We don't like to throw the term cult hit around lightly, but Deadly Premonition earned that distinction more than any other game on this list. This quirky, Twin Peaks-style horror game looked and played like a broken PS2 game, yet anyone who tried it fell in love with the weirdness of it all. Swery65, the game's mastermind, now runs his own studio and Deadly Premonition has been re-released on multiple platforms to keep its cult growing even if it remains small.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
The Nintendo DS gained a reputation for being a terrific system for RPGs, as many a famous series saw some kind of portable release during the DS' lifespan. It took six long years for Nintendo to jump on the bandwagon, but in 2010 the Golden Sun rose again and fans jumped right back into the world of Psynergy and Alchemy. Set thirty years in the future, this sequel turned some people off by not directly continuing the story of the Game Boy Advance games. The new characters and 3D presentation may have been questionable choices, but the story and play were still as charming and strategically thorny as ever.
Heres an interesting idea for an RPG: set it within Polish composer Chopin's dreams as he lies on his deathbed. Here's 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 sold in scant numbers on both Xbox 360 and PS3. Anyone looking for a gorgeous, light role-playing game will be well served by checking it out today.
Suikoden Tierkreis hit DS in 2009, bringing most of what we loved about Konami's RPG series with it. 108 characters to unlock, an gorgeous musical score, and a massive world to traverse, Tierkreis is one of the deepest and most enjoyable RPGs on a system filled with them. It did bring changes to the Suikoden formula, though, with a wildly different art style and exploration structure. Sadly it also marked the end of the franchise.
With Pokemoning and Monster Hunting still all the rage, we wonder why Folklore didn't kick up a little more dust. It may not have been the PS3-justifyinig RPG it was first billed as, but the lush art design and creature capturing play is one-of-a-kind. 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-esque.
House of the Dead: Overkill
The House of the Dead: Overkill, a brilliant, blood-soaked satire of zombie games and movies, debuted on the platform where people were least likely to be looking for violent comedies: the family-first Nintendo Wii. Even after a port to PS4 and Xbox 360, though, Overkill remains widely underplayed. That's criminal. Agent Washington's potty mouth, Varla Guns' impossibly sexy shotgun reload, an impeccably executed send-up of grindhouse horror and one of the most disgusting, funniest endings in gaming history; Overkill is a treasure.
Jeanne d'Arc isn't sure what it wants to be. On the one hand, it's 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 aren't many games that can tip-toe the line between historical accuracy and outlandish fantasy the way Jeanne d'Arc does, and in doing so Level-5 created a fun little game for the PSP. With Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics (the genre's titans) already on the system, it's understandable why some may have passed Jeanne d'Arc right by. The attention to detail and the grand fights warrant a second look.
WiiWare never really took off - most people who bought the system bought it for fancy Nintendo games, and the system's limited storage made downloadable indies a chore to purchase. The criminally unrecognized Lost Winds was the best of those indies. It took full advantage of the system's motion controls to create a an elegant puzzle platformer. With Nintendo consoles still supporting motion controls, it would be wonderful to see Lost Winds return on a Nintendo machine capable of HD output.
Kirby Canvas Curse
How is the best Kirby adventure on Nintendo's handheld also the worst selling? Canvas Curse had captivating music, sparkling visuals and addictive touch play; in fact it was one of the first games to really capture how powerful touch controls could be. Kirby's ceaseless roller-coaster momentum born of tracing rainbows with your stylus is just delightful. Inferior (though still fun) follow-ups, Squeak Squad and Super Star Ultra found far more players on DS. At least it got a claymation sequel in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on Wii U.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
When we think of Warhammer games, we think of huge real-time strategy battles with hundreds of characters filling our screens at one time. We don't think of a third-person action shooter following the exploits of one particular Space Marine. Yet when THQ tried to mix up the formula with Space Marine, it largely succeeded. It may not have felt like Warhammer, but it did feel good. Released into a veritable sea of third-person shooters, Space Marine didn't connect with action or strategy fans. If you missed it the first time around, it's available cheap on Steam to this day.