- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
5 Video Games That Aren't Popular, But Are Still Excellent
Maybe you've played these games and maybe you haven't. Maybe you know plenty of people who've played them, but I don't. These are games that I've played and absolutely love but it seems like no one has ever even heard of them before. These games are each excellent in their own way. They received awards and high critical praise, but they still never really saw the spotlight. Sometimes the best games are the ones no one hears about. Here are 5 games which if you haven't played, you should give them a try.
#5 – Katamari Damacy
Katamari Damacy is a single-player, optional multi-player, third-person puzzle-action game from 2004 (it has 7 sequels, each for a different platform). Katamari's plot is silly, there's no doubt about that. You are the Prince and your farther is the King of All Cosmos. He goes on a binge-drinking spree and accidentally destroys all of the stars and other celestial bodies in the sky. The King is gigantic and the Prince is merely 5cm tall. To correct his mistake, the King send the Prince to Earth with a Katamari. A katamari is a magic ball and anything smaller than it will be stuck to it, thus it will grow bigger the more it collects. The Prince's mission is to collect enough stuff and make large enough katamari's to replace all of the constellations and stars that were blown up. You are set in different areas of Earth, though you are never directly told where, you can tell by your surroundings what is being represented. As you collect things, you grow. For example, when you usually start out collecting something very small like legos, eventually when you collect enough lego-sized objects, you can start collecting bigger things like fruit or staplers. The hard part about the game is you are timed and you have a set goal size to reach before time is up. Sometimes, you are timed and you have to get enough of a specific thing before time is up. Such as when making Cancer, you have to collect crabs. There are other goals you have to reach as well. If you do not reach your goal in the amount of time given, you fail the level and have to start it over again. Katamari may sound kind of stupid and pointless, but that's what makes it fun. There isn't a whole lot to it. You just get to roll around and collect things and its entertaining. You find some of the weirdest things to collect and its funny to see what happens when you roll certain things up. It's a simple but also challenging game. Katamari didn't win a ton of awards, but it did receive high praise and won Excellence in Game Design and Best Innovation. Katamari is a game that I can't see really “dying” out. It is something that can easily be played on any system and by someone of any age to enjoy.
#4 – Morrowind
Morrowind is a single-player action-role playing, open world game. Morrowind is the third installment of the Elder Scrolls games from 2002. Like the rest, it doesn't exactly have one singular story-line, rather many optional stories and quests that the player can follow. There is still a central plot though which revolves around the reincarnation of the Dunmer hero, Indoril Nerevar also referred to as “The Nerevarine”. The hero has been prophesied to stand up against and defeat the evil deity Dagoth Ur and his remaining followers. The story begins with a storm and a strange dream. You begin right off of a boat which landed on Vvardenfell Island. First you meet Cosades, who sends you on various missions to uncover what's been going on with the citizens of the Island. The people of the Ashlands believe the Nerevarine will fulfill 7 prophecies, the first 3 which prove Nerevar is in fact, the incarnate. Morrowind is a constantly developing game depending on you and your choices. You pick your class, race, and birthsign. Your birthsign aids in your predetermined skills and your race also determines your chances of disease. You level up, and when you do you improve attributes and therefore gain skills according to those attributes. You can have skills such as alchemy, sneak, hand-to-hand, and many others. You get attributes such as strength, endurance, agility, and so on. It is also a game of choice between your character being good or evil, though you aren't “evil” exactly. You choose if you want to complete a quest in a good or bad way which determines what kind of reputation you have, fame or infamy. Morrowind's environment was vast and always interesting, the people were interesting, the story in gerneral, was interesting. It was a very captivating game that had a lot to offer. Although it is part of a very popular franchise, Morrowind seemed to get overlooked and forgotten once Oblivion came out. Morrowind won a couple different Game of the Year awards and Best Story while being nominated for a few other awards. Morrowing was only the third installment from Elder Scrolls, the most current being the very popular Skyrim.
