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10 hard-to-find classics that deserve a second chance

7. Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle

LucasArts released some amazing adventure games in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but few are as beloved as Maniac Mansion and its sequel, Day of the Tentacle. Both are considered high points in the adventure-game genre, and Maniac Mansion was revolutionary by the standards both of graphical adventures and humor in videogames. It’s odd, then, that neither game has appeared on a service like Steam, while later LucasArts adventures, such as Loom enjoy a second life.

Above: Maniac Mansion featured microwavable hamsters long before it was a hipster fad 

Maniac Mansion itself can be tracked down if you’re willing to settle for the NES version, which plays OK but saw some censorship at the hands of family focused Nintendo. There’s also Maniac Mansion Deluxe, a fan-created remake that’s free to download online. Day of the Tentacle will cost you a little more, but it can be easily run on modern machines through ScummVM once you have it. It should also be noted that the entire Maniac Mansion is playable from within Day of the Tentacle itself, so it might be worth it to make that investment.

Ideally, LucasArts will take a cue from the recent remakes of Monkey Island 1 and 2 and give Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle the same treatment. While we’re making wishes, it would be nice if somebody also put the old Maniac Mansion TV show on DVD, because we can never get enough cheesy sitcoms from the ‘90s.


8. NiGHTS/Christmas NiGHTS

When NiGHTS: Into Dreams debuted on the Sega Saturn, the genderless jester seemed to have a bright future. The unique flying and platforming game from Sonic Team got great reviews and sold pretty well. There were even a couple comic-book miniseries by Archie Comics. The game was so awesome, in fact, that it had to be bundled with a bulky “3D controller,” because regular controllers just couldn’t handle how amazing the flying was (or the game was just better with analog control. Whichever).

Then a decade passed where NiGHTS was only used as minigame fodder or cameo appearances. In Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, NiGHTS has the highly esteemed position of “Guy/Girl Who Holds the Flag.” A NiGHTS sequel was finally released on the Wii, which reviewers generally thought was either OK or great, depending on who you asked.

Good luck getting your hands on that original bundle for a reasonable price now, though. Finding the game by itself isn’t too hard, although it could still cost you $30 or more. More valuable and harder to grab is an English version of Christmas NiGHTS, which was essentially a demo disc that featured holiday-themed environments and music if you played it during different times of the year (or just changed the Saturn’s internal clock). That disc still ranks as one of the coolest discs ever included with a magazine. 

In a typical case of “Japan got something the rest of us want,” NiGHTS: Into Dreams got remade for the PS2 with widescreen support, all the Christmas NiGHTS content and other nifty features, all for a budget price. Thanks for nothing, Japan.


9. Panzer Dragoon Saga

One of the best RPGs of the Sega Saturn era is also one that the fewest people have had a chance to play. Coming at the tail end of the Saturn’s life, Panzer Dragoon Saga was produced in limited quantities in English-speaking territories and disappeared from store shelves quickly. But even now, Saga is considered to be a fantastic experience, helping to drive up eBay prices to well over $200 for a complete copy of the game.

Above: Saga features some unique combat inspired by more traditional Panzer Dragoon games 

The tragedy is that the original source code for Panzer Dragoon Saga was somehow lost. This doesn’t mean a rerelease is entirely out of the question – the game could still be emulated. However, it makes things more difficult, and it makes the likelihood of a port even slimmer. Sega Saturn emulation can be tricky, and it might be hard to convince a company that it’s worth the time and effort.

Case in point, GameTap reportedly has non-exclusive rights to publish Panzer Dragoon Saga, but hasn’t made the release a high priority because of the resources it would take to emulate it. That was the news in 2009, and since then nothing new has been heard about any rerelease efforts. Not the most encouraging thing to hear, but we can dream. Maybe we’ll get a port around the same time we get a Final Fantasy VII remake.


10. EarthBound

There are a lot of unfortunate cases where Nintendo holds games back from Western releases. But long before campaigns were launch to release games like Xenoblade Chronicles in North America, fans of the Mother series have been flooding the company’s inbox with pleas for those games to receive more attention, starting with Mother 2 (released here as EarthBound).

Above: So is Nintendo’s legal department 

Now known as a cult classic, EarthBound didn’t sell well on the SNES outside of Japan, even though it was praised for its humor, pop-culture references and lighthearted RPG gameplay. The inclusion of its hero Ness in Super Smash Bros. helped give the series a little more attention, but it’s never been enough to see English releases of Mother 1+2 or Mother 3 for the GameBoy Advance. Fans have made their own translations available, but that’s not of much use unless you import the Japanese game or are willing to dive into the shady business of emulation.

There were high hopes for a Virtual Console version of EarthBound at the very least (the ESRB even rated it for a US release!), but months went by and it never showed up on the service. Mother uber-fans at Starmen.net have done a great job letting us know what happened. Put concisely, releasing the game exactly as it appeared on the SNES could potentially open Nintendo up to legal trouble (yay, copyright lawyers) and Nintendo absolutely refuses to alter the game in order to rerelease it in English. Barring a miracle, you’ll probably have to pay more than $100 if you don’t already have a SNES copy handy. 

61 comments

  • TreyTable - March 8, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    I have Earthbound on my Virtual Console. Sure, my Virtual Console is on a modded Xbox, but just like on the Wii it is still emulation. Same with Lunar 2.
  • jmcgrotty - March 4, 2012 2:21 a.m.

