Hindsight is invaluable in the world of video games. There are some titles that come too soon, and require the rest of the games industry to catch up with the ideas and execution. In other cases, a significant distance from the original release dates can help to provide breathing space for reconsideration.
A number of factors, including harsh critical reception, can lower a game’s mainstream success. However, that doesn’t mean undervalued gems won’t find a passionate fan base and develop a cult following over time.
10/10 Killer7 is a revenge tale about an assassin with cumbersome controls
Suda51 has continually proven himself to be one of the gaming industry’s most fascinating and fearless storytellers and developers. This usually results in strange games that are fascinating to watch and discuss, but it doesn’t always translate into palatable gameplay. Killer 7 is a cel-shaded assassin story that embraces many entertaining action tropes, but they don’t all come together.
The atypical control scheme and convoluted narrative are the biggest hurdles to get past, but those who do, absolutely love the unusual action gameplay. Many of the ideas in Killer 7 would be done to better effect in later Suda51 games.
9/10 Kid Icarus stumbles over himself and succeeds through cult of personality
Nintendo is lucky enough to have a lot of popular franchises that have taken off, so it’s not the end of the world if some of their titles underperform. Boy Icarus is a challenging platform game with a lot of personality that has its roots in the original Nintendo and Game Boy, but beyond a Nintendo 3DS sequel and Super Smash Bros. representation, it is a series that has struggled to be remembered.
The original NES game was received as a flawed but entertaining version of a platformer. Its distinct sense of humor has helped it remain popular with select crowds.
8/10 Jet Force Gemini is a unique sci-fi shooter with winning characters
Rare’s collaboration with Nintendo before they were acquired by Microsoft reflects some of the best third-party games to come out for the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64. N64 Rare adventure games are starting to show bloated through painstaking collection tasks. But, Jet Force Gemini is a mature third-person shooter that pits a pair of twins and their dog against an insect threat.
Jet Force Gemini is regularly overlooked among Rare’s Nintendo entries, and critics felt it could not compete with the other shooters on the console. Jet Force Gemini has a vocal audience, and the game’s co-op is a rare treat for N64 shooters.
7/10 System Shock’s strong ideas aren’t perfected until the sequel
The BioShock the trilogy is heralded as innovative and ground-breaking shooters that create rich, alternate realities. But, BioShock would not exist without the groundwork established in System shock and its sequel. System shock 2 is still regarded as one of the greatest PC titles of its generation, but its imperfect predecessor still has many kinks to work out.
System shock is charming for its time and what it’s trying to do with both the sci-fi and shooter genres, but it feels largely irrelevant because of how the sequel perfects the formula. Both System shock game still has a passionate, active online mod community.
6/10 Rez is a Kaleidoscopic musical Rail Shooter experience that lacks substance
Sega’s Dreamcast was ahead of its time in general as a games console. Fortunately, many titles that were not properly appreciated on the Dreamcast found new life on the PlayStation 2 or Xbox. Res is a radical rail shooter that uses the techno soundtrack to prompt players when to shoot.
It culminates into a powerful synesthesia experience, but some critics argued that it was too much style over substance. Res hasn’t grown into a huge franchise, but a small devoted fandom has helped it receive an HD port and VR release. Res also has some creative peripherals that have also received polarizing responses.
5/10 Yoshi’s Story is a fun game that lacks challenge
Yoshi has been popular ever since his prominent appearance in Super Mario Worldand he has gradually become the star of his own series of games. Yoshi’s Story for Nintendo 64 builds on the foundations of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.
Yoshi’s Story is a delightful platformer with excellent graphics, but it was understandably criticized for its extremely short length and easy difficulty. These complaints are valid, but select target groups have found satisfaction in speed running Yoshi’s Story and incorporate their own increased challenges.
4/10 MadWorld is a mature, violent Wii game that wears out its welcome
Nintendo is not averse to mature games, but they have lovingly embraced their family-friendly image. This was especially true of the Wii, which brought in all kinds of casual audiences who have never played games before. Crazy world is a highly stylized change of pace that delivers a blood-soaked adventure where players control a chainsaw-wielding madman.
Crazy world embraces a black-and-white aesthetic, aside from the distinctly red blood flying everywhere, reminiscent of Sin City. Crazy world is the mature hack-and-slash title that older audiences were waiting for, but critics attacked it for its simplistic controls and repetitive combat.
3/10 PlayStation 2’s Dark Cloud couldn’t compete with Nintendo’s Zelda
Sony’s PlayStation 2 is still considered one of the best video game consoles of all time, and so many of Sony’s ongoing intellectual properties got their start on the PS2’s upgraded technology. Dark cloud was an expansive fantasy action RPG title that was teased to be the PlayStation 2’s answer to The Legend of Zelda.
Dark Cloud establishes an impressive foundation, and it seamlessly integrates a city-building mechanic into the RPG gameplay. Dark cloud was not completely savaged by the critics, but it was condemned for monotonous combat, lackluster graphics and not matching the heights of Ocarina of time. But, Dark Clouds 2 received a warmer reception.
2/10 The Wonderful 101 struggled to stand out on the Wii U
Nintendo saw overwhelming success with its Wii and Switch consoles, but the Wii U was a misfire. There are some excellent Wii U exclusives that take advantage of the unique Gamepad control scheme. The Wonderful 101 has recently been ported to modern consoles, but for years it was stranded on the Wii U.
The Wonderful 101 provides a twist on the strategy genre that allows players to control dozens of HIV-minded individuals. Critics applauded the effort, but also highlighted its niche nature and imperfect controls. The inherently small Wii U audience resulted in a dedicated cult following that could help support Kickstarter efforts for its modern releases.
1/10 Beyond Good & Evil is a classic that bites off more than it can chew
Michel Ancel is perhaps best known for being Raymancreator, but his extremely ambitious multi-platform release, Beyond good and evil should be the crowning glory. The game is a unique action-adventure and stealth hybrid where players control Jade, an investigative reporter. Jade tries to take down a vast alien conspiracy through a series of puzzles, battles and adventures.
Beyond good and evil was an undeniable achievement back in 2003, but it was a lack of fanfare that led to subpar sales. However, the game still has devoted fans nearly two decades after its release. Just don’t ask them when the sequel is coming out.
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