Saturday, August 11, 2012
10 Overlooked and Underrated Gems Part 4: The Playstation
The original Playstation, also known as the PS1, marked Sony’s foray into the world of video games. It was the first CD-based video game console that was a runaway hit because it did everything right. Previous CD-based consoles, such as the Sega-CD, 3DO, and Sega Saturn, just couldn’t do what the PS1 did so well, along with the fact that it had a staggering amount of third-party support that a video game system hadn’t had since the original NES. With that in mind, there’s a shitload of PS1 games that everyone knows and loves, ranging from “Metal Gear Solid”, “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” and various franchises that include “Resident Evil”, “Gran Turismo”, “Final Fantasy”, “Tekken”, “Crash Bandicoot”, and tons more. But for all the well-known classics that the PS1 offers, there are a number of forgotten gems that deserve your time attention too. Here are 10 underrated and overlooked gems for the original Playstation:
10. STEEL HARBINGER (1996)
A top-down shooter where you play as a scantily-clad half-alien chick taking down hordes and hordes of alien invaders in a post-apocalyptic Earth, “Steel Harbinger” is mindless fun. You shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, occasionally devouring alien body parts to replenish your health (yes I’m serious) and get treated to some gloriously cheesy live-action cut-scenes in between stages as well. Like I said, “Steel Harbinger” is mindless as all hell, but it’s surprisingly satisfying smoothly designed, making it worth checking out.
9. DISRUPTOR (1996)
Developed by Insomniac Games before they would go on to bigger and better things with the “Ratchet & Clank” and “Resistance” franchises, “Disruptor” is little more than a glorified “Doom” clone, but man oh man, is it ever an excellent one. At a time when just about every first person shooter coming out was little more than a “Doom” rip-off, “Disruptor” was like a breath of fresh air, featuring an excellent selection of interesting weapons and abilities that set it apart from the rest of the pack. There’s also some challenging gameplay to be had as well, and the maze-like level designs manage to hold your interest without frustrating the ever-loving shit out of you in the process. Check it out, you’ll be glad that you did.
8. PROJECT: OVERKILL (1996)
A run and gun shoot ‘em up with an isometric view, “Project: Overkill” is a ridiculously bloody, over the top gorefest. You play as four alien mercenaries that are up against an evil empire. You shoot tons and tons of enemies, collecting various items and keycards along the way, solving the occasional puzzle too. There’s a shitload of levels to play through, and even though things may get kind of monotonous after a while, the game is still a shitload of fun to play through regardless. It’s also harder than hell, and a truly overshadowed gem of the Playstation library.
7. JERSEY DEVIL (1998)
Released relatively late in the Playstation’s lifecycle, “Jersey Devil” got a very lukewarm reception from gamers and critics alike, mainly getting flak thanks to the schizoid camera angles and sub-par graphics. However, underneath its flaws, the game is a surprisingly good platformer. Released by Sony themselves, “Jersey Devil” was expected to attain the same kind of greatness that their previous first-party platformers “Crash Bandicoot” and “MediEvil” managed to get, which made the hype surrounding this game all the more, and all the more disappointing when it wasn’t as great. Still though, there’s some kind of undeniable charm here underneath the surface, and the fact that the game has a wicked sense of humor makes things all the more enjoyable.
6. C-12: FINAL RESISTANCE (2002)
Released very, very late in the Playstation’s lifecycle, “C-12: Final Resistance” was a game that had it been released a few years beforehand, would have been a smash hit. By the time it was released, the Playstation 2 was already out, as were the XBox, Gamecube, and Dreamcast as well. “C-12” came out with what seemed like dated graphics and gameplay, but underneath that was a very surprisingly good third-person shooter. You shoot hordes and hordes of aliens and cyborgs and blow shit up…that’s pretty much it for gameplay-wise, but that’s really all there needs to be here. It’s simple, and incredibly satisfying, and the saddest thing here is that virtually no one played this. What you should all know though is that you can still find this game, brand new, for dirt cheap…TEN YEARS AFTER IT WAS ORIGINALLY RELEASED! That’s how few people played “C-12”, so few that you can find this game dirt cheap brand new a fucking decade later. So do yourself a favor and go fucking pick this bitch up!
