These hidden game gems range from well known indie games, to down right unknown due to being extremely niche. Some of them are a good price and widely available, while others you may have to pay a pretty penny for. Either way, you should really play some of them if you have the means to. They’re very well made, fun, and most of all, pretty under-appreciated.
If you’re a fan of board games than you will love this game. Top Shop was released in 1998, on the Playstation and Sega Saturn and is often compared to Monopoly. The game featured a varying cast of characters that can range from a talking cat all the way to a girl wearing a frog costume and a cactus on wheels.
In Top Shop you compete against your friends or computers in a multi-story mall where you have to traverse the board and open shops. The goal is for other players to land on your shop and buy your inventory, but that’s not all. There are multiple gimmicks in Top Shop that involve a little bit of luck as well as some skill, like rolling the die.
Just like many board games, this one can be very dependent on your luck, it determines how well you do at the start of the game and how many shops you open. The square you start on, similar to Monopoly, is called the bank. How much your move around the board, and how much money you spend, determines the amount of money you will get when you pass the bank. This can range from a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand, which really helps you with your entrepreneurial goals.
There are 3 types of currency in Top Shop. First is your actual money which you use to open shops, keep them well supplied, as well as buy items from enemy stores when you land on them. The second is just your overall score of how you’re doing in the game. So when you buy a large number of items from an opponent because you’re trying to put them out of stock and thus buy their store, you have to watch your secondary score because it may be going way down, and your opponent’s may be going way up.
The third type of currency is individual points which you only get from buying items. If you go around the board once and buy 10 items from your opponents, you can cash in those 10 points at the bank and maybe get some extra money, or maybe even screw with one of your opponents and turn them around on the board, making them going around it a whole other time before they can get back to the bank. It’s typical board game fun that really lets you mess with your opponents. And you can even save your game and come back to it unlike regular board games. Just like normal adults, maybe Top Shop could even be made into a drinking game, which considering you can play with 6 people. It has incredibly tight, varied gameplay that will always be different no matter when or who you play with. But for now, I’ll jut have nightmares about my pancake shop going out of business.
Lord of the Rings The Third Age
There are many arguments about what the best Lord of the Rings game is, and in my opinion, this is it. Lord of the Rings The Third Age is a turned based RPG in which you control a party of units from all over Middle-Earth. Do you want to play as a man from Gondor? A shield-maiden of Rohan? Or perhaps a dwarf if Erebor. There are other party members from different races and social standing that are famous in the Middle-Earth world (except you can’t play as a Hobbit for some reason).
It’s an in-depth RPG in which your party members learn new abilities the more they use their abilities in a certain skill tree. It’s much like Final Fantasy 10 but Lord of the Rings, as your party members fit traditional RPG roles; like your elf character being your healer, the dwarf being your physical tank, and the ranger being your support character.
This game is a real gem for so many reasons. The player gets to see Middle-earth in a whole new light by actually walking around the places that the Fellowship journey’s through. You actually get to explore the halls and caverns of Moira, help the citizens of Rohan while they’re getting attack Urak-hai and even walk the wall of Helm’s Deep. Yes, the graphics are a bit aged, but you get to experience Middle Earth in a way that no other game does.
There are instances that you get to play as characters from the fellowship as well. When you fight the Balrog in Moria, Gandalf joins your party and is incredibly strong. During the battle of Helms Deep, Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli battle alongside you. Even Faramir helps you to defend Osgiliath. The overall story is a bit lacking, as most of it is just visiting the places in the movies, but it does have its own original story and characters. The Third Age is out on Xbox, Gamecube, and PS2 and is not that expensive to purchase so I definitely recommend you go buy it.
Little Kings Story
I truly wish that more people would have played Little Kings Story because it’s extremely fun even if a bit childish in nature. Imagine Pikmin’s gameplay mixed with a kingdom builder. You control a young new king, Corobo, as he takes the throne and promises to lead his citizens unto a new, prosperous age.
Little Kings Story has a wonderful sense of scale when building your kingdom. You start off with nothing more than a shack for a castle, a couple of houses, and a few jobless citizens. By the end of the game, your kingdom is massive, so big that you get a cannon to shoot you to different sections instead of walking. You have hundreds of citizens and so many different jobs that your kingdom is always lively with festivals, people bowing to you, and just overall kingdom life. You get to see how your kingdom grows each time you build a building and even just something like a little house that grows your kingdom by 3 people really matters and makes the player feel accomplished.
How does this game compare to Pikmin though? Well, you can leave your kingdom and take a certain number of citizens with you, all of varying jobs, and go and conquer other lands. Whenever you encounter a certain enemy, you throw your populous at them until there health is depleted. Whenever an enemy is about to attack, you call your soldiers to your side so they do not get hurt. If there is an obstacle in your way, send out a lumberjack to deal with a huge log, a miner to break down that huge rock, or send out some carpenters to build you a bridge. Better make sure you take the right people when choosing to leave your kingdom to obtain infinite glory.
It’s a cute but really fleshed out Wii game that not enough people played. Apparently, it got a sequel on the PSP that was quite different, that even fewer people played. Hopefully one day there will be something else like Little Kings Story… a man can dream.
Eternal Darkness is the only game on this list that I haven’t played extensively. But from the bits I have played, it is something extremely special. Imagine Resident Evil gameplay except that the game constantly tries to screw with your head. What do I mean by this exactly? Well, the game has a sanity meter that grows every time you get hit by an enemy. Once the sanity meter grows enough, things begin to happen in the game such as blood running down walls, the player catching fire and screaming randomly, breaking the fourth wall, unsettlingly creepy noises, and strange camera angles. But that’s not it all it does.
