunch of characters SH:C combines heart wrenching drama with a bizarre sense of humour that hooks into your mind and doesn’t let go. Set against the background of Europe and Japan during the First World War Shadow Hearts Covenant will open your eyes to what games are really capable of.
While reviewers loved this game when it was released it was slightly over shadowed by the release of other big name RPGs.
For a portable system the GBA had a staggering amount of good games. Few of them matched the brilliance that the Iridion series ascertained. A game that plays like one of those bitchingly hard (and therefore insanely addictive) old school shooters and looks like something that came off a console with fifty times the power of the GBA Iridion was a winner… except in sales.
Criminally underrated, Psychonauts is a laid back, extremely funny platformer. The brainchild of Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Secret of Monkey Island) Psychonauts has the player controlling a student who is attending a strange summer camp/secret government training ground. Psychonauts merges well written humour with fast and frantic gameplay that reviewers and fans universally loved. The game sold horribly however and is available nearly everywhere for next to nothing.
In the early 90s it became popular to create ‘interactive movies’. Really, what these “interactive movies’ consisted of was watching ex-porn stars fumble through ridiculous plots and occasionally pressing a button every twenty-five minutes. A decade later Fahrenheit finally creates a true interactive movie that is actually worth playing. Fahrenheit is an intricately woven storyline with fiercely addictive gameplay and beautifully rendered scenes. The game begins with the main character having just murdered a man in a public bathroom and then continues on a non stop action fun ride involving apocalyptic cults, conspiracies of silence and nationwide manhunts. One of the fantastic things about this game is that your character has a stress level which requires the player to constantly monitor - become too stressed and the character may freak out or even commit suicide. The only flaw of this game is that the ending of the game doesn’t make one hundred percent sense but that doesn’t stop Fahrenheit from being one of the best titles of last generation.
Project Zero II
If you think that video games can’t be scary, think again. Forget your Resident Evils, your Silent Hills and The Suffering… The Project Zero series is where fear is really at. Taking a page from Japanese horror, Project Zero is heavy on scary little girls, crazy women in Kimonos and the ghastly touch of the supernatural. If you can remember the pure fear that the idea of a haunted house created when you were a kid then you’ve got a good idea.
The original in the series, which is also fantastic, is supposedly based on a real manor where several obscene murders took place. Slightly disturbing but excellent none the less, this is one series that I refuse to play at night.
There were so many games last generation that now as the light of their time dims, new players are swamped with options. The above selections represent a variety box of the best. Other titles such as Castle Shikigami 2, Ico, Gungrave, Melty Blood, PNO3 and God Hand may appeal to the more hardcore crowd.
These should all, at least, keep you going until Halo 4 comes out.