Favorite Underrated Games

What’s your favorite underrated games of all time? Mine include:

  • Final Fight
  • Super Mario 2
  • Zone of the Ender
  • Faxanadu
  • Shadowgate
  • Klax

I haven’t verified if all these games are necessarily underrated, I’m just assuming they are.

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I’m unsure how to approach this one. There’s a difference between obscurity and poor ratings. Some games brilliant but totally unknown to the wider world. Other games are very-well known but the world has decided they are stinkers.

Taking both of these categories into account, here’s my list, split in two parts. First up a very poorly-rated game, the most underrated game of all time!:

  • Towns (2012): Universally one of the most-hated games on the entire internet. Everyone loves to hate on towns, critics, gamers, reviewers, steam, even unborn children and the ghosts of our ancestors hate this game. Seriously though, Towns is one of the best Dwarf-Fortressy games out there, superior to Gnomoria or Rimworld, etc. It’s a masterpiece. There was some controversy or a kickstarter campaign went sour. The devs made promises that they failed to keep. Lots of drama around this game. But has anyone sat down and played it? It’s so much fun. It’s like minecraft meets settlers or something. It’s AMAZING and people should actually try it out, it’s a great fun little game.

*** * THE OBSCURE: * ***

  • Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead (2015): Hands down the best apocalypse/survival game out there, by miles. It’s 100 fold greater than attempts like DayZ or Rust. It’s also a free game, open source, community developed. I can’t believe this game gets so little attention. This is easily one of the most deep, innovative and immersive games I’ve ever played. No one plays it, no one has heard of it. It’s an incredible masterpiece, unlike anything out there.

  • UnReal World (1992): Another forgotten masterpiece. The guys have been making this game since 1992 and they’re still working on it. A fantastic deep and immersive (and extremely realistic) neolithic survival game. Unbelievable, but no one has heard of it or plays it. And I think it’s free? I’m not sure.

  • Omikron: The Nomad Soul (1999): This is easily one of my favourite games of all time, right up in the top ten list. I think it actually got good reviews at the time but no one seems to have heard of it. Its an open-world bizarre game, semi-designed by David Bowie. It really pushed the boundaries of game design at the time. I am dying to re-play this, but I can’t get my controller to work with my GOG version of it. :frowning:

  • Cryostasis (2009): Completely critically panned and a commercial failure. You can’t even get a copy of it any more, not on steam or even on GOG or anywhere. This game was so “bad” it was banished from the universe. But was it really? Actually it’s a really awesome spooky FPS-style game with a Russian vibe, similar to the Metro or STALKER series. Extremely underrated.

  • Dark Scavenger (2012): No one has heard of this game, and it’s a wonderful little game. It’s one a very strange rpg/story generator type game, some space nonsense mixed in, a bit of a Douglas Adams vibe. This game is impossible to describe it’s so unique, but I loved it. I got it on Steam for 0.20 cents or something.

  • Gazillionaire Deluxe (1996): The best space-trading game of all time. Great fascinating graphics, all hand-drawn. Really deep and fun gameplay, lots of depth and clever AI, with off-beat sci-fi humour. You are basically in a spaceship and you travel around the universe as a trader, trying to make profit. So addictive, lots of fun. I think it’s available on iPads and Android too, but still unnoticed.

*** * THE POORLY RATED: * ***

  • The Black Mirror (2003): Great atmosphere, great graphics, wonderful story. Very atmospheric. One of the best puzzle/adventures I’ve ever played.

  • Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within (1995): Pretty much apply all of the above to this game too. It’s a wonderful adventure game. The FMV stuff is really goofy but I think it adds charm more than anything. Played it last year, loved it.

  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005): It’s a genuinely cool haunting spooky game, best Lovecraft-inspired game I’ve ever played.

I don’t know that I’d call Super Mario 2 underrated OR obscure. Rather, I think it’s probably just one of the less-popular Mario games. But when we’re talking about a franchise as reliably solid as Mario, that doesn’t mean much. Shadowgate I always thought was generally well-regarded, just not played a whole lot, so maybe obscure.

It’s a tough criteria to apply - I, for one, have a nostalgic place in my heard for the second Zelda game (yeah, that side-scrolling one), but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s underrated or obscure, just really divisive. XD

The reason I consider Mario 2 underrated is that it wasn’t even originally intended to be a Mario game, it was basically one idea turned into another. That’s all fine and good but it didn’t have the original enemies, bosses, etc. Or any variation on the bosses, like the Koopalings in Mario 3. So I feel like a lot of people don’t consider a good game in terms of the Mario franchise, but I loved it and still do.

