How many have you played?
Not every game on this list is going to be great--honestly, some only barely limp past "good," but there's more to gaming than the top tier. Some of the greatest innovation comes from other places, in games that, often, go totally overlooked. Today, we honor the last generation of games that were lost in the shuffle, eternally bound to a backlog entry that will never move. Fear not, intrepid players, these games are overlooked no longer.
We are aware that some of the games on this list weren't critical successes or big time sales chart toppers, but each one of them bring something to the table worth experiencing. If you didn't play them when they first launched, perhaps it's time to go back and give them a shot. The next generation can wait; we still have lots to play now.
Alice: Madness Returns
American McGees Alice put a dark and bloody spin on the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, and while it was met with great fanfare back then, nearly nine years had passed until we were able to once again venture into McGees horrific take on Wonderland. The wait turned out to be worth it, thankfully, as Madness Returns is a dark and twisted story that will be the cause of a lot of long, cold showers at the end of it.
This time, Alice is of sounder mind, so she bounces back and forth between the real world and her Wonderland trying to figure out how to fix things. The juxtaposition between real land and Wonderland is interesting, especially toward the end of the story when we learn whos behind all of the madness. However, the intriguing story is little positive buffer against repetitive gameplay and a sometimes too simple level design. If you can get past those imperfections, then Alice will be worthy of your time.
Nary a stranger game have we seen than Crush, a 2007 puzzle platformer for the PSP. Were tasked with helping Danny cure insomnia by traveling through his own mind, solving puzzles to collect his lost marbles and unlock memories. What appears to be another portable puzzler eventually reveals one of the most unique (at the time) features weve ever seen: the seamless ability to switch between 2D and 3D, crushing block in 3D views to make paths in 2D views. The results are impressive, but a steep learning curve keeps it from being ascendant.
If the learning curve can be conquered, the tale that Crush tells is a pretty interesting scenario. The journey through Dannys mind is one of anguish and anxiety; we see many key moments in his development that all serve as a cause for his illness. Eventually we even get to see his childhood, and thats when everything begins to make sense. It was never going to crush the competition, but Crush is a neat little puzzle game thats perfect for a long flight or car ride (as long as youre not driving, of course).
Viking: Battle for Asgard
The Creative Assembly isnt just a house of strategy games, as we found out with Viking: Battle for Asgard. The bloody combat and vast open world support an interesting story of gods at war with one another, but many players were still too entrenched in Cyrodiil to even notice. Thats not to say Viking isnt without its issues, but its still worth trying out just to see how the house that Total War built can do in other genres.
Our problem with Viking is that its just too damn slow and empty for our tastes. Sure, the open world of the three islands is huge, but when theres nothing in those islands to explore, whats the point of exploration? Furthermore, our hero Skarin lumbers around with the agility of a pregnant cow, making traveling from mission to mission a chore. Its a shame really, because we do enjoy playing the missions when we finally get to them, but the in-between is a near-dealbreaker. If you have more patience than we do, we totally recommend Viking for its story and combat. Just have something to do while traveling around the world.
Dead Head Fred
The PlayStation Portables biggest problem is a lack of creativity. Developers often treat Sonys handheld system like a dumping ground, an afterthought depository for watered down ports and half-baked prequels.
Dead Head Fred bucks that frustrating trend. Your hero, a decapitated detective in search of his stolen head, is merely the start of the game's off-the-wall originality. Your arch rival is a crime boss. Your mentor is a mad scientist. You brawl hand-to-hand with zombies, usurping strange superpowers by screwing on their heads. In your spare time, you play pinball, learn the saxophone and raise mutant chickens. The reward for such refreshing inventiveness? Some of the saddest sales numbers for any game on any console.
Dark Sector has sold about three quarters of a million copies, but considering how solid and addictive the third-person action gameplay is, we expected better. Sure, it sometimes feels a little like Gears of Resident Evil, but the lead characters wicked glaive weapon goes a long way in carving Dark Sector a unique identity.
Throwing that blade in slow-motion, and watching as it curves around poles and decapitates enemies, never grows old. In fact, the developers have been tasked with creating BioShock 2s multiplayer modes a definite testament to their great level design skills. Dark Sector has been out for just one year and has already seen some of the most radical price drops of any game this generation. Take advantage.
Critics were rather unkind to the non-MMO Conan, often citing the games brutal brand of stupidity. Um, what did you expect from a barbarian? Enlightenment? This is an action-adventure about a muscle-bound chunkhead who rips the heads off enemies and the hearts out of ladies. In a way, Conan sort of delivered on everything promised, featuring an avalanche of gore and bare-chested women who begged you to crush them with your love.
Dont write off the combat as mindless, either. The formula doesnt stray far from superior titles like God of War and Devil May Cry, but Conan does sport incredibly tight controls and a ginormous amount of unlockable combos.
Xbox Live Arcade has grown into an untamed wilderness of hit-or-miss gaming. With literally hundreds of titles to rummage through, finding treasure beyond the obvious hits like Castle Crashers, Braid and Peggle is becoming increasingly difficult.
Do yourself a favor, then, and add Switchball to that list. Marbles and mazes are already familiar to puzzle enthusiasts, but learning when to morph into a magnetized orb, an accelerated bullet or a light-as-air bubble provides plenty of extra challenge. Plus, the sight of shimmering reflective silver and the sound of gently rolling metal are easily as soothing as any elevator music Uno has to offer.
Youre forgiven if you think Culdcept Saga doesnt sound quite right for you. A fantasy-themed twist on Monopoly in which you protect your squares by summoning monsters to fight the enemys monsters in collectible trading card battles? The only way this can get geekier is if you add in a dork in his bathrobe throwing marshmallows and squeakily shouting lightning bolt! So yes, youre forgiven - but youre also wrong. This game is fantastic.
If you give it an hour, Culdcept Saga will sink its insidious hooks into you and refuse to let go. Its not as nerdy as you think, matches are more tense than youd imagine, and the gameplay is not only far simpler to grasp than youd expect, but also fathoms deep. In fact, Culdcept Sagas only real problem is that the CPU opponents will wipe the floor with you repeatedly until you learn to customize your deck, adding in the more powerful cards you win after each match. Unless youre a total adrenaline junkie, youll hate yourself for not trying it sooner.
Amazing visuals, a unique combination of strategy and action, an excellent soundtrack, a gripping plot and loads of replay value. Valkyria Chronicles was one of the best reasons to own a PS3 last year, but chances are high that many of you havent played it yet. The game was largely ignored in America and, even in Japan, was outsold by older, dumber fare like Nintendogs Chihuahua.
The story follows Welkin Gunther, a lover of nature and science who dreams of sharing his knowledge with the children of his homeland. When Imperial forces invade his country, however, Welkin is forced to take up arms and the role of unlikely hero to defend his people. With plenty of candy for your eyes, tactics for your brains and action for your thumbs, Valkyria Chronicles joins the company of Okami and Psychonauts, true masterpieces that shouldve sold more copies than they did.
When we read that 5th Cell, the studio behind Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life, had shifted focus to an XBLA third-person shooter, we couldnt make heads or tails of it. The genre jump seemed insurmountable; it was such a departure from their previous work that we werent sure the ambition could become reality. Once Hybrid launched, all of our fears were quickly quelled, as the game is a ton of fun.
Hybrid takes standard cover-based shooting and literally turns it on its head, allowing players to find cover on walls and ceilings while skirmishing with the opposing team. The only actions are being in cover, flying to the next cover, and shooting, but weve poured a ton of time into this world and its always-updating war. Now we know that 5th Cell is a studio of many hats, and we cant wait for the next run at something not called Scribblenauts.
Like Madden, NBA 2K, and other sports franchises, the annual WWE video game installments bring some new ideas to the ring, but more often than not the games end up being more of the same schtickthe video game equivalent of, say, John Cena. WWE All-Stars, a rare branch off from the core series, proves that shaking things up can absolutely work out; All-Stars over-the-top wrestling action insanity demands every wrestling fans attention.
The combatants in All-Stars are over-exaggerated walking muscles (more so than usual) and the in-ring action defies the rules of physics. The Big Show should NOT be able to jump 20 feet in the air before delivering a massive chokeslam, nor should Macho Man Randy Savage be able to touch the ceiling and perform flips in the air when dropping his trademark elbow, but All-Stars makes both scenarios possible in an awesome way. Its certainly not the norm, but wed love some more All-Stars on the main card soon.
Disney Guilty Party
If youve ever played Clue, you know the feeling that arises when youre about to figure out who the killer is and make your big reveal. Disney Guilty Party is filled with moments like that, those light-bulb a-ha! feelings of pure gratification after figuring out an answer. These moments are scattered throughout a light-hearted, cartoony whodunit adventure with a ton of characters to investigate.
