Top 5 Underrated Games Of 2016
What do you mean underrated!?
So what classifies a game as underrated? For the sake of this article, it is simply a game that may not have been a very popular title, but still ended up being a good game. Clearly a "good game" is subjective, but I always try to be fair in my assessments. Though this is a list of games I generally consider to be good, I will still be giving a rundown of both the pros and the cons.
#5: Dragon Ball Fusions
Dragon Ball Fusions made 2 major faux pas'. First, it released a month early with no real warning, so anyone who was interested, likely didn't know about the stealthy release. Additionally, it ended up releasing the same day as Pokemon. Ouch.
That being said, the game was actually pretty great! It was another "pet battling" style game that came out the same time as the biggest pet battling game there is, but it does enough to stand out on its own. Its gameplay is a pretty unique take on turn based RPGs, taking place in a sumo ring style area in a variety of locations. It is similar to the active time battle system from Final Fantasy where characters are lined up on a bar. Based on their speed stat, they go up this bar at varying rates. The twist is, if a character is knocked out of the ring, they go back to the bottom of the bar.
The combat is simple enough - the basic formula of auto attacking mixed with using abilities that require a mana-like resource. There are a few intricacies, but none so ground breaking that they need to be mentioned here. Most battles are in fought in teams of 5. The first team to reduce the HP of all enemies to 0 is the winner.
The real fun comes in the form of recruiting and fusing characters. There are a ton of generic characters made specifically for this game, as well as a good selection of characters from the anime. Each character has a list of fusion compatible partners. Based on the combination of characters, the newly fused character will have access to various abilities, traits, and stats. Messing around with this aspect was some of the most fun I have had in a game of this genre and the appearance of characters after fusion was surprisingly very well done.
On top of being able to fuse certain compatible characters, your player character can fuse with any character in the game. You create your avatar from a choice of earthling, saiyan, alien, namek, and other worlder. Each race has its own customization options which heavily influence the appearance of any fusion you take part in. You can also fuse any two characters in the game via street pass. Unfortunately in North America, you don't come across this option too often.
All in all DBZ Fusions really surpassed expectation. Outside of some long, unskipable animations for abilities, and some unfortunately drawn out plot points, this game really managed to hit a level that many games in this genre don't.
#4: Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2
In a day and age where Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto reign supreme, games like Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 tend to get scoffed at. In reality, this is probably one of the most fun shooters on the market. It has everything you look for in a good shooter from a variety of classes to local co-op to online multiplayer.
The gameplay of PvZ Garden Warfare 2 really hits the mark with its simplicity. You have several game modes including online multiplayer and a game mode similar to Call of Duty's zombie mode called Garden Ops. After you select your game mode you pick your class and you are on your way to shooting your way through some zombies (or plants).
Regarding the classes, I do feel the need to mention micro transactions. Every class has several variations that you unlock through card packs. These can be unlocked through playing the game, but you can also buy these card packs with real money and the game makes sure to remind you of that. On top of that, the game must connected online at all time which is always a minus.
Despite its setbacks though, I dare say this is the best local co-op option on the new generation of consoles. This is simple enough for you to sit down and play with your 5 year old or to play at a party with your tipsy buddies. In an age of games where local co-op is all but dead, Garden Warfare 2 is a bold revival of a dying feature.
Though I highly recommend playing this with others, the unique classes, abilities, and the opportunity to play as both plants and zombies, make this game a no brainer for any lover of shooters.
#3: Forced Showdown
There are two things that can attract me to a game like a child to a shiny object. Those things are deck building and the ability to get into some quick action. Forced Showdown exploited those weaknesses to draw me in, but what kept me around is how well everything was executed.
The basics of Forced Showdown are:
- Pick a hero
- Battle in an arena
- Draw 5 cards and get 1 new card every round
- These cards act as your abilities
- When you defeat all the enemies you move to the next round
- Beat enough rounds to face a mini boss
- Beat enough mini bosses to face a main boss
- Beat a main boss to unlock a new arena
Pretty basic stuff, but the game can be incredibly complex. There are lists of challenges you can complete to unlock new heroes and coins. Coins can be spent on new card packs to let you customize your decks, which can create some really unique and deep strategies.
The thing I love about this game is that the deckbuilding lends itself to a thinking man's game where the fast paced action packed combat lends itself to, well, faced paced action based combat! It is an incredible mix which works incredibly well.
While I feel like I should note the difficulty as a con, I really wouldn't feel justified doing so. There was never a time I died where it wasn't my fault. One twitch reflex or last second ability use could have saved any death I suffered, but it's those moments that make you try that much harder to avoid death the next time. Dying can be incredibly frustrating in this game especially when you are on the final boss of an arena. Once you die you have to start the whole arena from the beginning which can be a drag, but it really heightens that sense of accomplishment when you are finally victorious.
