This post is part of the 12 Days of Geekmas. Check out the concept here, and let NerdyAlerty’s blog feed your eyeballs as well!
Alright, so I’m going to be lame here, by my own admission. I’m not writing about the listed topic for Geekmas with this post, which was about Battlestar Galactica, because I have no idea what the show is about. I didn’t know anything about Steven Universe either, but that somehow was easier to follow up on than something like Battlestar.
Also, I am lame.
So that left me at an impasse…until I remembered Listmas was a thing, and thought up the idea to kill two initiatives with one post. So, without further ado, here’s my list of eight underloved classic games.
This particular list is in no particular order. “Classic” here means something that’s older than at least five years ago. Qualification of the term “underloved” is not guaranteed. Also, most of these are going to be console games, so if you’re one of those sillies who subscribes to the idea of a PC Master Race, please piss off. Ask your doctor if treatment is right for you.
#1: Golgo 13
Golgo 13 is apparently based on an anime that I never heard of. In fact, I have absolutely no idea how this game arrived to my life. A Christmas present? If so, what prompted my parents to get it for me?
Well, why look a gift horse in the mouth, right? Because this game was damn compelling for the time. It had a narrative that was full of spy movie twists and gameplay that varied from moment to moment, with you running and gunning one moment, speaking to people to find information the next, and sniping at a target from the top of a building the next. It was one of those games that somehow managed to tie different playstyles together and pulled it off.
#2: The Adventures of Bayou Billy
Speaking of multiple playstyles, this game was a fast-paced piece of silliness that had you swapping between a side-scrolling beat-em-up and a Light Gun-firing shooting gallery from level to level. I remember there being that old story of your girlfriend being killed, and then the titular character gets shot, and then you suddenly are in the swamp punching dudes.
NES games didn’t make a lot of sense, is what I’m saying.
But really, who cares about sense when you’re a Crocodile Dundee-like from the deep South beating on a bunch of bad guys? And that was part of the fun for me in this game. It was frenetic, “popcorn movie” gaming.
I don’t know that this one qualifies as “underloved”, really…but then I also don’t seem to hear an awful lot of people talking about it now. Or even then. This is one of those hidden gems that the SNES was particularly good at.
You played a god character who has to re-take the land, purge the corrupting force with a heavy amount of sword-slicing, and then rebuild from the ruins you created into a society that worships you. Part side-scrolling slasher, part minor league city-builder, and all unique for its time. It also seems like one of those games that would translate well in to a current generation title, if the formula hasn’t already.
#4: Return to Zork
The early years of the CD-ROM were chock-full of FMV point-and-click titles, and Return to Zork was one of the best because it was just utterly cheesy. Nothing made sense in this game. Nothing.
You start off at a house, opening up a mailbox where a crystal ball head tells you that you’ve won a sweepstakes before suddenly being sucked in to the world of Zork, where you use typical adventure game logic to make it to a final boss….and beat him at a chess-style game.
Return to Zork was The 7th Guest wearing cheap fantasy Halloween costumes and on a heavy dose of crack…but dammit I loved it all the same because of precisely that. Also, it had a pretty good soundtrack.
This game did Zelda 2 better than Zelda 2 did. It was all side-scrolling slasher with an RPG twist and a really beautiful world. The story has your hero character arriving to a place where an absolutely enormous tree is dying from a corrupting force, and you have to climb it from ground level all the way up in order to eliminate whatever naughty thing is destroying it. Which is important. Because eh.
Honestly, though, it was one of the tightest games I’ve ever played on the NES. It had really great gameplay, a wonderful sense of RPG character progression, and once more it boasts one hell of a soundtrack. This actually was the game that got me disinterested in the original Zelda, believe it or not. Blasphemy, I know, but I hold it in that regard.
#6: The Labyrinth of Time
Yep, another point-and-click PC game. Can you tell what sort of PC games I played a lot growing up?
The Labyrinth of Time had no context associated with it…and no narrative, as far as I can remember. Still, it was one of those puzzle clicker games that kept me rooted to my monitor (CRT, of course) for hours and hours as I tried to make my way through to the center of the titular labyrinth. Admittedly, the payoff at the end was a pretty huge letdown, but the journey to that point was excellent.
With exception of the part where you had to, like, go through a series of doors in the right order to progress. Man I freakin’ hate those kinds of puzzles.
Again, I’m not entirely sure this one is “underloved” really, because I see this title popping up an awful lot. Regardless, when I bring it up to people now and again in meatspace, I sound like a sneezing dog to people.
Xexyz is one of those games that, again, merged different playstyles really well. Most of the game took place in a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, but at the end of each level, you hopped in to a ship and went into a side-scrolling R-Type game in order to take down a large boss. Usually a giant crustacean of some sort. All aliens were crabs back in the 80’s, yousee.
Each level was pretty much the same sort of thing with different layouts and backgrounds, but I didn’t care, because man I was having a great time. Also, some of those levels were REALLY DAMN HARD.
#8: IronSword: Wizards and Warriors 2
Most everyone on the internet is familiar with this title by virtue of the fact that Fabio was on the cover art. I remember it because I actually played the game and got my ass beat by it.
I also remember how utterly silly the animation when my character died was.
This game is tied for Ghost N’ Goblins for Hardest Bastard Game To Beat WHY ARE YOU SO HARD WHAT DID I DO TO YOU??. It was an absolute menace of a game, throwing everything at you in one screen of hell. Yes, that one screen. You had to go to sections of a mountain to get powers I guess? I don’t know. I never really understood what the hell to do. But man, did I ever throw myself at it several times. I’m yet to beat the thing, though.