While there is a single-player mystery to solve, the big draw here is Party Mode, where up to four players can try and figure out the dastardly fiend behind the committed crimes. In any given playthrough, one of seventeen NPCs could be the one responsible, so our work is cut out for us from the get-go. Disney Guilty Party is Clue on steroids, and anyone who used to love the board game as a child should try and figure out the Guilty Party.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Back in 2001, Ace Combat 04 was a big deal - the air combat simulator for the PS2. The graphics were amazing compared to what wed seen before (Ace Combat 3 had been released on the PS1), and the game was gloriously addictive. But why just Ace Combat 04? Its not as if they perfected everything with that iteration and then forgot it all.
Ace Combat 6 sold about 600,000 copies on the 360. While thats not a bad run, its miles away from Ace Combat 04s nearly three million. AC 6 isnt necessarily better than AC 04, but it certainly looks better, and is no less fun than any of the predecessors. Perhaps tastes have shifted? If so, are we facing the end of the series? Lets hope not.
Spec Ops: The Line
On the surface Spec Ops: The Line looks like yet another third-person shooter, only with a sand-filled setting. As we ventured through Dubai, however, something about the game just seemeddifferent. Maybe it was the games eschewing an action focus in favor of a solid narrative, or the insane sand physics that allow us to eliminate enemies in really cool ways, but Spec Ops hooked us from the first moment and never let go. Were glad it did too, as wed be plenty angry if we didnt fully experience this gem.
Plenty of games have tested our morality, but never before has a game tested us in such a Conradian fashion. We bore witness to some crazy stuff during our travels in Dubai, but we had no control over them. After finishing the game, we merely set our controller down and pondered what we had just seen. That moment of immediate introspection to process the events of the game is the mark of a true classic, and Spec Ops: The Line fits the bill.
Does the name Hironobu Sakaguchi mean nothing to you people? The man created Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy! He helped bring Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Xenogears and Parasite Eve to life. He is a videogaming legend. He is making new adventures to this very day.
For some damn reason, however, no ones playing them anymore. Blue Dragon sold well under a million copies, and its that failure that really bothers us. Look past the cutesy bobble-headed characters and youll find a meaty old-school epic with lovable heroes, despicable villains, addictive leveling, memorable music and gorgeous Pixar-like visuals. Whats not to love?
Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2
Sometimes, gamers dont make sense. The first Trauma Center: Under the Knife was a surprise hit on DS, thanks to tense action and expert use of the DS stylus to perform all kinds of bizarre surgeries, such as lazer blasting tiny parasitic sharks. The Wii version added in new story bits and new procedures and sold even more despite the fact that the Wii remote wasnt nearly as precise a control device as the DS stylus.
Then came the DS sequel, which looked to deliver refined gameplay, improved graphics, and the good old stylus control scheme. It was the best of both worlds. And it was promptly ignored by almost everyone. Perhaps gamers were tired of the concept but that hasnt stopped them buying crappy mini-game collections on Wii, has it? Perhaps they didnt realize there was a 2 at the end. Perhaps aw, perhaps nothing. Most gamers just missed on this one, thats all. But theres still time to make things right.
Weapon of Choice
If you dont buy Weapon of Choice, you just dont like old-school games. Its a 2D side-scrolling blastathon in the vein of Contra or Gunstar Heroes (although single-player only), but reinvented for the modern world. Its both retro and fresh. Its weird. And its covered in awesomesauce. The art style is half way between black velvet black light painting and LSD trip. There are branching paths that actually affect the story. The weapons are incredibly over-the-top one of the default characters carries a jet engine. Every character has a backpack with mechanical arms that enable you to walk up walls and hang from ceilings. You can fight the SUN. The list goes on and on.
Plus, being an Xbox community game, Weapon of Choice can be yours for the ridiculously low sum of $5. Thats right. The sale price of a footlong sandwich at Subway. Screw eating fresh game fresh and just eat Doritos and Mountain Dew for dinner again.
Age of Booty
When Civilization V introduced hexagons to their formula, the decision was lauded by fans and critics alike. However, anyone whos played Age of Booty knows that Civ 5 didnt come up with the idea on its own: that treasure chest had been plundered once before. You might even say that Age of Booty used hexagons before they were cool and rename the game Age of Hipster Bootybut no one wants that.
Piloting a pirate ship around the hexagonal seas, Age of Booty brings the real-time strategy genre to a smaller, more intimate format that new players can get behind. Theres still resources to obtain and towns (bases) and ships (units) to upgrade, but the game makes it seem so much simpler than it actually is. We stress out playing games like StarCraft, but here everything washere it comessmooth sailing. Yeah, were sorry for that one too.
David Cage makes a cinematic, quick-time event driven game and hes lauded as a visionary and genius. Capcom makes a cinematic QTE-driven game, adds in some not-QTE action sequences, and no one even bats an eye. Were not sure what the reason for that hypocrisy is, but were here to put a stop to it right now: Asuras Wrath is the Japanese Heavy Rain, upping the action and adding some insane scenes to the formula to make one crazy and awesome game.
The tale of Asuras Wrath seems as if it was ripped from the right-to-left pages of a manga, the cinematics are equal parts beautiful and explosive, and the music is one of the best gaming soundtracks youve never heard with its Japanese-influenced orchestral tunes. Most importantly, the title character Asura is both a really cool protagonist and a perfect example of why people should learn to calm down sometimes. Whether youre an otaku, an action buff, or a player looking for something different, Asuras Wrath deserves a shot in your console.
Like its predecessor, Battlestations: Midway, this is an ambitious game. In addition to air combat, which occupies the biggest chunk of play, youve also got command over ships, submarines, flak cannons and artillery. With over 100 potential units to unlock, theres certainly no shortage of stuff to do.
The controls can be overwhelming and the game lacks polish, but Pacific blends arcade combat and deep war simulation well enough to be worth your time, especially if youre a WWII junkie. The series has a lot of potential and, based on the upgrade from Midway, the series is improving.
What do you call a game that doesnt really do anything new, but it does the conventional stuff fairly well? We call it Risen, an action RPG set on a tropical volcanic island. While Demons Souls this is not, Risen does enough to keep things interesting, sporting unlockable skills and attributes as we play. We can focus on combat, smithing, lockpicking, whatever we choose, and theres nothing we like more than choice.
However, despite what it does well, we can understand why some players passed it over. Risen launched a few months after Demons Souls, and most of us were still pulling our hair out trying to conquer that behemoth. As such, a game like Risen didnt even appear on our radar. Having gone back and playing it, we feel like we may have underestimated Risen a bit, so if youre looking for an action RPG to play but dont want to feel completely futile, Risen would be right up your alley.
Tony Hawk Proving Ground DS
By the ninth year of annual Tony Hawks Pro Skater updates, the writing was on the wall. Gameplay was growing more and more indistinguishable, while the licensed pros were reduced to useless bit cameos in idiotic plot-based presentations seemingly ripped from Surge commercials. The series was in desperate need of a breather. Heres the thing: the only thing thats never sucked about Tony Hawk is the core gameplay. Unfortunately, the only version of Proving Ground that cared to maintain that focus happens to also be the worst selling edition. The DS version, however, cares not of your stupid plots, video editors, customizable skate lounges or getting off the damned board!
Sure, its a little on the fugly side but once you trim the fat, the added Aggro Kick proves just as valuable to linking tricks as the manual or revert, and theres zero analog Nail the Trick boredom. Once you add in the online mode, the lower screen map and the best licensed soundtrack on the DS ever, its easy see the superiority in this inferior iteration.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
Fact: many gamers are turned off by the very notion of strategy. As such, many simply cast Civilization: Revolution as an exercise in boring-ass spreadsheet wankery and moved on to the latest sci-fi or WWII shooter. In doing so, however, they missed what is probably the best and most accessible console implementation of turn-based strategy ever made.
For an experience that was designed with keyboard and mouse in mind, Revolutions gamepad controls are remarkably easy to learn. The bright colors and hypnotic music conjure a mesmerizing ambience in which the centuries drift by and your puny band of hunter-gatherers rise to military, economic or scientific dominance. If any strategy title has a chance to win you over, this is the one.
NBA Street Homecourt
The beauty of EAs Street franchises was that you didnt need to actually know anything about the sports you were playing. Rules were gleefully bended. Regulations were unapologetically broken. You could bounce balls off opponents heads, defy gravity by running up a wall or score multiple baskets within a single jumpshot. Because the emphasis was on fun and not fouls, the games sold millions and millions of copies.
NBA Street Homecourt, though, didnt. The latest and last entry in the basketball series opted for a slightly less show-off style, painting the sport with warm 70s-80s nostalgia and casting the celebrity players as younger, not-yet-famous versions of themselves. The moves and dunks are still ridiculously over-the-top, the multiplayer is still endlessly entertaining and the graphics have never looked better, but the lack of in-your-face xtremeness must have turned away a large part of the audience. Shame.
