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Internet, I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to video games. They’re like crack for me, and they have been for ages. In fact, my earliest memories were of drooling on an NES controller, and watching Kirby glitch out on the screen. The flashing 16-bit colored dots enticed my brain, and have kept me captivated ever since. But my childhood wasn’t all Zeldas and Sonics. Many a Christmas was spent disappointed over the bizarre off-brand bargain games my family would buy me, thinking that anything bright and colorful would make me happy. And, sadly, they were right. Some of my favorite games to this very day are the ones which came from youthful discoveries brought on by cheapass parents. In fact, I just happen to have compiled a list of some of my favorite games that you probably never heard of, conveniently organized in a list which is most definitely NOT ripping off Cracked.com. I love you, Cracked, please don’t sue me!

Skunny

Skunny

First up, there’s Skunny. This was produced by Magic Touch for PC, and was actually the last in a series. The rest in the series were released as shareware, and they decided to make a commercial release to make some money off the incredible success the free games were having. Unfortunately, it flopped miserably, and now the company is basically caught in a crazy limbo, not quite gone, but not doing anything at all.

What’s it like?

It’s really a generic sidescroller, for the most part. It kinda plays like a mix between Donkey Kong Country and Sonic the Hedgehog, with several tweaks. But it actually came with over 100 levels, which take place in some bizarre parallel world where the Egyptians, Knights, Pirates, and Arabians all lived in the same era, and decided to fill their castles/pyramids/ships/palaces to the brim with ridiculous traps, priceless treasures, enormous pinball bouncers, and the obligatory “mine cart levels”.

What’s so great about it?

Well, the gameplay alone is pretty good. The controls are pretty tight, and the level design is complicated enough to be fun, but simple enough to be relatively self-explanatory. I’ve gotten lost more than once in the game, and had a good time getting out. Each level also has a good number of hidden areas and secret goodies for anyone with enough time to collect them all. But the real selling point is that the game actually comes with a built-in level editor! Every single item you saw in the actual levels can be found in the level editor, and it all works really well (Although it will take some figuring out with the portals and switches).

Cool, where can I get it?

I’m not sure if they still sell it anywhere, but if you can’t find it, you can download the game here.

Final Fantasy Legends (I-III)

I know what you’re thinking. Final Fantasy, unknown? How is it possible? Well it is, and it isn’t. These games are final fantasy only in name and genre. For the most part, they’re pretty much the same idea as in the early final fantasy games, but with an added theme: A multi-planed world. Each of the three games has you start on one ‘layer’ of the world, and move your way to the other ones, either through a tower, or by time travel, or just by swimming. They’re all three for the original Game Boy, and all came out before the Final Fantasy name meant anything in America.

What’re they like?

They’re like Final Fantasy, with worse graphics. (Game Boy will do that.) The classes are different (Instead of mages you have mutants, and you can even get robots in the second one), and they each have their own little quirks. But more or less, it’s just a basic RPG: Lots of storytelling, lots of clicking ‘attack’ and ‘run’, and lots and lots of grinding your characters.

What’s so great about them?

Well, if you’re an RPG fan, you’ll love these. If not, you’ll hate them. The gameplay is incredibly basic but the level design is tremendous. Most RPGs stick you to digging around in caves and castles over and over, but some of the levels in the games include:

A post-apocalyptic city destroyed by a phoenix, with an underground society in the subway.

A priestess’s innards, trying to save her from a crazy monster in her head.

An underwater volcanic cave with a creepy stalker chasing you.

It’s really great stuff, and I actually like them better than the main series. Just don’t expect exciting, fast-paced gameplay.

Cool, Where can I get them?

I can only find them in the used games section of Gamestop, and on ebay. You’re on your own, bub.

Serious Sam series

This is an underground favorite of FPS-heads everywhere. It was developed by Croteam, a Croatian developer, but don’t worry, everything’s in English. Well, sortof. At times it seems more like the insane ramblings of that burnt-out old hippie who wanders around downtown with a tin-foil hat than real English. For example, one of the more common enemies you’ll encounter is actually a screaming headless guy rigged with explosives. Why? Well, why not.

What’re they like?

They’re all First-Person Shooters, pretty self-explanatory. You wander around, you shoot things, other things explode, and everyone has a good time. But your weapons over the various games get a little crazier than most games allow. One of my presonal favorite weapons is a cannon. Yes, a fucking cannon, like in a pirate ship. Croatians are awesome. Also, every single enemy you encounter has its own name, bio, and specs that you can look up at any time in the game, in case you were curious about just what makes those Kleer Skeletons “Kleer”.

What’s so great about them?

