Top 5 Underrated Games

 

Since there’s not anything worthwhile that’s coming out right now, I’m switching over to blog posts. I could review Disney Infinity, but that’d require a bucket load of cash that I quite honestly don’t have at this time. So in honor of my wallet,  I’ve decided to play it easy.

 

With that being said, my first subject in my blog post marathon? Underrated games. I’m exploring all generations and all systems, so get ready.

 

1) Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)

 

 

When I was young, there were two N64 action/RPGs that held my interest. One involved a Hyrulian orphan boy journeying across a forgotten land and the space-time continuum in order to save a beautiful princess. The other featured a group of wonky Japanese heroes in their efforts to save Japan from being transformed into a theatrical venue for Japanese pop stars dancing and singing. As much as it may pain my readers to hear it, giant Japanese laser shooting robots win over annoying fairies every time.

 

Yes, you heard me right. In Mystical Ninja you can pilot your own hulking gigantic robot! He even has his own theme song, posted here:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEE66AMzGNg?rel=0&w=500&h=281]

 

You also turn into a mermaid, shrink down to microscopic size, play as a shurkien-throwing miniature robot, and travel into outer-space!

 

My comparison to Ocarina of Time is intentional; the gameplay mechanics are strangely alike. Dungeons are explored in a familiar manner and weapons are largely similar (there’s even a chain pipe that serves as a stand in for the hook shot). Practically the only differences here are the eventual accumulations of party members that you can switch in and out and their special powers. Oh, and the giant robot. Go Impact!

 

Basically if you love Ocarina of Time and you like Japanese humor, you should love this game. So go play it. You’ll need to scrounge up an N64 and the cartridge, but it’s worth it.

 

2) Landstalker (Genesis/Virtual Console/Steam)

 

 

The comparisons to Zelda aren’t going to end yet, because there are two more games I’m going to tout that bear resemblance to the classic series.

 

The next one, Landstalker, is an overhead 3rd person action RPG that was released in 1993. In gameplay style, it most resembles A Link to the Past, but it differentiates itself from the former classic with its notoriously difficult platforming sequences. The isometric viewpoint is guaranteed to provide frustrating moments, but it’s the inherent difficulty that lends the game its unique charm. A quick video here will illustrate my point. This is a walkthrough through one of the game’s more difficult areas, Greenmaze:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHiK_qQmuFQ?rel=0&w=500&h=281]

 

I can tell you from personal experience that guiding Nigel through this maze is one hell of a task, and it only gets harder when your view gets blocked by random trees, brush, and hills. You’ll need to rely on your ability to manage the somewhat wonky control scheme to get Nigel through areas like these. Pressure switch puzzles also feature heavily in the game, and at times they’re even combined with platforming. It can get very hard, to say the least.

 

So why do I recommend the game? For its basic charm and humorous writing. Guiding Nigel and his wood Nymph companion, Friday, on their search for King Nole’s treasure proves an enjoyable and entertaining quest due to all the quirky events that happen along the way. One extremely off-the-wall sequence has Nigel transformed into a dog by a witch. In order to reverse the spell, he has to rough ‘n tumble his way through a dungeon as a member of the canine species!

 

In order to play Landstalker, you’ll need to either download it from Wii’s virtual console, buy it from Steam, or play it on the Sega Genesis/Master system.

 

3) Diddy Kong Racing (N64 / DS)

 

 

Let’s switch gears. We’re jumping genres now, from action/RPG to racing.

 

The original Diddy Kong Racing was released in 1997 to critical acclaim, but it hasn’t gotten much attention since then unless you count its 2007 DS re-release. Unfortunately, the game has been overshadowed by the much inferior Mario Kart series, and I’m not quite sure why.

 

Whereas Diddy Kong Racing sports not only a racing mode, but also a full-fledged storyline complete with side quests and collectibles, every iteration of Mario Kart that I’ve played throughout the years is simplistic and bare. You simply progress from one track to the next by scoring higher in the race line-up.

 

Well, Mario can have his fun with his bare-bones game. I’ll be over here hanging with Diddy, Banjo, Taj, and T.T. scooping up bananas and silver balloons. I’ll fight boss battles, collect secret keys, and even defeat an evil Wizpig all in my effort to save Timber’s island from being transformed into a permanent playground for the evil hog.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXvzvNZYOjc?rel=0&w=500&h=281]

 

Diddy Kong Racing can be accessed on both the N64 and the DS, but it’s generally agreed upon that the latter is inferior due to control issues and missing characters (blame legal issues for that one.)

 

4) World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (Genesis)

 

 

Castle of Illusion is getting a remake come early September, so where is World of Illusion?

 

Seriously, how can a game that stars both Mickey and Donald be left so far behind in the dust? With a mesmerizing soundtrack, beautiful worlds, and inventive co-op play, the game was a sure-fire keeper when it was released in 1992.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N3mWt7DQnQ?rel=0&w=500&h=281]

 

One fine day Mickey and Donald are about to perform their magic act when a mysterious box transports them into another world. An evil magician (Pete) tells them that in order to make it home, they’ll need to travel through a myriad of fantastical, mystical, dangerous realms. Both our heroes end up traveling through worlds inspired by Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, and many others. As they travel through worlds both old and new, they can lend each other help through their special abilities. Mickey, can help pull Donald through tight gaps, and Donald comes in handy when magical spells need to be performed.

 

With wonderful level design and whimsical style, you can do much worse than World of Illusion. You’ll need a SEGA Genesis/ Mega Drive to play it, though.

 

5) Digital Devil Saga: Volumes I & II (PS2)

 

 

The Shin Megami Tensei series has received its much deserved helping of fans because of its Persona Spin-off, but its other off-shoots haven’t received as much attention. They deserve it as well.

 

Digital Devil Saga earns its Shin Megami status due to its mature subject matter; the game revolves around cannibalism. Every once in a while, when your party gets low on health, they are required to devour their enemies to sustain their life energy. Talk about gruesome!

 

I can’t say much about the game, because the bulk of the plot is discovered within Volume II. What I can tell you is that the game revolves around a group of comrades who are fighting other groups in order to reach a place called Nirvana. The group thinks they have the rules figured out, but when a mysterious girl is thrown into the mix, suddenly all the rules are changed. In order to reach safety, the crew must bring the girl to the tower in the center of their post apocalyptic world while devouring their competition.

 

This is a well-told story, and although it isn’t as complex or character driven as the Persona series, it still manages to get you thinking about some deep, philosophical themes. With a well-implemented press-turn battle system, cool cell-shaded graphics, and up to 80 hours of gameplay, this game earns a spot in my book easily. Check out the PS2 to play it.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6IOl4GSKVM?rel=0&w=500&h=281]

 

 

 

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