Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 10 Underappreciated Game Franchises

Why "Underappreciated, you may ask. Well, none of these games are particularly underrated. In fact, all of them are rated highly. My issue is with the amount of people that know about and talk about them. henceforth, underrated! Anyway, here ya go...

10. Panzer Dragoon - On-rails Shooters in general aren't a huge market, but when the first Panzer Dragoon was announced, the video gaming world collectively shit themselves. The premise of the game is that you basically pilot an awesome laser-shooting dragon in a quest to save the world from other dragons. Dude. Holy shit! But, people are stupid. No good Sonic games meant poor sales for the Saturn, and in turn, poor sales for this game. It's a shame too, because the franchise is nothing but stellar throughout. The original is critically marveled, Panzer Dragoon Zwei  is better in every way, Panzer Dragoon Saga is an amazing RPG that could have spawned its own sub-series, and Panzer Dragoon Orta is a stellar Xbox title visually with perfect controls and an impressive story that shows the experience gained by making Saga an RPG. Alas, none of these games, three on the Saturn and one on the Xbox, sold very well at all, and Sega, understandably, canned the franchise. The only reason they're not higher is because only one game provides a lot of time allotted. They're all consider classics by the few that talk about them, which are far too few, and it doesn't help now, DOES IT?! YOU GUYS SUCK!!

9. Tomba! - Tomba! Was a (I hate saying this word but it fits too well) quirky action-platformer for the original Playstation. Growing up, and even today, I'm the only person I know that knows of it without me introducing it to them. I mean, how could anyone not love the idea of a pink-haired jungle boy chasing the evil pigs that stole his grandfather's bracelet. If that's not an earthshaking premise, what is?! Actually, now that I think about it, he actually reminds me a bit of Goku in the original Dragon Ball. In all seriousness though, both Tomba! and Tomba! 2 are excellent 2.5D platformers featuring over 130 levels each. Though not all are necessary to beating the main storyline, they're all fun and add a lot to the game as you throw pigs, beat them with maces, and fly around in a squirrel suit (yep, Tomba! did it way before Mario). The game is beautiful and highly detailed for the PS1, the gameplay is solid, the characters are awesome, and most of all, everything about it is amazing fun. Too bad you all HATE FUN!!

8. Ys - Honestly, I myself haven't known about these games for too long, but when I found out, I jumped on that shit... Hard... Like a nice, shapely, anyway, Ys is one of the longest running RPG franchises around. In its lifespan, between main releases and re-releases, Ys has appeared on 19 different consoles (20 if you count mobile phones). Yet, somehow, very few people seem to know it exists, despite almost everyone having a system to play it on. Every game in the series features great and unique combat, amazing art design, and some of the better stories in all of gaming. They've re-released every main title at least once, showing a dedication to improving and  their products to give the few fans they have the best experience possible. That kind of talent and passion, as well as the constantly putting their fans ahead of their own artistic arrogance, honestly deserves to be met with much more love and just plain a bigger audience than it currently possesses. Shame on you all!

7. Shenmue - I'm sure quite a few of you know these games exist, but I'm sure less of you have played it, and very few really appreciate what they did for gaming and what they were as not only games, but stories. I feel like Shenmue revolutionized story-telling in video games. Never had a game made a world and its characters so open (yeah, Shenmue did that, not GTA), and immersed you so richly in everything happening around you. For the first time, at least in a big budget game, you really got to live as the lead protagonist, creating a bond with him, his story, and those around him more than ever before. Of course, the actual story within was good, if it wasn't then none of this would matter. It's a heart-warming and motivating tale of tragedy, vengeance, and atonement, taking place in the biggest world video games had seen. And what did it get? The story of the original masterpiece, and especially its astounding sequel got cut short after two games due to poor sales not being able to match the tremendous budget needed to create the games. So due to poor marketing, insane expenses, making more copies of the original than there were Dreamcasts in existence, and a little bit of consumer ignorance, one of the best stories in gaming shall likely forever go without an end.

6. Gex - Ah, Gex. it's like Spyro meets James Bond, minus the shittiness of James Bond, plus awesome cliche movie and TV references. Honestly, as much as I love these games, there's not a whole lot more too them. They're based around Gex the Gecko, a couch potato obsessed with 80's movies and TV shows. He gets sucked into the television, another amusingly cliche movie homage, and must traverse through different movie-themed levels to get out. It's a 3D platformer, open world in the style of games like Spyro or Ratchet & Clank in that you're able to roam around yet there's still an established goal in order to progress past that certain level and ultimately beat the game. The controls are very tight, the humor is campy, stupid, drowned in references and cliches, but completely epic. There's not a lot more to say. Gex is a very fun, nostalgiac series for more than just its age, and isn't all that hard to find nowadays.

