My turn! Future top 10 lists will likely be pooled together with the whole staff’s picks either voted on or just listed separately. Or we’ll just each do our own article. We’re a decisive bunch like that.
Listed below are my personal top 10 underrated games of all time. I didn’t play ALL video games and clearly I played different ones than you or you or you so take this list for what it is: A culmination of games I thought received less credit at the time AND in hindsight. This is a list based purely on joy, despite the potential lack of which you may experience while reading it.
WARNING: If your name is Adam Sessler or you are offended by my point of view on the female body, skip over number 9 and the world can rejoice.
(10) Fighting Force (PS) – A 3D Streets of Rage clone but done rather well and loaded with fun. One of the FIRST original Playstation releases, during the 2nd or 3rd wave of post-launch window titles, it resembled Haggar’s own Final Fight in many ways but was one of the first three-dimensionally rendered console releases. The characters were memorable, the story wasn’t, but it had a cooler looking train than those other beat-em-ups.
(9) Battle Arena Toshinden (PS) – All the staples of a great fighter: Memorable Characters, deep and varied combat, beautiful graphics. It received less acclaim because of comparisons drawn toward Soul Edge and Coul Calibur. In many ways it was a superior game with more intuitive fighting but it’s main selling point was its visuals and presentation. The chicks were hotter too. Well, at least until Ivy grew up and the DoA girls took off their clothes.
(8) Tecmo’s Deception: Invitation to Darkness (PS) – Puzzler? RPG? Insane brain bender? A game where you strategically murder stuff, unlike anything before it or since yet undercut by expectations of RPGs after Final Fantasy VII. And back then, having “Tecmo” in the title didn’t help much and the title “Resident Evil” was rudely stolen by Capcom.
(7) Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES) – Docked points for simplicity, its fantastic soundtrack and endearing story was overlooked. On top of that, the graphics it presented were cutting edge for the time and the very simplicity of its mechanics that it was criticized for lent itself perfectly to the overall enjoyment. With cutting edge spell names like “Fire” and “Life”, it was also the first game to feature a rapid firing non-crossbow.
(6) Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun (PC) – The first LEGITIMATE competitive multiplayer in a RTS. Others had tried it but Tiberian Sun made it work and set the stage for many games to follow, including Star Craft. Back then, Command and Conquer’s branding meaznt something in the RTSphere and TS boasted gorgeous graphics and varied gameplay compared to other games in its genre. It was only rated in the 7′s range, likely because it wasn’t “classic C&C” and was a bit of a departure from its predecessors. Just smile and NOD, GDI.
(5) Equinox (SNES) – One of the better and more original puzzlers of its time, it was also a 3D platformer before they existed. Ahead of its time and perhaps too challenging for some but boasted a cute art style and good soundtrack. Ironically, this game’s sales didn’t see its fair share of daylight.
(4) Shining In The Darkness (Genesis) – From the Shining series, yet nothing like the Shining Force games. An old school dungeon crawler done well for its time and especially with a console home. A re-release in 2007 caught a fair amount of flak but those detriments were out of context considering its original release was 1991 and most who played it 16 years later were probably in diapers when it TRULY hit store shelves.
(3) Hexen 64 (N64) – Perhaps compared too greatly with its PC predecessor, Hexen offered 4 player mayhem in a way that, up until then, only Golden Eye could match or beat. Single player was solid and multiplayer was just a blast, further cementing N64 as Gen 5′s home for great FP…games. Wasn’t exactly a shooter but had shooter tendancies, a phrase I normally reserve as a gripe but proudly exhibit as an upside in this game’s case.
(2) Twisted Metal (PS3) – Rated relatively highly but it was not given credit for its depth and originality. It didn’t help that the difficulty level was well over most modern gamers’ heads. Truly an evolved version of an old formula with challenge rarely seen in today’s video games and a multiplayer mode that suffered only from connection issues and gamer support. Or was it developer support? Or publisher? Nah…flying robot games never do well.
(1) Grand Theft Auto 1/2 (PC) – Both received ire from critics at the time of release. Probably the #1 underrated game(s) of all time. Funny how some blockbuster followups can change an opinion about an older game…while 4-6 was the standard score for these in the 90′s, more recent reviews put them upwards of 9-10. I had the pleasure of playing GTA2 when it released and had a BLAST with it despite the rather poor reception. Unfortunately the blue and red gangs weren’t called the crips and bloods, no doubt to avoid the licensing fees otherwise known as extortion.
Notable omissions: Tetris, Pac Man, Pong, and Call of Duty games suffer from an inability to breach the 10/10 ceiling despite its robots INSISTING on a score of 12 or higher.