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Criminally Underrated Games – Game Sack

December 8, 2019 | Articles, Blog | 100 Comments

Criminally Underrated Games – Game Sack


(Game Sack Theme) (logo booms) – Hello, and welcome to Game Sack. Let’s talk about some
criminally underrated games that hardly anyone ever talks
about for whatever reason. On Twitter, I asked you what games you thought were underrated,
and I got like 500 answers in the first six hours, or so. Of course, I can’t cover
those all in a single episode, so I’m gonna really milk this idea. (laughs) Anyway, some of these
games were already pricey before I’m talkin’ about ’em, so I don’t wanna hear anyone blaming me. If anything, hopefully
this raises awareness of these games’ existence,
so maybe they can be included in future compilations, or a
virtual console type of deal so everyone can play them far more easily than they can today. The first game I wanna talk about was only released digitally,
and I’ve mentioned it in that context before, but,
y’all need to play this more. (console beeps) – [Computer] Hard Corps Uprising. – How about Hard Corps Uprising, on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360? The first thing you should know is that this is a Contra
game, and it takes place 20 years before the original Contra in the official timeline. It was developed by Arc System Works, whom you may know from
the Guilty Gear games. And, if you’re familiar
with them, you’ll recognize the really clean cartoon look of all the characters in the game. Everything is animated like a cartoon, or an anime as they call them in Japan. But, they’re still cartoons. Oh, I wonder how many of you are warming up your keyboards
in anger right now? (giggles) Anyway, it’s the signature
look from Arc System Works, and it runs in a native 1080p,
and at 60 frames per second. As far as the gameplay goes, it’s an evolution of the
classic Contra formula. Yeah, it’s a run and gun,
but it’s not as basic as the original games. You choose your character
in the beginning, and you can eventually unlock two more. At first, it feels pretty tough. You might not even make it to
the end of the first stage. You have a life bar, like
in the Japanese version of Contra Hard Corps on the Mega Drive. You can carry and switch
between two different weapons, and lock your direction while
moving or standing still. But, here’s the thing. Each time you play, you earn
CP, and you can use the CP to unlock abilities in the shop. There are tons upon tons
of things to unlock, here. I absolutely love this. It really keeps me playing. In fact, I’ve spent more time playing this than probably all other
Contra games, combined. You can even get stuff like a triple jump, and the ability to deflect bullets, and lots of other things. It gives me a reason to
keep playing, and yes, it can be a little grindy,
but honestly, I don’t mind. You can pretty much plow through the game once you’ve purchased
everything for a character, but by then, believe me, you’ve earned it. And it’s still no quick task
to get through the game, even when you’re totally powered up. Fortunately, you can select from any stage you’ve beaten so far, if you don’t wanna start
from the very beginning. Everything about this game is amazing, including the hard rockin’ music. (upbeat metal music) The only thing that could make it better is if it were available physically. Well, that and I’d like it if there were a few organic
bosses and enemies in the game, instead of just everything
being mechanical. I think the reason this
game gets no recognition is because it doesn’t
have Contra in the title. I guess they wanted it
to fly under the radar, and be relatively unknown. The honest answer is that
they wanted Hard Corps to be its own sub-series. But come on, they still should’ve included the Contra name! I mean, they’ve put the
official Contra name on many lesser games. Regardless, this game really
does need more appreciation. (upbeat rock music)
(guns blasting) (logo crashes) (fast-paced chipcore music) This is Mystical Fighter, for the Genesis, which was developed by KID
and published by Dreamworks. This is a one or two player beat-’em-up that’s really never mentioned. I rented this one back
when it was released, and it really didn’t appeal to me for the same reason it
probably doesn’t appeal to many people. And what is that reason? Well, the main characters are kabuki, which aren’t really warriors, but more associated with Japanese theater. Who wants that? I think if it had samurais, or ninjas, or just plain random dudes,
