Hidden gems for the original PlayStation

There were close to 2,000 games for the original Sony PlayStation console, including many great titles that got lost in the shuffle, never getting the love they deserved. For every Final Fantasy VII and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, there are dozens of hidden gems that deserved far more gamers getting hooked on them than they got.

Legend of Dragoon

The Final Fantasy series gets a ton of well-deserved acclaim, but 2000's Legend of Dragoon was just as good. The story is fairly basic–a kid named Dart sets out on a quest to fight both an evil empire and a monster called the God of Destruction–but it's expertly told and well-written enough to make the game's 70-hour runtime fly by. Besides, a basic plot can sometimes be a good thing. Just ask anybody who's still trying to wrap their head around the plot of Chrono Cross.

Gameplay-wise, it's mostly standard RPG fare, with some wonderful additions. For one, you can prepare for random battles by paying attention to the color of the arrow above Dart's head. If it goes red, best ready yourself, because a fight's on the horizon. Plus, in addition to your regular attacks, you can eventually channel your inner dragoon, becoming a winged creature with all-new attacks and the ability to summon dragons to defeat your enemies. It's like a typical RPG summon, only cooler.

It didn't break tons of new ground, and its lack of name recognition has thus far meant no sequel. But if you have a few dozen hours to burn, you could do worse than Legend of Dragoon.

Bloody Roar

Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are both well and good, but they don't let you turn into bloodthirsty animals halfway through the round. Bloody Roar does, and it should be showered with praise for doing so.

Bloody Roar is a standard 3D fighting game mixed with Altered Beast, all topped off with one of the coolest names ever. The playable characters are Zoanthropes, people who can turn into animals. In this case, as you beat on your opponent your "Beast Bar" fills up. Once it completely fills, you can turn into fearsome creatures like wolves, lions, tigers, and gorillas. There's also a mole, which sounds lame–until you see the character and notice he's got claws that put Wolverine to shame. You'd be proud to win with a guy like that.

Bloody Roar produced several sequels, most recently 2003's Bloody Roar 4 for the PlayStation 2, but its success was almost purely in its own time. You rarely hear about it anymore, which is too bad. It's worth the play for any fighting game fan, and not just because it lets you get away with all the assault and battery that would get you arrested if you tried it at a furry convention.

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne

Despite the name, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is technically a Mega Man game. It's a spinoff and prequel of the Mega Man Legends series, taking place thousands of years after Dr. Wily and Sigma's reigns of terror. You play as Tron Bonne, a member of the evil Bonne family of sky pirates who keep causing Mega Man trouble. Like you expected anything else from sky pirates.

Like Legends, Tron Bonne isn't a typical Mega man game. You don't select one of eight robots to fight, you don't steal powers, and it's not a side-scroller. Instead, you play a series of 3D minigames in varying styles, looking to earn (steal) enough money to pay off an outstanding loan so your enemies will free your family. Sometimes you partake in free-roaming action-adventures. Other times, you shoot up buildings and cops like in a mech-combat game. Other areas are more puzzle-oriented. All in all, it's one of the more varied Mega Man games, and few have actually heard of it. It's one of the rarest PlayStation games ever, according to Polygon. Copies can run as much as $200 on eBay, or…$6 for a digital download on the PlayStation store

Tron Bonne is worth a look, as is anything that's essentially Mega Man crossed with WarioWare. Also, Tron has dozens of zany little robots called ServBots aiding her throughout the game, meaning your robot sky pirate variety game also boasts Minions. You won't be disappointed, even if you're sick of Minions.

Tobal No. 1

1997's Tobal No. 1 is probably more known in America for what else came in the jewel case: a playable demo of the upcoming Final Fantasy VII. It was like buying cereal you didn't like for the awesome toy inside. But anyone who passed on Tobal in favor of Cloud and friends missed out on a fun, unique fighting game with more in common with Final Fantasy then you might think.

