Let’s be clear: these are games no one loves. Well, except me. Okay okay. I’m sure if I love them, then a few other people might too. Those people are probably hard to find though. Some of these games are not only unloved but horribly flawed as well. Still, I can’t look away.
Here’s a nice list of games no one loves……..except me:
Dead Island (Xbox 360/PS3)
After the releases of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas and on top of Bethesda’s successful Elder Scrolls series, the first-person open world craze was in full swing in 2011. Distributed by currently-maligned publisher Deep Silver, Dead Island was basically the Fallout formula but set on a tropical island. The mix of both wilderness and resort town areas made for a fun zombie-bashing playground. Unlike other games of its ilk, you could also drive vehicles, which made for the inevitable running over of the undead.
The skill trees and missions were all solid as well. The problem with Dead Island is that it was just too buggy. I was probably 2/3 of the way through the game when my character got stuck in a rock. I hadn’t saved in about an hour, and my enthusiasm deflated considerably at that point. There are also consistent but mostly harmless bugs, like glitching enemies and such. Beyond the locales, the game isn’t that original either. This is the same blueprint everyone was using at the time, so if you loved other games like it, you didn’t need to play this one.
I still think it’s a great game personally. I’m definitely able to enjoy shoddy games more than some people though. I’d prefer a tight experience but I’d rather have a game like this than one that simply doesn’t interest me.
Should You Buy: If you can’t get enough open world FPS’s or zombies, this is worth it. It’s great fun and the length is pretty good. Just know that you won’t always be happy with the performance. I assume the definitive edition runs better though. For everyone else, you might be better off trying a newer game like this that’s cheap now, like The Witcher 3 or Mad Max.
Solitaire Poker (Game Gear)
I talked about this one in my Three Poker Games I’ve Loved article, so I won’t go into it too much here. It’s just a fun, relaxing game that I’m sure someone has copied on mobile by now. If I’m wrong or if you just love card games and the sound of this combination, find this for your Game Gear (assuming you own one). The gameplay is easy to pick up and the music is actually good too.
Should You Buy: If you have a Game Gear, sure. Like most GG games, this will only run you a few bucks.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (SNES/Genesis)
Avoid the Sega CD “version” here, which is a full-motion video nightmare and not very much like the game in question.
I’ve actually not seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula but I was gifted this game randomly one year at Christmas though I didn’t ask for it. The game features adequately spooky visuals but not likely anything that would threaten the designers of Castlevania. The character movement is stiff and the level design is pretty unfair. There are a ton of moments where you feel like there’s no way to avoid getting hit.
I don’t have a great justification for enjoying this one. Maybe it’s because it was the first game I ever got without the expectations of reading a magazine or at least reading the back of the box. Going in blind can be a refreshing exercise whether it be a game, book, movie, or whatever. It was a brave new world with this game, and playing it without ever seeing one screen shot prior was new and fun.
Should You Buy: I wouldn’t. The game can probably be had for $10-15 complete in box if you must, but your time and money are likely better spent elsewhere.
Alien Syndrome (NES/Commodore 64/Sega Master System)
This is the first game I ever owned on the first system I ever owned, the Sega Master System. It’s a top-down run and gun. A word of caution though: this was released in the mid-80s, so the “run” part is pretty slow.
You’re tasked with traversing different space stations to rescue hostages and avoid aliens. You’re on a timer and the maps are non-linear, so it’s possible to get lost or be pressured to finish. Rescuing enough hostages will open a big bay door leading to a boss fight. The boss music intensifies nicely in comparison to that of the normal levels.
Should You Buy: Definitely not required, but if you want a good, solid game from this era then this will do the trick.
Safari Hunt/Gangster Town/Rescue Mission (SMS)
More Master System goodness. Here we have some light gun games. It seems that when anyone talks about this genre from the 8-bit days, the conversation begins and ends with Duck Hunt. There were other good ones though, just not on the NES.
Speaking of Duck Hunt, its similarities with Safari Hunt are hard to ignore. The difference is that Safari Hunt features three locales instead of one, all with different animals. The gameplay of both titles just loops over and over and the music is almost non-existent, but they’re both fun. Safari Hunt is definitely on par with that other 8-bit gun game that everyone considers a classic.
Rescue Mission puts a bit of a spin on the formula. Soldiers move in a cart along a track, and you have to shoot enemy soldiers bearing down on them, as well as landmines. The goal is to allow them to make their way around the map and assist wounded soldiers. It’s a really nice gun game that has a unique twist.
Gangster Town is probably the best of the bunch here. The formula is pretty standard, but the levels vary somewhat, including a car chase. You can also shoot off the hats of enemies as well as kill them. You can also shoot them again after they’re killed since they become an angel floating to the top of the screen. This is classic light gun action that anyone would enjoy. I think it’s the best light gun game on an 8-bit system personally.