it would’ve had more appeal. Anyway, it takes place in feudal Japan, and you beat up several
different kinds of enemies along the way. You have an attack, and a jump button, and you can pull off
a few different moves. There’s a scroll that you can
collect, which will give you a special attack by
pressing the third button. Similar to Golden Axe,
the more scrolls you have, the more powerful your attack. Though they’re never
visually that impressive. In fact, that can be said
for most of the game, though it certainly
isn’t ugly, by any means. It just doesn’t go out of its
way to be anything special. As far as the gameplay
goes, it’s pretty smooth, and definitely fun. Pulling off your moves
is usually easy to do, and beating up the enemies feels good. I really like grabbing
my enemies by their feet, and spinning around
before tossing them away. Be careful, though, because
the longer you hold them, the more your life will go down. I also like running and
sliding into my enemies, which knocks them on their feudal ass. And it’s fun to grab
enemies, jump in the air, and then slam them down to the ground. I tend to lose most of my lives
by falling off of an edge, and the game makes sure
you fight by lots of edges. But don’t forget that you
can also toss your enemies off of those same edges. There are items that you can collect which will restore some of your life, and even give you a
limited special weapon. The levels never feel
too long, or too short. However, the game itself
can feel a touch short, with only five levels. Well, that is, unless you play it on hard. In fact, you can only
access the sixth level if you play it on the
hard difficulty mode. The music isn’t bad at all,
though sadly, it’s only in mono. Overall, I’d say that
this is a fun beat-’em-up if you can get past the silly
characters, and like I said, it can be played with two players. So, grab a friend, and
make Japan feudal again. It also might’ve been overlooked because there were a lot of
really good games for the system released for the system at the time. Still, you really can’t
go wrong with this one, just as long as you’re not
expecting Streets of Rage. (chipcore music) (logo rumbles) (chipcore music) Another game that suffers
from a similar identity crisis is Kabuki Quantam Fighter
from HAL, for the NES. Basically, your brain has
been scanned into the computer or something, and you
end up as a fancy kabuki, because your great, great
grandfather was one. That’s really the only reason for the kabuki-ness in this game. Well, actually, the Japanese version is meant to promote a film called “Zipang” which had kabukis, and they kept all of the
character graphics here. Nonetheless, you are a kabuki, and therefore you have zero
appeal to western audiences. This is a side-scrolling action platformer where you can attack
with your kabuki hair. If you crouch, you can do a kabuki punch. You can also select from
different kabuki weapons with the select button, similar
to the first Batman game on the system. As long as you have some kabuki chips in your kabuki chip
meter, you can use them. After most stages, a new kabuki weapon will be added to your
arsenal, that’s more powerful, but they eat up more kabuki
chips each time you use them. Lastly, you can climb
some walls and ceilings, as well as hang and jump
from certain objects. In fact, you’ll be doing a lot of this, so take the time to absolutely master it. Because this game wants you to fail. It requires very precise
platforming skills. In fact, precise platforming and timing is basically all that stage three is. I really like it, except
for these dumb ice blocks here and there. You’ve gotta be good, and
really, I recommend playing on a CRT if you can, because
lag isn’t gonna help you here. Even the bosses can be
tough, as their patterns are somewhat difficult to learn sometimes. Well actually, the last boss
was easier than I expected. The stages usually aren’t
very long, and overall, the graphics and sound are average. There’s certainly
nothing bad here, though. But you’re gonna have
to practice to get far, that’s for sure. How far can you get? (upbeat kabuki music) This next game is underrated, and it even uses a ninja
instead of a kabuki. In fact, it says ninja right in the title. Even among owners of this console, this game isn’t highly regarded. But that’s because it’s
barely even regarded at all. (upbeat techno music) (upbeat ninja music) Here’s The Ninja, on
the Sega Master System. This is a very early game for
the console, and basically, it’s an overhead run and gun. Just, without any guns. Instead, you’re a ninja who
throws a bunch of knives. One of the buttons on the
