Games You Never Heard of (But Should Have Played),
It’s very easy to see the history of video games through a bubble, a sort of transparent sphere where only the popular titles exist. Everyone has heard of Mario, Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War. But what about the forgotten games, the obscure adventures that have been left behind for one reason or another?
Sometimes the answer is simple. The game was bad in some way, or it just didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. Often it is due to a small release, or no publicity. Maybe it was just caught in the aether of current events or overshadowed by a more popular franchise. Whatever the case may be, there are a number of great games, both old and new, that people have never heard of. So today we are going to look at some titles that you may never have heard of, but should have played.
American McGee Presents: Scrapland- First Released in 2004, PC, Xbox
Ahh, good old American McGee. The creative mind behind the broody take on Alice, and its sequel the Madness Returns, is more than just a one-hit wonder in the gaming world. Of course, while we know of abject failures like Bad Day in L.A or the more niche, episodic titles such as Grimm, American McGee is a staple in the industry for his almost rogue status.
But before he became the leader in episodic gaming, American McGee made another game, titled Scrapland. A cyber-punk fantasy where robots populate a whole planet, Scrapland was an amalgam of Grand Theft Auto and Grim Fandango; a mission-based, open-world game fused with a noir-style storyline. The combination wasn’t perfect, as many noted back at release that the mission structure was often ham-handed in terms of its implementation, chiefly due to repetitive objective types.
But the charm of Scrapland is what really sets it apart. Like most games produced or created by American McGee, it is a world within a world, an environment populated by robots before Robin Williams voiced them. Its charm was its presentation, and it helped that the storyline, following a crime-solving journalist in this automaton city, was a fresh take on a small genre. The uniqueness of Scrapland makes it notable, and despite design hiccups it is without a doubt the best American McGee game outside of Alice.
Buck Bumble- First Released in 1998, Nintendo 64
Bum to the buck, baby! Oh yeah, after firing up the game for the first time and listening to an accented voice sing a nonsense, dub-step rap containing maybe ten words on a loop, and you know you are in for a good game, or at least, something fun. Well, not really.
Despite the best efforts by Argonaut Games and publisher Ubisoft, Buck Bumble was a huge mess. A first-generation Nintendo game released late into the cycle, Buck Bumble suffered from several issues that plagued developers on the Nintendo system, including high distance fog, low graphical resolution, and some curious design choices that made the game both too easy and too short. Buck Bumble had a lot of problems when it was first released, but it did have its place in the annals of game history, and that was primarily due to its controls.
The reason Buck Bumble is memorable is primarily due to how smooth the flying was. Hovering, sharp turns, dealing with running starts and even in-air maneuvers made this robotic bee one of the smoothest aerial combatants at the time, when most flying combat games were either on rails or isometric-based in the console realm. Think of Buck Bumble as taking the All-Range mode of Starfox 64, and making a game around it, and you have a recipe for success. It really changed how flying mechanics could work on console games, and since then we have seen many games take that open world approach to new heights.
Cubivore- First Released in 2002, Nintendo Gamecube
Anyone who thinks that the events of Project Rainfall were a fluke should look back into history a bit on how Nintendo handles games. Yes, the non-release of The Last Story was a major oversight by the big N that was thankfully corrected by the likes of XSEED Games. But Nintendo has done this before, most notably back in the Gamecube days with a trio of games that everyone may know.
Well, “may” know is the key word. We know about Animal Forest and Dinosaur Planet, (known in the U.S as Animal Crossing and Starfox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet) and how they were able to get release, but the last game in question, Cubivore, was left in the dust, only to be picked up by Atlus and receive a limited release in the West. Thank god for that though, because Cubivore is the type of game that Spore wishes it could be: a survival-action title that is all about natural selection and evolution in a vicious ecosystem.
Cubivore has you play as color-coded, cube shaped animals that essentially fight and eat each other in order to “mutate.” The mutation system in Cubivore is incredibly complex, following traits such as color, intensity, even limbs that would eventually create a Frankenstein-monster of an apex predator. Throw in an equally complex mating system, and you have one of the deepest strategy/simulation games to be released on the Nintendo Gamecube, and one worth playing if you can afford the high price point.