There are a ton of PS1 games that everyone has played or heard of: Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Syphon Filter, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and so on. What about the ones people never played or heard of? These are five of those games that went under people’s radar and I think deserve a spotlight.
5) Vib-Ribbon — The objective of the game is to guide Vibri along a ribbon filled with obstacles corresponding to the song being played. Pressing the correct buttons at the right time will let Vibri pass unscathed. Failing to do so multiple times will eventually result in Vibri degenerating from a rabbit into a frog, then a worm, and finally perishing for good. If 18 obstacles are navigated successfully in a row, Vibri’s form is “promoted” to that of fairy princess if she is currently a rabbit. If she is at a lower leveled form, she will advance to the next highest form instead. The game’s score is represented by a series of symbols that accumulate as the game level progresses. A numerical score is generated at the end of the song. Depending on the score obtained, Vibri will sing a congratulatory song that gets longer with higher scores. The game actually allowed you to use your own music by swapping the disc out with an audio CD, but load times were atrocious. The game was only released in Japan and Europe and never saw a state side release, but is one of the most interesting game I have ever played. This would later evolve into gameplay rich, yet graphically simple games form SCE like Echochrome and Echoshift.
4) Intelligent Qube — Obscure puzzle games were almost a 100% failure on the PlayStation. Intelligent Qube was a game that did everything right and was addictive, but also made you think. Cubes came rolling at you out of a black abyss and you have to clear them before they push you off the stage. The game really made you think and you had to be quick on your toes or you would start failing not too soon after the first few levels. This game really passed up most people, but was a huge hit in Japan. The series would later be released in two sequels called PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient for PSP.
3) Brave Fencer Musashi — Like Okami, Psychonauts, and Brutal Legend, Brave Fencer Musashi received great advertising and strong reviews, but saw poor sales. Musashi was a great 3D RPG hack & slash, but was extremely difficult so it didn’t appeal to the children it was catering to. Despite the childish graphics, the game looked good and had a charming story, but most people couldn’t get past the extreme difficulty. There were also times you would get lost and not know what to do. The game only had six chapters, but the various quests will keep you busy for a good amount of time. Hardcore RPG fans of Zelda may love Musashi and dig the quest style right away.
2) Skullmonkeys — This was a 3D platformer published by EA that had a great sense of humor and made what everyone already knew good. It didn’t do much with the platforming genre, but the wonderful animations, funny FMV sequences, and solid controls allowed it to be that great platformer everyone wanted. Like Tomba!, the game received poor advertising opportunities and never really made it into most people’s homes. The best part about the game is how imaginative the character and levels are. The only other game that did something similar to this was MediEvil. Pick this game up if you really want a unique and out of this world platformer.
1) Tomba! — Tomba! was a great platformer that wound up swept under the rug due to poor advertising and being released among larger budget titles. This game had charm, style, great characters, and solid controls. The game was difficult though so it game the game a retro vibe similar to older Castlevania and Mario games. You couldn’t just run from one end of the level to another like in Sonic. There wasn’t much of an interesting story because it kind of catered to smaller kids despite the high difficulty level kept them away. Some areas allowed you to explore the foreground and background areas, but I what hated the most was the fact that you had no idea where to go. Despite this the game is a hidden gem among the large PS1 library.