controller allows you to fire in the direction that you’re
facing, while the other button makes you shoot straight
up, no matter what. If you press both buttons simultaneously, you’ll disappear for a second, which makes you invisible, and invincible. This is really good for
dodging enemy attacks. If you get a red scroll, the music changes to become more exciting,
and now you’re throwing bigger stars, or pinwheel
darts, as the manual calls ’em. This is a much more powerful attack. The blue scrolls will
increase your running speed. There are also five green scrolls that will need to be
collected in order to find the last level, so always
be on the lookout for these, and shoot everywhere so that they appear. At the end of each stage is a boss fight. The bosses are usually the same dude, and he’s really easy to beat. This game is actually
based on an arcade game called Sega Ninja, or
sometimes even Ninja Princess, which featured a female protagonist. There are also a lot more items to collect in the arcade version, though
most are just for points. When porting the game home,
they didn’t just change the main character’s
gender, but also the music, and some parts of the levels, though it’s mostly intact otherwise. When I first rented this
game, back in 1988 or so, I didn’t think much of it. It was a really difficult game for me, and I couldn’t get very far at all. It was okay, at best, I thought. Then, maybe a decade or two later, I hear a couple of friends online talk about how much they love this game. That surprised me, so I
decided to revisit it. I’m much better playing
video games these days, than I ever was as a teenager. And I can mostly walk
through this game, now, but it still offers a challenge in spots, especially trying to find
all the green of scrolls. My opinion about the game has changed. I really love it, it’s
definitely very fun. Oh, and if you’re not
playing the Japanese version of the game, you’re
playing the gimped version. The Japanese version has
a couple of extra levels, which were cut from the
international release. Likely because they wanted to decrease the cost of the cartridge. Don’t get me wrong, there
are still a lot of levels on the international version. I think this game
would’ve been more popular if it had a better name. “The Ninja” is a name you’d
expect a game for the Atari 2600 or 7800 to have. It’s super-generic. But seriously, try it out. The game, itself, is not generic. (ninjacore music)
(shuriken beeping) (logo rumbles) (uplifting vocalization music) This is El Shaddai,
Ascension of the Metatron, which was released on
the PS3, and Xbox 360. This is a hack-n’-slash-style
action game, mostly. It’s got flavors of God of War,
and even a super-small dash of Devil May Cry. Story-wise, it’s kind of the
opposite of “Dante’s Inferno”. You’re on a mission to
bring the fallen angels back to Heaven. As you take damage, you lose your armor, but of course there are powerups
to help you get it back. If you die, you can tap
the jump and attack buttons together quickly to revive. You can also absorb red flamey things. According to the game, these
help raise your abilities. You have three different
weapons you can use. You can steal them from enemies after delivering enough
damage to stun them for a bit, or you can get them from
certain icons here and there. The first is a blade type
of weapon, called the Arch. This is probably my favorite
one to use, since it’s so fun. The Gale is a weird thing
that shoots projectiles, and honestly, it’s kind of a pain to use. I really don’t like it much at all. The last one is called Veil, which is more of a
melee-type punching attack, and it’s super-strong. Of course, each weapon has its advantages against certain types of enemies. There are plenty of different moves that you can do with each weapon, as well. This is one of those games
where you need to wait for the animation to finish
before you can do anything else. It’s one of the calling cards of this particular
generation of games, I think, though certainly not the only
one which has this issue. The enemies have this issue as well, so it can be tough to escape their attacks if you’re caught in one
of their animations. It doesn’t bring the game down much, and it’s still extremely fun to play. It’s also really confusing, at times. Like here, it’s showing the credits, but I’m supposed to be
fighting my way to the right. It took me a little bit to
actually figure this out. And, as you’ve likely already
noticed, the game’s visuals are absolutely outstanding. The stylistic design is second to none, and at no point does the game
ever look boring or average. There are lots of 2D segments
