Top 10 Most Underrated Games Of All Time (That I Have Personally Played)
Ron "Mario" Jeremy: Underrated Thespian
As is the case with any form of entertainment, whether it be music, movies or video games, you find some of the best stuff when you take a risk, when you go out on a limb and try something new. Some of my best gaming experiences have been with those forgotten underdogs, languishing in the shadows of Halo and GTA, struggling to be discovered in a sea of over-hyped competition. Following is a list of some of my favorite underrated games that most people have never played but really ought to:
#10 – Mega Man Legends
Desu! Desu! Put me in your mouth! What?
Mega man has starred in like 50 billion games, but the best of all of them (and the one that absolutely no one played) is Mega Man Legends. This game has all the action of a Mega Man game combined with very well executed RPG elements. The story is actually quite compelling, the weapons are awesome, and the co-starring characters are great. The Bonne family’s Servebots that hassle you throughout the game look like they inspired just about every designer toy sold at Urban Outfitters for the next decade to follow.
#9 – Maniac Mansion
Some slutty, talentless rocker chick about to do it with an alien tentacle monster for a record deal. Nothing new here.
I only have a vague memory of playing this game as a kid, but I do remember that it totally redefined my perception of what a video game could be. Maniac Mansion was nothing like any of my other games. Basically you took on the role of one of half a dozen teenagers with different skill sets, and solved puzzles in order to solve a mystery that involved sentient plants, alien tentacles and zombies. The way that you could interact with any person, place or thing in the mansion was really amazing considering the hardware limitations of the NES. Indigo Prophecy, another great, underrated game, is basically Maniac mansion minus the humor, and even that’s a lot of fun to play.
#8 – Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Once you get past the whole "shirtless robot boy in underwear and boots" thing, Astro Boy is a lot of fun!
I’m not really all that familiar with the Astro Boy cartoon, but I gave this game a shot and I didn’t regret it one bit. Astro Boy is perhaps the most enjoyable 2-D, side scrolling shoot-em-up that I have ever played. It’s better than Contra, Metal Slug, and perhaps even Gunstar Heroes. There are tons of secrets, power ups and upgrades, secret characters and boss fights, alternate endings… the list goes on. Astro Boy is the kind of game Mega Man always wished it could be but never quite achieved despite hundreds of tries.
#7 – Super Mario Bros. 2
This is what the original instruction manual had to say about Birdo.
I know that you probably all think that Mario gets more than his fair share of appreciation, but I’ve always felt that Super Mario 2 has been unfairly treated as the black sheep of the Mario family. Every time you see a “best of” list, Super Mario 2 is usually not included. It’s the same problem Zelda 2 had; that the game was just too different from its predecessor, as well as the games that followed it. But is this really such a bad thing? Call me crazy, but I actually believe Super Mario 3 was a step backward from this game. What could be better than controlling four mushroom kingdom characters, all with unique abilities, in a totally new adventure with all new bad guys to fight? The physics were awesome, the enemies were weird, and the secrets were plentiful. The awesomenisity of Birdo alone is enough to make this game more revered than it is.
#6 – Psychonauts
Raz, fondling livestock with the power of his twisted little mind.
This game isn’t necessarily underrated, at least not by critics. Psychonauts is one of those weird games that, despite overwhelming amounts of positive reviews and press, just didn’t sell. It’s a shame too, because the story and presentation of this game make it one of the most imaginative experiences I’ve ever had with a game. Basically you must enter people’s minds and fight their demons for them in order to find out who stole all your classmates brains and why. Because every character’s psychosis is different, the levels all play out in their bizarre way. One level has you playing a giant game of risk against a dude with a Napoleon complex. Another level has you entering the mind of a twisted milkman and his demented imagining of a paranoid suburbia. You can even enter the mind of a lungfish and play Godzilla to a city of intelligent lungfish people. Please, for the love of god, stop procrastinating and play this game already.