#3 – Okami
Okami is a single-player, action-adventure game originally for the PlayStation 2 (though it was re-released for theWii and PlayStation 3) in 2006. The game follows a white wolf, Okami Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun. The game is set in Nippon, an area based on ancient Japan. The game starts with a flashback, 100 years ago a white wolf the people called Shiranui (Amaterasu is the reincarnation) helped the warrior Nagi fight the eight-headed demon Orochi. They could not destroy him though and instead sealed him away. In “present” time, someone has stolen the sword which held Orochi in his tomb. Now that the demon has been released, Amaterasu has re-awakened to once again stop Orochi from taking over Nippon. Amaterasu learns a couple physical attacks and you can upgrade her Divine Instrument (a shield on her back), but the main goal is to collect the 13 Celestial Brush techniques which will be used to defeat Orochi. When the player finishes certain objectives, they are able to complete a constellation of stars, thus freeing a celestial god who then teaches them a brush stroke. The brush strokes are used to solve puzzles and can also be attacks. For example, the Cherry Bomb technique can be used to blow up huge boulders as well as enemies. Okami reminds me some of the Legend of Zelda. Instead of collecting songs, you collect brush strokes. Amaterasu travels around Nippon accompanied by Issun, a sprite, and helps out Susano, the descendant of the warrior Nagi. Okami is a wonderful game. It's absolutely beautiful and has a captivating story as well as characters who develop with you along the way. Okami won awards like: Best Overall Story, Best Artistic Graphics, Best Overall Game 2006, Most Innovative Design, and lots of others. However, Okami did not sell as much as it was expected or should have in North America. The game actually holds the title “least commercially successful winner of a game of the year award”. Though there hasn't been word of another Okami, Amaterasu has clearly made an impact, now being a character in Marvel vs. Capcom, as well as referenced in a few other games.
#2 – Ico
Ico is a single-player, action-adventure game first released for the PlayStation 2 (later for the PlayStation 3) in 2001. The game is about a boy, who you don't really know for sure, but are left to call Ico. The game takes place in an old, large castle in the misty mountains. You are taken there by a group of people who are from some kind of tribe and its clearly in ancient times. You don't know why, all you know is you have horns on your head and they don't. They tell you its for the best and they leave you there, trapped. You may not know why you're there, but you know you need to leave. Shortly after you start, you find a girl in a cage. Her name is Yorda and she does not speak the same language as you, Ico decides to help her escape too and their only means of “connection” is by holding hands. The “Queen” of the castle appears and warns you that the two of you will never escape, but still does not reveal to you your purpose of who Yorda is. Shadow creatures start coming after Yorda though and its up to Ico to keep her safe. The game does not “develop” new moves and powers, it doesn't even tell you how to do anything. Unlike most games, in Ico you are just as lost as he is. You have to figure out the controls on your own and you have to solve the puzzles on your own. There are no hints and you can interact with pretty much everything. The environment is what you have to work with, levers, sticks, fire, bombs, you have all the tools but no instruction. That's what makes Ico so great. It's realistic in the sense that, this is what you would have to do if you were Ico. You wouldn't have some voice telling you to jump on this ledge, or words appear to say go left not right, you're just on your own. Plus, Ico has gorgeous scenery and a unique way to develop characters and relationships without the use of language. Ico won awards for Excellence in Level Design, Excellence in Visual Arts, was considered to be one of the Games of the Year, and a few others. Shadow of the Colossus was the second game done by Team Ico and (hopefully) soon a third game will be coming out titled: The Last Guardian.
#1 – Psychonauts
Psychonauts is a single-player Platform game from 2005.The game revolves around a boy named Raz, who wants to be a “Psychonaut”. Psychonauts are secret government agents who are gifted with psychic abilities and use them to fight evil. The game is set at the fictional Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, a place run by the U.S. Government to act as a training facility. Something is wrong in the camp though, someone is stealing the children's brains. Its up to Raz to figure out who is doing this and why. Raz gets to develop new powers throughout the game which he can use in battle as well as help him solve puzzles. These powers include things like telekinesis,levitation, invisibility, fire attacks, a shield, and some others. Most of the levels in the game are actually the minds of people Raz meets. He uses a door which he can put on their head and then enter their subconscious, each person's brain is visually different and expresses that person's fears and secrets. For example, Raz goes into the brain of a man named Fred Bonaparte who is a descendant of Napoleon. Fred suffers from dissociative identity disorder and in the real world just wanders around saying things in French. When Raz enters Fred's mind, Fred is sitting in a chair across from Napoleon playing a battle/strategy board game. Raz must help Fred win in order to free him from his Napoleon split personality. I have never played another game with a concept like Psychonauts, its completely original. It's fun, its hilarious, and its a game you don't get tired of, you just want to keep going to see what happens next. It won several awards including: Best Original Game, Best Platformer, Overall Game of the Year 2005, Best Writing, and plenty of others. However, even with these awards and praise from critics, it still didn't pull in much money. Still, the game did make an impact to some people and Markus Persson (creator of Minecraft) has stated he would be willing to offer funds to the original developers to make a Psychonauts squeal. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of this game.