Child of Eden
The Xbox 360 Kinect had been looking for the one killer app to push it over the top for a while, and people were starting to get frustrated. Kinect trade-ins soared, as folks grew weary of Kinect Sports and Adventures. Anyone who did that foolish thing, though, missed out on an incredible rhythm action game called Child of Eden, which cast a spell on anyone who saw it.
The premise of Child of Eden is simple: shoot objects around the screen, which create music upon their destruction, in order to save a computer program from a malicious virus. It sounds strange, but moving to the beat of the stage song and shooting enemies and obstacles right in rhythm is pretty fun, though we may have preferred some kind of non-movement based control scheme. Put joystick support in Child of Eden and its popularity soars, of that we have no doubt.
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
Underneath its gorgeously bright visuals and kiddie-friendly, so-cute-I-want-to-choke-something exterior, the second Viva Pinata on 360 is a massive game. If you can manage to juggle all the various tasks keeping the piatas getting along with one another, breeding baby piatas, crafting new foods for them to eat in case it triggers a valuable mutation we dont need to tell you theres stupid depth here. Its like you start off playing Pokemon, but end up playing Civilization.
Unfortunately, Trouble in Paradise didnt add enough for most folks to think it merited a re-buy. To them, an expended co-op multiplayer mode, 28 new piatas, new desert and snow environments, and the power to scan in new critters via the piata vision camera when it worked, at least wasnt really enough to get them excited again. That was our attitude too, but when we played the game all of those concerns evaporated within five minutes especially when we learned there was a dinosaur now. Pinata Island is a place worth revisiting. And if youve been avoiding VP because its not manly enough, let us just point one thing out: You may never play a game with more sex in it than this one.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Miles Edgeworth is admittedly not as personable as his longtime rival Phoenix Wright. Hes stoic, matter-of-fact, and struggles to even crack a smile at times. Giving him his own game would then seem like a risk, but Capcom wisely decided to change up the format: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth puts more of a focus on investigating crime scenes than battling in a courtroom, and the result is a fun new take on the series thats worth a playthrough.
Dont misunderstand us, there will be plenty of deliberation throughout the adventure. However, players will walk Edgeworth through crime scenes, investigating items and solving puzzles to proceed, instead of just pointing at objects of interest a la Ace Attorney. Its a vastly different process, but the core experience remains the same: enjoyable logic-based challenges that will keep you on your toes. Now if more of you could play it so Capcom will bring the sequel to the West, we would appreciate it.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a game thats tragically underplayed and we cant understand why. Its a brutally satisfying shooter, but the game barely pushed half a million copies, which is a damn shame. You play as a down-on-his-luck cop tangled in a world of nightmares, murderers, CSI investigation and homeless crack addicts. Intertwined in the shooting is an awesome hand-to-hand combat system where youll feel every single hit you lay on the opponent. Whats not to like?
For a game that launched early in the generation, Condemned has everything you could want: horror elements (seriously, the game will scare the crap out of you), solid shooting, and an interesting story. If youre planning on going back and revisiting some games you may have missed from the seventh console generation, we suggest starting with Condemned: Criminal Origins. Then go play the sequel. That game makes you fight a psychotic bear. Seriously.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
The team behind the underrated Eternal Sonata (also on this list, how about that?!) launched Fragile Dreams in Japan in January 2009, and from the day it hit American RPG fans campaigned to bring the game over here. This was before Operation Rainfalls successful campaign, and with no organization the requests seemed to have gone unnoticed. All of a sudden, over a year later, XSeed Games scooped up the publishing rights and launched it in March 2010. Was it worth the wait? For the Japanese RPG fans out there, absolutely.
The dark post-apocalyptic story follows Seto, a 15-year-old boy looking for other living humans after a catastrophe wipes out the entirety of humanity. Players help Seto traverse the wreckage, fight ghosts with limited-use weapons, and solve puzzles with Setos flashlight. Its a weird game, sure, but the successful voices of those who clamored for its Western release cant be wrong, can they?
Third-person action, PlayStation exclusive. If we were to describe a game like that to you, we have little doubt that the words God of War would be the first out of your mouths. While we understand how and why that would happen, the lack of consideration for Ninja Theorys Heavenly Sword is downright sad, as this game does third-person hack n slash action just as well as any adventure Kratos has been in. Its time Nariko got some time in the spotlight.
The action is just as fierce, the story just as tragic, and the characters just as memorable as Kratos many games, yet many newer PS3 owners may not even know what Heavenly Sword is, and thats a shame. A lack of a proper sequel hurts (ahem) and developer Ninja Theory has since gone on to make some very good games, including DmC: Devil May Cry and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, leaving them very little time to work on a sequel. Regardless, we would LOVE to see the Heavenly Sword return in a brand new game, but for now we will go back and relive Narikos epic tale. If you havent played this yet, you should play it too.
We dont like to throw the term cult hit around lightly, but Deadly Premonition earns that distinction more than any other game on this list. This quirky, Twin Peaks-style horror game looks and plays like it belongs on the PS2, yet every time we hear of a new person trying the game, theres not a single negative comment to be heard. Were entranced by the weirdness of it all, but wed expect nothing less from a mind like Swery65.
Theres a chance that youre not going to know what the hell is happening at times. Theres a even bigger chance that youll be straight up creeped out by whats showing on the screen too. However, were confident that if given the chance, Deadly Premonition will soar up the list of your favorite games from this console generation. We didnt believe it either, but its totally true.
Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice
Also known as Gods gift to anime and JRPG fans, Disgaea games often play second fiddle to more popular strategy series such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Like previous titles in the series, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice comes packed with ridiculous characters, hilarious dialogue, a rocking soundtrack and loads of customization options.
Set in the Netherworlds Evil Academy, a school for demons where honor students skip class and cheat on their homework, you play as Mao, the son of the Overlord. After wasting his life on RPGs and manga (hmm, sound familiar?), he decides to sacrifice and walk the path of a true hero. Level-up lovers and collectors will especially love unlocking new classes and hidden characters as they grind their party up to the highest stats.
Dungeon Siege 3
When Dungeon Siege III launched in 2011, it was the closest thing players had to Diablo on consoles. Four-player dungeon crawling, stashes of loot to be found, and a bevy of dungeons to explore and conquerthis was a game that could have possibly whetted the palette of those hungry for a new Diablo experience, especially in the midst of Diablo IIIs development. However, the game merely served as an appetizer, offering little to those who have been battling Diablo for awhile.
We enjoy the dungeon crawling sure, and its fun to team up with some pals and travel the world of Dungeon Siege, but the story does very little to engage the player, and once its over theres basically no replay value aside from restarting the boring story. Try as it might, this wasnt the game Diablo fans were looking for, so back to Diablo II they went, leaving Dungeon Siege III in the dust.
Earth Defense Force 2017
A lot of folks took one look at the publisher on this one D3, known for budget titles rather than AAA hits and said No thanks. Big mistake. What Earth Defense Force 2017 lacks in polish, it makes up for in campy exuberance. This is a third-person shooter composed of every cheesy sci-fi movie youve ever seen.
UFOs are invading! Shoot em down. Now its giant ants by the dozens! Fire away and watch em splatter. Now its giant robots, and cyborg mutant dinosaur monsters, and another giant robot so big that it literally craps out the earlier giant robots. Every time you think it cant possibly get more outrageous, it does. Youll want to keep playing just to see how the game manages to one-up itself next. And then youll want to blow up it all up and push on to the next ridiculous level. Its great fun.
There are a glut of racing games throughout this generation (wed argue theres a glut of racing games on this list), but each game has its merits. Race Pro, developed by primarily PC dev SimBin, is easily overlooked when sitting next to games like Forza and Project Gotham Racing. However, this game brings the pedigree of the GTR PC racing series to consoles for the first time ever, so racing fans who like to expand their horizons now have a chance to see what the PC racing world is all about.
Race Pro also offers tracks that had not ever been available on a seventh-gen console before, bringing names like Autdromo Internacional de Curitiba and Circuit de Pau to the Xbox 360 for the first time. Unfortunately for Race Pro, exclusive tracks do not a premier racing simulation make, and everything else about the game just seemed like we had done it all before. Racing fans have something to look forward to in Race Pro, but those unfamiliar with the genre might as well look elsewhere.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
The Nintendo DS gained a reputation for being a terrific system for RPGs, as many a famous name saw some kind of portable release during the DSs lifespan. It took seven long years for Nintendo to jump on the banwagon, but in 2010 the Golden Sun rose again and fans jumped right back into the world of Psynergy and Alchemy. The GBA classics had found a new home, and everything was good
except the game didnt exactly capture the magic of the first two. Being set thirty years in the future and making us play as the child of the first games hero just wasnt the same. The story was still good, as any time a hero is duped into committing mass genocide were on board, but getting through it was far easier than the previous two games. Leveling up took no time at all, and the more powerful Djinn in the game make every battle a walk in the park. While the charm of the original didnt last, Dark Dawn is still a serviceable turn-based RPG, especially for those new to the series, and wed love a fourth crack at the world of Golden Sun on 3DS, wink wink...
