Left Behind: Forgotten Gems In Gaming
With so many video games out in the wild past, present, and future, it’s easy to forget many of them along the way. While there will always be standouts we remember years, even decades from when we first played them, there are those that seem to be swallowed by the sands of time.
Today we take a look back at 10 forgotten games that suffered such a fate, but are still worth a look if you can get your hands on them.
#10—Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Chances are if you’ve heard of Pitfall, you instantly think of the original game on Atari. Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure is the sequel to the vine-swinging adventure during the early 1990’s, putting us in the role of Pitfall Harry Jr. as he finds himself going through jungles, abandoned mines, and ancient Mayan ruins to save his father.
One of my first platforming experiences outside of the Mario franchise, the memories of Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure’s level design and art direction have stuck with me since childhood, and while some flaws are more noticeable today (like inconsistent hitboxing), it remains a fun experience that many may have missed out on or forgotten as gaming only grew larger.
What do you get when you cross Resident Evil with psychic powers? You get Galerians. Back in 2000, when this game hit stateside, I remember picking it up at Blockbuster as a last resort title because nothing else seemed to interest me. What I ended up with was a unique survival horror experience where you had to carefully manage your character to ensure you actually had the power to take on the enemies you encountered.
The game was particularly unforgiving due to the time it took to use your powers, sections where you’d face multiple enemies at once, and an extreme scarcity in the drug used to revitalize your character’s ability. It made each room passed one you could write down in the ‘win’ column, and while there were moments my younger self wanted to just turn the game off I couldn’t put it down.
#8—Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
But if the slower pace of Galerians isn’t your thing, there’s always Psi-Ops. A third-person shooter of the PS2 era, Psi-Ops drops players into the experience of Nick Scryer, an amnesiac in the midst of a terrorist action by a group known as The Movement which is lead by psychics. As the game progresses, Nick unlocks more and more psychic powers.
Slam that guy against a ceiling, mind control his friend and use him as a vessel of death before killing him, set them ablaze, Psi-Ops had plenty of gunplay, but the fun of it was in decimating the enemy with each new ability and then to have your abilities tested against other psychics in boss battles. I can also say it’s the only time I’ve heard the band Cold put out a good song with the song “With My Mind” made specifically for the game.
The Getaway was almost guaranteed to be drowned in time by the success of the Grand Theft Auto series, but that didn’t stop developers at SCE London and Team SoHo from introducing the world to a more grounded and realistic crime drama set in a faithfully recreated London.
With no HUD, the game forced the player to pay attention to the little details. Turn signals would trigger on vehicles to instruct the players where to drive, blood spots would grow on the player the more damage they took to alert them they were growing nearer and nearer to demise. It was often times difficult, but had many memorable setpieces, like a brazen battle in an upscale restaurant during a lunch hour with civilians ducking for cover, or a full on firefight to escape a police station.
Extermination for its time was essentially a fight-or-flight experience, with ammo being incredibly limited and enemies being numerous. A survival horror game where players are dropped into into a research lab in the antarctic, it really drives home the feelings of isolation in the middle of a frozen-nowhere.
What made it a remarkably unique experience is the fact you can become infected, and should that happen, it will start to infect your health more noticeably the higher your infection percentage rises, to a point where it will actively start draining your health as you go. Watch out for those bites!
#5—Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front
There have been a lot of mech games over the decades, and many of them have been of Mobile Suit Gundam origins. Zeonic Front was one of the first Gundam games to let you play as the series’ antagonists in a tactical setting.
Think old school Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon, but instead of troops on the ground, you command a squad of massive mobile suits through urban, forest, and desert environments against assortments of Earth Federation combatants. Methodical combat of varied intensity makes Zeonic Front a more ground experience that lets your appreciate the tactical side of mech combat in real time.
#4—Hidden & Dangerous
One of the first tactical shooters I ever played, Hidden & Dangerous allows players to lead a four-man squad of British soldiers through key moments in WWII deep behind enemy lines. From raids on heavily guarded mansions, to clandestine creeping through darkened city streets, Hidden & Dangerous rides a fine line between a spy experience and tactical warfare.
While the friendly AI was lacking even for its time, the ability to swap between squad members on the fly, and incredibly fluidly, made it so that with a little practice you were effectively playing a 4-player game with just one computer, and in a weird way it blurred lines between a shooter and an RTS game that constantly kept you on your toes.
1995’s Loaded is a top-down arcade-style shooter that featured frantic combat, quirky playable characters, and the single goal of murdering your way to victory while incarcerated. Part SmashTV, part Saturday morning cartoons, and all carnage, the simplistic but addicting gameplay of Loaded is further amplified by a catchy soundtrack that still randomly comes back to me over two decades later. While Loaded did have a sequel, it pales in comparison to the original on all fronts.
#2—Robot Alchemic Drive
My favorite mech game of all time also seems to be one that many people overlooked during its heyday. Robot Alchemic Drive follows a semi-generic anime-style story setup that serves only to get the wheels turning, so that players can find themselves in the shoes of one of three playable characters who can control one of three giant mechs; not from the cockpit, but with a controller. Players have to position themselves wisely within the environment so that they are relatively safe from the fighting, and once they have a tactical viewpoint, a quick press of the button has you in control of a massive mech.
Fighting progressively harder enemies, sometimes in very restricted areas, there are even moments where you’ll find yourself in a terrifying position as you watch your own mech get thrown at the very place you’re standing and have to scramble to safety to avoid being crushed.
Chances are if you’ve played this game, you found it at a game store during a Buy Two Get One Free sale. The concept on the box may not have sold you, with cheesy art and “ESCAPE THE FURY OF NATURE” on the back. But once you play the game, you have a unique take on the survival horror genre.
The entire premise of the game is escaping a crumbling man-made island metropolis with a handful of other survivors, while managing health and hydration. Periodically earthquakes and aftershocks will hit, and you’ll see the environment change in real time as buildings fall and block pathways or new ones are opened. As water rushes in from shorelines, once-dry streets are now up to your waist in dirty water and debris. Sprinkled in is a plot of corporate conspiracy and government negligence that all comes to a head in the game’s final moments as the player and other survivors, friend and foe, are desperately trying to escape a tsunami that hits the island as a result of the multiple earthquakes throughout the game.
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