Not every game on this list is truly great - some only limp past "good" in the technical sense, but there's more to gaming than being the most technologically advanced or smoothest playing. Some of the greatest innovation comes from places in games that typically go overlooked. This is a chance to honor the last generation of games that were lost in the shuffle, eternally bound to a backlog entry that will never move, the lost PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PSP, and Nintendo DS games that didn't get their proper due the first time around.
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 who's 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.
Few games are stranger 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 we've 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 Danny's 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 you're not driving, of course). If you don't have a PSP to check it out on, Crush was re-released on Nintendo 3DS with a completely new graphical style.
Viking: Battle for Asgard
Well before Alien: Isolation stormed PS4 and Xbox One, Creative Assembly proved it isn't just a house of strategy games 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 isn't 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
Dead Head Fred embodies the weird heart in many PSP exclusives. Your hero, a decapitated detective in search of his stolen head, is merely one part of the game's off-the-wall creativity. 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 feels a little like Gears of Resident Evil, but as everyone knows, giving your lead character a glaive goes a long way in elevating your game above its inspirations. Throwing that freaky disc blade in slow-motion, watching as it curves around poles and decapitates enemies, never grows old.
Critics were rather unkind to the non-MMO Conan, with most reviews accusing it of being, well, stupid. What did you expect from a barbarian, guys? Enlightenment? This is an action-adventure about the original muscle-bound chunkhead. Conan delivered everything promised in the old pulp novels that spawned him: an avalanche of gore and an ocean of bare-chested men and women. Don't write off the combat as mindless, either. The formula doesn't stray far from superior titles like God of War and Devil May Cry, but Conan does sport incredibly tight controls and pleasurable fisticuffs.
You're forgiven for thinking Culdcept Saga doesn't sound right for you. Fantasy-themed Monopoly where you protect your squares by summoning monsters to fight the enemy's 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, you're forgiven - but you're also wrong. This game is fantastic. Give it an hour and Culdcept Saga will sink its insidious hooks in. Its only real problem is that 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.
5th Cell, the studio behind Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life, is not the studio you'd expect to make a solid third-person shooter. Hybrid is a ton of fun, though, taking standard cover-based shooting and literally turning it on its head. You can 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 that basic formula can grip you for hours.
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 schtick. The 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 thanks to its over-the-top matches. 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 the very best way.
Disney Guilty Party
If you've ever played Clue, you know the feeling that arises when you're 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.