Heres an interesting idea for an RPG: set it within Polish composer Chopins dreams as he lies on his deathbed. Heres another: infuse the adventure with musical elements, in battle and in exploration. Another: have the battle between actual physical light and darkness inspire the games combat system.
Crazy, no? Well, we prefer the word inspired. Originality often goes unrewarded, however, and Eternal Sonata has sold only 400,000 copies. Final Fantasy XII, for comparison, moved over five million.
Did you even know that a Suikoden game launched on the DS? Suikoden Tierkreis launched in March 2009, bringing everything weve come to love about the series with it. With 108 characters to unlock, an epic score transcendent of the system its found on, and a massive world to traverse, Tierkreis is one of the deepest and most enjoyable RPGs on a system filled with them.
We will say this: those who have played every game in the series will notice major differences in this game from the others. It wont feel the same, it wont look the same, but its still a fantastic entry in the Suikoden franchise, and its the newest game weve got until Konami decides to stop resting on its laurels and give us Suikoden VI. Seriously, weve waited long enough.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
There are a select few players out there in the world that love the idea of a good ol jRPG grindfest; they love playing through the type of role-playing games that eat up hundreds of hours per game, building up characters and finally defeating the ultra-difficult boss. The Etrian Odyssey series holds a few examples of this digital masochism, but Etrian Odyssey IV takes the cake.
Like the previous games, theres a ton of powerful enemies, some of which exist in the brand new overworld. One would think the addition of a new sky overworld would make the game easier to travel, but thats not how Etrian Odyssey does things. Sure we can use the overworld to get around, but run into a dragon and nine times out of ten its an instant game over, meaning that not saving before a major grind could make that grind irrelevant in mere seconds. Its a fun RPG experience, but should you try to conquer it, SAVE OFTEN.
With Pokemoning and Monster Hunting all the rage nowadays, we wonder why Folklore didnt kick up a little more dust. It may not have been the PS3-justifyinig RPG originally billed, but the design is gorgeously lavish and the gameplay is one-of-a-kind.
Essentially, your only weapons are your enemies. You must murder over a hundred beasties, or Folks, and siphon their souls to harness their unique abilities. Coolest of all, the hyper-gimmicky SIXAXIS enabled you to jerk back on the controller to rip the monsters spirits from their still-beating carcasses in a way that was deliciously Ghostbusters, long before we knew that property was getting its own game.
Warhawk, one of the first games to launch on the PS3, was rumored to have a single-player campaign that was cut in favor of a full multiplayer experience. Starhawk, the spiritual successor to Warhawk, included the single-player campaign, but unfortunately the weak storyline and boring characters gave credence to the Warhawk method almost immediately.
Starhawks main selling points are its multiplayer, sporting 32-player online battles just as its predecessor had, and the innovative Build and Battle system. This new gameplay mechanic throws some real-time strategy into the mix, allowing players to build bunkers, armories, and other essential structures in the middle of a battle. Ironically, without the boring single-player Starhawk could have been an elite PS3 experience. Perhaps the new game should have followed the influence of its predecessor
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
The original Call of Juarez flew under the radar of most players, yet delivered a solid Old West first-person shooter experience (which was then and still is now hard to find in games today). Its no surprise that its sequel, Bound in Blood, flew even further under the radar, even though it also delivered solid Wild West shooting. Until Red Dead came along, Call of Juarez was all we had for a rootin tootin shootin good time on the range, and Bound in Blood worked for a while.
Were not handing out best shooter of all time awards here, but anyone who watches John Wayne or Clint Eastwood on a regular basis should give Bound in Blood a try. Unfortunately, in a game featuring two brothers, there's no campaign co-op to be found...which blows our minds. The game wont change the way you think about shooters, and the lack of co-op is absurd, but its perfect for a shootout where the deer and the antelope play.
Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow
Years after Syphon Filter had become a sad, obnoxious parody of itself, the series was brought back to life with the PSP title Dark Mirror, which sold well enough to earn Greatest Hits status and an inferior PS2 port. There was no such love for the follow-up, Logans Shadow, which is a shame considering that it improved on Dark Mirror with underwater sequences, smarter enemies, environmental kills and a few cool quicktime events.
Like Dark Mirror, Logans Shadow also featured a special sniper rifle that could fire remote-triggered darts, which could release explosives, poison gas or a debilitating electrical charge when your target walked near another enemy. More importantly, it was one of the few PSP shooters to avoid feeling awkward or clunky because of the handhelds lack of a second analog stick. Sadly, nobody cared, and what once looked set to be a yearly franchise has been effectively dead since 2007.
House of the Dead: Overkill
Of course you havent played The House of the Dead: Overkill its a blood-soaked, curse-laden, tongue-in-cheek zombie shooting thrill ride. Unfortunately, it debuted on the Wii before being ported to other consoles, which severely hurt its chances for top sales..
But if youre avoiding the sequel for that reason alone, youre missing out on so much greatness! Agent Washingtons potty mouth, Varla Guns impossibly sexy shotgun reload, an impeccably executed send-up of grindhouse horror and one of the most disgusting endings in gaming history. If this really is New Sega, we want more. Much more.
Jeanne DArc isnt sure what it wants to be. On the one hand, its a fantasy-laden RPG with demons to slay and magic to wield. On the other, the game borrows legitimate historical facts about the real Joan of Arc, becoming a history lesson at certain points. There arent many games that can tip-toe the line between historical accuracy and outlandish fantasy the way Jeanne DArc does, and in doing so Level-5 created a fun little game for the PSP.
With Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics already on the system, its understandable that PSP owners Vita owners via the digital store) may have passed Jeanne DArc right by. However, the attention to detail and the epic fight scenes would make that decision instantly regrettable. Were sorry we missed you before, Jeanne DArc, well never let it happen again.
WiiWare never really took off--most people who bought the system bought it for fancy Nintendo games, and low-budget indies simply weren't in that class. But despite that, the first batch of downloadables to hit the system included some quality titles, like the criminally unrecognized LostWinds, which took full advantage of the system's motion controls to create a great, complete experience.
And remember, this was early in 2008, well before Xbox Live and PlayStation Network became the bastions of indie goodness they are today. This was a pre-Braid world, where most "downloadable" games will more or less fancy versions of arcade titles. LostWinds was a beautiful, whimsical journey, and one more people should have played.
Kirby Canvas Curse
How is the best Kirby adventure on Nintendos handheld also the worst selling? Canvas Curse boasts captivating music, sparkling visuals and addictive replay value. More importantly, the gameplay is some of the most innovative weve ever witnessed on the DS, taking the pink puff out of your control and asking you to guide his ceaseless roller-coaster momentum with the tracing of your stylus instead.
But thanks to an early release less than a year after the systems launch not nearly as many people have played Canvas Curse as they have its inferior (though still fun) follow-ups, Squeak Squad and Super Star Ultra. Comment section, take note: being first isnt always a good thing.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
When we think of Warhammer games, we think of epic battles of real-time strategy spread across a giant battlefield, hundreds of characters filling our screens at one time. We dont think of a third-person action shooter following the exploits of one particular Space Marine. THQ tried to mix up the formula this way with Space Marine, and while the game did have its merits, it never truly felt like a Warhammer game to us.
Playing through the main campaign as Titus, a captain of the Space Marines, is a bit of a slog, and the multiplayer modes are the same mix of team-based and free-for-all combat that many other games have seen before it. This was a game made strictly for those who want to experience every inch of the Warhammer lore, while the rest of us merely saw yet another third-person shooter.
Be Stuntman Mike! Or rather, his less murderous, death-proof equivalent. Ignition puts you in charge of every 180, ramp jump and expensive pyrotechnic that goes into the typical Hollywood blockbuster. And if you were turned off by the games disappointing predecessor? Know that this sequel is a HUGE improvement.
Production values have been heightened, gameplay variety has been expanded and the notorious difficulty has been infinitely more balanced. Courses are now relatively forgiving, so you can complete challenges without adhering to a Nazi-esque line while some egomaniacal director barks orders at you. Some truly epic BOOM to be enjoyed here Stuntman: Ignition deserves better than its current bargain bin status.
