The 10 Best Video Games You’ve Never Played
With the ongoing popularity of successful franchises like ‘Mario,’ ‘The Legend of Zelda,’ ‘Halo’ and ‘Call of Duty,’ it’s easy to miss smaller, lesser-known video games. But in some cases, these forgotten gems are just as good, if not better, than their bestselling rivals.
Sometimes, games simply lack the backing of marketing bucks. Other times they are the victims of bad timing or are just too strange to break into the mainstream. But that doesn’t make them any less deserving of your time. So, in that spirit, we present the 10 best video games you’ve never played below.
Zone of the Enders
When ‘Zone of the Enders’ was released for the PS2 in 2001, it was best known for containing a playable demo of Hideo Kojima’s highly anticipated ‘Metal Gear Solid 2.’ Most gamers jumped at the chance to play Solid Snake again and ignored this otherwise awesome third-person action game.
In fact, ‘Z.O.E.’ has gorgeous visuals, a stellar framerate and fast-paced action previously unknown in mech games. The sequel, ‘Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner,’ was even better, but also failed to achieve critical success due to a poor “release time frame,” according to Kojima.
But fans of the series take heart. Kojima announced last year that a new sequel is in the works under the code name “Enders Project.” So fans may soon find themselves piloting a massive Orbital Frame once again.
When it comes to originality, you’d be hard-pressed to beat ‘Mr. Mosquito,’ a PS2 game released in the U.S. in 2002. Players controls a tiny mosquito as it feeds on members of the Yamada family with the objective of stockpiling enough blood to survive the winter. It’s quirky, odd and otherwise endlessly entertaining, but failed to achieve mainstream success. And it’s easy see why — it’s just so darn weird.
‘Mirror’s Edge,’ which was released in 2008 for Xbox 360 and PS3, starkly differs from most other first-person games with its visual design and wide range of free movement, including sliding, tumbling, wall-running and shimmying across ledges.
The game takes acrobatics so seriously that developers were so concerned about motion sickness. So, they included a small reticle in the center of the screen for players to focus on. But despite the game’s innovative gameplay and mostly positive reviews, it was largely overlooked.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
Released for the PS2 in 2001, ‘Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil’ has widely been described by critics as one of the most underrated games of all time.
At first glance, it looks like a standard platformer, but it actually uses many different types of gameplay, including hover-boarding, time-attack challenges, puzzle solving and boss fights. Plus, it has an eye-popping 3D system that literally propels the floppy-eared hero everywhere.
The Wii may be commonly thought of as a console for children, but ‘Madworld,’ which was released in 2009, isn’t the kind of game you want your kids playing. It’s a highly-stylized black and white game that literally looks like a graphic novel come to life.
As main protagonist Jack, players work their way through a bloody reality TV game show called “DeathWatch,” where they’re encouraged to dispatch their foes in horrific ways. Although the grim tone of the game is mitigated somewhat by a wry, dark sense of humor, its unremitting ultraviolence probably prevented it from being more of a hit.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
With its killer graphics and unique blend of third-person combat and platforming, ‘Enslaved: Odyssey to the West’ was one of our favorite games of 2010. It also features great motion capture and some of the best voice acting ever courtesy of Andy Serkis of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and Lindsay Shaw of ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
It also has an engrossing emotional story as the game’s two main characters — Monkey and Trip — roam a post-apocalyptic wasteland 150 years in the future. It’s truly a shame this game never got its due, because we would’ve loved a sequel.
The Mark of Kri
Released in 2002 for the PS2, ‘The Mark of Kri’ combines third-person hack-and-slash action, a liberal dose of stealth and cartoony violence. Plus, it has a unique hand-drawn design style courtesy of former Disney and Don Bluth animators that wouldn’t seem out of place in ‘Mulan’ or ‘Aladdin.’ Players, quite simply, had never seen anything like it before.
Published in 2000 for the Dreamcast and PC, ‘Fur Fighters’ is a third-person shooter with a genuinely funny sense of humor set in a world populated by cuddly animals.
Players control six characters as they explore massive environments in an attempt to rescue animal babies kidnapped by baddie General Viggo. But despite this awesome premise, the game was a financial flop.
A year later in 2001, an enhanced version of the game called ‘Fur Fighters: Viggo’s Revenge’ was released for the PS2, but, sadly, that went largely unnoticed as well. And yet, the game refuses to die. In July of last year, former members of the original development team released a second port of the game called ‘Fur Fighters: Viggo on Glass,’ this time for iPad.
Under a Killing Moon
Although it may not look very impressive now, 1994’s ‘Under a Killing Moon,’ which is the third installment in the ‘Tex Murphy’ series, was once cutting edge. It allowed users to explore texture-mapped 3D environments, which was virtually unheard of at the time in adventure games. And when combined with full-motion video, the game gave players a then-unrivaled cinematic experience.
Although ‘Under a Killing Moon’ has been overlooked in recent years as adventure games wane in favor of other genres, it stands as a true watershed moment in gaming history.
‘Psychonauts,’ which was released in 2005 for Xbox, PS2 and PC, is another example of a critically-acclaimed title that went neglected by gamers. In it, a boy with psychic powers named Raz enters the minds of various characters as he tries to help them overcome their fears. In the end, critics like GameSpot loved the title, calling it “wonderful stuff” that “feels like the unholy love child of Tim Burton and a Pixar animation team.” But despite praise like this, the game failed to catch on.