As the seventh console generation comes to a close, I've been looking back over all the "Best Games of the Generation" lists to see if there are any important games that I just never played. I think, for the most part, I'm pretty good. The only blemishes on my record are that I never played Heavy Rain and Dark Souls. Of course, I haven't played EVERYTHING; I know that the GTA and Elder Scrolls games are really great, but they just don't appeal much to me.
So I thought I'd ask: are there any games that you absolutely adored this generation that a good chunk of people might not have gotten around to? Whether they're personal favorites that aren't for everyone (BIT.TRIP COMPLETE!) or really important industry-defining games that might not have gotten as much attention as they deserved (Spelunky?). Obviously we've all played Super Mario Galaxy and Bioshock; I'm looking for the Lost Odysseys (was that game any good?) and Burnout Paradises of the past generation.
To start off, I'll throw in Rhythm Heaven Fever. I think Guillaume said it once on the podcast: that game is a thirty-dollar disk of pure joy. And it isn't even thirty dollars anymore! You can get it for dirt cheap! Seriously though, this might be the single most fun game I've ever played. Not everyone will adore it as much as me, but if you've ever been into rhythm games or WarioWare, definitely check it out. I guarantee it will make you smile.
Your turn! Best overlooked games of the past generation? Anything goes.
I'll just do my usual list of personal favourites that never got the popularity they deserved:
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which to me was the perfect psychological horror experience, and a brilliant example of gaming storytelling done right. A Boy And His Blob, which I feel should have been a big family gaming hit, with its clever gameplay, adorable graphics and epic soundtrack.
Another Code R: Journey Into Lost Memories (well, all of Cing's Kyle Hyde/Ashley Mizuki Robbins games, really) Project Zero 2: Wii Edition
I blame Nintendo and their crappy localization policies for the fates of last two. At least partially.
Mafia 2 is a game that I think was brushed aside by a lot of people unfairly. The problem is that Mafia 2 is a 3rd person, open world game based heavily in crime so naturally the GTA comparisons will flow. The thing about this game is that while it is open world in the strictest sense it is much more of a linear game with a narrative that twists and turns and absolutely immerses you in its world.
I kind of think Heavy Rain isn't really a must play. It was ok but it sort of falls apart and the ending is pretty silly. Hmm. I don't know that anything is "everyone" must play but here are a few of my picks...
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor - It's a bit like smashing together a SHMUP and Star Fox. Not sure why this isn't instantly appealing to EVERYONE but it should be.
Valkyria Chronicles - It's kind of like a fully 3D, semi-real-time Advance Wars. Which makes it obviously awesome.
Fluidity - One of the best digital downloads out there, published by Nintendo themselves, and yet almost no one has played it?! What, do you all hate the idea of a Metroidvania / water-based platformer? WHYYYYYYYYYYYY?
BIT.TRIP RUNNER - Not sure that this is really overlooked here, but generally speaking it seems to be overlooked in the gaming world as a whole. Awesome music, tight gameplay, blah blah blah.
Art Style: Orbient - One of the simplest concepts yet awesomest executions. Planets and gravity and such.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure - One of my favorite puzzle games ever. It's so very clever at times. If this were an indie game with some artsy style and story people would be all over it, but the "kiddie" Wii thing kept people away.
Okami - Maybe this is technically the gen before but I played it on Wii. It's basically the best Zelda clone out there, with an awesome art style to boot.
Guacamelee! - One of the best Metroidvania games that I have played, with a Mexican wrestler running around beating up stuff, and it contains a billion shoutouts to classic NES games as well.
Lone Survivor - An 8-bit 2D sidescrolling Silent Hill type game with a pretty neat story behind it and some beautiful moments thrown into the mix.
Vanquish - It's not so much that I highly recommend this or anything, but if you're not a big fan of most 3rd person shooters this is one that stands out by being a lot more Japanese / SHMUP feeling than the norm.
I could go on, but at a certain point you're just diluting the message when you add too much to your lists...
@deathly_hallows Yeah, the DS game was fantastic. If you loved that, you'll definitely love the sequel. You should be able to get a used copy of AC:R for cheap, I think. It's one of those games I (sadly) always see when browsing the used games section. I almost want to buy it again because it deserves a loving home.
Good call. The running clock and sidequests reminded me a lot of Majora's Mask. I actually didn't do a lot of the sidequests when I played through it though, and I hear that they're worth it from a story perspective. It's a shame the game isn't more accessible, because I do think the gameplay gets in the way of what the game could have been.
A Boy and His Blob! That's a game I overlooked. Adding that to my list!