How many games have you played with multiple endings, only for those ending to mean absolutely nothing in the full canon of the game? Sometimes wed like to see what would happen in some of the alternate scenarioswhich is exactly what Square Enix gave us with Nier. Nier follows the events of Ending E in Drakengard, where the Earth is basically ruined, and Nier must protect a sick young girl named Yonah through this terrible world. The result is a fantastic RPG, one that fans of the genre should not ignore.
The combat system does not revolutionize the RPG world, but it is still a fine-tuned machine, making each battle simple to traverse. We couldnt be happier with the simple system, actually, as it made playing through the wonderful story that much less stressful. Every character in the game is memorable, and every scene will keep you wanting more. Nier may be one of the most underrated RPGs of the entire generation, so fans should make it a point to go back and play it.
Link's Crossbow Training
Whod have imagined that a game bundled with the Wii Zapper would actually be worth playing? Or that a whored-out Link would carry his quality across to a collection of shooting gallery games?
Yet here we are, trying to get our Miis head on every top score. Crossbow Training is utterly addictive, with hidden bonuses in each area genuinely making a difference in how you play. Crossbow Training looks great, with styles and locales inspired by Twilight Princess. And ironically, Crossbow Training is best played with that stupid official Zapper. Seriously, whod have thought?
Little King's Story
While it seems like Little Kings Story is a cute, simplistic game, nothing could be further from the truth. Theres a lot going on in this little kingdom, and virtually all of it falls on our shoulders. Through the king we must build up the kingdom, command the subjects to do our bidding, and conquer other lands for our personal gain. All of this is done in a way that emulates games like Pikmin, the Sims, and many RPG games. Surprised? So were we once we dug into it.
Maintaining your kingdom will require diligence and care for every aspect of the kingdom. Your loyal subjects can change jobs once a training facility is built, allowing you to balance between those who can fight and those who are able to work on the town. Eventually youll need to bring a band of subjects with you into the wild, adventuring for treasure and fighting many big bosses. Theres a ton of things to do in this little game, which makes breaking out the Wii and building a kingdom a great idea.
While certainly not a tremendous game, The Club is a one-of-a-kind experience and quite a fun little bit of blood sport. The concept is simple: run through short levels as quickly as possible, killing waves of enemies in combos and thereby racking up as many points as possible. Its a neat concept, and a nice throwback to old arcade action games.
If you can get it cheap, or rent it cheaper, give The Club a chance. You may be surprised just how much you'll enjoy it.
Hardcore Nintendo fans complain about a lack of real games to play on the Wii games bereft of maraca-shaking infants and cheerleader pom-poms. Yet when presented with a super stylish, hyper violent beat em-up throwback with high review scores, they go ahead and ignore the damn thing. Cool. Well just switch our name to BabyRadar, since thats all you seem to be interested in, dear readers.
To be fair, MadWorld hit shelves only two months ago. Maybe the unimpressive sales numbers will turn around. How about you do us a favor, try this black and white beauty out and guarantee that happens? We promise itll satiate your appetite for over-the-top mega brutality.
Mario Strikers Charged
To FIFA and PES players, this probably looked like a sacrilegious clusterf*ck. To hardcore Nintendo fans, it was just another tantalizing plumber appearance that wasnt the long-awaited Super Mario Galaxy. And to casual Wii buyers, well, it was one of those confusing, complicated games that required skills and button-pressing. Urgh.
Forget all of those misgivings. Mario Strikers Charged is an absolute hoot. Far from the power-up diluted insult to soccer/football you might expect, its actually the new NBA Jam a cranked up arcade distillation of the sport with its own layers of accessible depth bubbling away throughout. Every charged power shot and character-specific special move is designed with satisfyingly tactical, risk-and-reward balance in mind, and motion-controlled goal-keeping means that skill can always beat super-powered cheese.
It had been a while since wed seen Rick and his Splatterhouse, and were pretty sure Rick was aware of how long wed be separated too. He probably felt like he had to make up for lost time, which would explain the buckets upon buckets of blood and gore present throughout the entire game. Rick never limited his ass-kicking power to begin with, but in this new game his blood-letting is off the charts.
Youre not going to want to play Splatterhouse if youre squeamish, or if youre not a fan of bands like Lamb of God, Mastodon, and Five Finger Death Punch that make up the games soundtrack. Bloodthirsty metalheads, however, need look no further for their perfect game. Regardless, its great to see a classic character get a second chance at life, even if its just for one game. Anyone think Bubsy is due for a return? No?
Resonance of Fate
Tri-Ace had built quite a reputation among JRPG fans with the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile franchises, but in 2010 they decided to give us something completely different with Resonance of Fate. With a new name came a new approach to the format called the tri-Attack Battle System, a hybrid of real-time and turn-based controls. The fresh battle system was a success, but no fresh battle system could prevent the game from overstaying its welcome.
We love a good JRPG, but there comes a time where the story starts to drag and the action starts to get repetitive, and the game has to know when to let up and roll the credits. Resonance of Fate apparently forgot all about that, instead going on and on and on until we felt we had to finish it out of principle, not because we wanted to see how it ended. If you want to see a fresh new battle system in action, give Resonance of Fate a try, but only the truly engaged should try to play until the end.
The Guided Fate Paradox
Nippon Ichi has made a fortune delivering niche games to American shores, and The Guided Fate Paradox is the most recent example. Its hard to describe what the games all about, so allow us to differ to the games Wikipedia page: The game follows Renya, a boy who wins a raffle drawing that gives him divine powers. His new mission then becomes to alter and affect the fates people that pray to him. Thats right, a raffle gives a boy the powers of a god, and he then must act to appease his followers. Riiiight.
Despite the strange premise, Guided Fate Paradox is actually a fun and serviceable JRPG experience for fans of the genre, but those who dont like those games will get zero satisfaction from trying this out. If you want to see if this paradox is for you, check it out on the PS3s digital store. Otherwise, we wont blame you if its too weird for your tastes. It is niche, after all.
Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
Ratchet and Clank should be nowhere near a list of overlooked games. Every title in the series has been a fun and frenetic romp through a futuristic world, fighting with weapons that our wildest dreams couldnt produce. Into the Nexus is no different; the final installment of the Ratchet and Clank Future saga offers the same insane 3D gameplay weve come to love from our favorite Lombax and his robot friend.
So whats going on here? Well, Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus launched in North America on November 12th, 2013, a mere three days before the launch of the PlayStation 4. Since most of the gaming worlds attention focused on the upcoming new generation of games, only the most hardened Ratchet and Clank fans made sure not to forget about Into the Nexus, the rest of gamerdom getting ready to explore games like Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall. Hopefully when the luster of the new generation wears off, players will come back and find out whats Into the Nexus. Otherwise, this final chapter could be lost for good
Red Steel 2
There are plenty of reasons why the games on this list are overlooked: lack of marketing, lack of attention at E3 and other trade shows, and many more. Red Steel 2 fits into a unique category, as it was primarily overlooked due to the sheer crappiness of its predecessor. The Wii launch game Red Steel lived up to exactly none of the expectations set before it, but Red Steel 2 does a great job of restoring some credibility to the nameeven if we were all a little gunshy.
Red Steel 2 moved away from the Yakuza setting of the first game, replacing it with a samurai/Wild West hybrid that was a ton of fun to watch and play. The addition of the Wii Motion Plus made swordplay much better than the first go-round, and the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo served the shooting portions really well. If you bought Red Steel at the Wiis launch and it left a bad taste in your mouth, let Red Steel 2 wash that taste away.
Another victim of Nintendos casual audience. Here is a Wii title with danger, menace and brutality. Here is a Wii title with intrigue, innovation and imagination. Here is a Wii title with original uses for the motion controls. And here is a Wii title thats sold about 2% the number of copies as goddamn Carnival Games.
In Deadly Creatures, you play as both a scorpion and a tarantula. You use the remote and Nunchuk to battle rattlesnakes, beetles and giant lizards. You explore a gorgeously miniaturized world in which doll heads provide shelter, cell phones light up entire rooms and humans voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper can squish you with a single footstep. Nah, sounds pointless. Lets play another friggin round of Wii bowling instead
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
If something was good on WiiWare or DSiWare, it's safe to say that no one cared. This goes for a number of games on this list, but none as much as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. Square-Enix turned the RPG formula on its head by casting you not as an adventurer that sets out to save the kingdom, but the king that sends them out to do it. It's crazy but, hey, it works!
You're able to upgrade your town, outfit your warriors, and send them into the unknown. It's a great management game with a huge amount of charm, and it's crazy that it hasn't been re-released on iOS or... anything. It could even be re-worked into a great 3DS Streetpass game! Hey! Square! Do it! Please!
Dark Void Zero
No, we arent praising the obscenely mediocre Dark Void. That game was completely surpassed by its downloadable tie-in, Dark Void Zero. First made as an in-joke during the parent games development, Dark Void Zero grew into a wonderfully retro-flavored flashback to 8-bit gaming. And the Metroid-style gameplay is just the start of the fun in this nearly forgotten DSiWare download.
