Since the dawn of gaming there have been top ten lists. Lists of the best games; lists of the worst games; lists of the sexiest, most offensive, most family friendly, most humorous; there are top ten lists for nearly every game under the sun. And then there are the games that lurk where the sun doesn't shine.
Perhaps that wasn't the best way to word that.
Here at Kotaku Off-Kilter, we care about the games that lurk in the shadows, avoiding the spotlight as readily as they avoid the memory of just about anyone that's played them. There's a small chance that one of your personal favorite games has made the list. If this is the case, rest assured that there's something horribly wrong with you.
And so, in no particular order, nine games that never make it into top ten lists.
5: Jeep Jamboree: Off-Road Adventure
Platform: Should be fairly obvious
Developer: Gremlin Graphics, AKA Gremlin Interactive, AKA No Longer a Going Concern
I like to imagine the type of person that was walking through a video game store in 1992 and went, "Look! Jeep Jamboree: Off-Road Adventure is finally out!" In my mind that person is the type of man or woman that dreamed of driving a genuine Jeep vehicle but, for whatever reason, was unable to make that dream come true. It wasn't a financial decision; we were flat-out given a 2000 Jeep Cherokee last year, so of course that happens to everyone.
No, these people couldn't follow their off-roading Jeep dreams because they, I dunno, had no legs. How were they walking through the game store then, Fahey? Aha, hoisted by my own petard.
The one redeeming feature of this title was the excellent music, crafted lovingly by video game composer Tommy Tallarico, though if you really wanted to hear him at his best you'd all have bought ten copies of Advent Rising and we'd be drowning in sequels by now. Next week's list will be "Top Ten Reasons None of You Bought Advent Rising", and every answer will be because you wanted to make me cry.
3: Magic Boy
Platform: Super Nintendo, PC, Amiga, Atari ST
Developer: Blue Turtle, from back when game studios named themselves after CB handles.
How can you not remember Magic Boy? It was Harry Potter before Harry Potter was semi-cool, only instead of attending a school for young wizards and being the subject of some sort of legendary prophecy or whatnot, Hewlitt the apprentice accidentally turns his master into an elephant and has to capture all of the monsters he accidentally let escape.
So really nothing like Harry Potter, aside from the name, which is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. You don't get names like this anymore. I bet J.K. Rowling would have made even more money had she gone with Magic Boy and the Philosopher's StoneHe's a boy. He does magic. See? Oh never mind, you've forgotten him already.
1: The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
Developer: Vir2L Studios, a Zenimax Media Studio
The third in a series of The Elder Scrolls games for mobile decides, Shadowkey was an epic adventure created exclusively for the Nokia
N'Gai N-Gage, which means it reached an audience slightly larger than it would have had it been released exclusive via a neighborhood lemonade stand.
This hack-and-slash game saw taco-based adventurers travelling to several exciting and exotic places on the continent of Tamriel, including Lakvan's Stronghold, a fort located on the Skyrim side of the Hammerfell / Skyrim border. Just think, if you had bought an N-Gage you would have seen Skyrim seven years ahead of everyone else.
You would also have been forever branded an N-Gage owner, so it's a fair trade-off. I bet there are people out there that bought the device just for this game. I bet they still need a big hug.
9: Trap Gunner
Platform: PlayStation the First
Developer: Racdym, now known as Racjin, because that's a really big difference.
Featuring colorful anime-inspired graphics, sexy music, and a relatively unique premise, Trap Gunner got moderately good reviews from the sexiest game reviewers of 1998, but completely failed to make any sort of impact on its target audience. This was because its target audience was playing Halo three years in the future.
With its mixture of pre-game trap setting and fast-paced ranged and melee combat, Trap Gunner would have made one hell of an online multiplayer game. Unfortunately online play was something only PC geeks did back in 1998. Wow, this was supposed to be funny, and now I am just sad. I'll need a moment here.
