It's funny the way the gaming community remembers certain games. One game can be released, receive critical and commercial success and then be forgotten about, only to be mentioned by a select few. Other games get released with the same reception and go on to be labeled some of the greatest games of all time. I could simply make a list of underrated games or hidden gems (which I still may do some day), but these are the games that we all know, but tend to forget how incredible they really are.
Killer Instinct Gold
Sure, we all remember how much of an impact Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat had back in the 90's but Killer Instinct was there as well. It was a bit late to the party but that just meant that it had time to refine the formula. For those of you who don't know Killer Instinct Gold is an enhanced port of the arcade version Killer Instinct 2. What makes KI Gold so amazing its it's combo system, you have openers, linkers, auto and manual doubles, finishers and ultras. While you do have to follow the basics on how to put combos together there are near countless possibilities. Combat is fast and intense, the visuals are quite impressive for their time and the music is some of the best of the genre. While the N64 version does take a hit in the graphics, it more than makes up for it with all the additional modes, team battle, elimination, tournament modes, and multiple training modes. Plus, you can unlock a bunch of crazy modifiers like ludicrous speed, turn off blocking, invisible fighters, and automatic auto doubles.
It's a bit hard to find on N64 but not expensive. If you have an Xbox One it's in Rare Replay. Also noteworthy, you can get the arcade version though Killer Instinct Season 2 if you buy the Ultra Edition. Well worth checking out.
This is another enigma to me, everyone remembers how great Goldeneye 007 was, people even remember Turok, but Doom 64 gets almost no love. On the surface, you might wonder what would be so special about the N64 version of Doom, at it's core, it's the atmosphere. Doom 64 has a feel to it that I can't quite explain that no other version of Doom has. The original versions of Doom are open, and action heavy, and while they are gory and mature, they don't feel dark and foreboding like Doom 64. It's so dark you literally have to turn the brightness all the way up when you start the game.
From early on you can tell this is going to be a bit different than you are used to: you'll have to get used to the idea of traps being around every corner, you'll hear a mauler demon rapidly approaching you but won't be able to see it until it's mere feet away, doors will open up revealing shotgun toting zombies, and suddenly the floor will give way and you'll find yourself surrounded by imps.
I'm not going to lie, the gameplay is dated, you can't look up or down, you won't be able to jump and you'll have to rely on your map to get around but it's quite an amazing experience to be had. You'll have to think outside the box to get around obstacles, and find all the secrets.
It's uncommon, but not rare,thankfully it isn't particularly expensive, but there is an enhanced port on PC that I haven't tried yet. I'd love to hear about it if anyone has played it.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
If it seems like a big gap between Street Fighter II and III it's because Capcom was hard at work on the Alpha series. With all due respect to Street Fighter Alpha 1 and 2 (both of which are amazing games) but the series peaked at Alpha 3 as it features all the characters and refinements of the first two games while filling it to the brim with new content and modes.
In addition the the anime style presentation, the defining features of Alpha 3 are the isms (think: the grooves from Capcom vs. SNK) You have A-ism which is a 3 level super gague (depending on the strength of the attack) X-ism which is a single but more powerful super, and V -ism which grants you the ability to make a custom combo attack.
While the roster started out pretty small in the original game, it grows to USFIV levels by the third game. The other defining feature of Alpha 3 is the world tour mode. Here you can take on fighters across the in game map with varying difficulty. You'll have to fill the fight requirements and unlock abilities to level up your character. Interestingly, you have to perform well in these fights otherwise you might not get enough experience to unlock all abilities and you cannot grind. Having a custom character really opens up replay value. It boggles the mind why more fighting games don't have modes like this anymore, and no, online play does NOT replace the single player and shame on you for thinking this.
It's pretty common and available on multiple platforms including Saturn (Japan only and incredibly rare), PS1, PS2 (through Alpha Anthology) PS3 (on PSN), but the best versions are the PSP and Dreamcast. PSP is the most current version but if you don't like playing on a handheld the Dreamcast version is great too.