Beyond the core action, Dark Void Zero has a great sense of humor. The (fake) backstory is that Zero is a lost NES game from the 1980s that the player has just rediscovered. You start by blowing dust off on-screen cartridge, and the old school silliness grows from there, all to an incredible chiptune soundtrack. Sadly, Dark Void Zero is very close to becoming the forgotten piece of software it pretended to be.
Were really confused by what happened with the Resistance franchise. The first two games sold a ton of copies, creating the first powerhouse PS3 exclusive franchise rather quickly, but for whatever reason the third game paled in comparison. How did this happen? Resistance 3 is the best of the bunch, capping off the trilogys great story with some ambitious strides in multiplayer to boot. What about it didnt appeal to you?
Even if you hadnt followed the Resistance franchise up until now, the third game is absolutely worth your time. Not many moments in other shooters had our hearts racing like running into the giant Satan Chimera in the underground tunnels, trying to figure out a way to get out of those tight quarters and put a hurt on the big goon. Theres no reason why Resistance 3 got the shaft like it did, and we hope that players will change their minds soon.
Blur is what happens when a developer sees the success of games like Mario Kart and Cruisn USA, then tries to recreate the experience with real life cars and tracks featuring altered version of real locales. Were seeing Dodge Vipers, Ford Transit, and the like, but in this game theyre fitted with ultra-powerful F1 engines and able to achieve insane speeds. While the idea probably looked better on paper than it turned out, Blur does have its stand out moments, particularly when playing with friends.
Single-player is nothing special, weve raced that track before, but multiplayer is what brings out the best in Blur. Racing against friends in a souped-up Mario Kart game brings back memories of I got next! while crouching around a Super Nintendo at a friends house. Speed boosting to victory right at the finish line is still exhilarating, and it will lead to plenty of name-calling and temporarily lost friendships. Some folks in our office still wont say hi to each other after a Blur match. Time to let it go, guys.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Like other Call of Juarez games, Gunslinger delivers a grand ol time running and gunning through the Old West. Unlike the other games, this one ditches the fully realistic approach, replacing it with a world that makes us think of Pandora from Borderlands. The stylized cel-shading of this Western romp is a nice departure from the other titles, as it adds a little splash of color to a genre thats mostly brown and grey. The Old West does take place primarily in desert-like areas after all, its hard to make that interesting to the eye, but Gunslinger does a good job.
What resonates most with us is the story format: were reliving the memories of a old warrior telling tales in a saloon, but as his audience begins to challenge his stories, he has to make changes, which then causes immediate changes to the world were fighting in. How else can an entire army of Apaches just appear and disappear in front of our eyes? The constantly changing environment adds a layer of comedy to the cowboy carnage, and we can always appreciate a laugh or two.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
What makes Enslaved: Odyssey to the West such a joy is how it completely snuck up on us. We had seen trailers, screenshots, and the like during its development cycle, but we didnt really pay it any mind until it launched. When it did, we were delighted with the vibrant post-apocalyptic worlds (which sounds like an oxymoron, but is completely true), intricate platforming, and interesting re-telling of a classic Chinese tale. It really took us by surprise, and in this case we love surprises.
Unfortunately, most players also didnt pay it much mind even after the game had launched. Namco Bandai had hoped the game would sell a million copies within the first month of release, but the game only sold 460,000 copies. Were not sure why the game was virtually ignored by the gaming faithful, but we hope that now, three years after the game launched, that problem has somewhat rectified itself. If not, then what are you waiting for, go try this!
Virtua Fighter 5
My, how the mighty have fallen. For a good long while, Virtua Fighter was gamings premiere fighting franchise. The original arcade machines were so successful and so technologically impressive, they now sit in the Smithsonian. The PlayStation and Saturn ports are beloved classics. Virtua Fighter 4 is one of the highest rated PS2 games of all time.
The fifth entry on 360 and PS3 is great as well the decade long culmination, and ultimate evolution, of an already very deep and rewarding model. Everything fans loved about the first four is included, only with far prettier graphics and slick online play for Xbox owners. Yet the two editions combined for less than a million copies sold compared to nearly 2 million for the previous game on PlayStation 2 alone. Wed say the lack of real change hurt its success, but look at Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and SoulCalibur. Same stagnation, but much higher numbers.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Quick, tell us a story from biblical times that you think would make a great video game, go! David and Goliath? Not bad. Samson and Delilah? Hmmmaybe. The Book of Enoch, a book that all Jewish and most Christian sects dont consider canon in their respective texts? Perfect, lets play El Shaddai and learn all about it!
Seriously, of all the biblical-era texts to source for a game, Ignition Entertainment chose 1 Enoch as its inspiration, creating a tale where a man named Enoch must seek out seven fallen angels to prevent a catastrophic flood. Oh, and nothing about the game looks like it came from biblical times, instead sourcing an anime-heavy style with insane amounts of color and visual flair. We can understand someones confusion as they look at this game, but we think its good for at least one playthroughjust so you can try to figure out what the heck is going on.
The last major non-WWE release from the boys and girls at THQ, Darksiders II carried the torch of the storied studio proudly into its demise. The game is gigantic, sporting multiple open world regions littered with dungeons that will be visited both through the main storyline and side missions assigned throughout the game. Plus, youre playing as Death himself, so you can bet theres plenty of hacking and slashing to be done.
The story of Darksiders II runs concurrently to the events of the original game, as Death tries to exonerate his brother War from his crimes. Players will visit Earth, Heaven, Hell, and other dimensional planes fit between the three main realms looking for answers and battling evil. THQ may no longer be around, but Darksiders II serves as a worthy and suitable vision of the studios legacy. Rest in peace, THQ.
The resurgence of the fighting game in this console generation saw a lot of old fighting franchises make triumphant returns to the arena, but also just as many brand new fighting games to appeal to the fighter in us all. Skullgirls may not have the loaded cast of other fighting games, but it oozes with style and plays like a seasoned veteran. We guess fighting enthusiasts were just too busy Sonic Booming or Get Over Here-ing to pay attention.
Each of the eight Skullgirls is completely unique, from the cartoony Ms. Peacock to the ninja nurse Valentine, and the ability to mix and match them in teams of two or three makes figuring out a strategy even tougher. The game was to be updated with more content after a successful crowdfunding campaign, but now that Konami is pulling the digital plug on the XBLA and PSN releases, we have to wait until the new Skullgirls Encore restores the game back to the digital storefronts. Until then, goodbye Skullgirls, we hope to see you really soon.
Sonic Generations is Sega directly listening to their fanssort of. See, Sonic the Hedgehog has been on the downturn as of late, we all know that, and fans have begged for a return to the good old days of speeding through a 2D stage, collecting rings, and messing up Robotnier, Eggman at the end of each level. Sega responded with Sonic Generations, a game that looked to tap into the entire history of the Sonic franchiseclose enough, we guess.
The 2D sections of Sonic Generations are exactly what people asked for, an incredibly fun return to the Sonic of yesteryear (with some sweet remixes of classic tunes as well). The 3D sections, wellthey just dont have the same pizzazz. We dont know whats wrong with Sonic nowadays, but Sonic Generations was a rare glimpse at what used to be, and it only made us miss it even more.
Spiderman: Web of Shadows
Spider-Man 3 was pitifully boring, and even more pitifully ugly; after that, wed nearly given up on getting a good Spider-Man game. Then Web of Shadows snuck up on us in 2008 and surprised the hell out of us. It isnt leaking innovation from every pore, but does what many of the other superhero simulators inexplicably couldnt: it makes hurdling oneself between buildings and beating up villains a blast.
If you have any interest in Peter Parker, dont assume that all of his games are craptastic cash-ins. Just most of them. Web of Shadows is actually worth a go.
The cyootest widdle ninjas in the world must defend their hometown from attacking hordes of demons and other (evil) ninjas! Wont you help them?? Adorability aside, Ninjatown is a Tower Defense-style game with great four-way multiplayer and tons of imaginative, personable characters. Astonishingly, it sold less than 100,000 copies despite averaging an 81 on Metacritic. Perhaps their ninja skills made them a little too invisible.
We forgive you if you assumed that a DS game based on an indie line of plush toys was utter crap, but theyve managed to wrap a solid game around these hipster collectibles. Now that you know, you have no excuse for passing over Ninjatown for MySims.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is the best turn-based strategy game youve never heard of. Look, we understand why you may have zero experience with this game; its first release on the PS1 was completely overshadowed by Final Fantasy Tactics, then the PSP re-release came in the systems later years, once again after Squares tactical RPG. The game couldnt get any attention if we were giving it away for free, which is a severe injustice.