Should You Buy: I say yes to all. Safari Hunt is kind of underwhelming after a little while, but it’s cheap. The other two are must-haves in the genre.
Speedball 2100 (PS1)
In the PS1 era my friends and I were almost always playing the latest version of NHL Face-Off or NFL Gameday. Sony had very solid sports franchises at the time that held steady for many years. One day, at GameStop, I came across Speedball 2100 used for $5. This was back when you didn’t see games for very cheap like that unless it was an old sports title or a mass-produced, licensed game for smaller kids. I figured “what the hell?” and grabbed it.
What it turned out to be was a pretty fun couch multiplayer game. It’s essentially handball set in the future with melee components. Simple enough to have a good time with, especially if you were used to playing the same competitive games over and over like we were. I can remember more than a few shouts of victory or agony from playing this game. It was an underrated time, and definitely deserves a mention when I think back to all the games that our group played together and enjoyed.
Should You Buy: Probably not. It’s not too thrilling as a single player game. The only exception would be if you have a group of friends that gets together to play video games regularly and everyone is down for retro stuff too. It can probably be had for a few bucks, and in that case I’d take the plunge.
I caught on to this game only a few years back. I happened to snag a small box of Genesis games from a guy who clearly had good, unique taste. Most of what I got from him were Koei strategy games. In the 16-bit era, games like this weren’t particularly popular. I don’t even know if games like this were covered much in magazines. They don’t have the kind of appeal that a kid would normally look for (bright colors, “cool” characters, etc.). Still, Koei put out some really interesting and often fun simulation and strategy games in the early ’90s, and Aerobiz was one of them.
Now granted, this is probably the least exciting sim you’ll ever play. Even as sims go, it’s really dry. You are the CEO of an airline, buying planes, choosing where your main hubs will be, paying workers, etc. It’s a business sim before that kind of thing was anywhere close to common. The music is fairly repetitive and the graphics do a decent job but aren’t anything to write home about.
The good thing about this is that Aerobiz is the perfect game to play while listening to music, podcasts, or even watching a nearby TV. There’s no real-time choices to make so even though it can’t compare overall, it has that in common with something like Civilization. It doesn’t have the “just one more turn” addicting quality that Civ does, but I’ve always been eager to get through the game and explore all the ways to achieve success.
Should You Buy: Honestly if you like sims and play retro games I would definitely try this. If you like sims or strategy games and long for a simpler time, it might do the trick as well. Beware though. The price has gone up from the $20 it was sitting at for the longest time. It’s now about half the price of its even more expensive sequel.
Cheating a little bit on this one, as Strife received pretty solid reviews at the time of release. The idea of an FPS with RPG elements was a new thing at the time, and I ate it up. Take a game like Doom, slow it down a bit, and add NPCs and a compelling story, and this is the result.
There’s not too much else to say other than that the mixture here works really well. It’s not a half-baked mash-up, as the story is actually well-written and keeps you hooked to see what’s next. The combat is standard fare for a mid-90s FPS on the PC. In fact, it might even be a little dated. Perhaps it’s more “forgotten” than “unloved”. However, everything works well here, and the gameplay was very refreshing at the time.
Should You Buy: If you like early FPS games, I say yes. It retails online for $9.99, which I would say is a fair price but not an especially great one at this stage. If you enjoyed Doom, Hexen, Wolfenstein, Heretic, et. al. but missed this one, I would definitely partake.
My final entry is a business sim…….IINNN SPAAAACE. The great things about Gazillionaire is how silly it is. You’re an interstellar shipper of goods trying to meet demand and increase supply, all while forming good relationships with other aliens. There are also a lot of decisions to be made and people to trust or distrust along the way. Make the right moves and become rich.
This game looks dated and cheap. I have no problem admitting that. It’s firmly on the low budget side of things even for 1994. I think this almost makes the game more endearing though. It’s not nearly as complicated as Sim City or Civilization, but that’s why I like it. The humor is also pretty solid. It’s a simple, fun sim that’s cartoony and light. The AI has some glaring flaws especially by today’s standards, but you won’t take the game seriously enough to care much.
Should You Buy: You actually don’t have to. Just click the link above, sign up, and play in your browser for free! Oddly, I can’t find the price of a boxed version on PriceCharting, though one certainly did exist. I know because I owned it. If you’re that kind of collector, it looks like a copy goes for about $30 on eBay. Otherwise, give it a try in your browser for sure!
So that’s my list of games no one loves except me. Am I wrong though? Is there one of these that you love too? Let me know! Also, what games do you love that the rest of us think are trash?