I post news
- Jan 28, 2011
Nice post from the Rampant Coyote:
Ten Computer RPGs You’ve Never Heard Of*
I struggle with the obscurity of my own indie RPG, Frayed Knights, every day. That’s a common problem with indie games, in spite of our best efforts. But compared to the average indie release,Frayed Knights is doing pretty well. It’s been in some bundles, made it onto Steam, gotten some good reviews and even won some awards that I’m very proud of. But it’s hard to even judge the “average” indie game because… shock… you’ve never heard of it. And what about the games that even more unknown than “average?”
The indie revolution has brought a whole new meaning to the concept of “obscure.” I love reading theCRPG Addict’s blog, and he relishes in discovering these old, obscure computer RPGs. And admittedly, even as a guy who thought he knew his stuff, I am astonished by some of his finds. But he’s still working in the pre-World Wide Web days right now. Things kinda exploded a few years ago, and keep exploding. About twice as many CRPGs released last year than in any year he’s covered so far, and he’s now knee-deep in the “golden age” of the game genre, circa 1990. However, the closer we get to the present day, the more opportunities also arise for… I dunno, call it “micro-publicity” or something. There’s always a tiny website that might mention or review a game (like this one), or some kind of bundle which might include your game.
Even so, a lot of these indie games release with nary a splash, sell little or bupkis, abandon the field, leave the website to be devoured by Asian vultures when the registration lapses, and are remembered by almost none. And… admittedly, these games are not usually the diamonds in the rough their creators probably believed. But in many cases, they weren’t bad, and even if they were, sometimes they contained some interesting seeds of good ideas.
I know a little bit about the challenge of making an RPG**, so I wanted to offer some celebration of the effort that went into making these titles, if nothing else. I fully admit that even as I try to pretend I’ve got my ear to the ground here, I’m unfocused enough to realize that if I’ve heard of it (let alone played it), it’s probably not really that obscure. But in celebration of these nearly-forgotten titles, I wanted to share ten of the most obscure CRPGs I have ever played. If you can still find them, they may be worth checking out – in fact, some of them I heartily recommend. But here’s a word of warning: Because these games are little-known outside of certain circles, there’s not often a lot of help or walkthroughs available online. If you play them, prepare to solve them the old-fashioned way, with very little assistance.
I wish I still had the original packaging with the (Tape? Floppy? I can’t remember) and the manual (was it a single page?) Anyway, it was my very first computer RPG, and while it wasn’t the greatest experience evar, it was a taste of things to come.
#3 – The Devil Whiskey (2003, DOS): This one is hard to label as “obscure.” If hardcore CRPG fans were hipsters, this would be one of the hipster games out there, that the “in” crowd all know about, but nobody else does. It came out in an era where very few indie RPGs were being released, so it gained some momentum by being unique. It is very strongly influenced by The Bard’s Tale, to a fault in my opinion (including an extremely hard first area – a town that is as hard as an old-school dungeon). It’s a first-person dungeon crawler with 3D graphics and quality artwork, now (finally) available via Gamersgate.
#6 – The Three Musketeers – The Game (2009, Windows and Mac): An unusual title by Dingo Games based on the classic novel, The Three Musketeers. Again, non-fantasy! And with some very unusual opportunities (like playing Tennis – the sport of kings). And… hey, I am actually an affiliate for this relatively unknown game, and you can get it here. Okay, shameless plug over. It’s hard for me to gauge its relative obscurity, but it seemed like it fell off every radar almost immediately after release.
Olderbytes official website.
getting it here.
It’s available on Desura.
Now, as I said before, I doubt I even come close to being having played the most obscure computer RPGs ever (although I think Dungeons of Magdarr is up there). There are several more I could have listed, but these are my favorite (at least in terms of being unusual, really obscure, or really fun) I’m sure the community here knows plenty more. What CRPGs have you played that were theoretically publicly released (and may still be), yet very few people have ever heard of?
* Unless you read this blog, in which case you’ve probably heard of half of ’em.
** At least without something like RPG Maker, which makes it pretty dang easy to throw together a crappy RPG, and I know many of them were “released” by way of some forum post lost in antiquity. There’s no bottom to how obscure those theoretically “public” distributions can become, so I left RPG Maker games off this list. HOWEVER – Putting together a high-quality title is still insanely difficult, regardless of tools, and so I do not want anybody to take this as some kind of knock against RPG Maker titles. Many of my favorite indie RPGs were made with that tool, and I know dang well how much sweat and blood went into ’em!