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Author Topic: The Obscure Games and Software Thread  (Read 203 times)


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The Obscure Games and Software Thread
« on: 04 May 2021, 15:00 »

We all have experiences with lesser-known titles that leave an impact on us. Let's share some of those.

Post about more obscure games you've encountered, and what's memorable or intriguing about them. They don't necessarily have to be games you particularly enjoyed, but they should probably be interesting to you in some way.

Don't feel restricted to any particular time period. They can be an old NES game, or something released last year, so long as it's not well-known.

Though I encourage you to try to keep it at least somewhat obscure (so this doesn't turn into a list of stuff that everyone here's already heard about), let's not get too gatekeepy or pedantic about stuff not being 'obscure enough'.

And with that, I'll start.

Xpand Xpo: This may not be, strictly-speaking, a game, though it was definitely game-like. It was a disc that came bundled with my family's first Mac OS computer, and I played it quite a bit as a kid. It was a sort of demo disc, though rather than having just a folder or menu of demos to try, it gave you a physical convention space to explore with various booths, each of which had its own info and video demos of different software and games. It was all pre-rendered, and you navigated via a Myst-like slideshow-style interface.

A funny thing about it was that the virtual space also had a cafeteria and restrooms that you could visit. You couldn't really do anything there, but it was an amusing touch.

This piece of software is definitely not like you'd see nowadays. It was squarely a part of the more experimental era of computing in the 90s, where conventions hadn't yet been fully established and people were just trying stuff. It was a really creative and eclectic time that I still have a lot of nostalgia for, which is why Xpand Xpo still sticks out in my memory.

Here's a screenshot:
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: 04 May 2021, 15:06 by Veritable_Variable »


Re: The Obscure Games and Software Thread
« Reply #1 on: 05 May 2021, 04:12 »

Ooh I got a few of those. Here are the ones I think are the most unfairly unappreciated, in descending order:

Wuppo, a platformer about fighting giant bosses with a gun but also about self-improvement and being nice. Very refreshing and wholesome.

Closure, a puzzle platformer where only that which is illuminated exists. Hard as nails and forces you to take a new perspective on physical reality.

Gateways, a 2D portallike that not only allows you to portal through space, but also through gravity, scale, and time. Endgame puzzles have you combine all these mechanics, causing you to run around with multiple miniature upside-down time travel clones.

Cradle, a short sci-fi puzzle adventure on the Mongolian steppe. The state of modern civilization is gradually revealed through your interactions, but you never witness it directly, given that the only sign of civilization here is what seems to be an abandoned amusement park.

Heartbeat, an RPGMaker monster battler where the monsters also have their own society. It's got an upbeat and uplifting atmosphere but it's not afraid to get dark and serious at times.

Osmos, an ambient-atmospheric game build around the concept of conservation of mass. You're a cell which has to grow by absorbing smaller cells and avoiding getting absorbed by bigger ones. You're forced to survive in different situations like a gas-like environment where ever cell is bouncing around chaotically, or a solid-like environment where every surrounding cell is perfectly static and you have to navigate to absorbable cells by careful and minute adjustment, or a solar-system-like environment where you and all other cells are orbiting a cell with its own gravity.

Zeno Clash, a fantasypunk first-person beat-em-up. It's aggressively weird, but it uses this to great effect to play with your expectations.

Shatter, the best breakout clone I've ever played. There's really nothing more to be said.

Hexcells, a tough but satisfying logic puzzle game. It's like minesweeper, but in addition to information about adjacent cells, you also get different kinds of hints about marked cells in rows and columns, contiguousness of the surrounding marked cells, and the number of marked cells in a 2-cell radius. It frequently seems impossible but every puzzle can be solved without guessing.

Teleglitch, a survival horror roguelike. This is without question the hardest action game I've ever beaten. The sense of escalation is exhilirating, as you scavenge and tinker your way from improvised nailguns and modified shotguns to tesla coils and bullet-reflecting armor, which you're forced to do as the enemies you face get ever bigger, meaner and more deadly. Every step into a new area feels like overcoming impossible odds, but you gradually gain the skills you need to succeed: How to conserve ammo, which weapons are best against which enemies, what weapons and tools are best to craft, and what route through the levels gives you the highest chance of success. Only so far down the list because it's relatively well-known, but it's the best action roguelike I've ever played.

Lumino City, a handmade papercraft puzzle adventure. Beautiful to look at, great soundtrack, just overall a wonderful time.

One Finger Death Punch, a two-button kung fu action game. You're a stick figure and stick figure enemies come at you from both sides of the screen, and you kill them by pressing the left or right mouse button. The game executes this simple concept with astonishing mastery, and it provided me hours and hours of fun.

Opus Magnum, an open-ended puzzle game based on alchemical engineering. I consider this the most accessible of the Zachtronics games, and it has a great story to go with it too.

Shelter, a game about being a badger mom taking care of your pups. Short, but it'll stick with you.

Wandersong, a game about saving the world with song. The first (and second, and third) impression you'll probably get from this game is that it's sickeningly saccharine, but its relentless optimism in the face of certain doom is infectious, and even if you might eventually start to find it grating, the game makes a turn I found quite surprising and impressive, but I shouldn't say more than that.
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Re: The Obscure Games and Software Thread
« Reply #2 on: 09 May 2021, 06:51 »

The most obscure game I've ever played was a PS1 game called Evil Zone I picked up from Babbages on a lark. It's a Virtual Fighter/Tekken clone with a heavy anime influence. Each fight in the campaign mode starts like a tv segment and I loved it
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