Tactics Ogre doesnt play all that differently from Final Fantasy Tactics, but that doesnt matter to us; what matters is that this game is just as fun, addicting, and time-consuming as the game Square made. It doesnt bear the Final Fantasy name, instead running under the more obscure Ogre Battle banner, but Tactics Ogre is just as enjoyable as the other game. If only more people had given it a chance.
Tales of Vesperia
With dazzlingly smooth, rainbow-saturated graphics and real-time combat, Tales of Vesperia might seem at first glance like a shallow hack-and-slasher. Its not. Over time, your eyes adjust to the visual chaos and you learn to pull off complicated combos, exploit enemy weak spots, cast spells, hot-swap to take control of other members of your party on the fly, give tactical commands, use items and spells, and tweak the battle plan for your CPU-controlled cohorts all at the same time.
As you might expect, itll take you some time to get used to the combat. But dont worry in the meantime, youve got those hypnotic graphics, endearing characters, a decent plot and a huge open world to keep you motivated. If it said Final Fantasy on the box, Vesperia would sell zillions. Your only excuse for not picking it up today is that youre waiting for the PS3 version.
Outside of the MX vs ATV racer series, there arent many off-road quad-bike racing games available right now. The only one we can really think of is Pure from Disney Interactive (of all places!). Theres not a whole lot to Pure, its simply racing quads through locales all over the world while trying to pull off crazy stunts at unfathomable heights. Why complicate things, right?
There are three main ways to play Pure: five-lap races on short tracks; three-lap races on long tracks with big jumps and major turns; and a freestyle mode where the drive must perform as many tricks as possible before the gas tank hits the big E. The freestyle mode even keeps track of repetition, eventually calling you stale if you repeat too many tricks. Its not a complicated game by any means, but Pure is perfect for those who just want to get away and race for awhile.
The Darkness 2
First person shooters have emerged as the dominant genre of this generation, with heavy hitters like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 racking up approximately 10 million sales each. With so many competitors and copycats fighting over that lucrative market, however, a few masterpieces are guaranteed to go unnoticed.
The Darkness 2, for example. The game didnt sell nearly as much as the big boys, but it certainly deserves to be bought, played, discussed and adored as much as Gears of War or Killzone. What other shooter gives you heart-chomping dragons and dynamite-strapped kamikaze minions in addition to the usual arsenal? How many other shooters are dripping in atmosphere and gore like this? Is CoD as confident in its storytelling and voice acting as The Darkness is? We dont think so, so dont miss your chance to try this out.
Retro Game Challenge
Whats a stronger testament to Retro Game Challenge? The fact that its presentation kicks unholy amounts of ass despite being based on a Japanese TV show weve never heard of? Or that each of its NES inspired minigames are more addictive and playable than 70% of the casual full-length crap lining the DS sections store shelves right now?
Listen. Youre a kid trapped in the 80s and forced to overcome 8-bit challenges divvied out by the tyrannical head of an Asian man sitting atop a D-pad. Your only tools are painstakingly authentic game manuals and a fictitious magazine written by longstanding journalistic heavyweights containing previews, strategies and cheat codes. Doesnt that sound frigging amazing?
Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars
Lost in the shuffle of Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom 3 was this under-the-radar Capcom crossover for the Wii. The lack of familiarity with the Tatsunoko side of things hurt things enough, but some of Capcoms roster choices didnt help either. Batsu from Rival Schools? Awesome. Saki from an obscure Japan-only quiz game called Quiz Nanairo Dreams? No one knows who that is.
Despite the lack of familiarity, Tatsunoko vs Capcom is another great example of the team-based 2D fighting that Capcom has flourished with. Interesting new mechanics like the Baroque system and the addition of two giant characters (only pick that character, but they have double stamina and attack power) make TvC stand out among the Capcom selection. The Wii is lacking in fighters anyway, so why not give it a shot?
The World Ends With You
Everyones raving about Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, and were just sitting here loving The World Ends with You. Plenty of players feel the same way, as TWEWYs incredible story, unique dual-screen combat, and hip J-Pop soundtrack have made a huge impact on everyone whos played it. However, not nearly enough people have actually played the story of Neku Sakuraba, and thats just a damn shame.
The World Ends with You takes place in a strange purgatory where the underworld directly resembles the real life town of Shibuya in Japan. This underground or UG Shibuya is the home to the Reapers Game, where players (aka dead people in purgatory) must try to survive lest they be erased (aka removed from purgatory into what we assume is Hell). Are you interested now? Good, go play it.
Weve played plenty of racing games before Grid, we know what youre going to offer us: high-octane street races both on and offline for money, which can then be used to upgrade to better cars and parts. Weve done it before, we know what to expectwait, we can run our own racing team in Grid? We can even hire a teammate to drive with us in races, increasing our chances to win? OK Grid, now you have our attention.
For everything that racing games have given us in this generation, not many allowed us to man our own team of racers, starting as a freelance racer for other teams and building ourselves up to be a big-time racing crew. We love when games try something new, and Grid totally impressed us with this team-building approach. Sometimes we want more than just pedal-to-the-metal driving, you know?
Did giant mech games go out of style or something? Back in the day, we spent countless hours unlocking new bits of explosive-techno-electric stuff, balancing our heat-sinks with our weapon choices and dissecting our strategies. If you still have the itch to command customizable walking tanks, dig through the bargain bin until you find Chromehounds.
Chromehounds is for serious mech fans. None of that silly Armored Core jump-jet stuff here - this is painstakingly careful and considered combat. Unfortunately, the single player mode is pretty meaningless and we have no idea if folks are still playing on Xbox Live.
The Last Story
A while ago, a group known as Operation Rainfall petitioned Nintendo to localize three Wii RPG titles for Western players. One of them, Xenoblade Chronicles, has become one of the hardest Wii games to find. The Last Story, the second of the two games, is helmed by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame, yet we could go to any local game store and pick one up no problem. Whats wrong with The Last Story that everyones steering away from it?
Theres not a lot wrong with The Last Story, as its third-person action and RPG elements add some fun to the droll and predictable story, but its been completely overshadowed by Xenoblade in every way. We want more people to enjoy The Last Story, but we know that some will be turned off by how uninteresting the main story can be. Perhaps this Last Story is best suited for big time RPG fans.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Not once during our long and illustrious gaming careers have we played a game like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. If youve EVER asked for a purely original game with a brand new control scheme, Brothers ought to be on your games radar (heh). What seems like an ordinary platformer is anything but; completing the first in-game task will show you that this is on its own level, and youll soon see that the things youll do throughout the adventure are astounding.
Despite the two brothers adventuring together, Brothers is not a co-op experience; one person with one controller will control both brothers, splitting the controller in half. This crazy new mechanic allows for some truly mind-blowing puzzles, and one particular twist that will cement this game in your memory for a long time. Live the tale of these two sons, and you will not regret it.
Shadows of the Damned
Goichi Suda of Suda 51 has made a name for himself with crazy and unique games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer 7, but Shadows of the Damned is of particular note. Any time a mind like Suda joins forces with a horror game icon like Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil 4 fame, you know youre in for something unpredictable, and thats exactly what we got.
Shadows of the Damned with loaded with over-the-top gore, loads of mature humor, and a story that still doesnt completely make sense in some ways, despite how much we enjoyed it. However, like Sudas other games, Shadows of the Damned didnt register with the gaming masses, despite it having everything the typical gamer likes: blood, babes, and big guns. Perhaps itll become a cult hit soon enough.
In Split/Second, the typical racing formula is enhanced by the addition of a powerplay meter. By performing tricks throughout the race, this meter can be built up and spent on instant obstacles for opponents, shortcuts for myself, or in some cases complete changes to the racetrack itself. A racing game with mid-race terraforming? Thats something we dont see every day.
The innovation doesnt end there, as Split/Second also has a few unique racing modes up its sleeve. One such mode makes us dodge missile fire from a helicopter flying above us, using the powerplay meter to direct the missiles back at the chopper. Yup, thats a thing in this game. We wish more racing games had a run away from explosives mode in it. It would make things a lot more interesting.
ts incredibly easy to dismiss this game as repetitive. Once the initial wow, pretty! impression has given way to a couple levels of same-y enemies, you start to wonder if Dark Mist is the less welcome kind of PSN download. At that point, most gamers might give up. Hell, we nearly did.
Persevere, though, and youll be rewarded with a surprisingly deep system of weapon power-ups, some brilliant-looking bosses and a massive challenge, especially when attempting to complete the whole thing on one life. And have you seen the price? Just buy it already so they give us a sequel!
