Great Video Games Stuck On Terrible Systems

The more video games that get produced each year, the greater the chance that some will be almost completely neglected, even if the games in question are excellent. Sometimes games are ahead of their time and fail to attract an audience, while others get overshadowed by more mainstream titles. In many cases, though, games are forgotten simply because they appeared exclusively on deeply unpopular consoles. Here are some awesome games that may be unknown to you, due to their consoles' poor reputations.

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (TurboDuo)

NEC's Turbo Grafx 16 — known as the PC Engine in Japan — never really caught on in the United States. This wasn't for lack of trying on NEC's part — it released the Turbo CD expansion, and later the TurboDuo that combined both expansions into one console. Despite this, gamers largely heeded the siren song of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. One possible reason is that some of the best Turbo games never made it to the U.S. Case in point is Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. This is the prequel to the PlayStation classic, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It's typical Castlevania fare: whip enemies, collect hearts, kill vampires, etc. Nevertheless, it is a great title, plus the CD-quality music is arguably some of the best in any Castlevania game to date.

For a long time, the only way to play Rondo of Blood was to import it from Japan for big bucks. In 2009, the original version finally made it to America, via Nintendo Wii's virtual console.

Dragon Force (Sega Saturn)

The Sega Saturn never matched the popularity of the Nintendo 64 or Sony Playstation, though this isn't to say there weren't some good games for the system. Many old-school gamers know about the Panzer Dragoon series and Nights on the Saturn. One overlooked, but equally great, game is Dragon Force. In this RPG-strategy hybrid, you command huge medieval armies in real-time battles. Play it, and you'll feel like you're retaking Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton — in a very 2D, sprite-based kind of way. Unfortunately the game only appeared on the Sega Saturn in the United States. In 1998, Sega made a sequel, the creatively-named Dragon Force 2, that never made it to our shores.

Star Control 2 (Panasonic 3DO)

Panasonic's 3DO failed to attract attention because of both its high price ($700 at launch, in the early-90s no less) and its heavy reliance on horrid "interactive movie" video games. We're looking at you, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties. Among the few exceptions is the sci-fi RPG, Star Control 2, considered by some to be one of the best PC games ever made. Star Control 2 allows you to explore the vast expanses of space and interact with numerous alien races. This open-world style of gameplay, so commonplace in today's Skyrim-heavy environment, was unprecedented and unmatched at the time. Although Star Control 2 also appeared on the PC, you could only score a home console version on the 3DO, which did not bode well for its future.

The Apprentice (Philips CD-i)

Gamers widely consider the Philips CD-i to be one of the worst video game consoles ever, thanks largely to its long list of forgettable, botched, and downright awful games. (What's good, Unholy Triforce?) Yet, there were some bright spots among the systen's malignancy. The Apprentice — thankfully not starring Donald Trump — is a fun game that holds the distinction of being one of the few platformers on the system. In the game, you control Marvin, a wizard's apprentice, in a series of colorful 2D environments. The game is unique because each level is vertical, rather than a traditional left-to-right sidescroller. The 2D graphics are rich, well-animated, and reminiscent of Rayman, while the CD-quality music is appropriately upbeat and immersive.

In addition, Dutch developer the Vision Factory added a great deal of humor into The Apprentice, including several parodies (NSFW link) of Mortal Kombat that you can unlock via the Game Over screen. The results — including Marvin performing a "nudality" on several anime women — would have evoked parents' ire back in 1994, if anyone had actually played the game. Yet somehow, The Apprentice got away with a Kids to Adults (K-A) rating, the early ancestor of today's E-for-everyone rating. Bravo, Vision Factory. Bravo indeed.

Snatcher (Sega CD)

Snatcher is a futuristic adventure game produced by Konami in the early 1990s. It is notable for being one of developer Hideo Kojima's non-Metal Gear outings. In the game, you play as detective Gillian Seed, who is tasked with hunting down robotic killers called Snatchers. The plot is a transparent homage to Blade Runner, but it contains enough novelty to be interesting nonetheless. You spend most of your time solving puzzles and engaging in conversations with suspects and witnesses. Occasionally, you must also gun down Snatchers during shooting segments. Snatcher also contains a surprising amount of voice acting for its time, although no one is winning any awards for their performances. It all sounds like Konami ripped it straight from a late-1980s anime.

Although Konami released Snatcher on many consoles in Japan, it only saw release in the United States on the Sega CD — the ill-fated add-on to the Sega Genesis. Snatcher is undeniably one of the system's few highlights.

Mario Clash (Virtual Boy)

Before the Wii U, Nintendo's greatest hardware misstep was a torture device called the Virtual Boy. The system was essentially a pair of red goggles on a stand that simulated a three-dimensional effect when you looked into them. Among the Virtual Boy's many problems was that the graphics are limited to red-and-black, and the numerous adverse health effects you could experience from playing the system — including neck strain and headaches. Oh yes, and Nintendo only released 14 games for the Virtual Boy in the United States, many of which were mediocre at best. No one is looking back at the Virtual Boy Waterwold with a sense of nostalgia. Much like the movie, really.

Fortunately, there were a few good games for the system if you possessed the constitution to play them. Chief among these is Mario Clash, essentially a remake of the Mario Bros. arcade game from 1983. Although it's hardly original, Mario Clash is nevertheless addicting and makes good use of the Virtual Boy's 3D capabilities. It's worth checking out, provided you own a Virtual Boy and have eyes of steel.