Top 10 Most Underrated Games
The definition of what makes a game “underrated” probably differs from person to person. The criteria I had in mind when I made this list is very broad: any game that I feel more people should play and/or more people should be talking about. It’s definitely an incredibly subjective topic, but here’s my list of the Top 10 Most Underrated Games!
Just putting a disclaimer up front, this list only consists of games that I’ve played. I’m sure there are tons of very underrated games that I’ve never played, or maybe never even heard of. But since I haven’t played them, I can’t put them on this list since I don’t have firsthand opinions on them.
Owlboy has to rank last on this list because it’s probably the game that received the most recognition of any of these. It was nominated for several awards, so it clearly garnered a significant amount of attention in the indie space. Still though, I don’t see many people talking about it, which is a shame because it’s such a beautiful game! Excellent pixel art visuals, music, and awesome action-platformer gameplay, coupled with an emotional story and wonderful characters…there are just so many things to love about Owlboy!
9. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore
This game is maybe the least or second least obscure on this list. I’m sure it’s still on many peoples’ minds since it came out on Switch so recently. I still see a number of people talking about it on Twitter, and that makes me happy because it really deserves some more attention!
It’s a really cool game if you enjoy the idol-focused plot. The dungeon crawling gameplay is top notch, as is the battle system. Its Session Attack system was easy to get into, and only got better as the game went on and you could get even larger combos with it.
8. Army of Two: The 40th Day
Army of Two: The 40th Day is a third-person cover shooter with awesome co-op gameplay. You can play it in single-player, but it’s much better with a friend in split-screen couch co-op. One of my favorite features is the gun customization system. It’s not the first or only game to implement such a feature, but it still might be my favorite game to do so. Something about the customization interface and the parts available just works so well. There’s something special to be said about customizing your gun to have a knife bayonet on the front, and plating it in solid gold. On top of that, the aggro system is really interesting too, where one player can draw enemy fire by blind-firing behind cover, and the other can use this distraction to get the drop on your enemies. Unfortunately, not only do I never hear anyone talk about this game anymore, but the series seems to have died.
I admit, I had completely forgotten about Stranglehold. It’s a third-person shooter that heavily utilizes slow motion “bullet time.” When I first played it, I thought this was a wholly unique mechanic, but I’ve since learned that the Max Payne series was known for this years before Stranglehold came out. Anyway, apparently this game is a sequel to John Woo’s 1992 film “Hard Boiled.” I’ve still never seen that movie, so I didn’t know the characters featured in this game at all going into it and that probably made the plot harder to follow. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember the story at all. The slow-motion shooting mechanics definitely left a lasting impression though, because they were the first thing I remembered about this game!
Nox is an action RPG, and is probably easily labelled a Diablo clone. This might be true, but what’s sort of mind-blowing is that Nox actually released a few months before Diablo 2. Nox very well could have still drawn inspiration from the original Diablo, but anyone trying to accuse it of ripping off Diablo 2 is sorely mistaken!
Anyway, release date and Diablo comparisons aside, I was absolutely spellbound by Nox as a kid. Its fog of war vision system is very distinctive in a game of its type, and really helps shapes the game in some cool ways. It also has 3 different classes to choose from, and your choice affects the route you’ll take through the early game. Each class also offers a unique play style, with warrior being a straightforward but enjoyable melee class, wizard offering access to a deep spell system, and conjurer allowing you to befriend and summon monster allies. I was always fond of conjurer myself, but all 3 classes were fun to play as. The presentation in this game is excellent. The pre-rendered 3D characters and environments still look great in my opinion. Nox is just a really fun, polished game that I never see mentioned in gaming dicussions, and that’s a real shame!
Admittedly, Soulbringer is probably the hardest game on this list to go back to. The early 3D polygons will be off-putting for many, and the controls might be as well. If you can look past its flaws and dated mechanics however, Soulbringer has a lot to offer. It’s an RPG with real-time combat, but the flow of this combat is pretty unique. Your character’s attacks with a weapon and even magic takes times to prepare and execute, and can’t be interrupted once initiated. This makes the timing and flow of battle interesting, and you’ll need to get a good grasp on the timing of each action to learn to efficiently dispatch your enemies.
Aside from the interesting combat, the lore of Soulbringer always interested me too. It’s full of parallel worlds, forgotten magic, and ancient demons. All the makings of an interesting fantasy world, right? That’s what I always thought at least, but sadly the game didn’t do well upon release and has been largely forgotten nowadays.
4. Mischief Makers
I’m not sure what drew me to Mischief Makers as a kid, but I’m really glad I found it! It’s a 2.5D platformer with some action elements, and a whole lot of unique charm. You play as the robot Marina as she pursues her kidnapped creator on Planet Clancer. As a platformer, there’s obviously jumping involved on her quest, but one of the unique elements Mischief Makers adds to the formula is shaking. Marina can grab and shake many objects, including NPCs and enemies. Grabbing and shaking these things is the key to moving forward, and often the key to finding secrets too. Sadly, Mischief Makers only ever saw a release on N64. It was never ported to another platform or re-released, which is a real shame because it’s a pretty unique experience.
Fans of Mischief Makers will get it.
3. Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
Majesty is a simulation game focused on building and developing a kingdom in a high fantasy world. The player’s role is that of the monarch, and you run a kingdom but don’t control any of your citizens or heroes directly. The closest you come to direct control is placing build orders for various structures, which causes peasants to head to them to begin construction. Peasants are the least remarkable of your subjects though. The real stars are the heroes. Instead of directly controlling your heroes, you motivate them by offering bounties for exploration and destroying enemies or enemy structures. Hero classes vary in behavior. Some have a natural propensity for exploration and less motivation for battle, and for others it’s the opposite. Some are motivated purely by greed. This makes for a really unique game. It even has an HD edition available on Steam!
2. Future Tactics: The Uprising
I never hear anyone even mention this game! It’s a turn-based tactical shooter with destructible terrain and a jammin’ OST composed by Tim Follin. Combat requires some strategy and skill, as you’ll need to time your button presses correctly to aim your shots where you want them and hit with the most power.
Even though it released on GameCube, PS2, Xbox, and even PC in Europe, it seems like Future Tactics is a frequently overlooked game the era. I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you can though!
1. Custom Robo
Custom Robo is a game where you customize tiny robots called “robos,” and pilot them against other robos in battle. It’s a simple but accurate description for a game I absolutely love. I love the plot, with its twists that blew my mind when I first played the game as a kid. The characters are endearing, and though none of the game is voiced the text advances with Animal Crossing-esque “voice” sound effects that differ from character to character, sort of giving them distinct voices. The robo battles are wonderful as well. You can customize your robot with many different parts for different situations. The “Body,” which essentially changes your robo’s model, especially changes the feel of combat, as different robos have different specialties.
Unfortunately, the Custom Robo series hasn’t seen a new game in over 10 years. The last entry, Custom Robo Arena for Nintendo DS, was released in 2007, and the series has been dormant since then. The GameCube game was actually the 4th in the series, and the previous 3 games never released outside of Japan. It’s a sad reality that the series would wither away so soon after it made its international debut.