5. EHRGEIZ (1999)
A 3D fighting game featuring a regular arcade mode in addition to a fucking quest mode, “Ehrgeiz” mixes both straight out beat ‘em up fighting with wrestling elements and RPG elements to boot. That and it has a roster of interesting fighters, including a handful of characters from “Final Fantasy VII” just for shits and giggles. That’s right, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth (!) among others are thrown into the mix, which makes “Ehrgeiz” worth playing in itself. Sadly, the game wasn’t much of a hit when it was first released, even with the inclusion of classic FFVII characters, but it’s a super fun blast and features a surprising amount of depth that many fighting games of the time just didn’t have. While “Ehrgeiz” went underappreciated (and is a rare, expensive game to track down), it wasn’t nearly as underrated and great as the next game on our list, of which this kind of served as a spiritual spin-off…
4. TOBAL NO. 1 (1996)
The first PS1 release from “Final Fantasy” developer SquareSoft, “Tobal No. 1” is a fighting/adventure game featuring character designs from the guy that helped create “Dragonball Z”. Like “Ehrgeiz” would a few years later, “Tobal No. 1” featured standard fighting mechanics mixed with wrestling and RPG elements. There is also an adventure/quest mode where you troll through dungeon-esque environments and beat the shit out of people. The game was actually surprisingly publicized well, most likely due to the fact that it included a demo disc for the eagerly anticipated “Final Fantasy VII”, which helped the game sell somewhat, but nowhere near as well as Square had hoped it to. Still, the game was well-reviewed and beloved by those that played it, there just weren’t that many that did. There was a sequel that was released in Japan only, but despite that, “Tobal No. 1” is dreadfully underrated and deserves your attention.
3. THE UNHOLY WAR (1998)
A fighting/strategy game that nobody noticed, “The Unholy War” revolves around two warring alien factions in a distant universe. There’s melee combat and lining up your units to take out the opposition, which makes for a lengthy and deep experience. The alien creature designs are awesome and the campaigns are imaginative, but sadly the game was vastly overlooked when it was released. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s still worth checking out regardless, so give it a try.
2. TOMBA! (1998)
A side-scrolling platformer featuring 3-D models, “Tomba!” lets you take control of the title character as you stomp on and beat up hordes of evil pigs. One of the most imaginative titles to be released for the PS1 at the time, “Tomba!” was beloved by all that had played it, and while it enjoyed some moderate success, it didn’t become the smash hit that it should have. It did however spawn a sequel a few years later, which was nowhere near as enjoyable as the first installment, but was even more overlooked than this game. Still though, the game has such undeniable charm that you won’t be able to not enjoy it, even if it becomes incredibly difficult the longer it goes on.
1. HEART OF DARKNESS (1998)
Taking six years to be developed, “Heart of Darkness” is a cinematic side-scrolling adventure where you play as a young boy named Andy who is on a quest to save his beloved dog from dark and sinister forces. You solve puzzles and shoot down enemies, all while trying not to die horribly in the process. Notorious for its punishing difficulty and brilliantly animated cinematics, “Heart of Darkness” is a wonderful artistic achievement for its time and also incredibly frustrating and features some very graphic ways to get killed for being an all-ages rated game. The game also sold pretty well for its time, but all these years later is sadly forgotten. Though it was harder than hell to get through, “Heart of Darkness” featured some surprisingly rewarding gameplay and a well-told story that kept you playing, no matter how many times you died. That and just seeing how surprisingly bloody Andy’s demises would wind up being would hold your attention as well. Check it out damnit!
That’s all for now folks, be here next time for the conclusion where we look at the top 10 underrated and overlooked games for one of the most underrated and overlooked consoles of all time: the Sega Dreamcast.