Video games are a favorite pastime of millions of people from all over the world. These days, there is an almost endless supply of different games in different genres to choose from. While some games are showered with critical praise, have millions of fans and play amazingly well, other games are huge duds that seemingly no one likes to play.
However, there is another category of video games that fall into the camp of being underrated gems. These are ones that were either rated fairly low upon their release, or simply don’t get as much praise as they should. The following are 15 underrated games that we loved to play, despite them not receiving a ton of critical acclaim or praise.
15. Mega Man 7
Mega Man games have been going strong for decades now and Capcom’s Blue Bomber is one of the most recognizable characters in video gaming history. There have been some spin-offs, but most people would say the mainline series from Mega Man to Mega Man 10 are the definative Mega Man games. Despite all the love the series has gotten, fans seem to just hate Mega Man 7.
While it didn’t offer a lot in terms of new features or gameplay over its predecessors, Mega Man 7 is by no mean a terrible game. It also had a relatively short development cycle, which could be why people aren’t the biggest fans of it. Despite all this, it is still a fun game to play, offers the same platforming fun the series is known for and was one of the best games to hit the Super Nintendo during its later years.
14. Star Wars Battlefront (2015)
Star Wars Battlefront is one of the most interesting game releases of all time, as it’s one of the few big budget licensed games to release without a proper single-player campaign mode, and instead focus almost exclusively on online multiplayer. This, of course, led a lot of people to be upset at the game, its developers and of course EA, its publisher. Still, Star Wars Battlefront managed to sell sold more than 14 million copies and was a financial success, despite receiving mixed reviews. This is crazy to us as the game plays very well and looks even better from a graphical standpoint. There is no doubting this game deserves a spot on this list as it doesn’t get nearly the amount of love it should (and is arguably better than its 2017 sequel).
13. NHL Hitz 2002
If you are a fan of hockey (especially the big hits and the fighting) this is the absolute best hockey game you will ever play. NHL Hitz features fast-paced action, huge hits and a very arcade-like feel. The game is 3-on-3 and is good fun for casual and hardcore fans alike but unfortunately, it doesn’t get as much praise as EA’s NHL series that has a new release every year, despite arguably being the more entertaining game (at least for its time). There were a few sequels in the NHL Hitz series, but none are quite as magical as the original. Hopefully, the series will make a comeback someday.
12. Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion was a launch game for the Nintendo Gamecube and one of the first games in the Mario series to feature Luigi as the star and main character. The game featured Luigi going through a haunted mansion on a search to find Mario, tasking him with confronting a ton of ghosts and capturing them in a special device (think Ghostbusters with a Nintendo spin). The game did decently well with critics (though some knocked the game for being too short) and sold very well, but is still largely underrated by most. It barely got any 8/10 (or 80/100) ratings from major publications, despite having amazing graphics, gameplay and design, which were all very great for the time. Thankfully, we eventually got a sequel in the form of the surprisingly strong Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS.
The story behind Psychonauts is a very interesting one, as the game was actually based on an abandoned concept that director Tim Schafer toyed with during the development of the 1995 Lucasarts adventure game Full Throttle. Psychonauts tells the story of a young boy with psychic powers who tries to sneak into a camp, but then finds out there is a sinister situation going on that only he can solve. Despite receiving mostly positive reviews from critics (getting mid-to-high ratings), Psychonauts sold extremely poorly and was an early disappointment for Shafter’s still-new studio Double Fine. While it has since garnered a substantial cult following (enough so that a sequel is currently in the works), the game was criminally overlooked and underrated upon initial release and deserved to sell way more copies.
10. NBA Street
Similar to the NHL Hitz series mentioned earlier in this article, NBA Street is a game all about combining the big names and teams of the NBA with a more casual and “streetball” feel. This means crazier moves, bigger jumps, and a whole new spin on playing NBA games. The original NBA Street was an incredibly fun game and a good change of pace from the more realistic NBA 2K or NBA Live games of the time. NBA Street produced a few sequels, but the original will always be the best. It may have earned good reviews and sold well, but it simply doesn’t get enough praise for basically jump-starting the “street” sports gaming craze of the mid-2000s.
The survival-horror genre has experienced something of a resurgence over the past few years, thanks to developers actually releasing some quality games. One of the best of the bunch is Outlast. A psychological thriller/horror game in which you play a journalist investigating a remote psychiatric hospital in the middle of nowhere. The atmosphere of Outlast is extremely creepy but it didn’t get as many high review scores as it arguably deserved. Despite how big it was in helping move the survival-horror genre forward, Outlast doesn’t get the attention that it deserves from most of the public, though that thankfully is starting to change as its reputation grows.
