Reflecting on Games Nobody Played

Reflecting on Games Nobody Played

Under-appreciated gems are as much a pillar of gaming as triple-A blockbusters. As distribution methods change however, how do the hidden classics change with them?

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I think marketing had a bit to do with it. I never saw a shred of it for Beyond Good and Evil or Psychonauts. Hell, I'm pretty sure the only thing I saw on Okami was the conference that it was shown at before release (can't remember which) and the online announcement for the HD re-release several years later on the PS3. There was a lot of marketing hype in the PS2 era, but I remember its tone being a lot more presentation, and less in-your-face-Dewritos.

I think another reason games were missed despite being great might have had something to do with the journalism surrounding gaming. Gaming magazines were only starting to become big and the big gaming expos didn't have the massive clout and experience they have now built up today. Hell, even sites like the Escapist weren't so big either. So to even hear about the games relied on good old fashion word of mouth or having them catch your eye in the store. I remember getting Beyond Good and Evil myself years after its release because of reading an article quite like this one; an article that never existed when the game initially launched.

This is the phenomenon that comes to mind whenever I see or read someone (typically an old-guard music critic decrying digital distribution) pining for the "good old days" of limited access and distribution of intellectual property where stuff got less visibility and ability to be discovered by people who might like it and give artists the ability to make more. The new distribution "order" is well worth whatever pop music star you want to grumble about having exposure or the plethora of sub-par early access games that came along with it.

I think it also has to do with what those consoles had become. They were nearing the end of their short lives as the dominant console. Things like Stubbs the Zombie came out in late 2005 on Xbox even though 360 was near or on the horizon.

As for your question, the new era of hidden gems will come because of the deluge of waste that Steam has become. It used to be that you played the good smaller indie games on there and you could find the lesser known games but now with so much shit on there, finding the good games has become a lot harder. And with the integrity of gaming journalism having been called into question, reading reviews alone may end up burying a good game for political reasons alone.

FoolKiller:
I think it also has to do with what those consoles had become. They were nearing the end of their short lives as the dominant console. Things like Stubbs the Zombie came out in late 2005 on Xbox even though 360 was near or on the horizon.

As for your question, the new era of hidden gems will come because of the deluge of waste that Steam has become. It used to be that you played the good smaller indie games on there and you could find the lesser known games but now with so much shit on there, finding the good games has become a lot harder. And with the integrity of gaming journalism having been called into question, reading reviews alone may end up burying a good game for political reasons alone.

Player reviews to the rescue!

I miss those days of going in to GameStop and just looking through the shelves and going, "No way! Is that...?" That was a good feeling, and I do think it's a pity that a lot of people won't get to experience that anymore.

I found Psychonauts at Toys R Us almost two years after it was released. It was, as you said, in the bargain bin. I snatched it right up. Now though, stores really only carry the "new" releases, while the older games just sort of vanish. I like digging for stuff, so I appreciate where this article is coming from.

I've bought Beyond Good & Evil, Anachronox and Psychonauts from regular brick-and-mortar stores.
I'm actually looking at them in my game & movie bookshelf right now.
However, I did not buy them for full price..I never buy games for full price.
There is an arbitrary number which I base my purchasing decision around.
I also like to dig around in bargain bins and such.

The limited space available in stores was always a drawback and one that digital stores actually deserves praise for doing away with, as a concept.
Not that digital stores don't have their own problems.

Anyway, in both cases the price was always set too high for me to buy "at launch".

RealRT:

FoolKiller:
I think it also has to do with what those consoles had become. They were nearing the end of their short lives as the dominant console. Things like Stubbs the Zombie came out in late 2005 on Xbox even though 360 was near or on the horizon.

As for your question, the new era of hidden gems will come because of the deluge of waste that Steam has become. It used to be that you played the good smaller indie games on there and you could find the lesser known games but now with so much shit on there, finding the good games has become a lot harder. And with the integrity of gaming journalism having been called into question, reading reviews alone may end up burying a good game for political reasons alone.

Player reviews to the rescue!

You're joking, right?

Joshroom:
I think another reason games were missed despite being great might have had something to do with the journalism surrounding gaming. Gaming magazines were only starting to become big and the big gaming expos didn't have the massive clout and experience they have now built up today. Hell, even sites like the Escapist weren't so big either. So to even hear about the games relied on good old fashion word of mouth or having them catch your eye in the store. I remember getting Beyond Good and Evil myself years after its release because of reading an article quite like this one; an article that never existed when the game initially launched.

^This^

This is exactly what it was like for me. It's how I found Psychonauts, BG&E, and KOTOR 1 & 2. They were either in the bargain bin at Toys R Us (BG&E and Psychonauts for $5 each, and KOTOR 1/2 used for $10-$20).

.

I think the funniest "How did I find this game?" moment for me was when certain legislators were openly criticizing the violence of games, with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the most prominent in a list of 10. I believe this was on C-SPAN or something, and one of the commentators was a guy who was wondering what exactly makes a game violent. He was starting to hit on something big, and as he continued to speak he mentioned another game I hadn't heard of: Burnout 3: Takedown. "Oh, it's very violent, but it's just a racing game...what makes this game any less violent than a game like San Andreas?"

