Obscure Gems: Introduction – Mike Matei Blog

We live in an interesting time for video games.

If you were to stop playing new releases for the rest of your life, there would be enough games that have already been made to provide you entertainment for the rest of your life.

If you go to a public library or a used bookstore, you will find yourself surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. In the majority of cases, you wouldn’t enjoy most of the books there if you had the time to read them all. However, you could walk past the best book you would ever read just sitting on the shelf and not ever know it was there, and go the entire rest of your life without reading it. Now, instead of a library, imagine you’re in a building that contains every game ever made. The best games you will ever play would be obscured all around you, but how would you find them?

Everyone I’ve met always has several games that they love but aren’t well known, and I’m willing to bet you do as well. Sometimes we happen upon these obscure titles purely by chance, and they end up becoming special parts of our lives.  Maybe you got a strange game as a gift that you ended up falling in love with, or you borrowed something from a friend.

It’s no secret that there are fantastic games that didn’t sell well. Some games are victims of too little or poor marketing, or they had the rotten luck of being released at the same time as a big blockbuster title and were overshadowed. Some good games were given bad reviews at the time of their release, but are still nonetheless good games.

I love finding these obscure gems, and I want to make a big list of as many as I can find.  I hope this series of articles will be a good resource for those of you out there looking for good things to play.

Obscure Gems will be covering games that are good. I’m not going to restrict it to only masterpieces, because I feel games that may just simply be above average but not phenomenal are still worthy of praise, and are still worth playing.

Do you know of any obscure titles that are worth playing? Send me a message or leave a comment below!

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9 thoughts on “Obscure Gems: Introduction – Mike Matei Blog”

  1. is it me or is the Gameboy Color under appreciated? I remember playing great games such as Mario golf and Metal Gear ghost babel on it. Even Donkey Kong Country got a port on the Gameboy Color. I’m sure there are many other great games I didn’t mention.

    Also the Commodore 64 had some great games like International Karate, Green Beret, and Frogger.

    Really like the blog, keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Mike!
    A Huuuge fan of Cinemassacre here, since the beginning of youtube. (I’m from Chile, by the way)
    Have you ever played “Operation Logic Bomb” for Snes?
    I believe that game enters on your description of obscure gems. It’s kinda a mix of metroid and contra.
    I really like this oportunity to write you and change a few words.
    Send to James a nice and a big thanks for all this years of fun, and for you too, of course!
    Bye MFM!

  3. A good NES game that has been passed over is Iron Tank. I don’t even think Pat Contri has mentioned it. It’s like if they made a full game out of a much better version of the tank from Ikari Warriors. One thing that was very cool for me at a young age was the multiple paths you can take. There was alot of exploration you could do, including different bosses depending on which way you go. It had bosses that inspired my drawings in first grade.. giant gun bases and tank trains and stuff… I thought Kickle Cubicle was a good puzzle game. Super dodge ball was the best sports game besides punch out on NES…Pat did a review on that one. -I actually bought the Arcade of it but believe it or not, the NES was much better. The NES Jackal was also better than the arcade. Illusion of Gaia on SNES. Metal Storm was good.

  4. Awesome idea! It’s sad how many great games are getting forgotten or disappearing into the mists of the past.

    Sometimes, to really appreciate a game you have to spend real time with it, like we did as kids when we didn’t have a billion games to play. It’s kind of like your games choose you, based on what you found at the store or in the bargain bin.

    I remember in 1996, I bought this PC game called Toonstruck, which is an FMV style adventure game where you control a disgruntled cartoonist who falls asleep and wakes up in the world of his own cartoon creations. Christopher Lloyd plays the cartoonist, and the art style is kinda like a Looney Tunes world, except pretty fucking twisted in parts. The actual game play is all about the puzzles and can be frustrating, but the sense of humor and acting is flat-out hilarious, and makes you feel like you’re in a classic cartoon. I can’t praise it enough. It sucks that almost nobody remembers it, although I was ecstatic to see it actually got a steam release.

    Good luck with the blog!

  5. Wonderboy 3: The Dragon’s Trap for the Sega Master System. They just released an HD remake of this which I was almost as baffled by when I came across Space Harrier 2, after being so fond of Space Harrier 3D (which the Sega Master System’s 3D I was in awe of at the time) My point of this ramble is that I came across Wonderboy 3 and Space Harrier 3D going into my local Toys R Us and looking at the back of the box. No reviews, no magazines, just my own feelings on what I saw. These are two I remember feeling like obscure gems to me. Anyways, the HD remake vs. the original would be of great interest to me, not because of the game, but from an artist’s thoughts.

  6. Demons Quest on the orignal Game Boy is a great game. Don’t hear too many people talk about it or the sequel on NES. They introduced mechanics which hadn’t been seen befor.
    Everyone is always going on about Demons Crest, which is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the Demons Quest is it all began.

  7. Secret of Evermore was one of my favorite SNES games, but I don’t think I know another person who has played it. Similar to the Secret of Mana series, it is usually lumped in as a knockoff, but was designed as a standalone game. The game has its flaws, but it provided a cool story about a boy and his dog trying to escape a savage world. The sound effects were great, and the alchemy system was something different form the common mana spells in rpgs. I’d encourage people to give it a shot not as a Mana game, but as a game that stands on its own.

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