8. Evil Genius (2004)
While it does feature some annoying bugs that rear their ugly head from time-to-time, Evil Genius is one of the best strategy games out there. The game has a very unique sense of humor and a wildly different outlook on the “god-game” genre popularized by titles like Civilization and SimCity. The game is inspired by the spy thriller genre and is set in the 1960s/70s. Basically, you play a villainous force trying to control and dominate the world. One of the best things about Evil Genius is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is an original, entertaining experience. Despite this, the reviews for the game were just “okay”, which is surprising considering everything from the inspired gameplay, to the humor and everything else in-between merited a more favorable critical reaction, as least in this writer’s humble opinion.
7. The Saboteur
Thanks in large part to influential series like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, the third-person open world genre has remained one of the most popular in gaming for close to two decades. Because of this, it’s not shocking that some open world games have fallen under radar. One of the best examples of this is The Saboteur. Developed by the now-defunct studio Pandemic, The Saboteur casts you as a freedom fighter in Nazi-controlled France and offers a different take on the World War II and open-world genre in one fell swoop. Grand Theft Auto may get all the praise, but The Saboteur remains one of the more interesting open-world games of the last decade thanks to its well-realized setting and “one man versus the world” gameplay focus. The Saboteur deserved to be rated much higher than it was but thankfully, it is now considered Pandemic’s swan song and has attained a loyal fanbase in its own right.
6. Bioshock 2
The Bioshock games are legendary and the original is generally regarded as one of the best games ever made. However, all of the games did decently well and have been pretty solid first-person shooters across the board. Still, Bioshock 2 always seems to be the black sheep in the family. It gets a lot of flak for being a slow starter and being too similar to the original. It sold 3 million copies, but that did not live up to how its publisher wanted it to perform. Bioshock 2 received solid ratings, but nothing close to the original. If this game had not carried the Bioshock name, it likely would have been better received as it is not only a worthwhile sequel to the original but even better in some respects, with the DLC chapter Minerva’s Den being possibly the greatest thing the Bioshock universe has ever produced. The fact Bioshock 2 was a sequel to one of the best games ever means it is often overlooked and underappreciated.
5. Super Mario Bros 2
You would be hard-pressed to find a more legendary or influential game than the original Super Mario Bros., which played a significant role in reviving gaming as a whole following the crash of 1983. As you can imagine, creating a follow-up to a game as big as Super Mario Bros. would have been no easy task.. As a result, the peculiar Super Mario Bros 2 didn’t get nearly the amount of acclaim and love that it should have. Though it still sold qutie well, Super Mario Bros. 2 is generally regarded as one of the lesser 2D Mario platformers, despite having made improvements to so many things from the original, to the point where ideas introduced in SMB2 would carry over to dozens of other Mario games going forward. It deserves to be seen as one of the best games ever and deserves just as much (if not more) praise than the original for the impressive changes that were made.
4. Spider-Man 2
Of all the great open-world games that have come out over the years, few can put a smile on a gamer’s face like Spider-Man 2. Released in 2004, Spider-Man 2 was well ahead of its time in terms of the way it played., particularly its incredible web-swinging mechanics. The game allowed players to swing freely through Manhattan as Spider-Man and you could spend hours just jumping off rooftops and flying around without getting bored.The map is huge and there is so much to do and see. Despite some reviews that were high, most were just average and criticized the length of the game and the camera angles. It deserved to get much better reviews from both fans and critics alike for how fun it was.
3. The World is Not Enough
The World is Not Enough is a game based on the James Bond film of the same name and featured solid controls, story ,and gameplay engine. It sold over a million copies and was one of the better licensed games to release on the N64. It got decent reviews and praise from some, but the reason it is largely underrated is because it is often compared to another James Bond game, Goldeneye, which is a bit unfair considering it’s regarded as one of the greatest first-person shooters ever made. If that game didn’t exist, The World is Not Enough would probably be seen as one of the best first-person shooters on the N64 and one of the best James Bond games but as it stands, it’s one that is often overlooked and forgotten about.
2. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger
There is a good chance that very few of you currently reading this have ever heard of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, which is a testament to how underrated and underappreciated it is. It was a game that featured a title character traversing an Australian island getting into all sorts of interesting situations and platforming puzzles. It played very similar to the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot games, with some people saying it is even better (while others countered that it was too derivative). The game released back in 2002 and got fairly mixed reviews, with it barely averaging a 7/10 (or 70/100) from major publications. If you haven’t heard of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, be sure to give it a look.
1. Mirror’s Edge
Coming in as the most underrated game of all time is none other than Mirror’s Edge. The game is set in a futuristic world in which runners (one of which is the main/playable character) transit messages around while trying to evade the government, who spy on everything. The game had an amazing style and the parkour-heavy gameplay felt fresh and very ambitious for its time. The game was so different than anything else on the market and that in itself was a breath of fresh air, but still, it received mixed reviews with some reviewers criticizing the level design as well as the length.