The game also pretends to mess with your TV and Gamecube. Maybe your screen will freeze for a long period of time, making you think you need to restart your Gamecube. Perhaps it looks like a few flies are buzzing around your television and occasionally looking like they’re landing on your screen. The game even makes it look like it’s blasting your TV volume and making the game go louder or can even make it seem like it’s changing the TV channels. It really brings psychological horror into the video game industry in a fantastic way.
The game was viewed extremely well among critics but was not a commercial success. The rights are owned by Nintendo and the developers that made it, Silicon Knights, eventually went bankrupt. Thankfully, the game’s writer and director Dennis Dyack, is still attempting to make a spiritual successor. If you’re a fan of this game, let Dennis know that you love his work and that you’re eagerly awaiting his next game.
Even though Advance Wars is probably the most popular on this list, it never became one of Nintendo’s big titles. But if you have played these games, you know that they’re top-notch and incredibly rich in strategy. The gameplay was a lot like Fire Emblem if you have ever played that. But if you haven’t, I’ll explain it anyway.
Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy game that has a grid-based map. You start by picking which commanding officer you’d like to play as, because each one does different things. Max has superior strength when it comes to direct units like tanks, while Flak has better range with indirect units like artillery, rockets and anti-aircraft missiles. During each turn of the game, you make a certain amount of money that you can then spend on troops. Stronger troops cost more money. The way you make money is by capturing cities, which can only be taken by infantry. It won’t be long before you clash with the enemy though, so you better cover as much ground as possible and start making more money than them.`
There’s a lot more to consider, like map type, terrain, and weather when deciding the best strategy. But even something like an early game mistake can cost you the win. This game is a must play for any strategy enthusiast and it’s a real shame there hasn’t been a game in the series In over 10 years.
I’ll still hold out on Andy being introduced into Smash Bros…
This Tim Burton inspired survival game, Don’t Starve, was made by the lovely people over at Klei. Believe me when I say that this game deserves your attention. It is a survival game in every sense. There are so many mechanics and strategy involved but I will try to break it down for you.
You start off by choosing a character, many of which have both pros and cons. Some characters may be stronger than others but they go hungry faster, while another might carry a lighter to light fires easily but they don’t hit very hard. The player is then dropped into the wilderness by a mysterious force and is told to find some food and shelter.
There are 3 main stats that you have to constantly watch; your hunger, health, and sanity. Hunger depletes constantly so you will always have to have a supply of food on hand. Your health goes down whenever you’re attacked by a monster, and your sanity can go down when you eat rotten food, spend time in the dark, or spend time around monsters. Luckily you can raise your sanity if it ever goes down by picking flowers and wearing comfy clothes.
Once the player starts to explore a bit, they will realize there are different “biomes” on the map (the map is randomly generated every time), which include forests, grasslands, savannahs, marshes, and much more. The map will need to be scoured and each biome will be necessary to gather the materials you need to survive. I recommend gathering everything in sight, establishing a home base, and then preparing for winter.
Did I mention there are different seasons in this game? I’ve been playing for four years and there are still things I discover every day due to Klei still updating the game and releasing massive expansions for it. There is also a cool and challenging story mode for anyone who wants to give it a go.
I’ve never played the same game twice whenever I boot up Don’t Starve. You always run into different problems, the world are generated differently, you can pick a different character, and the game is constantly updated and bringing new things. Don’t Starve is incredibly atmospheric, having a profound sense of loneliness and truly makes you feel like you’re hopelessly stuck in the wilderness. The sound effects of birds, pigs, bugs, wind, all sound so life like, and being from the country myself, really remind me of home. The game is hard, well made, and endless amounts of fun.
Don’t Starve is available on pretty much every platform out there, even mobile! But you can get it on PS4, Xbox and Switch if you’re interested. It has kept me playing for years and is extremely addictive.
What do you get when the football team turns into monsters and kidnaps the head cheerleader? Why don’t you ask Spike O’Hara. Ghoul School is a very early example of a Metroidvania and is quite the fun game. You scour your local high school to search for new weapons and items to unlock new areas and help you kill more monsters.
The school has over 200 rooms and is really fun to explore. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game. It doesn’t take very long so expect to beat it in about a day. I recommend getting some Mountain Dew and Doritos, inviting a few friends over, and making a good Friday night out of it. Sadly this game is incredibly hard to find in a physical copy since it was a very rare game to begin with. If only Nintendo preserved their games through emulation…
Mercenaries Saga Chronicles
If you have ever wanted Final Fantasy Tactics on the Nintendo Switch then Mercenaries Saga is the answer. For only $20, you get 3 different games for an extremely low price. It’s a tactical RPG where you are in control of different bands of mercenaries and battle through different campaigns. There are many different classes to choose, from dark sorcerer to sniper, gladiator, to paladin. There are many options to choose from and even some secret jobs your characters can use.
The differences between Mercenaries Saga and Final Fantasy Tactics is that the characters only fit certain roles but have a few different jobs within that role. You usually fight more enemies than you get to put your own characters on the field. There are also special weapons and armor you can only get from gathering special puzzle pieces on the battlefield. Overall, it’s a great game for a fantastic price and a pretty good Final Fantasy Tactics clone.
If you have any obscure games that not many people know of, let me know down in the comments and maybe I’ll give it a try.
I hope you enjoyed reading, and remember to stay Savvy!