And that's when I went ORLY and I immediately went out and bought a copy. Best purchase ever.

I think I have a pretty good idea why no one played Beyond Good and Evil when it came out. It came out on the same week as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I think this might be an early case of Ubisoft Ubisofting everything up.

Maze1125:

RealRT:

FoolKiller:
I think it also has to do with what those consoles had become. They were nearing the end of their short lives as the dominant console. Things like Stubbs the Zombie came out in late 2005 on Xbox even though 360 was near or on the horizon.

As for your question, the new era of hidden gems will come because of the deluge of waste that Steam has become. It used to be that you played the good smaller indie games on there and you could find the lesser known games but now with so much shit on there, finding the good games has become a lot harder. And with the integrity of gaming journalism having been called into question, reading reviews alone may end up burying a good game for political reasons alone.

Player reviews to the rescue!

You're joking, right?

No, but if you want a joke, here you go. A priest, a rabbi and a hooker walk into a bar...

I see you're going to review Pharaoh next week.

That's all well and good, but if you're going to do an old Sierra/Impression city builder, you should do Zeus: Master of Olympus.

It is the pinnacle of that particular era of historic city builders.

Norix596:
This is the phenomenon that comes to mind whenever I see or read someone (typically an old-guard music critic decrying digital distribution) pining for the "good old days" of limited access and distribution of intellectual property where stuff got less visibility and ability to be discovered by people who might like it and give artists the ability to make more. The new distribution "order" is well worth whatever pop music star you want to grumble about having exposure or the plethora of sub-par early access games that came along with it.

Yeah, and it's not like there wasn't crappy pop music everywhere before modern distribution. If anything it was more pervasive then because if, like most non-city dwellers, you didn't get a lot of radio stations or have good record stores nearby you couldn't ignore the pop drivel easily. Just like if you didn't have a game store nearby back in the day (and most people didn't) your choices were pretty much limited to whatever wal or k-mart happened to have in stock.

There might be a lot of crap to sift through in all media these days, but far better to be spoilt for choice than to have no choice, especially if you have niche tastes.

Not Lord Atkin:
I think I have a pretty good idea why no one played Beyond Good and Evil when it came out. It came out on the same week as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I think this might be an early case of Ubisoft Ubisofting everything up.

Yeah, and Sands of Time had an actual marketing push. I remember the TV commercials for that one. I think the first time I heard about BG&E was when Yahtzee(?) made fun of the protagonists' character design.

Sniper Team 4:
I miss those days of going in to GameStop and just looking through the shelves and going, "No way! Is that...?" That was a good feeling, and I do think it's a pity that a lot of people won't get to experience that anymore.

I found Psychonauts at Toys R Us almost two years after it was released. It was, as you said, in the bargain bin. I snatched it right up. Now though, stores really only carry the "new" releases, while the older games just sort of vanish. I like digging for stuff, so I appreciate where this article is coming from.

I know what you mean, though not for games really. Sometimes I miss going to a VHS rental store and picking out which movie to rent based just on the box. There was something sort of magical about it. You made your pick and rolled the dice and good or bad that was your entertainment for the evening. Sometimes you'd stumble on gems no one else seemed to have heard of and it made you feel like you'd really discovered something.

Of course today it's better, bigger selection, reviews for almost any movie at your fingertips. But there's a magic that's lost that future generations won't know. Given the choice to go back to that way of doing things though, I wouldn't.

Not Lord Atkin:
I think I have a pretty good idea why no one played Beyond Good and Evil when it came out. It came out on the same week as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I think this might be an early case of Ubisoft Ubisofting everything up.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a pretty great game with some brand recognition though, if ubisofting it meant releasing two really high quality games at once and only marketing one, I would be quite happy with them. Sands of Time didn't have a huge marketing presence for me, I only noticed the ads because of the old dos video games, I probably would have ignored BG&E as much of the charm came from the world which ads can struggle to portray.

Beyond Good & Evil came out not only the same week as Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, but also the mega-hit Splinter Cell. ALL from Ubisoft.

That's like Nintendo releasing a new Mario, Zelda, and Earthbound all on the same week and wondering why nobody is buying Earthbound.

Though I will say we still have PLENTY of "games nobody plays"... though they tragically seem to be on the Wii U. Seriously, I was hoping for major sales of titles like Zombie U, Wonderful 101, and Bayonetta 2... and, thus far, they just aren't happening.

On Xbox One, I'd say D4 qualifies (seriously, Xbox One owners, go buy it. I don't care if it'll be free soon. It needs all the financial purchases it can get).

I remember buying Anachronox when it came out, and i remember never been able to play it for more than five minutes at a time because win 98se had BSOD'd again, i think i just gave up in the end. Though i did buy it and Project Eden off GoG over the weekend.

 

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