Shattered Memories was a really, really great horror romp that you can sit down with and play through over the course of a few nights. I even loved the gimmicky motion controls! If the game was any longer, I'd have gotten sick of it, but it was just the perfect length that everything came together for a really memorable experience. I wasn't a fan of the ending though.
Is Valkyria Chronicles turn-based strategy, then? I'm not good at those. I finally gave Fire Emblem a shot this year and couldn't get into it. Same with X-com. I haven't played any of the Advance Wars games either!
I wasn't a fan of Fluidity. The art style was bland to me, and I didn't like the controls.
Zack & Wiki and Okami both deserve replays from me. Especially Okami, I remember thinking that that was one of my favorite games ever when I first played through it, and now I remember nothing!
I'll get around to Guacamelee soon enough. I have a feeling it'll be free for PS+ members someday.
I couldn't get into Vanquish. I think I'm just not much of a Platinum Games guy. I would love to put the time into Vanquish and get really good at it though, because it looks like crazy fun once you've mastered it. And Rocco from Mega64 said it had one of his favorite game endings ever.
I'm about to start my fourth playthrough of 999, which I've been playing for weeks now (and really enjoying!). I'm about spent when it comes to DS visual novel/point-and-click puzzle games for a while, haha.
@Secret_Tunnel The only thing I dislike about A Boy And His Blob is the fact that they give away many of the puzzle solutions by use of wooden signs with pictures of the appropriate transformation on them. The signs would have made sense in the first couple of levels, or on some kind of easy setting, but they're pretty common throughout the two first worlds. They do become less and less frequent, and the there are still lots of great, unspoiled puzzles to be had, just so you know, in case you feel they're holding your hand too tight when you set out.
I agree about the length of Shattered Memories; I think it was just as long as it should have been. Long enough to develop the story properly, but not long enough to become repetitive or too easy to figure out. Never quite understood the reviews that complained about the length of the game.
Fluidity, absolutely. An incredibly inventive game.
And Yet It Moves is a game that I didn't know if I'd like...but I'm actually very glad I played it.
VVVVVV (PC, 3DS)
L.A. Noire - Not everyone's cup of tea but there's some pretty cool things going on in the game.
Professor Layton series - I don't think everyone has really played these games, but they're wonderful.
Halo Wars - It's the only RTS on a console I've ever really played and I thought it was phenomenal. Brought to you by the same team that did Age of Empires. Even if you don't like Halo I think it's worth checking out.
@Secret_Tunnel Valkyria Chronicles is a neat mix. Basically you have a full 3D world but also a 2Dish map and your characters are on the map, and yes, you do take turns... you select a character on the map but when you select them it zooms in and then you actually control that character for their move in the 3D world... so you might want to crawl in the grass to sneak up on enemies or just run in guns blazing or use a sniper to climb to the top of a tower and take someone out or whatever... enemies can't move while it is your turn but they will shoot if they see you and such... and then once you use up all of your turn points it is the enemies turn and your characters will automatically shoot if they see enemies... it's tough to explain (at least, right now, I'm kind of tired and not thinking straight) but it's a really neat idea and it was executed very well.
How far did you get into Fluidity? Everyone hates the controls at first, it seems.
I don't actually remember the ending of Vanquish, which is weird since I just finished it a few months ago. I don't recall it being particularly amazing. Hmm.
BTW I didn't list any handheld games since I thought we were talking about the console generation... I could totally make a huge handheld list too, heh.
So it's sort of an action-RPG then? Xenoblade-ish?
I beat Fluidity! The game just didn't absorb me. Maybe it wasn't the controls so much as the sort of... disjointed bland feeling I got from the game. There was no style that I could get into.
Speaking of Heavy Rain and Vanquish and endings and Rocco Botte, I'm pretty sure I've had Heavy Rain's ending spoiled for me after hearing little bits about the game in the years since its come out... and it sounds like the kind of stupidity that I would love. Like, from what I've heard, the twist makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and I think I'd love that! Rocco said something similar about Beyond Two Souls: "When the game is good, it's great, and when it's bad, it's laughable. That's a win-win situation!"
You can totally list handheld games... I suppose from the DS's launch onward? Handhelds are harder to fit into generations. Even consoles don't match up perfectly either, really. But like you said in your other post, huge lists can dilute things, so don't go too crazy, haha.
Mirror's Edge. A first person platforming game based around parkour. It has its flaws and questionable design choices, but is absolutely worthwhile.