I guess I never realized it was well-regarded by others. They made sequels, so I guess someone else liked it. Growing up, none of my friends had it. I was always fond of point and click games.

I like that game a lot. Side scrolling was weird for the franchise. Then the view would switch to top down. Different but still good. I AM ERROR.

The obscure are definitely…obscure. I haven’t heard of any of them. I’m sure they’re all good. Thanks for the list.

We should start a SIDE-SCROLLING ZELDA AND MARIO 2 FOREVER club. :smile:


Haha. For sure. Giant toads and horse head knights for life!

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I was the tiniest bit disappointed when there was no side scrolling Zelda music in the Symphony of the Goddesses concert. I mean, I get it, but c’monnnn~

I don’t know that I have a lot to add to this thread, otherwise. A lot of the games I would have marked as underrated years ago have since found audiences and acclaim since gaming went mainstream. Which is a great thing!

How about The New Tetris for N64? There’s always so much love for Tetrisphere, but New Tetris never gets any. :frowning:

Symphony of Godesses sounds awesome. Was that with the Boston Pops? If you like video game music Minibosses and The Advantage cover some NES classics.

I love that Tetris game! Lots of fun.

Psst! The new HD version of Shadowgate is part of the current steam halloween sale, $3.75. I was sorely tempted. Should I get or are you guys talking about the original?

I think the original version of Mario Bros 2 was released in Japan as called Doki Doki Panic (released on the Famicom) I’ve seen some fascinating videos about it. I think opinions are polarised on Mario Bros 2 and Zelda 2, some people love them other people hate them. Mike from Cinemassacre did a really good stream and beat Zelda 2… I think people are just against change, they get mad when people try something new. I’ve never played it (was a pure MS-DOS gamer growing up) but it looks like a great game:

Mike’s stream of Zelda 2: https://youtu.be /2KSDcUCUFE8

Doki Doki Panic: Very fascinating!

EDIT: Of all the games I mentioned on my “underrated” list, I would put Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead right up top as a game that everyone needs to go ahead and play ASAP. I’m always ranting about this game but, gosh, it’s just such a masterpiece, and it’s free! I needs more exposure because there’s nothing like it. Also their website totally sucks. I made this guide in case anyone wants to give it a go; here’s how to set it up nice and easily without any nonsense: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

I was thinking of the old Shadowgate NES version. I’m sure the new one is cool too.
I have heard of the Doki Doki Panic Mario 2 thing but have never seen the game. Amazing video. Looks just like Mario 2 with some better additions added to Mario. I will check out Cataclysm at some point. When I’m not busy with a million other things. Game on!

I’ll have to try both and compare! Apparently the new one sticks pretty close to the original and you can even enable some of the old features (like the original nes soundtrack, mayb even the graphics? I’m not sure)

Make sure you bookmark my handy guide (Imgur: The magic of the Internet); their website is awful and unhelpful and completely out of date and any useful guides/download links are impossible to find or navigate. Plus, playing with the 32px tiles and sounds makes the game 1000x more awesome than it already is. Be sure to give it a go, it’s so cool. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but for my first couple characters I just turned off ALL of zombies/horrible monsters/cthulhu thingies and just played it just open world survival. Even that was super fun and challenging.Never seen a crafting system so deep and complex. Even the food menu, lol, there’s something like 1000 recipes just in food. I remember hunting down a giant toad with a crossbox, smoking the meat using a shrub and a book of matches and then searching through abandoned gas stations until I finally found some (non-rotted) cheese so I could construct some sort of deluxe nachos! And then it gave my character crazy morale boosts which affect all the other stats. Very deep and incredible game, you can do anything in it. It’s like Day Z meets Dwarf Fortress.
EDIT: In a later game I cleared all the zombies out of this mansion in the middle of the woods and set up this beautiful lavish fortress there, solar panels so I had a bunch of gadgets and fridge and stuff. Dug out a bunch of perimeter spike traps so then in the morning I could go around and pick out all the horrible night creatures, butcher them, an endless source of protein lol

Klax! So much fun, yet so frustrating!

I don’t remember which compilation, but it was on one of those gamecube discs with many classics, such as smash TV. A friend and I would go on Klax marathons… For hours!

Yes, totally. Very tough game. I love the moments when you clear a bunch of bricks without even knowing it. It just happens. I have fond memories of playing the arcade version as well as the NES one.

