When it comes to your favorite game systems, everyone knows what the best games are. If you’re into Nintendo, playing Mario and Zelda games feels mandatory. And if you rock an Xbox, you need to clock a few hours with Master Chief in each new title.
But there are other games that often slip through the cracks. It may be because the title is obscure or the system is on its last legs. Ultimately, these are the hidden gems that keep us coming back for more.
That’s why we put together this guide to the misunderstood masterpieces for every major game system. Read through to the end to see if your personal faves made the list!
NES: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
Countless players bailed on the first TMNT game because of its notorious difficulty, especially in the underwater sections (damn those bombs and killer plants!). But when you put in the work, you’ll find this game is fun, detailed, and the most complex Ninja Turtles game fans have ever seen.
SNES: Actraiser (1990)
Actraiser has its fans, but many gamers didn’t know what to make of this title when it released in 1990. It’s one part Civilization-lite and one part hack and slash. Beating this game and its sequel requires you to master two different gaming genres, but the final result is definitely worth it.
Sega Genesis: ToeJam & Earl (1991)
Many Sega Genesis owners played ToeJam & Earl, but how many can say they understood it? It’s easy to get lost and turned around, and most players throw in the towel very quickly. But stick with the game and you’ll find cool world-building, hot music, and some of the most unforgettable characters and moments from the 16-bit era.
Game Boy: Donkey Kong (1994)
It’s easy to dismiss this Donkey Kong game because the first few levels are just ported from the arcade — something we’ve seen over and over again. But after that, you’ll discover an additional 97 levels of awesome platforming, hilarious animations, and nail-biting boss fights. It’s not just the best Donkey Kong game ever made — it may even be the best thing you can play on the Game Boy.
Sega Saturn: Virtua Cop (1995)
In a world filled with games like Time Crisis and House of the Dead, it’s easy to overlook the simple charms of Virtua Cop. But the graphics are iconic, and the gameplay (which rewarded you for doing things like shooting criminals in the hand instead of the head) made it feel more like an actual police simulation than a simple shooter.
N64: Blast Corps (1997)
On the Nintendo 64, everyone remembers major titles like Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 007. But Blast Corps was something different: a colorful puzzle hidden behind plenty of action and explosions. It was like nothing else on the system and, honestly, like no other game that has come out since then.
PlayStation: Chrono Cross (1999)
1995’s Chrono Trigger is arguably the best SNES game ever made. That made hype for this PlayStation sequel intense, and most players walked away disappointed and annoyed. But if you can treat this as its own game, you’ll find a title with incredible music, a deep roster of characters, and one of the most engaging RPG combat systems ever.
Dreamcast: The Typing of the Dead (2001)
The House of the Dead arcade games are excellent, and the Dreamcast ports are amazing. But the real overlooked masterpiece is Typing of the Dead, a game where players defeat zombies with their mad typing skills. It’s genuinely fun, and might be the only decent “edutainment” game ever made.
GameCube: Star Fox Adventures (2002)
Even among Star Fox fans, Star Fox Adventures is a redheaded stepchild (or should that be stepfox?). But the combination of Zelda-style gameplay with the familiar Star Fox flying made this game a breath of fresh air. Plus, for fans of the Star Fox cast, this was our most extensive dive yet into these characters and their mythology.
Xbox: Knights of the Old Republic 2 (2004)
KOTOR 2 gets a lot of crap from gamers for being a rushed and inferior sequel to the amazing first game. However, this game gives us the most complex Star Wars storytelling outside of a Timothy Zahn novel. Hell, this game wins on style points alone for the amazing designs of the scary new Sith Lords.
PlayStation 2: God Hand (2006)
There are two kinds of PS2 players: those who never played God Hand and those who won’t stop talking about it. But this over-the-top beat ’em up is the perfect combination of action, comedy, and addictive gameplay. Be warned: almost no other beat ’em ups will compare after you play this game!
Wii: No More Heroes (2007)
No More Heroes is an amazing game that was amazingly overlooked. It was a relatively obscure title that sold few copies, and its focus on violent, bloody action likely turned away many Wii owners (or their parents). But those that stuck around discovered an engrossing and thrilling action title. It eventually developed a cult following and sold much better when it was re-released for the Nintendo Switch.
PlayStation 3: Mass Effect 3 (2012)
Mass Effect 3 gets a bad rap, mostly for the awful and abrupt original ending to the game. But this ended was later amended via a patch, and patient players realized this game for what it is: the rare end of a trilogy that respects the characters and mythology and leaves you feeling mostly (if not completely) satisfied.
Xbox 360: Braid (2008)
It’s almost like cheating to put Braid on this list. While this puzzle platformer sold well and was critically acclaimed, its storyline is deliberately designed to be hard to figure out. Hell, even the creator of the game, Jonathan Blow, has said that he can’t explain in words what this game means!
Wii U: Trine 2: Director’s Cut (2012)
For better or for worse, the Wii U had many games that were basically just “enhanced” versions of existing titles. And the best of these was Trine 2: Director’s Cut, which added new levels and cool multiplayer options incorporating different controller options. It was genuinely one of the best Wii U games, but very few players experienced it.
PlayStation 4: Fallout 4 (2015)
Franchise fans often criticize Fallout 4 because it doesn’t have the depth of storytelling of Fallout: New Vegas or the fun dialogue options of Fallout 3. But it has amazing graphics, cool gunplay, a sweet setting, and an awesome crafting system. Ignore the critics and give this one a shot!
Xbox One: A Way Out (2018)
When we talk about great Xbox One games, almost nobody brings up A Way Out. But this title is the best splitscreen cooperative game ever made. Its innovations are fun, and its throwback spirit to the old days of couch co-op makes it perfect for a gaming night with your best friend.
Switch: Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer feat. The Legend of Zelda (2019)
Cadency of Hyrule is one of those games that’s hard to figure out. As the name implies, this is a mashup of Crypt of the NecroDancer gameplay and Legend of Zelda characters. That made it an instant turnoff for anyone who doesn’t love weird rhythm games. But if you give it enough time, you might find this is a Zelda title that rivals Breath of the Wild in terms of fun!
What do you think is the most misunderstood video game you’ve ever played? Tell us in the comments below!