Tobal features two modes: tournament fighter, and Quest. The tournament fighter is exactly what you'd expect. Quest Mode, however, is very different. There, you're playing an adventure game where you wander through a series of 3D dungeons, collecting items and avoiding traps while battling enemies and other fighter characters from the game. When you encounter an enemy, you fight them like you would in tournament mode, and you become stronger as you go like in a traditional RPG. When you beat a boss character, they become playable in the main game. All in all, it's a pretty sweet departure from the typical generic polygonic fighter.

Tobal did well in Japan, but American reaction was so tepid, the sequel never got released in the west. And that's a shame, because Tobal No. 1 was truly groundbreaking. Fighting games have had quest modes since then–like the one in Tekken 3 perhaps most famously. But Tobal was among the first. It did everything well enough too, so more gamers should give it a few rounds. You've played through that FFVII demo enough, anyway.


One of the downsides of PlayStation exclusivity is no Zelda games. That said, 1997's Alundra was basically Sony's Zelda, but with a plot that recalled Freddy Krueger more than Ganon.

Alundra finds the title character stranded on an island where people are dying in their dreams–and then for real as a result. Conveniently enough, Alundra can enter dreams and destroy the nightmares. Later, once he learns an evil demon is causing the nightmares, Alundra gathers all the tools needed to enter its world and destroy it. Unlike Freddy, the demon dies and never comes back, because Alundra's only sequel had basically nothing to do with the original.

Outside of the dark, death-centric plot, Alundra has a lot in common with older Zelda games. Both are top-down action-adventures, starring a silent elf hero who traverses an open world, exploring dungeons and fighting monsters with swords and bombs. But Alundra's no second-rate rip-off, and holds up incredibly well to this day. The 2D art helps, since it doesn't suffer from looking like a mess of sharp shapes, like many early 3D polygonic games. Instead, Alundra looks like the prettiest SNES-era RPG possible–not at all a bad thing.

Alundra did very well upon release, selling over 100,000 copies its first month in the US. But like a movie that earns 90% of its box office in the first two weeks, Alundra didn't endure in gamers' memories. That's too bad, because time spent with A Nightmare On Hyrule Street definitely isn't wasted time.


Imagine Tobal 1, but instead of throwing in a disc with 30 minutes of Final Fantasy VII, you got to fight as the Final Fantasy characters. That's Ehrgeiz, a game as underappreciated as its name is hard to say.

In Ehrgeiz, you could play as original characters, or one of seven FFVII characters, which for some reason includes Zack, the dark-haired Cloud-lookalike who you never actually played as in the RPG. The battle system opened things up, allowing combatants to run around the arena fighting in all directions, instead of constantly facing each other like in other fighters of the time. Plus, just like Tobal, Ehrgeiz has a Quest Mode, though the latter's is more expansive. You can romp through both dungeons and towns, you must feed yourself or lose power due to hunger, and the combat is more action-RPG than tournament fighter. 

Ehrgeiz isn't unique anymore, as plenty of fighting games have quest modes and let fighters move in every direction. Plus, Dissidia has cornered the market on fighting games starring Final Fantasy types. Still, Ehrgeiz deserves far more attention and praise than it gets, as should anything else that's so far ahead of its time. Besides, where else are you going to see Sephiroth fighting a thinly-veiled Antonio Inoki in a pro wrestling ring?

Bushido Blade

Even the most realistic video game ever can be pretty unbelievable. After all, if everything were just like real life, nobody would want to play. But the underrated Bushido Blade comes as close to reality as any gamer can hope for.

Bushido is a samurai game, one where you can run all over the stage, jump up and down to different elevations, and use the environment as cover and protection. You'll need it, because unlike in other fighting games, one hit in Bushido Blade can kill you. Yep, one. Just like in real life, if somebody stabs you in the heart with a broadsword, you won't just lose a bit of health. You're losing your life. 

Meanwhile, if your opponent's weapon strikes you in a non-lethal area, you're likely going to lose use of that limb. So now you're trying to fight and run away while hobbling on one leg, or perhaps struggling to use your heavy sledgehammer with one good arm. Either way, you're at a distinct disadvantage after just one hit, and that's what makes Bushido Blade so incredibly unique.

