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Marino

Is it the shoes?

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Guilty Treasures

As a moderator and occasional staff member, I've done the math on this. After Danny has tackled Guilty Treasures for all the full-time staff members, friends of the site, Cool Baby, the Oakland Athletics, several F1 drivers, and an assortment of surprise guests, he will get to me in May 2057. So, I'm gonna be ready.

In no particular order, here are the ten obscure games that I would consider rambling on about for a documentary.

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  • You'd be hard-pressed to find a more obscure game than Tsumu. It's a Japan-only game released by Hect in 1998 that features a forklift-driving hamster who likes to build puzzle blocks into national flags. I first fell in love with the demo to this game that appeared on PlayStation Underground, which often included "Import Demos". Almost 20 years later, when I got my hands on a Net Yaroze, I bought a copy of the full game. There's also some kind of story with a green-haired anime girl and other animals, but obviously I have no idea what's going on there. I don't think there's any translation guide out there for this game no one's ever heard of.

  • Silent Bomber is an isometric sci-fi action game from CyberConnect2 that was released late in the PlayStation's lifespan. There ain't much silent about it, but the gameplay consists of setting bombs, stacking bombs, throwing bombs, chaining bomb explosions, and whatever else you can do with bombs. So, they got half the title right at least. It's chaotic, fast-paced, and quite difficult towards the end with some cool boss fights. This is another game that I first discovered via a demo in PlayStation Underground. Later, I played through the full-anime-nonsense story by borrowing a copy from work. Eventually, I bought a copy from one of the vendors at PAX one year. I didn't realize until I got home that the disc was signed by the CEO of CyberConnect2, Hiroshi Matsuyama.

  • Look. NFL 2K5 is still the greatest American football game ever made. They sold it for $20 in 2004 and scared EA so badly, that EA bought exclusive rights to the NFL, which robbed us of any future NFL 2K games from Visual Concepts. Three years later, VC attempted to salvage their franchise with an unlicensed football game that featured dozens of NFL legends. It still had the great gameplay, all the presentation (including the same announcers, Dan Stevens & Peter O'Keefe), and... no one cared. I still played the hell out of it. And I'd love to hear the story behind the decision to make this.

  • Another game from Visual Concepts, ONE is a third-person shooter released for the PlayStation in 1997. Is it good? No. Not really. But, sometimes you just need a game where you wake up to find your arm has been replaced with a futuristic gun that shoots all sorts of weird ammo. The graphics were quite good at the time and it was one of the first games to really take advantage of the Dual Analog controller (predecessor to the DualShock).

  • One of the greatest Xbox Live Arcade games ever made. And, if you want to fight me on that, I will possibly retreat to die on the hill of The First Great XBLA Game. Released in January 2006 when the Xbox 360 was just two months old and no one really knew what XBLA would become, Marble Blast Ultra dropped into the store when all that was there was basically backgammon, spades, and Frogger. Garage Games even put out DLC for it as late as 2008. I feel like it was hot for a minute, but no one ever talks about it anymore.

  • Ore no Ryouri is another game that I first discovered as an import demo on PlayStation Underground. The game was never released outside of Japan, but it was so popular that it spawn a fan-made remake in 2004, which eventually led to 2012's Cook Serve Delicious. CSD has been quite popular over the last decade, but hardly anyone knows that its origin resides in this little Japanese-only game developed by Agenda in 1999.

  • In the Racing Game War of 2010, I feel like the one people remember and still talk about is Blur. I was staunchly on the Split/Second side of that war, for better or worse. Yeah, the set piece explosions and whatnot got a bit repetitive, but the racing was good and the game looked amazing at the time partly due to the Dead Space-like no UI aesthetic. Black Rock deserved a second shot at it, but it was the last game they ever made.

  • You can't put a Mario game on this list! When it's a Mario basketball game developed by Square Enix, I sure as hell can! The courts are littered with Mario Kart style power-ups. The scoring system is coin-based. And you have to dribble manually using the the DS touch screen. Nothing about this game makes any god damn sense. I feel like no one else even knows it exists when the topic of Mario sports games comes up, and I need to know how and why this game got made.

  • Guilty "Treasures"... right? Right?! Anyway, Treasures of the Deep is an underwater action-adventure game from Black Ops Entertainment released in 1997. I have a soft spot for it because it was one of the games I played at my first E3 in 1997. No one really likes underwater levels, but what if we had a whole game of underwater levels? Well, it's actually not too bad. The graphics were quite good for the era and it was fun to just explore the levels and ignore the ridiculous ocean-terrorist plot line.

  • In some alternate universe, Vanguard became the true successor to EverQuest and took the world by storm. In our universe, it was one of the most broken launches and most disappointing games in my lifetime. After a fallout at Verant/SOE, Brad McQuaid and other key people behind EverQuest left and created Sigil Games in 2002. They spent the better part of five years developing a very ambitious MMO including player housing, political diplomacy mechanics, and extensive crafting arcs. I played the beta for a long time starting in 2005 and the potential for an amazing MMO was everywhere, but it was never fully realized. When it launched in January 2007, it wasn't ready, but I feel like SOE "had" to put it out for financial reasons. To make matters worse, it came out about a week after The Burning Crusade, which meant a huge portion of the MMO audience was flocking back to WoW. Quests were broken, many of the promised diplomacy mechanics didn't fully work, and there was little to no end-game content, which meant that the 240,000 or so people that bought the game didn't stick around long enough to see things get fixed. Reportedly, only about 130,000 stuck around after the free month, and it was down to 40,000 within several months, which meant servers started merging. It was fully shutdown in 2014. I often think about what Vanguard could've been, and I'd love for someone to one day tell the story of what the hell happened.