interspersed throughout, and even these are a sight to behold. There’s an amazing use of color, and it’s just all-around very well done. The music and sound are also done well, with lots of choirs, and the like. (singing in foreign language) And Jason Isaacs provides the
voice for your buddy Lucifel, who literally talks to God
on his cellphone for you. – [Lucifel] Yeah, we got
ourselves a situation. We just gotta trust him. Okay, talk to you later. – [Joe] The game itself
can get a touch repetitive, but I always found myself wanting to get further and further, just to see what the next area looks like. I’d really like to see this
game remade with 4K visuals, running at 60 frames per
second on the Playstation 5, or the Xbox Two Y, or whatever
they end up calling it. I think a lot of the reason
this game isn’t spoken of very much, is its name. A title like El Shaddai,
Ascension of Metatron isn’t exactly something
that’ll stick in your memory. I don’t even know why it has a subtitle. That only serves to cause more confusion. It was originally going
to be called Angelic, which I feel is a better name. Not the best name, but
definitely a better name. Oh well, it doesn’t matter now, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Just be sure to check this crazy game out. – You could clear this in 7
hours, if you’re good enough. (Enoch grunts)
(otherworldly music) (logo rumbles) (uptempo electronic music) – [Joe] This odd game
is called Silent Bomber, and it was brought to
the Playstation in 2000 from CyberConnect and Bandai. This game feels like a
cross between Bomberman, and maybe Burning Rangers? I’m not sure where the Burning
Rangers vibe comes from, but it’s definitely there. Maybe it’s the people
constantly talking to you, or the aesthetic of the character. Or all the fire. Otherwise, it plays like you’d expect a Bomberman action game to play. You’re a dude who runs around, and your main attack is
dropping a bomb on the ground. You detonate it with a different button, but you’ve gotta make sure
you’re clear of the blast area if you don’t wanna get hurt. You can also hold the button
down to lock on to enemies, and toss a sticky bomb at
them, and then blow it up. You have secondary powers,
like napalm and paralysis, which you can use the same
way as you use your bombs. Be careful, though, as you only have a limited number of these. You can also jump and dash. At first, you can only lay
down two bombs at a time. But as you collect more and more E-Chips, you’ll be able to drop
many more simultaneously. The enemies come at
you nonstop, so really, you wanna keep moving. Just run past them, lay a bunch of bombs, and then detonate ’em. The controls take some getting used to, since you need to use
two different buttons, each time you attack, but
it doesn’t take too long. It gets pretty fun, and
action-packed, that’s for sure. You’ll often have specific targets that you need to take down
before the game lets you move on. The stages can get pretty big,
and you only have one life. And the bosses have life
bars, which is a good thing, because these fights can take awhile. The graphics aren’t anything
special for the system, in fact they’re quite bland and colorless. But they get the job done, I guess, and that doesn’t mean
that you won’t have fun. The sound and music are good, but again, nothing exceptional. There’s also some full-motion-video
with some cheesy CG between some of the stages, if
you’re into the goofy story. And the story can be
summed up with this line. – My only duty is to destroy
my designated target. I’m concerned with nothing else. – I mean, that’s really
all you need to know. When it comes down to it,
this is an awesome game, that could perhaps use
more checkpoints and color. It came out when the Dreamcast was already making
everything else look bad, and the hype for the PS2 was gearing up. Check it out. (intense electronic music) (explosions booming) Okay, I don’t even know how
to segue into the next game. It’s incredibly overlooked. I mean, I own it, but I often
forget that it even exists. But it you give it a
chance, it’s pretty fun. And another one of the games that are in this upcoming segment, I initially didn’t care much
for, but now I really like it. So check it out! Why the hell did I do that? (upbeat electronic music) (fast-paced chipcore music) Another game you rarely hear
anyone mention is Marvel Land, on the Genesis, from Namco. Basically, you’re a strange little dude who’s trying to save the
amusement park from the Mole King. You’re also trying to
