"The Best Games You've Never Heard Of"

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Last weekend I attended I-CON 28, a pan-geek convention on Long Island.  Sci-fi, fantasy, anime, furries, you name it and they're there.  It's often odd not merely by design but because it's both large and small-- large enough to have been running for 28 years and to often get some decent Guests of Honor, but small enough to have an "e-gaming" track of six people and to include me among them.

This year I was on a panel called "The Best Games You've Never Heard Of."  I've got some thoughts on the panel below the jump, but what's really worth relating is the list of games that the panelists made.  I *tried* to get every one mentioned, but I'm sure I missed a few.  Add your own!

Beyond the jump: the list, and thoughts on it.

  • Space Giraffe -on XBLA - a trippy Tempest-like game where the visuals get so busy that you end up having to play with the barnyard sound effects.  How many iTunes visualizers have gameplay?
  • Internal Section- for the PS 1 as an import - described as Tempest + Rez
  • Love Love 2, or Love Love Mine - for the PS 1 - which combines the unlikely activities of mine cart racing, sandwich making, and a dating sim
  • MDK 2 - for the DreamCast - 1 was mentioned, but apparently was not One Of The Best
  • The Path - for PC - A Little Red Riding Hood horror game with an unusual focus on storytelling
  • Word Image Sound Play -  for PS 2 as import - a music toy as much as a game, though I can't find any good English-language pages for.
  • IGI - a supposed GameMaker game, which I can't find anything for.
  • Cursor 10 - webgame - every move in the game is recorded, and when you run out of time (which you will), you'll have to collaborate with your past selves.
  • Food Fight - Atari arcade game - I don't remember what folks raved about with this.
  • Shadow of the Colossus - for PS 2 - I'm amazed that people haven't heard of this, but a bunch haven't.  I'm not the only person who considers this one example of high art in video games.
  • BioShock - has anyone interested in games right now NOT heard of this? Many people might be fooled into thinking that it's not great, though, by the fact that it's ANOTHER first person shooter that's all about grit and gore.  Well, that and Objectivism.
  • GuitarooMan - PS 2 and now PSP - music action game in the vein of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan or Elite Beat Agents
  • Cool Cool Tune - for PS 2 - ironically, its music is terrible; it's the gameplay that rocks
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga, - for the Sega Saturn - makes the list for its ending.
  • Then we got talking about Lonely Games (which include Shadow of the Colossus) - I probably have an entry pending on these down the road, but for now:
    • Aquaria - for Mac - as the last of the Atlanteans Aquarians find out what happened to your people
    • Flower - for PS 3 - almost more an aesthetic experience than a game - fly through a landscape as the wind
    • Knytt - for PC - explore haunting and beautiful landscapes to find pieces of your spaceship to return home
  • Echochrome - for PSP - an MCEscher topological puzzler
  • Blastworks - for Wii - a shooter where everything you destroy can become part of you, and which comes with a level editor
  • Carnival - this was mentioned, but I have no idea which of many games with a title like this is One Of The Best.
  • The Maw - for XBLA and PC - super cute and with good gameplay and serial content?  Sounds good...  though lots have folks have heard about it since PAX.
  • Zombie Smashers X - for PC - River City Ransom plus Zombies?  I'm skeptical, but it was mentioned.
  • Achievement Unlocked - webgame - "Who needs gameplay when you have achievements?"
  • PacMan Championship Edition - on XBLA - a successful rethink/remix of the classic game
  • Space Invaders Extreme - for DS and PSP - a remix/rethink of the classic game
  • Unreleased - I have mixed feelings about listing unreleased games as "best anything", but they do look like they'll be interesting, and they were mentioned.
    • The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom - for PC - Control time in order to eat pies! A temporal puzzler
    • The Unfinished Swan - for PC - Use a paint gun to make terrain visible in a 3D puzzler.  Gorgeous, if as yet a bit unfocused.
    • Achron - for PC - a real-time strategy game using time travel
    • Fez - for PC - swap between dimensions to get from point A to point B

So, looking back over that list, it's really more a list of "cool indie games" and I'd be reluctant to give it the credit of being the "best ever" that you've never heard of.  Some of them aren't even out yet!  But the panelists are a well-played group overall, so there were a lot of really cool games there that, indeed, the audience had never played.  So: success!

I was a bit nervous, because I don't consider myself that well read on the history of games.  I've played my games, and over the last few years I've learned how to search out excellent indie games.  But often what older conventions want is a comprehensive historical knowledge that I just don't have in games.  I had an NES, and a SuperNES, but I did not have an Atari, or an intact Sinclair.  I don't know the catalog of Japanese import games.  Fortunately the audience didn't seem to mind-- there's still a couple months' worth of play in that list!

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This page contains a single entry by Scott Price published on April 11, 2009 11:06 AM.

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