Top Ten: Hidden Gems

The best games you might have missed the first time around!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 07/15/2014 09:00 8 Comments     ShareThis

1. Beyond Good & Evil

Developer: Ubisoft
Released: GameCube (2003)

Beyond Good & Evil is one of the most heartbreakingly underrated games ever made. Critics chatted it up with great enthusiasm, yet despite the most earnest of praise, players left the game to languish in bargain bins across the country. Fans often (rightfully) complain about a lack of diversity in the video game marketplace, in terms of gameplay and content, so when Beyond Good & Evil came along, it seemed primed for success. A relatable, realistic female lead, a unique story of an intergalactic conspiracy, and exciting gameplay; on paper, the game was everything players claimed they wanted. Its sales numbers, sadly, hardly reflected that.

For those who did give Beyond Good & Evil a shot, they discovered a game that played not too dissimilarly to a Legend of Zelda title. Jade, the main protagonist, explored a vast world, stuffed with secrets and adventure. At the time, it was one of the most visually fascinating games on GameCube, and showed a level of polish usually only reserved for AAA titles. With a lovable, memorable cast and some of the best writing the console ever saw, Beyond Good & Evil was a testament to its creator Michel Ancel’s (also the father of Rayman) ambition and vision for the game. While all the titles on this list deserved to have been found by more players, Beyond Good & Evil is in a class of its own. Many of the ills of the industry could be solved if a game like this were released today; it’s the ultimate hidden gem.

This Top Ten is now officially concluded. What oddball obscurity were you hoping might get some love? Solatorobo? Trace Memory? Cool Spot? Make your selection heard in the comments!

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8 Responses to “Top Ten: Hidden Gems”

  • 222 points
    PanurgeJr says...

    I’ve played 5 of these games, played the sequel to one, own another, and have been scouring eBay for non-overpriced copies of two others, and just haven’t overpaid for them because my backlog is already huge, especially for handheld titles, so it’s safe to say I heartily agree with this list. The one change I’d make is to remove Geist and add Fragile Dreams, a game which received undue criticism of its gameplay and too little appreciation for its story and design, pretty much the opposite of The Last of Us, whose mediocre gameplay was given a pass by people who were overawed by its production values.

    And since there’s no reason to limit ourselves to playing just ten hidden gems, some other hidden gems to play:

    Zack and Wiki
    Racing Gears Advance
    Pandora’s Tower (despite being one of Operation Rainfall’s trio it remains hidden to the general public)

  • 1291 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    I love that you mentioned Zach & Wiki, I scrapped it in the eleventh hour when I was writing this, in order to give some slightly more obscure titles a chance to shine. Now I’m going to look up Catrap because of you! =) I have Fragile Dreams but have yet to play it; it has some great graphics from the little I have experienced.

    Now let’s add some more games!

    Garfield’s Nightmare
    Klonoa (Wii)
    Touch Mechanic
    Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
    Final Fantasy XII Revanant Wings

    Let’s keep this going, people! (Lol, a couple of my hidden gems aren’t so hidden, I know, but they’re underappreciated, for sure!).

  • 276 points
    Nicolas Vestre says...

    Great list! :)

    I downloaded Mole Mania on a whim, but only got a few stages in. Definitely interested in pursuing that game.

    Monster Tale was an awesome title (I compulsively raised every kind of monster I could), and I hope we can see a spiritual successor (Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion disappointed me big time) sometime soon.

    I bought Rhythm Thief for a respectable price on Amazon in 2012, but it’s still in its shrink wrap. Your recommendation makes me want to put it in my queue.

    Drill Dozer is one of my favorite Game Boy Advance games; I loved the intricate bosses above everything else, but the rest of the game was fantastic, too.

    Beyond Good & Evil was captivating from beginning to end. Definitely recommended.

    Catrap looks really fun, and I have to give Klonoa for Wii a try (bought it but haven’t played it).

    If I could think of a hidden gem… how about Big Bang Mini for DS? I loved that game so much it left indelible marks on my DSi touch screen. The bonus rounds were intense and fun (not to mention you only get one shot at them per beating a level).

  • 1291 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    Argh, you don’t know how many times I saw Big Bang Mini on sale and never got it! Added to my list of games to buy =) More for the list:

    Shinobi (3DS)
    A Boy and His Blob (Wii)
    Spyborgs (Wii)
    Muramasa (Wii)
    Bionic Commando (Game Boy Color)

  • 18 points
    Iain Farrell says...

    Love that Drill Dozer is in there. I <3 that game :) It has a mental gear changing mechanic which is really neat and the cartridge has a tiny pager style motor in and vibrates when you're drilling. Great game!

  • 678 points
    amishpyrate says...

    I really liked gunstar super heroes. Not sure if it was two player, if so never got to try it. Played the original for sega a lot. A similar game that I felt was superior by treasure was Astroboy for gameboy advance. Never was an astroboy fan but that game was awesome in every way. Going way back, a favorite of mine from the NES not a lot of people played was M.C. Kids. AVGN slammed it but I loved that game and still find it fun today

  • 849 points
    ejamer says...

    Ooh… Great list, but seeing Geist was a surprise.

    That game had a fantastic concept but mediocre (at best) execution. Far too often it fell into standard FPS gameplay instead of taking advantage of what made the game unique. This is all personal opinion, but I’d call Geist a curiosity worth trying instead of a real gem.

    My pick for a replacement? Maybe Dawn of Discovery on Wii. Great game that it seems like nobody played.

  • 258 points
    Joshua A. Johnston says...

    A couple of people have questioned Geist’s inclusion on this list, and I understand that. The game mechanic was very novel and the plot more interesting than I would have thought, but the controls were not tight, which made the shooting tricky and the endboss control-throwing hard. Still, it says something that the story really captivated me, even if I’ll probably never play it again.

    As someone else mentioned, Fragile Dreams on Wii is a worthy hidden gem — great game, great atmosphere. I think the same of Baten Kaitos Origins for GameCube (still think it is Cube’s best RPG) and Opoona on Wii, a great game hampered by a shoddy localization.

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