It is rare to find a game that is both challenging and incredibly fair at the same time, and that is the true beauty of Forced Showdown. If you are an action RPG god or just love a good challenge, pick this one up.
#2: The Battle Cats Pop
I know it probably seems crazy to put such a silly game so high (or low technically) on this list, but hear me out. I am a sucker for games that are flexible and The Battle Cats definitely has flexibility. I have played this for 4 hours at a time sitting at home, and I have played it for 5 minutes on my lunch break at work.
There are a lot of games you can flip on for a few minutes, but even one game of The Battle Cats gives you the feeling of progression. It plays like a moba/tower defense. Your enemy has a tower on one end and you have one on the other. You send cats from your tower in an attempt to push through the enemy side and take out their tower.
Where my personal favorite part comes in is unlocking new cats. Completing levels nets you cat food which can be used on capsule machines to get you a random cat, and boy do I mean random. I have gotten everything to a viking cat, to bra cat, to flasher cat (yes, that is what it sounds like). Each of these are totally unique in damage potential, range, cost, attack rate, and several other factors.
Collecting cats isn't the end however. Once collected, cats can be leveled up with experience, and once they reach max level, they evolve. I remember obtaining the most useless cat, only to find out he was absolutely incredible once evolved.
I do have 2 small gripes however. First, the energy bar. It is similar to an energy bar in free-to-play Facebook or mobile games. Once you use your energy, you can't play until it recharges. That is a minor issue considering you can refill it with cat food which you should almost always have an abundance of. Issue two is the fact that each cat's unique ability is specifically centered around "red" enemies which rarely appear, even in later levels.
The Battle Cats is a very unique game, but it doesn't just try to coast on its zaniness. This game is one of the most satisfying I have played in a while. There is a constant feeling of progression, and it is just as easily enjoyed in 5 minute sessions as it is in 2 hour sessions.
#1: World Of Final Fantasy
With such a big name series behind this title, it is almost surprising that it wasn't flying off shelves. It seems that the chibi art style and pet battling system put off some would-be fans. However, the fact that this game didn't get a huge backing doesn't mean it didn't deliver a quality experience.
It is almost hard to pick a place to start, but I will have a go at the story first. I am not going to sugar coat it in any way. The plot is totally nonsensical, and it has a ton of holes in certain areas. Despite this, it does have a unique charm, and when it got in to some heavier themes towards the end, I found myself getting a little misty eyed on several occasions. The plot also has a lot of goodies for long time FF fans. Characters from nearly every game make an appearance and all of them are incredibly well developed over the course of the game.
Like some games before it, it does get a little muddy at the end story-wise. It does a multiple ending thing that ends up being slightly more confusing than anything, but still wraps up a nicely developed story pretty well.
I could go on about the story all day, but I will suffice to say that the character development is the best I have seen in recent history, even if the over arching plot can be a little overly silly at times. The biggest factor in this game however, is the gameplay. You start by capturing and leveling "mirages" pokemon-style. All of them are unique, and it got very hard later on to choose a favorite combination.
The best part about mirages is that they are all versatile to a point. Every family has its own abilities and spells, and there are blank spaces where you can insert whichever abilities you please. This is one of the best systems I have seen in a while, and could keep the game fresh for years to come if there were a more active online community.
The other major feature affecting combat is stacking. You stack monsters in stacks of 3 - one large, one medium, one small. When attacking as a stack, attacks are more powerful and HP is combined into one large pool. This element did fall a little short for me. Though unstacking could technically be useful, I rarely found it worth the risk and hardly ever willingly unstacked.
World of FF uses the same active time battle system as other FF games, so it should feel pretty familiar to vets while still being easily accessible to newer players. This game walks the perfect line between incredibly intricate and incredibly simple. The game is super easy to pick up and play while the advanced features such as mega mirages, hero powers, and spell combining can take some pretty serious thought to use effectively.
I could write about this game all day but I will break it down to the main points to save you some time:
- There is an incredible amount to do between the main story, the coliseum, end game dungeons, mirage collecting, side missions and so much more.
- Every mirage family is unique and will leave you wanting to collect them all.
- The characters are great even if the story they are involved in can be a bit lackluster.
- You have unlimited options for party composition and skills.
- The main story alone is easily 50 hours, so you will definitely get your money's worth.
- Side missions known as "Intervention quests" offer even more story behind the characters you come across in game.
- The whole feel of the game from dialogue, to sound track, to art style is incredibly charming.
I am an avid Pokemon fan, yet I still have to give the title of best pet battling game of the year to World of FF. It is just that good.