rescue the four fairies who protect the park. Needless to say, almost this entire game takes place in an amusement park. You jump around, and you
can defeat most enemies by landing on top of them. However, there are treasure chests with powerups that you can get. This one makes a bunch
of mirror images of you, called a Spirit Tail. If you press the attack
button, you can swing it around to defeat enemies, and grab items. You can also use it as a swing. Each time you kill an
enemy, one of you disappears from the Spirit Tail. If you grab an L icon,
you gain an additional you to the Spirit Tail, if you
have less than eight, total. This icon adds wings,
which let you jump higher. You can also kind of float in
the air by flapping the wings with the jump button. The S icon will give you an extra dude. There are also some bad
icons, which can cause you to lose a life, or a
piece of your Spirit Tail, so be careful. The control is responsive,
though a bit slippery at times. It definitely takes some getting used to. This originally was an
arcade game that didn’t see very wide distribution, and I’ve certainly never
stumbled upon one in the wild. They did a decent job with the port, though it definitely downgraded
as far as visuals go. But it still looks nice. The even kept some of the
rotation in, like these platforms. Beware, though, because
platforms can rotate on you without notice, and get
you into some trouble. The music is nice, though
certainly not among the best on the console. (bright music) Memorization is key, here. And fortunately, you
have unlimited continues, as well as a password. It’s easy to keep trying and
trying until you get it right, if you have the patience. There are four worlds
with seven stages each, not counting the bosses. In many stages, you can
find warps to other stages, or even different places
in the same round. These can be essential sometimes, so be sure to remember
where the best ones are. The boss stages are all unique, and don’t feature a typical battle. Instead, you need to play
their little minigame. I like the bonus stages
after you beat a boss, since they feature a bunch of characters from different Namco games. If you’re up for the challenge, I definitely recommend this one. (logo rumbles) (fast-paced chipcore music) One game that’s certainly not unknown, but you never hear much about
these days, is Shatterhand, from Natsume and Jaleco, on the NES. This was released at the end of 1991, after the Super NES was already out, so it’s no wonder it got overlooked. Anyway, check out the cover for this game. How could you not buy that? Who wouldn’t wanna be
friends with this guy? The good news is that
you get to play as him, and experience a typical day in his life, punching things to death
with his bare fists. That’s right, fisticuffs are
your favorite method of attack, and that means your range is short. The bad guys don’t care, though, and they’ll constantly shoot at you. After you get past the intro stage, you can choose from the next
five areas, Mega Man-style. As you wander through each stage, there are boxes that you can punch open. Sometimes, these contain the
Greek symbol for alpha or beta. You can change which symbol
they represent by punching them, because punching is how you deal with every facet of your life. Once you collect three of
these, a little robot buddy comes down and helps you out for awhile. And depending on the order
in which you collected the alpha and beta symbols,
you get a different style of robotic attack. There’s a total of eight
different attack styles, and it’s always fun to see
what a new combination does. You can also collect coins from
boxes, and defeated enemies. You use these at various
platforms, which can affect you, and the price is listed
right on the pedestal. 100 coins changes your color,
and doubles your attack power. Since most enemies take
tons upon tons of hits, you absolutely want this. 300 coins restores your health bar. These are often found
right in the nick of time. Lastly, 2000 coins will
get you an extra dude, and you’ll probably be needing this, too, since the game is no cakewalk. Yeah, it’s tough, but fortunately, you have unlimited continues. So you always wanna keep trying. I really like the graphics in this one, they’re very detailed. One of the stages even has
some nice parallax scrolling. Sometimes the stage will
throw something crazy at you, like flipping upside down. This will remind you a lot of Metal Storm, if you played that one. You can also climb fences,
and it can be a little awkward to fight enemies this way,
but it doesn’t take long to get used to. The music is good, and it
never gets on your nerves, but it’s nowhere as good
