What's Your Favourite Underrated Game?

Many moons ago, when I was a poor gamer with an antiquated family PC lacking a 3D card, I came across what seemed like a heavenly combination: a game combining the basic principles of rugby with real-time action, the brutality of Blood Bowl, and some light management mechanics.

It sounds like Blood Bowl, although this was a real-time action game rather than a digital remake of a tabletop game. But M.U.D.S. - short for Mean Ugly Dirty Sport - is the kind of game that, these days, may as well not exist. Trying to search for it brings up a litany of unrelated results to the text-based online dungeons that served as the precursor to the early days of 2D and 3D MMOs like Ultima Online, Everquest, Meridian 59 and so on.

I came across M.U.D.S. through Home of the Underdogs, the legendary abandonware archive that often gave pride of place to smaller titles like these that you simply couldn't find on our fair shores. And so when I look at chatter around the gaming world, particularly when it comes to "underrated" games, titles like M.U.D.S. are ones that come to mind.

It's not as if there aren't plenty of modern equivalents. More games are released each week than ever before, thanks to the ubiquity of platforms like Steam and competitor marketplaces like GOG, Green Man Gaming, and so on.

So I wanted to expand the conversation a little this week: when you think of something that was underrated, a game you hold close to your heart that is either unheralded or unloved by the wider masses, what comes to mind?

A few other titles for my liking that you might recognise:

  • Star Trek Voyager Elite Force: Basically a reskinned of Quake 3 Arena in multiplayer a down-the-line linear shooter, Elite Force was a game I remember playing for hours on end at a friends' place after primary school. It was far from the best licensed shooter of its time - the Jedi Knight games and especially Alien vs Predator were streets ahead. But, goddamnit, it offered some fast paced 2v2 CTF action with Star Trek guns, and that was good enough as a kid.
  • Hotel Dusk Room 215: Point-and-click adventures aren't everyone's cup of tea, and Cing's rotoscoped adventure wasn't easy to get into. But once you worked through the very slow start and began unravelling the characters and clues hidden within, Hotel Dusk had a lot of charm. There were lots of pain points - like being delayed in solving a puzzle even though you knew the answer because you hadn't gone through a very specific set of steps - but whenever I think of my favourite experiences on my old DS Lite, Hotel Dusk is right up there.

What underrated games do you hold dear?


Comments

    I really like Titan Quest on the PS4. No one I know has played it but it really does scratch that Diablo itch but much slower paced.

      I'd say a lot of us played it to death back in 2006.

      I actually played more TQ than D2 back in the day.

      I'm currently playing (and enjoying a great deal) TQ on the Xbox One. Such a great game, I just really wish the developers took the time to start the game. Its the most bug ridden mess I've ever played on a console (and I'm old). Early Access games tend to run more reliably than this. Dashboard crashes and the game locking up for no consistent reason. Targeting system is a joke, more frustrating than anything. You're better off not even trying to focus your attacks on anyone in particular and just roll with whatever the game decides you want to attack. While its a design choice they went with, trying to use late-game artifacts require you to get rare drops on normal difficulty. Just doesn't make any sense.

    Eternal Darkness on the GameCube

      I thought everybody loved that and thought pretty highly of it at the time.

        It was critically acclaimed but not sure how sales panned out. Launch games can sometimes be a bit rocky saleswise if the hardware isn't picked up in huge numbers at later buyers pick something newer. But everyone I know that played it thought it was awesome.

    Didn't think I'd see Hotel Dusk get some rep on here!

    I'll put a vote in for Mass Effect Andromeda. It really was quite excellent. It was really difficult not to compare it to the trilogy, something I think has soured a lot of people on it. Taken as a one-off, it was pretty cool and fun.

    My other vote would go to Mirror's Edge Catalyst, which I wrote about recently in a comment on another article. Great fun, great music, captured the futuristic dystopian feeling.

      I'll put a vote in for Mass Effect Andromeda. It really was quite excellent
      You take that back! :p

      But I think you nail why it got the reaction it did - it wasn't the original trilogy. Most reports from neutral observers though suggest that its a perfectly fine game in its own right, if treated as such.

        No, most reports are it was a buggy mess that had a rushed development with an inexperienced development B-team making it - the poor reaction was to do with it being a poorly made game.

      +1 for Andromeda, I'm playing through it at the moment and loving it. Probably helps I picked it up for $7 on a PS sale.

      I wouldn't call Andromeda underrated, maybe just overhated.

      Im happy with this comment, after they fixed the issues it was a lot better then what people gave it credit for

      I decided to finish it recently after getting bored around lvl 30 at release. There are still teleporting npcs in cut scenes.

    Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace for PSX. Better than the film. And I loved it.

    Thing on a Spring.

      Thing was pretty massive for its time though. You didn't end up a recurring character in the frames of Zzap64! if you weren't particularly well known ;)

      Amazing game, with one of the best soundtracks on the system!

        Yup i loved it! Definitely my first gaming memory. It's kinda odd to think, but we will be able to track our live through the games we played. We're the first humans to do that really.

    star reach (also called space federation)

    90s space strategy game that i spent a lot of time on as a kid.

    and also Dino Park Tycoon and Theme Hospital (but that gets love from some)

    Last edited 31/01/19 2:14 pm

    I used to love this racing game called Big Red Racing. My friends and I would play it for hours.

    Exhumed on Saturn. Loved that game, but totally overshadowed at the time by Duke3d/Quake.

    Uncharted Waters. A real Koei classic that I still play to this day.

    Kingdoms of Amalur reckoning, amazing game can't believe a lot of people haven't played it

    Where do I even begin? Haha.
    I saw someone already mention Blast Corps which I absolutely hated at first but eventually came to adore so so much.
    Hotel Dusk was a surprise to see here in the article, I loved it so much, it was so good. It made good use of the various DS features(the bloody puzzle you had to close the lod for...)
    Hybrid Heaven had such a unique and interesting battle system and leveling/skill system, such a shame I would love to see more games with a system like that.
    Gladius was another one with a great battle system, the swing meters and stuff were reallly cool as was the party recruiting and management.
    Most recently I think Miitopia was an amazing little jrpg that I think deserved a lot more praise for how charming it was and all the little things it did well.
    I could probably come up with a dozen or more if I sat and thought about it but those are the first to come to mind.

    I think I went on a little rant about how underrated it was recently, so I'll spare everyone that, but I'll just say Breakdown from the original XBOX.

    Definitely titanfall 2. It’s lack of marketing and terrible release date brought it down. Best FPS I’ve ever played hands down.

    It's gotta be Force Unleashed for me. Everyone hates on it but i thought it looked fantastic for the time and really let you go to town with the force powers. I still have my copy ( I mean I keep all my games these days anyway but still) and maybe in the future if I have kids they can enjoy it too.

    Home of the underdogs was the best. My favourite was gearhead garage. No way to lose, just do up and undo the bolts in your own time. And then one of the guys went on to do papers please.

    I'm here for M.U.D.S. Man, that game was amazing, I just wanted it to be three times longer. Having said that, my fourth floppy disk (because I had bought a pirated copy in Malaysia on 4 x 5¼” floppies) ended up being corrupted pretty early in the piece :(

    Warzone 2100 - still probably (to me) the best RTS of all time.

    Simple resource mechanics matched with an indepth yet intuitive command system, and construction and unit caps in the 100's, but that all can be managed without mass amounts of micro.

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