Good games can be hard to find, especially if they’re more than a few years old. Maybe they’re out of print and sell for $200 on eBay. Maybe they won’t work on modern systems. With services like the Virtual Console, PSOne Classics, Game Room, Steam, Good Old Games and disc-based compilations, plenty of old favorites have become easily playable on modern hardware, but there are still plenty of games out there that have simply fallen through the cracks, making them painfully difficult (and in some cases ridiculously expensive) to play now. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth your attention.
Some of the games we’ve listed here still have hope for a rerelease. After all, awesome old games like Syndicate keep making their way back to us through various means. For the time being, though, playing them legally is going to require you to sacrifice some time and money (and perhaps your firstborn son) to the eBay gods.
1. Uniracers (Unirally in the UK)
Before Rockstar North was known primarily for the Grand Theft Auto series, it went by another name: DMA Design. It was already making awesome games, though. Uniracers, for example, is by far the best side-scrolling racing and stunt game featuring unicycles ever to be released for the Super Nintendo.
Above: Uniracers ran into legal trouble stickier than this track
The game already feels pretty fast, but doing tricks in midair gives you a speed boost if you land them, so you’re constantly encouraged to flip like a madman (or madunicycle). This can get really tricky when the tracks are throwing you crazy loops and constantly changing which direction you’re supposed to be going. You could play split-screen with a second player or even set up an eight-player tournament, making it a fast and fun party game.
So why aren’t we still playing Uniracers every day? Because back in 1987, Pixar released a four-minute-long short film called Red’s Dream, which starred an autonomous, computer-generated unicycle. Apparently this gave Pixar the idea that any later appearance of a rider-less CG unicycle was stealing its concept, and it sued DMA Design shortly after Uniracers was released. Unfortunately, the court sided with Pixar, forcing Nintendo to stop production on copies of the game and ensuring we’ll never see it again. So next time you’re thanking John Lasseter for directing Toy Story, take a moment to curse him for indirectly taking Uniracers out of the world.
2. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
The original Lunar: The Silver Star has been remade in different ways quite a few times, most recently for the PSP. Lunar 2, originally on the Sega CD, saw one remake on the Sega Saturn (in Japan) and the PlayStation, but since then has been lost to the eternal blue oceans of time. Like its predecessor, Lunar 2 boasts a fantastic story and likeable characters, as well as solid RPG mechanics. Both iterations of the game are considered to be among the best RPGs on their respective platforms, and they won’t come cheap if you want to buy them now.
It might be difficult to license a straight port of either version of Lunar 2, especially with original US publisher Working Designs out of business. However, it would be worthwhile for Game Arts and Xseed to release an Eternal Blue remake the same way they released Lunar: Silver Star Harmony for the PSP: Rebuild it, touch it up and redub all the voice work. Some nostalgia would be lost for old fans, but at least a new audience could experience the story. It would be far better than nothing.
We would personally be happy just to see Eternal Blue again, but fans of the series have long been hoping for an English release of Lunar: Magic School as well as the long-rumored Lunar 3. Unfortunately, the powers that be are too busy porting the original Lunar for the thousandth time, this time to iOS. The last time we were promised something different, we got the immensely disappointing Lunar: Dragon Song on the DS, and nobody was happy about that.
Shortly after finishing Metal Gear, Hideo Kojima created a cyberpunk detective story not unlike Blade Runner. The game, Snatcher, was a first-person adventure with a cool noir style, and its protagonist, Gillian, had a robot sidekick named Metal Gear long before we saw Old Snake nab the technology.
English-speaking gamers are probably most familiar with the Sega CD release, which is the only time the game escaped Japan. Sadly, the game sold poorly in North America, possibly because it was on the Sega CD, which Americans only used to play Kriss Kross: Make My Video. Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find a copy of Snatcher for under $150, if not much more.
If we could just pry Kojima away from Metal Gear for a while, maybe he could convince Konami to remake Snatcher. While they’re at it, they could go ahead and do an English release of Policenauts, another Hideo Kojima adventure game that has never been released outside of Japan.