#5 – Rock & Roll Racing
This is quite possibly the only racing game with more explosions than Burnout.
The advent of fully 3-D gaming nearly destroyed 2-D gaming, but it completely obliterated faux 3-D, top down, ¾ view gaming. Rock & Roll Racing was perhaps the last great top down, ¾ view racing game, and it’s definitely the best. You get to pick from half a dozen different car types with just as many drivers and weapons to go along with them. The control is amazing, everything is upgradeable, and two player races are a blast either competitively or cooperatively. Rock & Roll Racing was also one of the first games to prominently feature real, licensed songs like “Highway Star” and “Paranoid”, which was and still is rad.
#4 – Beyond Good & Evil
Jade out saving the world, snapping pics of Britney Spears entering/leaving rehab.
I had this game sitting on my shelf for like two months before I played it. I kept hearing about how good it was, but I had my doubts. Once I started playing Beyond Good & Evil, all my doubts were replaced by wonder that this game was not the biggest selling release of the year. This game controls like Zelda, has an awesome story, really likeable characters, and an incredibly rewarding “photo safari” sidequest. The art and music are beautifully composed, and the game is not only funny, but also perhaps even moving. Definitely try and find this game, it has to be experienced to really be understood.
#3 – Jet Grind Radio
Jet Grind Radio is like the Japanese hipster version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
What a weird game. In Jet Grind Radio, you play as one of several punk kids on roller blades that skate around tagging graffiti all over a Japanese police state. It sounds dumb, but it plays so excellently, and has such great, truly individual style that you won’t be able to put it down. Jet Grind Radio really ushered in the whole “cel-shaded” look, had a great soundtrack and a lot of really cool secrets to discover. Also, the learning curve was so long that you could continue to improve your skills for weeks, maybe even months. This is not to say that the game is overly difficult, but rather that you can achieve an insane level of skill that at first may have seemed impossible. The sequel to this game overly simplified the graffiti tagging aspect, which I feel hurt the game overall. The original is still the one to get if you happen to still have a Dreamcast.
#2 – Suikoden 2
One of the kajillion nasty double-crosses that occur in Suikoden 2.
Quite possibly the finest RPG game I’ve ever played. I have participated in more role-playing adventures than I care to admit, but I really have to say that the story of Suikoden 2 really resonated more than almost any of them, and that even includes Final Fantasy games. Suikoden’s story of international politics, espionage and the occult never fails to offer surprises as you progress through the game. Suikoden also really nails the turn based combat, utilizing combo attacks with certain combinations of characters, awesome magic and really cool weapons. The difficulty is always balanced, and you can collect up to 108 characters to use in your party, all of which are comfortably housed at your ever-expanding base of operations. It’s like Final Fantasy, the Sims, Pokeman and a Tom Clancy novel all rolled into one. Hopefully this game comes out on a compilation or something, copies of it sell for like $200 on ebay now due to its scarcity.
#1 – Ninja 5-O
Pink-clad ninja cops saving hostages armed with nothing but a grappling hook. Makes perfect sense.
Ninja games are awesome and you know it. What you may not know is that Ninja 5-O is the best ninja game ever made. It’s better than Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi, combined. Ninja 5-O is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the ninja games of the 80’s, challenging you to take on the role of a ninja/cop assigned to rescue the president or some shit. It plays kind of like a combination of the aforementioned ninja games, with the inclusion of a sweet Bionic Commando-like grappling hook. Swinging around on your rope, throwing shurikens, cutting thugs in half and casting ninja magic at the same time is so bitchen’, it will almost make you forgive Ninja 5-O for the sadistic difficulty of the last stage of the game.
A reader all butthurt because we didn’t include "Juggalo Xtreme Backyard Wrestling" in our list or some such shit.
Are there any games that you feel are missing from our list? If so, drop us a line and we’ll include them in a follow-up article! Either that or ridicule you mercilessly because you are a nerd. It really just depends on the game and our mood at the time, quite honestly!