Underappreciated games of 2006

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This year there were plenty of awesome (triple A titles if you must) on the marketplace. Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Final Fantasy XII and New Super Mario Bros. immediately come to mind. However, each year there are some great games that fail to grab the limelight. Since 2006 was such an awesome year for video games it was easy to overlook titles.

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DEFCON is one of those games that got glossed over. Introversion’s attempt at bringing Wargames into a game showed a twisted reality where everyone dies. All that mattered was how many people you can save from your country or if you’re the more sadistic type how many people you could nuke. The interface even has a level of detachment; you’re sitting at a nuclear launch console far away from the chaos. There is no gore, but there is something eerie about seeing text telling you that 5 million people died in a split second.


Two years ago Nintendo released Chibi Robo in Japan. The future of the cute helper robot game was shaky in the USA, Skip’s previous work Giftpia never made it over. Fans said they wanted Nintendo to bring the game to the USA, but when it finally came out no one seemed to care. Maybe because the creative “katamari” style game craze has faded or maybe because Chibi Robo was only about ten hours long (OK if you go through it fast it’s like six). It’s hard to recommend a game that short for $50 or $40, but now that Chibi Robo has fallen into the bargain bins for twenty or so give it a shot. Hint, it works on your newly purchased Wii too.


Speaking of Nintendo their entire Game Boy Advance Bit Generations series got glossed over. The games are simplistic arcade style titles with barebones graphics. We covered Digidrive, where you play a traffic cop for different colored ships. Later on I played around with Oribital where you absorb other planets into your planet to push through the galaxy. Both are pretty cool concept titles that Nintendo made, but even though they were anticipated in Japan no one really cared when they were released.


A collection of all of Konami’s Gradius games is a shoot ‘em up fans dream come true. So when Konami released a handheld version it should have been a sure fire hit. Instead it’s be marked down time after time and buried between copies of Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories. Sure there’s not as big of a market for shoot ‘em ups in the USA, but Gradius does have a fanbase. Maybe part of the problem is the PSP install base who just aren’t interested in the game. Here’s a counter solution, port it to the PS3 and sell it for $15 give the Gradius Collection a second shot Konami!


Of course Okami should be on this list too. After many years Clover Studio’s wolf game finally came out in English and Japanese. Despite critical review scores Okami never became the mega hit it should’ve. Chalk it up to attention being diverted to two new systems, the lack of advertising and the surprise success of Dead Rising. Now that Clover Studios has been dissolved the chance for a new Okami game is slim, but fans are still hoping. If you haven’t moved on to the new generation yet and own a PS2 seek this out, most stores sell it for $30.


Those are some of my picks for underappreciated games, but what are yours?  Post some comments or send your blog posts livejournal / blogger / Xanga / MySpace or whatever else about the topic and I’ll throw some links up.


Also to all of the Siliconera readers out there Happy New Year and we’ll keep bringing you original stories, playtests and news in ’07.

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