    I just KNEW something in this article would piss me off. Didn't expect it to happen by the second title... Let me at least start with a postive comment: You're right about the quality of the game. I was glad to get my copy when the "Complete" edition came out for the PSX. Now, having said that... Re-releases of Lunar 2 "won’t come cheap if you want to buy them now "? Bull. At the very least, you have a vastly different opinion of "not cheap" than I do. Based on a quick count on eBay, there are 29 copies for sale below $70. This includes the box set version and just the game. Why does that $70 number matter? That is what it cost when released (well, $69.95). Amazon has 8 @ $70 or less. When you can find so many copies of a game for well below "new" price, that can't be considered "not cheap." (Unless your point was that it was NEVER cheap) Mega Man anything needs to be buried and forgotten. It's a ridiculouly bad franchise. Just like a few other NES debuts, it is one that topped out with one of the very first games in the series and was downhill from then on (Legend Of Zelda is this way, too. The original Legend of Zelda is the best, by far). Mega Man 1 was good, Mega Man 2 was a little bette, but not much... basically a tie. After that? Crap after crap aftere crap after crap. I swear, sometimes I think that you people don't actually PLAY games before you make a comment about them. No one in their right mind who has played any of the Mega Mans (except 1 & 2) can have positive things to say about it. "Maniac Mansion and its sequel, Day of the Tentacle. Both are considered high points in the adventure-game genre." Maniac Mansion is absolute bliss. Day Of The Tentacle sucked donkey eggs. Not a good game, and when compared to Maniac Mansion, it's really, really bad. By the way, the Maniac Mansion censorship story is a great read. Not saying it was a good thing to do, but reading about it just leaves you shaking your head at Howard Lincoln and making a noise someplace between a laugh of humor and a snort of ridiculousness. http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/maniac.html is the story of it, told by one of the guys at LucasArts who had to deal with it. By the way, I'll add this just so you can laugh and make fun of me: It took me probably 5 years after it's PC release before I realized it was "Maniac Mansion", and not "Manic Mansion." Even worse than the Dandy Warhols "Crack Cocaine Rager," which for 3 years I thought was "Crack Cocaine Ranger," even though I knew the band and was VERY involved in that community (for lack of a better word)... I'll end on a high note: Glad you put EarthBound on there. It is the absolute #1 title for this topic, and a no-brainer.
  • RedOutlive10 - February 13, 2012 2:19 p.m.

    Bioshock was exactly like System Shock 2, even the story was copy/paste. But some things were simplified big time.
  • coyoteDUSTER - February 11, 2012 12:28 p.m.

    I would love for the old King's Quest games to be re-released on PSN or something.
  • marc-william-brown - February 11, 2012 8:38 a.m.

    i still have a copy of day of the tentacle,fate of atlantis and full throttle in some old point n' click pack from lucasarts!
  • Thequestion 121 - February 10, 2012 7:53 p.m.

    I had Mega Man Legends 1 and 2 for a long time before I gave them away to a friend. I really regret doing that now...
  • EngieIndeed - February 10, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    I actually got Legends maybe a year or two after it came out. I still have it, and it still remains one of my favorite ps1 games.
  • Darkhawk - February 9, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    You can consult with Cousin ROM for most of these.
  • Sjoeki - February 9, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Day of the tentacle, one of the first games I ever played! Never finished it cause I needed someone to translate it for me, I'm stopping here as I'm starting to feel old now.
  • Zeos - February 9, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    Oh Mega Man Legends...how I miss you. I sadly never even got to play the second one either.
  • JonahTHD - February 9, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    Uuuuum, Lunar Silver Star Harmony was released by Xseed, not Ubisoft.
  • BrittonPeele - February 9, 2012 12:48 p.m.

    You're right, that mistake is on me. Ubisoft only published Lunar Legend and Lunar: Dragon Song (and we know how that one went). At least in the US.
  • JonahTHD - February 29, 2012 7:46 p.m.

    Unfortunately, (or fortunately...?) I haven't played much of Dragon Song, so I don't see the problem, except for how annoyingly difficult it is to obtain money.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - February 9, 2012 2:09 p.m.

    Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.
  • JonahTHD - February 29, 2012 7:40 p.m.

    No problem.
  • Bawheidbob - February 9, 2012 10:42 a.m.

    Well there you go i never knew that about Unirally - Great game as well i used to have it.....now i wish i still did.
  • avery78 - February 9, 2012 9:01 a.m.

    I still have my copies of Lunar and Lunar 2 for the PS, glad I never got rid of them, great games.
  • Rhymenocerous - February 9, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    Flashback and/or Fade to Black. Also Martian Gothic: Unification could do with a remake.
  • celticwhisper - February 9, 2012 7:41 a.m.

    I'd love to see a Lunar 2 remake/port/adaptation/whatever, but I don't want Ubisoft coming within a hundred miles of it. I can just see it - you finally beat Borgan after 16 tries (half of which involved you getting one-shotted by him on his first turn) and as you're dancing your victory dance, you see "NETWORK CONNECTION LOST. DRM ERROR. GAME SHUTTING DOWN. YOU PROBABLY PIRATED THE LIMITED-EDITION REPLICA OF LUCIA'S PENDANT, TOO, DIDN'T YOU?" Now, Atlus? Atlus I would trust to do it justice - they seem to be this generation's Working Designs. They know how to treat fans and they've already picked up the Growlanser franchise from WD. But no DRM-obsessed, authentication-happy, internet-connection-craving Ubisoft. They can keep their tentacles right the fuck away from Lunar 2.
  • alismmka - February 9, 2012 5:57 a.m.

    i think this might be the only reason i support piracy

Showing 1-20 of 61 comments

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