The game was well-received at the time, and spawned a couple sequels, but it doesn't stick in people's memories the way more fantastical fighters do. Perhaps a PS4 remake is in order, as long as today's gamers have the patience to endure losing three seconds into their first match.

Jumping Flash!

Jumping Flash! (the exclamation is important) is one of the most unique games ever. Even Guinness realizes this, awarding it a world record for being the "First platform videogame in true 3D." Unfortunately, it might have been too far ahead of its time for its own god.

The plot of the 1995 game is straight-up bonkers. You play Robbit, a robot who is a rabbit, who must stop the evil Baron Aloha from stealing pieces of a planet to create private resorts. Then there's the gameplay, which over twenty years later hasn't been replicated or duplicated. You run around a 3D world, shooting lasers and jumping on enemies, in first-person perspective…like a cartoon Doom. You can jump up to three times, and by the third jump, you're hundreds of feet in the air, looking down at the ground like a terrified skydiver. Your goal is to collect the jetpods needed to reach the next level, and the pods are naturally giant carrots because this might be the cutest game ever.

Unfortunately, it seems Jumping Flash! arrived too early (and was perhaps too adorable) to be taken seriously. It hasn't had a sequel since 1999, which was Japan-only. Largely, Jumping Flash! has been forgotten, which isn't fair because it holds up extremely well. Its 3D graphics barely look dated, and the dynamic of being a mechanical rabbit bouncing all over a fun, colorful world filled with carrots and balloons will tickle even the grittiest of gamer ribs.

Um Jammer Lammy

Parappa The Rapper will likely have fans forever, but its spinoff, Um Jammer Lammy, hasn't been so lucky, even though it does everything for rocking guitar that Parappa did for hip-hop.

In Um Jammer Lammy, you play Lammy, a lamb who plays guitar in a band, and who needs to make it to her show on time. But she gets sidetracked with what might be the most gloriously ridiculous plot in history. She puts out a fire and is rewarded with pizza, but eats so much people think she's pregnant. She plays a baby like a guitar, slips on a skateboard, and winds up in a plane, which she's forced to land after the pilot goes crazy. She leaves her guitar there and has to build a new one out of wood, but then slips on a banana peel and heads to the afterlife. There, she meets an evil guitarist, and after besting her, returns to the land of the living via fax machine and makes it to her show. Got all that?

The game itself is Parappa with guitars, which means awesome. Plus, you gain cool guitar-effect power-ups along the way, like distortion, wah-wah, and harmonizer. They don't change your score any–they just make the game more fun. Sadly, Lammy has been overlooked as games like Guitar Hero redefined the music-game genre. But does Guitar Hero let you jam with a rapping, karate-chopping onion man only to reveal you've been playing with a vacuum cleaner? Probably not.

Brave Fencer Musashi

In today's world of mature, realistic-looking, free-roaming action-adventure games, Brave Fencer Musashi seems completely out of place. But it's also completely wonderful and deserves far more attention than it got.

Your character, Mushashi, is a smart-mouthed child who was a legendary warrior in a past life, though his taunting people for wearing "stupid costumes" doesn't exactly suggest that. He's summoned to save a kingdom, which he initially doesn't want to do but then does anyway, like a good little Hero's Journey protagonist. He does so through a series of 3D worlds that are structured like 2D stages. Think Crash Bandicoot, only with a hero openly called "Little Turd" by a princess. There's also a great feature called "Fusion," where Musashi can throw his sword at enemies and suck their very essence away. This allows him to gain their power, which always turns out to be a benefit, like their weapons or magic, and never anything bad like their chronic indigestion.

It's a pretty silly game, but it's a quality silly game. And while it's definitely a product of its time, it's also tons of fun no matter what year you play it in. It might not have the gravitas of Fallout, but not every game needs that. But every game does need to be enjoyable, and you'd be hard-pressed to not enjoy being a rude samurai child who can lift soldiers three times his size and toss them 20 feet away, when not slicing them to ribbons.