11 last-gen games you probably didn't know were some of the best
When we look back on a console generation, it's impossible to ignore franchises such as Halo, Uncharted, Mario, and Grand Theft Auto. As a result, we often overlook other games that may not have had as big a budget or the media attention of a standout favorite like BioShock Infinite. It's only fitting, then, that we take a bit of time to acknowledge a number of other stellar games that either were underrated and overlooked or just forgotten despite their greatness.
To be clear, this isn't a list of the undisputed best games of the last console generation. Instead, it's a list of 11 games that were among the absolute finest titles released over the course of the last several years that some individuals maybe weren't aware were so great.
A Boy and His Blob
A Boy and His Blob successfully reimagines and recreates a NES game that most would argue just doesn't hold up very well these days. WayForward did an excellent job of instilling a beautiful sense of storybook wonder in A Boy and His Blob. The game warmly invites you into its boldly and brilliantly colorful lands, challenges you with clever puzzles, and tells you a minimalistic story about companionship. A Boy and His Blob is as beautiful a game to look at as it is to experience, and it effortlessly fills your heart with disgustingly warm, fuzzy feelings.
Sam & Max Save the World
Before Telltale Games was ripping your heart out with The Walking Dead, the studio was making you laugh your proverbial rear end off with Sam & Max. The first season, which went on to be renamed Sam & Max Save the World, makes for a raucous good time that does this particular license justice. The antics of the anthropomorphic dog and “hyperkinetic rabbity thing” are a sheer delight, and each episode is expertly written to provide all manner of dry humor and adult wit. Personally, I'll take Sam & Max over The Walking Dead any day.
Little King's Story
These days, you see a lot of games that pleasantly mix things up by combining different genres to create a singular experience. Little King's Story was doing that before it was even cool. By taking a real-time strategy foundation, adding simulation mechanics, and throwing in a hint of RPG goodness, this Wii original creates a sense of uniformity with its varying gameplay elements. The result is one of the best games to ever grace the Wii (and most recently, the Vita). Guiding King Corobo and his loyal underlings through the lengthy campaign across undeniably charming environments is a total blast.
It's not often that you get a completely badass protagonist like Rubi Malone. Hell, the fact that she's likeable in every way is reason enough to love Wet, but there's so much more to this game. The action is gritty and in-your-face, successfully taking cues from Quentin Tarantino's work, as well as other grindhouse flicks. Cutting dudes is great, and shooting them in the balls is even better. Add to the blood-splattered mayhem a superb soundtrack filled with punk, rockabilly, and surf, and Wet is easily one of the most thrilling action games to come along in quite some time.
Storytelling in gaming is slowly becoming more gripping and impressive, but sometimes it's what a game doesn't say that truly captivates you. Journey leaves its minimalistic narrative up to interpretation and instead provides you with an avenue for a more philosophical and thought-provoking direction. As you guide your robed wanderer from the vast desert to the massive mountains, it's impossible to refrain from thinking about life, death, spirituality, and your very own being. If it doesn't bring you to tears, it'll still give you the chills in a way no other game really did during the last console generation.
Before blowing people's minds with the stellar Super Hexagon, developer Terry Cavanagh wowed countless individuals with the blatantly unapologetic and remorselessly difficult 2D platformer VVVVVV. Trading in traditional jumps for gravity-based gameplay, the game presents a challenging and stylish adventure that's rife with pretty pixels and catchy chiptunes. We see a lot of great 2D platformers come along these days, but very few can surpass or even match the greatness of VVVVVV.
Where Is My Heart?
When we think about puzzles in games, we think more about logical collections of objectives to complete. Where Is My Heart? works more like an actual panel-based puzzle, with the game screen broken up into pieces and scattered around. It's up to you to take the game's three characters and guide them across the levels. That's easier said than done, and it doesn't take long for things to get completely confusing. When you finally figure out how to clear a stage, though, Where Is My Heart? becomes a superbly satisfying adventure.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Playing Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is like eating a bag of your favorite candy with absolutely none of the negative health effects. The game does a great job of taking the classic arcade Pac-Man formula and infusing it with incredible gameplay enhancements and unbridled joy. This is a game that rewards the pleasure centers of your brain every single time you play, even if you're just sitting down for a five-minute session. And those loud sound effects and stellar soundtrack round out the package nicely.
Bit.Trip Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
My ridiculous adulation for Jetpack Joyride notwithstanding, I'd be a fool to pick that jolly little game over Bit.Trip Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. It's hard to put down, and once you get to the end, you just feel the urge to return to each level and tackle one of the harder difficulties. Overall, Runner2 isn't very tough, but it's completely cathartic from start to finish and is among the finest titles in its genre.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
The original No More Heroes was one of the most unique titles to launch on the Wii. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle takes everything that was great in that first game and streamlines it to create a more fluid experience. The barren open world is gone, as are the ridiculous barriers keeping you from fighting the bosses immediately. What you get with No More Heroes 2 is a straight-up action game that's fun, stylish, and hilarious. Also, Travis Touchdown is quite possibly the dopiest protagonist ever, but that just makes him all the more entertaining.
Super Meat Boy
It's surprising that Super Meat Boy didn't rake in more game of the year awards in 2010, because it's arguably the best game to have launched that year. This is a prime example of pure, unadulterated platforming done right. You could even say it's the very best platformer of the last several years. Team Meat had to jump through hoops just to get the game on Xbox Live Arcade, but it ultimately put the two-man team on the map as one of the most talented indie studios around. Super Meat Boy is brutally unforgiving, tremendously rewarding, and incredibly awesome.
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