I have a confession to make: I haven't played every game ever made. I also seriously doubt I shall ever accomplish such a task, but I can safely say that my tastes generally skew a little from the norm. As such, the following is a list of my ten favorite games that I seriously feel too few people have played. Without further ado, the Top Ten Games You Never Played.
Let's start things off with a bangin' rhythm game. Beat Hazard Ultra is actually DLC for Beat Hazard, a digital download title that melds twin-stick shooter action with your music library. The action onscreen is frenetic and flashy, offering a considerable challenge at higher difficulty levels and with the visual intensity pumped up, but it always ebbs and flows with the song. Unfortunately, so too does your firepower, which is also governed by the track's progression. There's nothing worse than hitting a lull in a metal song during a boss fight. The Ultra content adds on a huge number of extra weapons and perks to unlock and equip, allowing you to outfit your ship as best suits your play-style.
Shin Megami Tensei is a strange series to start with, but few entries achieve the level of oddity that courses through the Digital Devil Saga games. A story told in two parts, Digital Devil Saga features Hindu themes, mythological beasties, teenage gang warfare over a post-apocalyptic wasteland or two, and intense meditation on themes of identity and individual purpose. The battle system is fairly typical for a MegaTen title, though one's characters actually transform into demons rather than summoning them. The game retains the overall series' focus on tactical, elemental combat. The art style, too, is attention grabbing, with a soft focus that borders on cel-shading, vibrant streaks of brilliant colors against muted backdrops, and a futuristic aesthetic.
Few beat'em ups so brilliantly convey the simple, visceral thrill of ripping through enemies with a seven-foot sword as well as Sword of the Berserk did. Fewer still make you appreciate that thrill all the more by limiting the weapon's usefulness in cramped corridors. In these situations, that seven-foot sword bangs off walls, forcing one to rely on Gut's fists and arm-mounted, rapid-fire crossbow. A side-story to the long-running manga, Berserk, this game has meaty sound effects, bloody combat, and challenging enemies. The occasional ill-informed quick time event does little to detract from its accomplishments as a violent, emotionally mature piece of media.
Now, I understand why few people played this game. The bar to entry is pretty high. First, you had to own Steel Battalion, itself $150 at launch, or at least purchase the three-panel control device, its two joysticks, forty-odd buttons, and three pedals bringing your wallet to tears. Those who did play the first game certainly found a lot to like, though the levels were only challenging the first few times, after which there was no variation to speak of. Line of Contact changed that by taking things online. Furthermore, it launched with a persistent campaign mode, in which players took sides in a pitched, perpetual conflict that changed dynamically with their victories (or defeats) on the field of battle. This campaign model would be adopted by later Xbox 360 release Chromehounds (itself defunct), but its brilliance will hopefully find some sort of home in the upcoming Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor.
I rarely finish games the day I get them. ZoE2 was one of my few exceptions. In part, this was because it was so short; my first playthrough lasted under five hours. But that was only the first playthrough, as there were many more afterward. It wasn't even that the game changed or offered additional content, because it really didn't. It was just that the action was so crisp and so smooth that I couldn't get enough. Few games offer such a sense of escalating destructive capacity. You increase your skill with Jehuty's basic techniques and maneuvers, becoming a more adept pilot, and Jehuty's capabilities expand around this. The graphics were more stylized than those of the first game, with softer shading and brighter colors. The action was faster, the protagonist more likeable (and ridiculously named), the story tighter and more relatable, and the conclusion infinitely more satisfying. Zone of the Enders 2 was a rare beast that managed to feel as much as look like the mecha anime that inspired it.