Besides insane weapons which make little to no sense, the games all have a great sense of humor. They do not take themselves seriously at all (Despite the name), and in fact, make fun of themselves. But the best part is the awesome community. These guys make levels, make mods, and even go so far as to screw around with the engine and make new games altogether. It’s like Doom, if Doom was made by mental patients.

Cool, where can I get them?

You can get the games, mods, engines, and other fun stuff from this great fan site.

Kingdom Of Loathing

Kingdom of Loathing is a game which can only be described as a massively-multiplayer-online-text- based-role-playing-game-with-stick-figures. And not only does it have a wholly unique genre, but a great sense of humor, especially if you’re a 14-year-old. For example? See, at one point in the game, there’s this Chasm, and there’s Orcs in it, and they call it an Orc Chasm. If you don’t get it, try saying it out loud. Okay, so it gets a bit immature at points, but it’s all worth it. And besides, this is the internet, who cares about maturity here?

What’s it like?

Well, it’s like nerd heaven, really. The main draw of the game is that every little thing that can happen in the game is punctuated by brilliant puns and pop culture references. There’s references to everything you can think of-From Goonies to Mario, from The Talking Heads to Pulp Fiction, they cover everything that has happened over the last 30 years. The best part is that once you beat the final boss as one character, you get to restart the game with a new class and some added features, or in a harder mode. You can also “save” a skill from that last ascension, and over time, you can actually collect every skill that every class learns, permanently.

What’s so great about it?

Well, besides the long-term replayability and a good sense of humor, the game has about as powerful a community as a MMOTBRPGWSF can get. They even have their own online radio station. They mostly play obscure 90’s music and classic rock, and the game’s creator, Jick, gets on air to answer questions that the people have. Not only that, but since it’s all HTML and Javascript, the players make greasemonkey scripts to mod the game, or even to set up bots (They’re legal in this game). But the number one thing that makes the game worth playing is that it’s FREE. 100% no-cost. Just give them your email address, choose a class (Disco Bandits rule) and start playing. Just make sure to stay clear of newbie chat.

Cool, so where can I get one?

You can start playing here.

Tales of Phantasia

ToP

I didn’t really put them in any particular order, since they all rock, but this one deserves its spot as number one. Tales of Phantasia is actually part of a series, but interestingly enough, the later games in the series made it to America before ToP did. You know that game, Tales of Symphonia? That’s the sequel. It was made by Namco for the Super Famicom (That’s what the Japanese call the SNES) back in 1995, and was incredibly sucessful in Japan, spawning sequels and even its own anime series. But unfortunately, it didn’t make it to american shores at first. Some think it was because of this scene: (Click to enlarge)

Others think it was because they didn’t think it’d make money over here. But that’s far less interesting. Eventually, they remade it for GBA, and that made it to America, but not until 2006. Until then, gamers in America had to settle for the translated emulator version set up by the friendly folks at DeJap translations.

What’s it like?

It’s like if an RPG made sweet, sweet love to a side-scrolling brawler, and the bastard child had spiky anime hair. The basic moving-around-the-map areas are all strictly RPG style, buying items, going to towns, and generally just advancing the storyline. But instead of going into a point-and-click attack system like most RPGs when you run into an enemy, it sends you into a side-scroller setup, where you beat the enemy to a pulp using your team’s various skills. You control the main character directly, and the other members can be controlled by 4 kinds of AI setup, as well as by manually choosing skills and targets.

What’s so great about it?

The insanely fresh and unique gameplay offered is definitely the best part about this game. It’s a new experience, to be sure, and it offers countless hours of replay, since no two battles happen the same way. Then, to throw in even more variation, you can actually get an item that will let you use all your combo attacks with key combinations, like an arcade fighting game. Still not enough? There’s also a complicated item-transformation system, where you can use rune bottles to turn one item into something entirely different. Sometimes better, sometimes not so better. And on top of all that, it has great music and graphics, especially for its time. You are almost guaranteed not to get bored in this game.

Cool, so where can I get it?

Well, I’d link you the emulator, but since the game is now on GBA in America, there may be legal problems with that. So you can either buy the game itself from your local video game retailer, or google “Tales Of Phantasia Emulator” and hope that the FBI isn’t watching you.

If you have any comments, complaints, suggestions, or cease-and-desists to give to A Man With No Name in private, you can email him at ablogwithnoname@gmail.com. Pictures are all screen captures or photos (By me), except for the Serious Sam box cover which I got off Wikipedia, and the Final Fantasy Legend pictures which came from Gamefaqs.

One Comment

  1. Cool man, I am familiar with all the games .. reason i used to play them on an emulated NES on my PC ๐Ÿ™‚ , i liked tales of phantasia ๐Ÿ™‚
    gaming rulz and so do gamerz


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