While third-person action games have been around for decades, it wasn’t until the release of the original devil may cry in 2001 that hack and slash game became a popular genre, full of innovation and unique gaming experiences. It created many rivals for the son of Sparda’s crown as well, such as Bayonetta, The 3D one Ninja Gaiden series, and god of war among others.
But for every success story, there was a game that fell by the wayside. Some were rightfully forgotten attempts to ride the cart (remember some X-Blades?). Others were one-offs that didn’t get their due, but are worth a visit to see their charms. Here are some worth picking up again.
6 Bujingai: The Abandoned City
There were reasons why this PS2 DMC-Alike disappeared from the scene soon after the release. The level design wasn’t the most exciting, and the story of hero Lau Wong (modeled after J-Pop star Gackt) saving the titular city from his rival and his army of demons wasn’t as exciting as it sounds. Still, the gameplay was fun and showed potential.
It was enough to win the game positive praise, and the Chinese futuristic wuxia design helped it stand out compared to the gothic DMC or New-Japanese style of Ninja Gaiden. If Taito made a sequel that improved on its faults, it could have been a contender. Instead, apart from an announced MMORPG spin-off that was never made, Bujingai was one and done.
5 Ghost Rider
Unlike Bujingai, this game was roasted in hell upon release. The more Castlevania-esque GBA game received better press than the hack-and-slash PS2 and PSP entries. It didn’t help that there was a tie-in to the Nicolas Cage movie, which hadn’t yet built up its B-movie cult fame. However, time has been kind to the game. While Ghost Rider isn’t exactly a diamond in the rough, it’s still a solid gem.
It is a competent DMC-clone with elements of god of war with the Rider’s chain whip weapon. The game’s presentation is appropriately infernal and gloomy, and it throws in the vampire hunter Blade as an in-game rival and alternate player character. For a tie-in game, Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider did pretty well.
4 Dante’s Inferno
Fans may remember this game for its infamous advertising campaign. Sending $200 checks to reporters to represent ‘Greed’, running a ‘commit lust’ contest with stand-up babes at Comic-Con, and fake religious protests were the kind of stunts Acclaim would have pulled at the time. But few people talk about the game itself today. If they do, they often think it was terrible god of war fraud.
Although it plays similarly to Kratos’ adventures, it did quite well. Dante’s scythe swing was tough and responsive, and the save-or-damn mechanic for the unfortunate souls he came across was unique. The graphics hold their own today, as does the art design and acting. Rumors of a sequel persisted until the closure of developers Visceral Games in 2017. Unfortunately, Dante’s journey is unlikely to continue.
3 Heavenly Sword
Ninja Theory’s first major game was seen as a stopgap entry for the PS3 launch. There was a god of war-Alike made to keep fans happy until Sony Santa Monica made a true next-gen Kratos game God of War 3. Despite Heavenly Swordits unique Feudal Japan look and striking protagonist of Nariko, it could not rage Ghost of Sparta. Nonetheless, it could have carved out a nice niche for itself if Ninja Theory kept it going.
Saints Row was in the same place in relation to Grand Theft Autountil the sequel gave the games their own identity. Instead, Nariko’s final appearance was inside PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, where she felt like a weak inclusion alongside Kratos, Nathan Drake and The thatchis Heihachi. May be Heavenly Sword may get its due through its recent PS Plus Premium release.
2 Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Even then, Heavenly Sword received more attention than Ninja Theory’s follow-up. Enslaved was a cool, cyberpunk variation of the classic Journey to the West novel, in which Monkey must escort a young woman named Trip home through the post-apocalyptic wasteland. He has to fight mechs and other enemies with the multipurpose staff. Trip can also help by throwing bombs or interacting with objects.
It is related to 2018 god of war and Black Myth: Wukong, but predate both by about a decade. It still had some issues (unlike Atreus, Trip needs to be protected), but it showed promise for a sequel. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell enough units, scrapping any plans for a follow-up.
1 The Wonderful 101
There is still a chance The Wonderful 102 could become a thing after the game’s flight from Wii U to Remastered editions for PS4, Switch and PC. Although it still fell short of financial expectations, it is unlikely. Which is a shame. Designed by DMC creator Hideki Kamiya, saw the player control a cluster of heroes called the Wonderful 100 who could cluster together (‘Unite Morph’) into different weapons for combos and puzzles.
It also mixed up the gameplay with segments based on Zaxxon, Punch-Outand Space Harrier to stop the evil GEATHJERKS from taking over the earth. Since PlatinumGames has had a tough run of games lately, The Wonderful 101 shows what the developers are capable of when they are fit.
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