Some video games have the ability to create wonderful memories, even if they aren’t exactly perceived as great.
These are the underrated games–titles that have some quality, some merit, but are perceived by many as terrible or bad. For whatever reason, these titles end up being hated by the fanbase, or just hated in general, when I believe they deserve far better treatment than that.
Today, we’re going to talk about five of these kinds of games. This list will be based purely on my opinion, so if we disagree, well. I’d love to hear what your thoughts at the end of it!
1. Super Paper Mario
The Mario RPGs are interesting beasts.
There have been a lot of great Mario RPGs throughout the years, as well as lots of bad ones. With Paper Mario on one end, and Sticker Star on the other, there are some games whose placements are simply undisputed. However, regarding Super Paper Mario in particular, it struck me as a huge surprise to see that many, many people consider it one of the worst RPGs in the series.
Super Paper Mario changed things up for sure. It shifted from a standard RPG, to more platform-based gameplay, and had a huge focus on storytelling. Many of its critics have considered its difficulty, odd gameplay, and weird story to detract from it, making the game disjointed and bad.
I’ve gotta say though, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Personally, I freaking loved Super Paper Mario. Providing (in my mind, at least) memorable characters, some interesting level design choices, as well as a far darker tone than other Mario games. It was refreshing–and although many of the flaws that it has are quite apparent, Super Paper Mario had a very clear personality, a very clear story that it was trying to tell, and I appreciate it for that. And hey, I thought the gameplay was fun as well, despite its rather mild difficulty.
It was a pretty good game, one that certainly doesn’t deserve to be listed among the worst of the Mario RPGs.
2. The Lego Series
I feel that Lego in general, has been the brand that NO ONE expects good material from, but ends up making some pretty damn good stuff.
Let’s be honest here–if you had to choose between one of the many Lego-games out there, and almost anything else, you’d probably choose anything else. These games have received a Skylanders-esque stigma, a thought that it’s a sell out for the “family gamers,” the “E for everyone” crowd. They’re simplistic, they’re dumb, they’re not “real games.”
Well…you’d be half right, and half wrong.
I know that I was one of those people that considered the Lego games casual, family games. In fact, that’s what they’re designed to be. But I also made the mistake of considering them as less quality games because of it. And man, that is a huge mistake.
The Lego games are actually a TON of fun. They’re very simplistic at heart, but also provide room for a lot of creativity–a lot like the product the games are designed around. Providing a plethora of characters to play as, numerous gimmicks and devices that make use of the universe’s mechanics, and collectibles that are, at times, VERY satisfying to get, the Lego series in general oozes quality.
Not to mention, the humor of the series is top notch. You wouldn’t think that brick-based jokes would be good for so long, but man, they just work so well.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004)
This game, in the Legend of Zelda franchise, is one that is hardly ever mentioned, and when I do see it mentioned, I hear nothing but sub-par reviews. That it’s a decent game, but nothing new, with a non-existent story, and rehashed GBA gameplay.
But man, Four Swords Adventures was a freaking gem.
Unlike other Zelda games, which generally feature larger, open worlds that are free to explore, Four Swords Adventures uses a level-based system. With eight unique levels, and three stages in each one, it is rather distinct from any other Zelda game, in that its storytelling is done primarily through cutscenes, and small events and dialogue that happen from a top-down perspective. It’s interesting, it’s unique, and provided a different look at the stereotypical Zelda storyline we all know and love–a great change of pace from how Zelda games usually play out.
That said, the gameplay of Four Swords Adventures was RIDICULOUSLY fun as well. Simultaneously controlling four Links, with four swords, and four times the firepower, allowed for some moments that were undeniably VERY satisfying. Cutting down rooms full of enemies, upgrading your items to make them stupidly powerful, and collecting force gems, Four Swords Adventures was not a game with huge amounts of depth, but it was certainly, above all else, fun.
Combine this with a story that is actually pretty intriguing, given the unique form of storytelling, and you have a game that at the very least, is in my opinion, one of the best top-down Zelda games. Perhaps it is not the best, the quintessential adventure game that Zelda games are known for, but it is certainly worthy of the mantle of “The Legend of Zelda.”
4. Sonic Heroes
Many people might forget about this entry in the series, as, for a long time, many fans of Sonic The Hedgehog considered Sonic Adventure 2 the last good 3D Sonic game. Sonic Heroes fell off the map, and all I’ve heard about it in recent times, is that it was a bad game, that marked the downfall of Sega’s 3D Sonic titles.
Of course, that’s just a bit of a stretch.
Sonic Heroes was an extremely enjoyable game, one that I believe is either just as good as Sonic Adventure 2, or is only slightly worse. It has flaws in its storytelling and voice acting, for sure, but in almost everything else, It was great.
From a graphical standpoint, it stands out, separated from Sonic Adventure 2 by a huge margin. Also, the gameplay mechanics that feature three different characters at once, are very unique, while not taking away from the speed that distinguishes the Sonic series. The three modes, speed, power, and flying, felt natural to go through, and really distinguished the gameplay of Sonic Heroes, especially compared to earlier Sonic games.
Considering the Adventure games good, but totally ignoring Sonic Heroes, simply can’t be done. Sonic Heroes was an awesome game, one of the better ones of the franchise, and one that I feel get’s overlooked far too easily.
5. Star Fox Assault
The inspiration for this list, Star Fox Assault is one of those games that received a lot of criticism, for many reasons. It’s been called shit, it’s been called crap, it’s been called unfaithful to the original Star Fox series, and has overall, been considered as a subpar game.
To which I’ve got to say, no. I loved Star Fox Assault, and definitely feel as if it got a lot of undeserved flak, that highlights everything wrong with the fanbase of the series.
This game experimented with something new: third-person shooter controls. Mixing on-foot combat with on-rails shooter missions, Star Fox Assault attempted to mix up the standard formula of the series, to…very mixed reception. Citing terrible controls for the on-foot sections, and only sub-par on-rails shooter sections, as well as a melodramatic story, many fans clamored for a return to the good ol’ days, of Star Fox 64, and the original SNES Star Fox.
However, I believe Assault was a great game, not just for what it brought in and of itself, but in what it tried to do for the franchise.
With an amazing soundtrack, genuinely enjoyable Arwing sections, as well as the best multiplayer of the series, I believe that, even as a game, it wasn’t bad. Even the on-foot sections were pretty fun in my eyes, once you got used to the controls. However, what sells Assault for me was the characterization, and increased focus on story that it offered.
The Star Fox series is one that, in my eyes, did not establish an identity very well. Being driven at this point only by Star Fox 64, the series had only a bare bones plot, non-existent characterization, and a lack of any real investment to any of its iconic characters. Where Link is defined as a hero, and Samus is known as a bounty hunter with a heart of gold, Fox McLoud is…vague, by comparison. So, seeing him in Assault as a commander, given a more headstrong, heroic-mercenary vibe, and seeing the rest of the cast with more defined personalities, was rather welcome, at least in my eyes.
It tried to give the Star Fox series a revised identity, but failed in that respect, simply because it wasn’t Star Fox 64. And you know, I think that’s a shame. Assault did a lot of things right, and I believe it deserves a lot more recognition than it ended up getting.
Well, that’s it for my opinion. Do you guys consider any other games underrated? Disagree, or agree, with any of these picks? Leave a comment down below!