5. Bushido Blade - Bushido Blade may be, gameplay-wise, the most unique series on this list. Bushido Blade is a ninja fighting game unlike any other. It's slow and strategic, playing extremely similarly to how one would imagine a real sword fight (or sledgehammer or whatever you choose). Strategically placed strikes, blocks, and counters, the clashing of swords, and the looming knowledge that one well-placed hit will likely kill you. Or you might get lucky and simply lose the use of an arm or a leg, forcing you to battle with a major disadvantage, knowing you're almsot certain to fall from the next hit. It's incredibly realistic and precise, and it's probably the most intense fighter I've ever played, and one of the most intense video games in general, both the first and the second games. If you want a unique, realistic, intense fighting experience that's extremely rewarding and still very fun, PLAY IT NOW!!

4. Sparkster/Rocket Knight - The Sparkster games are elite among side-scrolling platformers. Swords, rocket jets, and mechs, perfect controlling side-scrolling through awesome environments, and the typical cheesy early 90's video game storyline, who could ask for more. Every game in the series (save the above average remake) is absolutely masterful. The first two games were Genesis/Mega Drive exclusives, and honestly, everything about these games is so amazing that I feel like if they'd marketed them like they did Sonic, or even in place of him, it could have made that console war an actual competition sales-wise. However, Sega didn't bother to buy the rights, so the third "spin-off" game made its way to the Super Nintendo and killed any hope of having another mascot to compete with Mario. As great as Konami is, they'd be gods amongst mortal game developers if this had become a long-running, console-selling series like it had the potential to be.

3. Disgaea - Disgaea is a stunningly underrated series. It has everything RPG fans look for. Awesome story, memorable characters, solid and tactical gameplay mechanics, humor, good dialogue, as well as many things that help sell games in the 21st century like Anime-style art, a huge game with tons of replayability, etc. But even with the sudden surge, at least among YouTube gamers, of the game's publisher, Atlus, this game has still gone terribly unheralded. Especially nowadays when everyone is either playing nothing but COD and Halo, or is looking for the furthest thing from those, you'd think someone famous among gamers would be like "HEY! DISGAEA! S'GOOD! S'GREAT! FFFFUCKING PLAY IT!!" Every game, and there are four main series games now, are all hilarious, intriguing, epic anime-inspired stories woven together by awesome characters, surprisingly solid English dubbing, and its own unique Strategy RPG battle system. Not to mention the expansive recruiting system that makes basically every playthrough different in terms of how you battle. This series really needs to be experienced to fully grasp what it's about, it really can't be explained in words.

2. Darkstalkers/Night Warriors (rant about Capcom's shit promotion of Resurrection) - The Darkstalkers series is a childhood favorite of mine. It was everything I love. Beautiful 2D Animation, monster movies, and fast-paces fighting games. You play as adaptations of classic characters such as The Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, sexy vampire chicks, the Sasquach, Lochness Monster, blah blah blah. Point is, it's awesome movie monsters duking it out with fast, tight controls, at the time revolutionary combo mechanics, an amazing art style, and brutal difficulty. Any fighting fan needs to pick up at least one of these games, or get Resurrection on Xbox Live or PSN. Ya know, since Capcom decided not to promote its release in the slightest so no one can buy it so they have a go-to when people bug them about a new Darkstalkers game!... Yeah, number 2, Darkstalkers.

1. Gargoyle's Quest/ - This is, by far, no question, the most underrated franchise in all of gaming. Three elite platformers, three different systems, unique gameplay still not replicated, and pure badassery throughout. The first two are 8-bit side scrolling classics with unique hovering mechanics and a dark but not too serious tone, classics, but not revolutionary. However, the third and final game, Demon's Crest, changes all that. Demon's Crest pushes the graphical capabilities of the Super Nintendo to its limit, rivaled only, in my opinion, by the likes of Castlevania: Dracula X. The gameplay is spot on, the levels are large in both length and height, making perfect use of the wall-grappling and hover mechanics, after defeating certain enemies, Firebrand gets unique forms that resemble the power-ups in Mega Man X, and the game itself is gritty, dark, awesome, and brutally difficult. Each game is among the best on their respective systems, but Demon's Crest is what pushes this series from number 7 or so to number one for me.

I know it's been a while, I've been trying really hard to figure out a way to make decent quality videos for this and find a way to record gameplay videos, both for my youtube channel. But alas, looks like that channel's sticking to rants for now. Though I'm considering a podcast-ey type format where I just tangent out the ass about a subject. Anyway, hope you liked it, follow @SycoMantis1991, youtube channel: Sycotic Soliloquies, yada yada. And leave comments/suggestions here or those places. I swear there will be more, I'm in the middle of working on three different lists, one gaming, one anime, and one music, so variety too.

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