Top 10 Great Video Games That Failed Miserably
It’s always a shame when good games don’t get their due. Welcome to Thegamefreakshow, where today we’ll be counting the Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Video Games that were Commercial Failures.
This list bears some similarities to our Top 10 Overlooked Video Games series — which you should also check out! The key difference here is that for this list we’ll be looking specifically at games with high critical acclaim that sold fewer than 1 million copies during their initial release. As always we’ll only be selecting one game per series, buuuut most of these games didn’t manage to get sequels anyway. Enjoy!
10: “The Neverhood” (1996)
Designed by the creator of Earthworm Jim, Doug TenNapel, The Neverhood is the kind of weird and wonderful game that you need to see in motion. The entire world of The Neverhood, and all the characters in it, are painstakingly modeled in clay, making it one of the visually interesting games of its era. But The Neverhood is more than just a cool look; the animation brings the whole thing to life and its packed with the sort of crafty puzzles adventure games are known for.
9: “Earthbound” (1994)
“Come on Reggie, give us Mother 3!” Even Nintendo pokes fun at the cult status Earthbound has earned since it was released in 1994. Earthbound, or “Mother 2” as its known in Japan, is one of the most unique games in all of Nintendo’s already varied catalogue. The story begins with a meteor crash-landing, and our hero Ness meeting a bee from the future – from there, it doesn’t get any less strange. It’s a very, very strange game that blends Japanese and North American pop culture into one hilarious RPG package.
8: “Jet Set Radio” (2000)
Know as Jet Gring Radio in North America, Jet Set Radio is about marking your turf, and grinding your way to victory. This highly stylized game was one of the first to popularize cel-shaded visuals, and remains one of the marquee titles from Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast. From its graphics, to its music and fast-paced gameplay, Jet Set Radio screams cool. Plus the concept is pretty awesome too: the idea of running around the city, tagging buildings and evading the overzealous police force is even cool enough to make rollerblading look good.
7: “Skies of Arcadia” (2000)
One of the best ideas for a steampunk universe, Skies of Arcadia is about a rag-tag group of scallywags who pilot an airborne pirate ship. Blending genres and keeping an upbeat tempo, Skies of Arcadia was an absolutely delightful roleplaying game that should have been able to compete toe-to-toe with other flagship RPGs. But for one reason or another, despite a later release on the Gamecube, Skies of Arcadia never found its audience.
6: “Panzer Dragoon” (1995)
At the time, Panzer Dragoon was sorta like Star Fox with dragons; an arcade-style shooter, with modern visuals to make the action suspenseful. While the visuals might not hold up in 2015, Panzer Dragoon is still a thrilling, tightly designed on-rails shooter that takes serious skill to master. And let’s face it, it doesn’t get much cooler than riding a dragon.
5: “Beyond Good & Evil” (2003)
All of the games we’ve listed are great, and deserved to sell better than they did, but none are quite as surprising to see here as Beyond Good & Evil. It has everything a marketable game should have: a flashy name, a cool main character and a wicked story. Set in a dystopian future with a fascinating world to explore, it’s a shame more people didn’t buy this one, because Beyond Good & Evil is a truly excellent game.
4: “Grim Fandango” (1998)
Something like this could only come from the mind of Tim Schafer. Grim Fandango stars Manuel Calavera, whose job is to greet the deceased in full death robes, and sell them travel packages to the afterlife. It’s one of the best adventure games around, but only saw its retail release as interest in the genre was slowing down. If you’ve never found out what happens to Manny during the Day of the Dead, a remastered version just came out on PS4 and PC.
3: “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem” (2002)
Eternal Darkness is one of a kind. It’s a survival horror game that flashes backwards and forwards in time to piece together the history of centuries-old haunted mansion. Unlike so many horror games that rely on jump scares, Eternal Darkness is filled with a larger-than-life terror that takes its time slowly building up. The coolest aspect of Eternal Darkness are its 4th wall breaking sanity effects, which mess with you mind both in and out of the game. It’s a shame Eternal Darkness didn’t perform better, because its unique brand of storytelling would be interesting to see today.
2: “Psychonauts” (2005)
Like so many of the games we’ve listed, Psychonauts is an absolute gem that came out at the wrong place in time. For an almost ten year period, 3D platformers were one of the most popular genres in games, then all of sudden everyone lost interest. And sadly, that’s when Tim Schafer’s masterpiece Psychonauts hit store shelves. Psychonauts is about a psychic summer camp, that’s actually a Government training facility made to train kids to become psychic agents, allowing them to enter other people’s mind and see worlds based on their personalities. It’s not hard to see why people didn’t jump on the concept, but it was really worth it for those who did.
1: “Planescape: Torment” (1999)
Set in the titular Planescape universe, and refining the gameplay of titles like Baldur’s Gate, Torment is a dialogue-driven role-playing game that is still revered for its outstanding script and world building. Torment follows the story of The Nameless one, an immortal character who’s lost the memory of his past lives. It’s not only one of the best pieces of video game fiction, but a defining entry in the beloved group of Infintiy Engine RPGs. Moving only 20,000 units, Planescape: Torment sold miserably compared to its outstanding critical reception, making it our #1 pick.
#Top 10 Great Video Games That Failed Miserably