You Don't Know Jack
A lot of current games feature irreverent and risqu humor, but how many of them package that humor into a quiz show? You Dont Know Jack is no stranger to the gaming world, having first debuted on the PC in 1995, but both the 360 and PS3 saw a re-release of the quiz show party game in 2011. All of the classic humor and out-of-left-field questions were intact, including the specialty categories like DisorDat, which is the only time well have to guess if something is a brand of ranch salad dressing or the name of a brothel in Nevada. Classic.
YDKJ is the perfect pop-in-and-go party game when hanging out with folks who dont normally play games. The questions require a lot of smarts, each round will be filled with laughs, and before you realize it the clock will say 3:00 AM and youll all wonder where the party went. Trust us, weve done it plenty of times. And while the developers have done everything to get people to pay attention (including re-releasing it on several different platforms) people just... can't seem to make themselves care. It's heartbreaking and wrong.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
After the game's release, poor Henry Hatsworth didn't take long before he needed life support. Granted, two months may not be long enough to judge but with only 20,000 copies sold so far, the foppish Englishman probably shouldnt hold his breath.
Maybe we can be of assistance. If you love DS puzzlers, you should buy Henry Hatsworth. If you love DS platformers, you should buy Henry Hatsworth. The game cleverly combines the best from both genres, with the top screen devoted to Mario-like action and the bottom screen saved for Tetris-like brain teasers. When you discover how well and how unexpectedly the two worlds merge, youll be glad you gave the old adventurer a shot.
Metro: Last Light
Call of Duty and Battlefield dont hold a candle to Metro: Last Light. Now before you leave the article and block GR forever, hear us out here: no CoD or Battlefield campaign can match the atmosphere, the despair, or the intensity of the Metro: Last Light story. Sure, the explosions arent as plentiful and the normal American pride of CoD and Battlefield takes a backseat to Russian survival instincts, but neither of these things hurt Last Light, they just make the game better.
Fighting through the dark and narrow subway tunnels of post-apocalypse Russia, only coming up for irradiated air a few times throughout, is unlike anything weve ever experienced. The subtle morality choices intertwined within the magnificent story are a stroke of genius, and multiple endings encourage multiple trips through the game. We remember the nights we fought along the tracks, riding on the Metro-o-o-ohhhhhbut if you dont, you absolutely should.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
Advance Wars was one of Nintendos newest emergent franchises after the Game Boy Advance era, and while Dual Strike did a bang-up job of keeping the name fresh, Nintendo knew they had to mix things up. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin brought the series to a more gritty setting, detailing quarrels after the world has been destroyed instead of before it. However, while the change in setting did not affect the still-fun turn-based strategy gameplay, some of the series charm was lost in translation.
Were not saying its the best Advance Wars ever made, but Days of Ruins more serious tone does makes for a better story, even if the bright and colorful armies of previous games are replaced with typical greys and browns. Furthermore, this was developed by Intelligent Systems, who have gone on to make the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening, so think of this as laying the foundation for all of the fun you had playing with Chrom and the gang.
5th Cell is known for trying new things in their games, one look at the juggernaut franchise Scribblenauts has become can prove that point, but Locks Quest may be one of their best creations. Bringing resource management elements from real-time strategy games into a tower defense setting seemed crazy at the time, but one stage in this quest will prove any naysayer wrong. Locks Quest is another feather in the 5th Cell cap, though we dont think nearly as many people know about this one.
Before Plants vs Zombies made the tower defense format so popular, 5th Cell was trying their hand at the genre with Locks Quest. Each battle of Locks Quest has two phases: build where defenses are built and maintained under a brief time limit; and battle where the player can control Locke as he battles enemies and repairs damaged defenses from the build phase. Its a unique take on the tower defense format, incorporating some real-time strategy elements as well, and for the most part it works great.
Singularity arrived on the gaming scene at a time where the world was reaching critical mass where shooters were concerned. Call of Duty had become an annual franchise, EA alternated between Medal of Honor and Battlefield to compete, and a slew of other titles came and fell by the wayside. Not many of these shooters brought anything new to the table and thus were quickly forgotten, but Singularity actually tried something different, and the results were pretty cool.
Time manipulation is a central theme of Singularity, both in narrative and in game mechanics. The story sees the player transport between the year 1955 and the present day in the hopes of stopping a madman from taking over the world, using a Time Manipulation Device, or TMD, to do so. Gameplay allows to use the same TMD to our advantage, advancing time forward or backward or even stopping it completely to defeat enemies and continue on. The rest of the game is familiar territory, but the time-hopping mechanics make Singularity rise above the rest of the FPS one-and-dones.
You, Me, and the Cubes
The late Kenji Eno was an overlooked artist within gaming, mostly because his creations were too weird for the mainstream. Even when they didnt always work, titles like D and Enemy Zero were wholly unique, and that goes for You, Me, and the Cubes, one of his final games. Missed by many when it came to WiiWare, this game married an otherworldly presentation with a simple-but-creative approach to physics-based puzzles.
With a memorable (if sparse) soundtrack, You, Me, and the Cubes made players drop people onto multiple floating platforms. You had to evenly distribute their weight using the clever Wii Remote controls or else theyd fall off, but the little people moved around on their own, so you had to adjust quickly. Part god game, part logic puzzle, You, Me, and the Cubes is worth digging out a Wii for.
Lost Odyssey is the Final Fantasy we all wanted, but because it wasnt called Final Fantasy, many turned a blind eye. Never mind that Hironobu Sakaguchi, the man who created Final Fantasy, and Nobuo Uematsu, the man who provided Final Fantasys memorable music, both reprised their roles for this game; if its not Final Fantasy, fans didnt care.
When Final Fantasy XIII came out and it wasnt what fans had expected, many of them should have gone back and given Lost Odyssey its proper time in the sun. They would have seen the classic turn-based combat of the PS1 Final Fantasy era, the giant adventure spanning four Xbox 360 discs, and the influence of Sakaguchi-san and Uematsu-san all over the place. All were trying to say is Lost Odyssey is a damn good ghost of RPGs past, and anyone who played the PS1 classics should try this out too.
999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
Are you a fan of the Saw horror movie franchise? If so, and you own a DS, go out right now and find yourself a copy of 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. The story starts out similar to the games of the Jigsaw Killer, presenting nine people trapped in a sinking ship as part of whats called the Nonary Game, but eventually the game separates itself into a story we dont want to spoil for you here. Suffice to say, if the twists in Saws story made you happy, you aint seen nothing yet.
The plight of these nine folks as they try to solve the puzzles of the Nonary Game makes for an incredible tale, but the smart puzzles that the game puts before you will test every one of your wits. We dont blame you if you hadnt heard of 999 before now, but now that you do theres no excuse: test yourself in the Nonary Game and live the incredible story of 999. Youll be glad you did.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Imagine waking up with no idea where you are, only to look over and see your dead corpse lying on the ground. You then realize that youre a floating wisp in the sky, no longer living the human life. Thats how Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective begins, and what follows is a quest to figure out who killed you through some of the best puzzle gameplay weve ever experienced.
Using Sissel (the dead guy) youll manipulate the environment in each level to also manipulate what happens in that environment. Youll knock things down, create platforms, and more in whats basically a series of Rube Goldberg devices in video game form. Any storied players who used to boot up The Incredible Machine on the PC will feel right at home here. Ghost Trick is a lot of fun, but wed expect nothing less from Shu Takumi, better known as the mind behind the Ace Attorney series.
Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Forget the cutesy swashbuckling art style - Zack & Wiki is a hardcore puzzler at the core. In fact, the game plays more like LucasArts old point-and-click adventures, without all the downtime. Youll face dozens of brain bending riddles, but with the right tools already in hand, you wont need to pixel hunt for any other leads.
The best part? This is a great example of what can be done with the Wiis motion controls the remote stands in for everything from keys and cranks to saws and flutes. The worst part? Finding a copy is hard.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
The world can be a cruel and mysterious place. Four years ago, a pampered multi-millionaire rapper lent his voice, likeness and ego to the shitty videogame companion of his even shittier movie. It sold roughly two million copies.
Cut to today. The same artist, possibly humbled by his declining music sales, appears in a self-parodying sequel that against all odds doesnt suck. The hilariously over-the-top combat is pure arcade, and pure popcorn fun. The story, featuring terrorists and diamond encrusted skulls, is too ridiculous not to enjoy. The co-op system works. The replay potential is high. In other words, 50 Cent starred in something other than a money-grabbing promotional tie-in. The result? A measly 160,000 in sales.
The list of games to play just grew, didn't it?
The hundred games on this list serve as a constant reminder that you'll never be able to finish that backlog. As more and more brand new releases see the light of day, these games will continue to fade into obscurity, so if any of them have caught your eye, go get them now while you still can
For more GamesRadar craziness, check out "What game did you buy this year that you still haven't finished?" or for some end of the year coverage, check out our selection for Game of the Year.