Burnout 3: Takedown
Switching gears here (see what I did there?) Burnout is an arcade racing game, nay THE arcade racing game that you must play. Released to critical acclaim back in 2004 it has largely been forgotten. What makes Burnout 3 so amazing is it absolutely nails how an arcade racer should feel.
First off, the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play, most of the time you'll only be using the gas, brake or boost buttons. Here's the gist, Burnout works on a risk vs. reward system, when you do certain things in game such as narrowly avoiding another car, catching air, and drifting you'll get boost. The best way to earn it however, is to take down another car by making them crash, you'll double your boost bar up to 4X, if you get taken down or crash though, you'll lose a chunk. So it really plays into that whole white knuckle kind of racing.
The modes make up this game as well. You'll have an elimination match where each lap the person in last place gets eliminated, burning lap where it's a time trial with a full boost bar, crash mode where you can cause the most damage in a single crash, and my personal favorite: road rage, where you have to take down so many opponents in a race. The graphics are stellar and the soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission (provided you like alternative music).
The game is fairly common and dirt cheap on both PS2 and Xbox, but the Xbox did get the nicer port, you can also download the backwards compatible version on Xbox 360.
Diddy Kong Racing
Mario Kart is a great racing series that I continually enjoy but at one point it had a serious contender by way of Diddy Kong Racing. Hell, I'm going to go ahead and say it, Diddy Kong Racing is better than Mario Kart 64, way better. And before people have to chime in, Crash Team Racing is a lot of fun too, but Diddy Kong Racing did it before CTR, and did it better.
The reason it kicks ass is because unlike Mario Kart, Diddy Kong is based more on skill than luck. The items you get are color coded, not random, plus they are stackable, this makes the item system much more strategic. But you can't rely on a blue shell or lightning to catch you up, you'll also need skill, you'll need to memorize the track, and you have to implement the more advance techniques like taking your finger off the accelerator before a boost and using the tight turn.
It also has something Mario Kart never had, an adventure mode. You go through each track then once you've conquered them all in a set (you must place 1st) you get to race a boss (who can be cheap) then race those same tracks again where you have to collect the 6 silver coins and win those matches (easier said than done) then you must face off an even cheaper version of that boss. There's also a cup mode as well as a mutiplayer map for each cup except the last.
It's a fairly common and affordable game on the N64, it's also available on DS but far less common. The DS version has more content but some of it's pretty gimmicky, I recommend the N64 version if for no other reason than the controls are better.
I've heard someone from IGN call this the most overrated game in history. I really have to call this claim out. How can it be overrated when hardly anyone talks about it? I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's essentially the Ocarina of Time of the Gamecube.
While you may not agree, it's hard to deny it's an incredibly well made game. Today, we may not think too much of a first person adventure game but back in 2001 that wasn't exactly a common term, but in many ways Metroid Prime pioneered the genre. Everyone was worried that Retro Studios was going to turn their beloved Metroid into a first person shooter, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, you are in first person, and you do shoot, but that would be like calling Portal 2 or Mirror's Edge a first person shooter.
No, Metroid Prime is an adventure game at heart and what made it so incredible was how it took the look and feel of the old 2D Metroid games and seamlessly transitioned that into 3D without compromising the gameplay. You have to scan the environments for clues, and solve some pretty elaborate puzzles based on context, you'll find out how to defeat enemies and exploit their weaknesses. The pacing is spot on and the sense of immersion is second to none.
Sure you could complain about the inability to look and move at the same time or the backtracking (which has always been a part of the Metroid formula) but considering where most first person adventure games were in 2002 it's pretty hard to find something that rivals what Metroid was doing back then.
The game is widely available on Gamecube for fairly cheap, and I find it to be the best version overall. It is available via Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii, the physical copies still fetch a pretty penny but it can be downloaded on Wii U for $20, provided you can deal with the motion controls.
So there it is. What games do you think go unappreciated by modern day gaming. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sound off in the comments below