Game Philosophy: Underrated Games

And here I am again.

You know what, I don’t think I need to give examples of nerd costumes any more. If you’ve read all previous ones here you’d probably look like an uber nerd right now.

So let’s just skip that and have yet another:


Today’s topic:
Underrated Games

Since I talked about underrated games, I might as well finish that off with actual underrated games.

Games which had great ideas and actually were implemented pretty well, except for some reason people don’t play it.

So here we go.

Tenchu Z is a spinoff of the regular Tenchu games.
The Tenchu games are interesting since they show ninjas in the way they’re supposed to be, stealthy.
However it’s a spinoff because instead of playing the established characters of the series, you instead make your own Ninja who goes through his/her own story.

Now one thing to note is that Tenchu Z was made close to the Xbox 360’s release… and it shows… a lot.
The graphics are not it’s strong points, looking more like an upscaled Xbox game than an Xbox 360 game.

But the game in itself is actually pretty fun.
It’s one of the few games where I find Multiplayer Co-op to be fun, having you play as 4 Ninjas shadowing over a level killing everyone while not being seen.

In comparison to games these days, the Character customization isn’t anything special, but it’s fun and good enough to have enough differences over the characters so each of the 4 players would look different.

It also makes you able to customize your Ninja’s skills, and how his/her techniques work.

Usually I don’t think “buy it for the Multiplayer” to be a good reason for a game to call it good, since a good game should be good enough to stand on it’s own with Single Player.
But the Single Player is good enough to do that, so Multiplayer is instead a very welcome addition.

Shinobi for the PS2 is, no exaggeration, HARD.
You play a Ninja who’s from the same clan as the Ninja from the old game classics (also called Shinobi, duh) with his own story.
The game is fast and makes you feel like a badass when you play it right.

Or rather IF you play it right.
You see, in the game your health deteriorates unless you kill enemies. And it’s pretty challenging to kill enemies as fast as possible when they block your attacks and counterattack making you fly back a couple feet.

As you can imagine, the game turned lots of people off with it’s difficulty.
However, if you take the time to learn how the game works and how to do tricks, dash behind enemies (and occasionally learn to kick) then you’ll realize it’s an awesome game.

It’s fun, it’s fast, it makes you feel like a badass Ninja and every slash you make would feel like it has consequences simply due to the health system.
I really hope an actual sequel will be made of this (besides Nightshade).

Shinobido Way of the Ninja is… another Ninja stealth game…
Okay, someone please take me away from Ninjas for a while…

Anyway, Shinobido is made by the same creators of the original Tenchu games, however the difference here is that it’s fighting is better.
Instead of saying fighting in the open is a punishment for bad stealth play, they make you competent enough to actually let you just burst into a house and steal something if you prefer to work that way.

See, it’s the addition of options that makes the game good, but that’s not all.

The main character has his own hideout, with his own garden.
What’s interesting is how you have full control over how the garden looks like.
You can set traps in case an invasion comes, and even hire guards to patrol over your garden in case an enemy appears.

It really adds replay value to a game which in itself has quite lots of replay value to begin with.
One of the reasons would be how you can choose how the story goes.
There are 3 poweful people, one of whom the emperor, who ask favors of you, and you can choose to help either of the 3.
Depending on your choices, you either make friends or enemies, and ultimately it’ll be up to you who wins the war.

The great thing about it is how the writers know that it’s a story for a game, and thus shouldn’t be bound by a structure of a movie.
Because of that, the way you play will affect the story and you will always get something which you think should personally happen.

Fear 3… or… F3ar? Yeah whatever, at least it’s not a Ninjas game.

The Fear series are one of the few shooters which I tolerate simply due to the fact that it does something different than the standard shooter.
In this case it’s horror, but the main selling point for this particular game is it’s co-op.

Usually co-op is just a case of copy-pasting two characters and have each character just work on his own.
However here it’s different.

One player will play the Pointman, a soldier with super reflexes making him able to see everything is slowmotion.
The other player will play Paxton Fettel, his dead ghost brother.

The dead ghost brother is able to use psychic powers instead of fighting with guns (though you can fight with guns if you posess an enemy).
This is good, this creates a difference between the two characters and the players would have to work together to cover eachother’s shortcomings with their strengths.

But that’s not all. See, in-story the two brothers kind of have a strained relationship. For one thing the Pointman was the one who killed Paxton Fettel before he became a ghost.
Unlike other games where they just SAY their relationship is strained and don’t show it in gameplay, here they DO show it in gameplay, and they do it in the form of the “Favorite Son” ranking and the Psychic Links.

I’ll explain the Favorite Son part first. The game has a score system, and of the two players, the one with the highest score gets branded the “Favorite Son” after each level.
After the game, the one who’s been the “Favorite Son” the most will get his ending.
This makes the players be competitive in their battles, yet begrudgingly have to work together simply because if one dies, the other will lose too.

The Psychic Links are collectables in the game, and collecting one will get you at least 1000 points.
However in co-op you get the choice of either sharing the Psychic Link or steal it.
If you steal it, you’ll exclusively get 1500 points. If you share it, you will get 1000 points and the other player will get 1000 points too.
It gives the player the choice of practically betraying his team mate by stealing a Psychic Link when he wasn’t looking, which makes them both paranoid of each other in general.

Apparently people say it’s inferior to the previous two games (excluding the expansion packs) because of it’s lack of scares and horror.
In my opinion it has enough horror, especially when horror isn’t really it’s focus anymore considering your partner is a friggin ghost.

Alan Wake isn’t so much underrated in it’s critical praise, but more in it’s sales.
Apparently it’s one of the most pirated games of 2010.

Which is a shame since the game really deserves it’s praise and money.
I’ve got the collectors edition and looked at how it was made. How the designers practically traveled all over the world to get inspiration for the game’s world.

The game has a story which instead of simulating a movie it simulates a TV show, which I really do think is a much better choice.
The game is divided in “Episodes” and starting each one will get you a recap of the previous episode.

It has a great story and a great way of telling the story in it’s gameplay, and the writing is just great.
Whether it tries to be scary, funny, actionpacked, it’s all, and if I can find a Novel of the story, I’d totally get it.

It’s been confirmed that a sequel is in the making, which I’m glad to hear. I thought the lack of sales would’ve made a sequel impossible.
I do think the games needs support though, and because of that I recommend anyone who likes a good story to get this game.

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

5 thoughts on “Game Philosophy: Underrated Games

  1. Hi minh,

    Its me, Ovul.
    I have to say that I enjoy ninja games overall but there are just too less games of the caliber of “Tenchu Z”. Why? because people tend to be triggerhappy zombies regarding games, they just want to shoot things and patience doesn’t mix into that. Im my opinion, there are far too less GOOD ninja and/or stealth games.
    And oh yeah, thanks for the nostalgasm! I thought I had forgotten the game “Shinobi”, but apparently I still recognize it! I only got to play the demo on the PS2 though.


    1. I’d say Shinobido is a good Ninja game in the sense that it shows all the different ways a Ninja can function within one game. So I suggest trying to look it up somehow.
      I’d also suggest Ninja Gaiden since it’s one of my favorite games, but it’s not exactly a stealth game :P


      1. yup, true dat. Ninja Gaiden 2 was a pain in the ass, I found it VERY hard even on its “normal” difficulty :P I just could’t get past that boss in the hectagonal/circular room if I recall correctly. I would try it again, but I sadly don’t have the game anymore.


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