Chaos Overlords. A fun Turn Based Strategy Game With 90’s synth music and Cyberpunk attitude. Recruit Street gang units with different stat, descriptions and portrait art. Something like 100 units. You can then modify stats with R&D. It’s not a bad management game

[isometric Action]
Crusader: No Regret. This is worth playing just for the rockin’ tracker music by Necros (who helped out with the original UT '99 soundtrack formed by Straylight Productions) The original game came with a fold out flyer that was supposed to be a newspaper or something from the Dystopian Game world.

Police Quest: SWAT 2. Not like any of the other SWAT games, this is a RTT with interesting exploits. The only game quite like it I could compare it to is maybe project Zomboid.

[Arcade styled Dungeon Crawlers]
Cybermercs: SCi Fi Dungeon crawler/diablo clone. I would reccomend it.
Restricted Area: Similiar to the above, More RPG elements.
Abomination. Slick sick visuals for those who want to play XCOM but dont have the patience. Make sure you patch it so as to not get stuck mid game.

[Tactical Role Playing Games]
Metal Heart Replicant Rampage. Unplayable due to very rocky mechanics and broken questing, but the game has delightful bits in it.

Planet Alcatraz (Dungeon Cleaners 2) - I became fascinated while playing and researched the strange background of this game too much. It is apparently a pseudo-book… If you have a fetish for 1cc check it out. It feels like a port of 7.62 High Calibre at times, but has some zany mistranslated russo-english (similiar to Metal Hear) and funny questing.

Silent Storm Sentinels (s3) It’s great.

[First Person Shooters]
Cybermage - Darklight Awakening. Warren’s first game (that i know of) Oh man does this thing have style. You can see the vestigial Evolution of what would later become DX. This game really blew me away.

Arx Fatalis. This was a work of art. At times it was a bit slow, certainly something different here.

EYE divine Cybermancy. This is a very strange hypnotic shooter with some wonderful atmosphere. I lost so much time in The brooding Soundtrack and Mac 300. I have never played a game that quite has guns like this.

Clive Barker’s Undying. Remember all the half-life mods that told stories or have narrative heavy focus? This is like that. (Jericho is pretty cool too, and has some pretty wonderful middle eastern iconography and textures, very impressive visuals really)

Soldiers of Anarchy. It’s a little rough with the interface, but enjoyed this game. You have infantry units and do your best to commandeer vehicles, and later outfit the ones you capture. It mixes it with light character specialization

Data Hacker Initiation. I really enjoyed this story. A bit of a gimmick but still pretty good. (I haven’t finished Corruption I got snagged in a quest bug and will ahve to start over. Ironic)

Another Star. Somewhat like Dragon Warrior. A little rough. You can hack txt files and cheat it to progress (thankfully)

Hoopz Barkley Saga: Barkley, Shut up and Jame Gaiden. Was my favorite game of 2015.

Sanctuary RPG - Pretty slick, I haven’t gotten too far in it, it’s fun to play and approachable.
Doom RPG - Really addictive. Played a lot of this at work in 2013. So well conceived, designed and executed.

Temple of Elemental Evil -Game mechanics work off ADnD rules. You learn to play ADnD through the in game encyolopedia. There are so many conversation choices and recruit-able NPCs in this game.
Wasteland - It’s real old, got quirks. But it really did get a lot of things right.

I was going to submit TRON 2.0, but it seems that game has a larger following than I previously thought. It is a far better sequel to the film TRON than Legacy.

That said I’ll settle on Xeodrifter as a favourite underrated game until I have thought on the subject some more. Xeodrifter seems to receive a bit of hate on some corner of the web and has a dismal rating on Metacritic. A health number of people have rated it 3 or lower here on Grouvee, so I suppose this counts as underrated.

I don’t know if you can classify The Beginner’s Guide as underrated because it made a bit of noise when it was released but i generally find that a lot of people haven’t heard of the game. It is a bit polarising but for me personally, i absolutely loved it.

I haven’t heard of it. But apparently it’s from the makers of The Stanley Parable which I enjoyed very much, although didn’t log much playtime.

A few off the top of my head

  • Fire’n Ice
  • The Krion Conquest
  • Cacoma Knight in Bizyland
  • Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • Undercover Cops
  • Rocky Rodent
  • Banana Prince
  • Atomic Runner
  • Firestriker
  • Spany’s Quest
  • Whirlo
  • Trax

Of that list I only remember Rocky Rodent. The rest look fascinating.