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The Short List
Written By: J. Michael Neal

Hundreds of video games get released each year. Out of them a few dozen gems emerge. Sometimes the buying public will recognize these gems and shower them with money and praise, but since life is never fair, many of the gems go unnoticed by the public. They sit idly store shelves, watching as people walk past them to pick up copies of Spider-man: The Movie and Dragonball Z Budokai. Well, hopefully after reading this list of the top ten games that should have sold millions, but didn’t, some of that will change.

10. Steel Battalion (Xbox) – It’s a damn shame that this game’s $200 price tag kept many a gamer away from it. If you have that kind of cash at your disposal, and you are a pretty serious mech fan, try giving one of the coolest games ever made a chance. It will be like having your own VR machine, barring that you have a big screen TV in your pad, but if you are afford to drop $200 bucks for a game you’re probably ten steps ahead of me on that one.

9. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (PS2) – This game manages to be challenging without being frustrating, by relaying on some precise timing and mastery of the game’s controls. It also manages to pack more style and more substance into a platformer than is theoretically possible. Not to mention it is one seriously good looking game. If you haven’t tried this one, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

8. Deus Ex: The Conspiracy (PS2) – Anyone with a PC and a taste for gaming should already know that Deus Ex is one of the greatest games ever made. Now, console gamers finally get a taste of what it's all about with this competent port of the game. It streamlines the game enough to make it playable with the Dual Shock and changes level sizes to compensate for the PS2’s lack of memory, yet still manages to retain everything that made the game so special, namely its insanely open ended gameplay and phenomenal story. If you don’t know what all the fuss is about, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try, be it on the PC or on the PS2.

7. Shadowman 2econd Coming (PS2) – Another Shadowman title, another tragically under-appreciated sleeper hit. This game was nearly flawless; an excellent example of a good action/adventure game yet came and went with little fanfare. Dig on the creepy mood, atmospheric visuals, mature storyline, and unusual assortment of weapons and abilities, you won’t regret it.

6. Suikoden III (PS2) – Now this is an RPG you can sink your teeth into! Sure, it suffers from the same language/cultural translation problems that all Japanese RPGs do, but it also gives RPG fans everything they would want in a game: tons of story and loads of plot twists, an endless cast of characters, and non-boring combat.

5. Rez (PS2) – Everyone owes it to himself or herself turn the lights down low, turn the volume up high, and play this game from beginning to end. It is an experience he or she will never forget. Hallucinogens and Trance Vibrator sold separately.

4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Xbox) – What would you say if I told you there was an action/adventure beat-um-up out there that was fun, deep, and challenging? What would you say if I also told you this game managed to capture the feel of the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer perfectly? Would you be excited? I would! If you are a fan of the show, if you are a fan of beat-um-ups, or if you just like sticking broken table legs into the chests of others by all means, give this game a chance!

3. Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox) – Maybe now that Sega and Microsoft are packing copies of this game into Xboxes this game will get the exposure it deserves. JSRF is one of those games that’s so good it takes you a while to notice. Once you stop looking at it as an inline game and look at it as a platformer, you’ll realize just how revolutionary this game really is. It’ll make you rethink your definition of the genre.

2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (GameCube) – Just when you thought all a GameCube was good for was Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, Eternal Darkness comes along. The first true "mind trip" to grace a gaming platform, Eternal Darkness does and excellent job of providing gamers with a kind of scare that’s entirely new. Sit down, strap in, and enjoy one of the most insane trips you’ll ever take.

1. Shenmue 2 (Xbox) – Many hailed Shenmue as the greatest game ever made when it was released for the Dreamcast three years ago. At that time, they weren’t far from wrong. While it would be tough to argue the same about Shenmue 2 today, that certainly doesn’t stop this game from being one of the best games to come out all year. It takes adventure games, role-playing, and beat-um-ups to a whole new level. If you can put up with a somewhat slow start, dated graphics, and the worst voices ever recorded for a game you will find the Shenmue 2 is one of the best gaming experiences you’ll have all year. Don’t let this game pass you by!

Posted: 2-5-03
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