7: Water Sports
Developer: I can't for the life of me figure this one out. Activision published it, so it should have gone big, right?
The Nintendo Wii is a haven for games that slip under the radar of both game reviewers and consumers. For the first few years of the console's life new titles were released on a daily basis, 90 percent of it complete crap, eight percent not-quite-complete crap, and the rest published by Nintendo. Every now and then a hidden gem would rise above the flock and make itself known, emitting an otherworldly light under which video game players would bask and be magically cured of all ailments. I was pretty sure Water Sports was going to be one of those games.
Then I realized that it had nothing to do with peeing on other people. Even the trailer had me fooled.
Not that I particularly wanted or needed a game that allowed me to use my Wii remote as a wee remote. I just thought it was a bold and daring choice in a market flooded with family-friendly fare (and not piss). I believed for just a moment that Activision was publishing a game that appealed to the more salty among us, family fun be damned. This should have at least made it onto a 'Ten Most Disappointing' list. Pity.
2. Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern
Platform: Dreamcast, PC
Released during the downfall of the Dreamcast (read: after launch), Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern wasn't a bad game. It followed the fiction of believed science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey quite closely. Players could visit iconic locations from the series, experience the tear-jerking joy of impressing upon a baby dragon, and solve all sorts of little puzzles while attempting to unravel plot as twisted as the deadly thread that periodically falls from the planet Pern's skies. If it weren't for the ridiculous load times it might have been the perfect Pern role-playing game.
That, and the fact that all the Pern fans were busy playing on Pern-based MUSHes, text-based role-playing games that allowed them to act out all of those things without worrying about load times. As an added bonus, MUSHes also allowed the players to experience the joys of dragon mating, during which the riders get so worked up (due to that strong bond) that they absolutely, positively must sleep with each other.
What, I only played for a couple of years.
6. That One Game, With the People
Platform: The one with the colorful buttons, or they might have been grey.
Developer: They did that one game! You remember, there were robots, or zombies.
Damn. Guys, I can't even remember this one. Could you go into the post after I'm done and try to figure it out? It'll be the one with the picture of the bunny next to it. Make sure you save the post after you've fixed it, I wouldn't want to look like a complete moron because I couldn't remember the name of this stupid game.
Thanks for the assist!
Platform: A large piece of cardboard, PlayStation 2, PSP
Developer: Freestyle Games, aka Best Developer Ever
In a perfect world, and by that I mean a world in which my every whim is catered to, you'd all be sitting around playing B-Boy 2012, the sixth installment of the award-winning rhythm dancing game. Perhaps at this point it would be Kinect and Move ready, forcing an entire generation to master moves normally reserved for only the most hardcore street dancers. Activision and EA would both have released their own B-Boy clones, the former securing the license to the classic Breakin' movie franchise, the former desperately trying to catch up to no avail.
Yes, breakdancing games would be the new first-person shooters in my perfect world.
I suppose you should all count your blessings that B-Boy came and went without making as much as a ripple on the surface of the collective gamer consciousness, because that would mean this was a world where my whims are catered to and you'd all be made of chocolate with raspberry filling. I never said my whims made sense.
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 for some silly reason
Developer: Probe Entertainment
Most PC gamers I know were completely in love with Acclaim's multiplayer hovercycle shooter back in 1998. Borrowing the six-degrees of freedom from the popular Descent series and polishing it up wish sexy graphics and a signature style, it was probably the best online multiplayer thing going for months, giving first-person shooter fans something new and different to play.
Most PC gamers I know would also be hard-pressed to mention Forsaken without gentle prodding (or sharp blows about the head and neck). Why? Perhaps the answer lies in the game's name. It's a wonder they didn't name it Forgotten.
Aw man, just one entry away from making it. Sorry games, but I wouldn't want to render my entire premise null and void.
Feel free to share games you've completely forgotten over the years in the comments section. That shouldn't be difficult at all.