as some of the classics on the system, like Batman,
or Mega Man 2, for example. (midtempo chipcore music) But honestly, the game itself
deserves to be ranked up there with the likes of Batman, or
at least, well above the likes of Bayou Billy. The only real change that I’d make is to reduce the amount of damage that the normal stage enemies can take. But seriously, this is
definitely in the upper echelon of NES games. (logo rumbles) (upbeat music) Finally, is Super Adventure
Island II from Hudson, on the Super Nintendo. I imagine that this one gets overlooked, mainly because it’s radically different than all the other Adventure Island games. In fact, this one feels
like Hudson was going for a Monster World type of approach. A lot of people are put
off when they first try it. And, I admit, I was one of those people. But at the urging of some
viewers, I’ve revisited it, and you know what? It really is worth playing. Basically, you’re
honeymooning with your wife, whom you just rescued from the first Super
Adventure Island game. Suddenly, a storm happens. You both lose your memories, and wash up in different places. She gets kidnapped, and yeah, once again, you have to rescue her. This one is kind of RPG-ish,
with money to collect, and even random battles. There’s an overworld, where you
make your way to new islands on a raft. This is where the random battles happen. You don’t have any experience to gain, just coins and potions to collect. Sometimes a random battle won’t even yield any tangible results. Honestly, the random
battles don’t really do much for the game, but at
least they’re super-quick. There are plenty of places
to visit on the map, ranging from entire
islands, to single rooms. You’ll eventually find
and be able to equip weapons and armor. Each island stage is large,
and very cryptic, needing you to eventually gain an ability,
or move a switch to proceed. As you may know, I don’t really
care for puzzle platformers, but I don’t really consider
this to be in that genre. It doesn’t overdo it to death, like the recent Monster Boy does. It’s just right, and not annoying at all. The toughest thing is
remembering where these places you previously couldn’t get to were, because you’ll need to
do some backtracking. The action is fun and responsive. The biggest issue is
that the enemies respawn once their initial place gets
even a pixel off the screen. But it’s never overwhelming, or anything. The visuals are done quite well,
with plenty of nice colors. Even the music is great, in both composition and sound quality. Highly listenable stuff here,
that doesn’t overuse reverb, or sound muffled in the least. I never even heard about this
one back when it was released, as nobody seemed to give it much coverage. Likely because there were so
many bigger games coming out at the time. Overall, I’m glad I tried this game again, and you should check it out for yourself. Okay, so those are nine games
that are criminally underrated that need more attention and love. Like I said, I’ve got more
games for future episodes of this, but why don’t
you let me know what games you think are underrated, and
maybe I’ll include your game in the next one of these episodes, and bump someone else’s suggestion
off, because it was crap! So let me know, and in the meantime, thank you for watching Game Sack. (midtempo guitar rock music) I can’t cut to the credits
until the music swells up. Brian, can you swell the music up, so we can go to credits, please? It’s over. Mr. Brimaxian? He plays the music live for each and every individual
episode, it’s not like I have this prerecorded,
and can fully control it during editing, or anything. Brian, hello? Oh finally, about time, here we go! (upbeat bluesy rock music) A couple people recommended
Tube Slider on the Gamecube as a criminally underrated game. Well I doubt it’s criminally underrated, in fact I bet it’s justifiably rated. Let’s find out together. (chuckles) Tube Slider. Lemme just slide this
into the Gamecube’s tube and get this going. (upbeat electronic music) Man, what kind of broken-ass
F-Zero nonsense is this? Well, graphics are okay, I guess. And the controls are adequate. Listen to those nasty
sound effects, though. Ew. What’s more, is you simply
cannot lose on the first session, there is no challenge at all. But on the second session,
you can’t even place, because it’s so damn unbalanced. And it’s not fun, because
you’re playing the same tracks as you did in the first session, over and over and over again. Well, it turns out the
game is properly named. It makes me need to slide
something out of my own tube!