Little King's Story. To copy Nintendo Power's description, Little King's Story is one part SimCity, one part Animal Crossing, and two parts Pikmin. You play the role of a newly crowned king and it's your job to build your population, train your citizens, defeat monster, and conquer the world. Don't be fooled by its child friendly exterior.
No More Heroes. A hack and slash game that plays anime and video game tropes to a realistic setting to show how unrealistic they really are. You'll want to keep playing the game just to see what new crazy and intriguing boss will be introduced next.
Kirby's Epic Yarn. Another game that fell victim to its aesthetics. Its detractors complain that Kirby's Epic Yarn is too easy, but that's not a problem. The game is so fun and cheerful, that difficulty doesn't even matter. As you go from one bright and creative level to the next with cheery music playing in the background, it's hard not to have fun.
@Zero Zack and Wiki was awesome and its too bad it didn't get a following like the Ace Attorney games did. I would love for Capcom to make more games like Zack and Wiki specially in HD on Wii U. Hell I would take a HD remaster of the original.
@Secret_Tunnel Nooooooooo... it's sort of... UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE. I mean, it's still a turn-based strategy game in the sense that you have a map and a bunch of characters and objectives and you move your characters one by one. But then during the actual movement it is 'action'... like you select a character to move and it zooms into the game world and then you're running around and dodging enemy fire and taking enemies out and stuff. Mind you, it's not like playing an FPS or anything, the action is a bit more basic than that and it still has some RPGish elements (like you can only move so far, only attack once per turn, etc.) but it's still pretty awesome crawling through grass to sneak up on someone and pop up to take them out, or maneuvering a sniper to a good spot to take enemies out, or just taking your tank and leveling enemy structures and stuff.
Just looked up some gameplay footage of it. Looks way too strategy-oriented for me. I'm not sure if it's a lack of patience or if my brain just doesn't work that way, but the "wideness" if strategy games is really intimidating to me.
I played a bit of Mirror's Edge a couple months ago. It was pretty good! I need to go back to it someday.
Little King's Story is on my list of games I missed, but I forgot all about Kirby's Epic Yarn! I'll have to check that one out too. The lack of challenge kind of turned me off, but I suppose it's worth a playthrough.
No More Heroes is indeed awesome! I love the sequel too; that one seems to be a bit more divisive. I still need to get around to Lollipop Chainsaw though. Killer is Dead was disappointing...
For me, "must-play" usually means the game either goes somewhere weird or at least sets an interesting new standard for the familiar. As much as I want to put Mega Man 9 on here, it merely perfected a well-trod formula. As for overlooked, I guess that depends on what measure of popularity you're using.
Reading over what's already been mentioned, I'll echo Sin & Punishment 2 and Fluidity. Mirror's Edge and Spelunky are a bit of a stretch, as they're both pretty popular (and rightfully so), but I suppose I'd count them, too.
As for my contributions, I'll start with Mario Strikers Charged. I guess it's a bit of a stretch to say any Mario game is overlooked, but most gamers seem to view Mario sports spinoffs as automatic shovelware. But the game was so much more dynamic and balanced than I expected. And much in the same way Spelunky showed me randomly generated levels aren't always just lazy bloat, Strikers showed me that Mario Kart style rubberbanding isn't always merely lip-service to balance.
K this only happens at this site and it pisses me off: When I type in the message window here sometimes the page freaks out and seems to scroll up and refresh on its own for some moronic reason. Usually it happens before I've typed anything out but this time it happened after I typed a bunch out and I lost my fucking post. Really pisses me off.
K basically I said I agree with Shattered Memories, And Yet It Moves, and Mirror's Edge. Others I haven't played but am interested very much in are Valk. Chronicles, and Guacamelee.
And finally that I'm not sure how we define overlooked since I'd consider Dead Space and Max Payne 3 quite overlooked. And I didn't expect to love Max Payne 3 as much as I have. Reminds me how I went completely gaga over Dead Space when it released. I listen to the music from MP3 daily basically and every time the tracks come on I repeat them for like 30 mins at a time.
I'll throw in the Penumbra games which were the spiritual predecessors to the Amnesia games. I have played both (haven't finished any though) and much prefer Penumbra though. It kinda really annoys me when people act like Amnesia is the best thing since sliced bread and that Penumbra doesn't exist.
Nyx' Quest had great atmosphere, music, art style, and was simple honest gameplay. Loved that game on Wii Ware though it's since found its way to iOS and Steam.
I've heard some good things about Deadly Premonition and am curious. Isn't it on Steam now or something?
Edit: It did it again, wtf. Thank god I copied it first this time.