Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Welcome to Overrated Vs. Underappreciated. Here I'll discuss games I've played that did little to nothing for my enjoyment, yet seem to be quite popular for reasons unbeknownst to me. Also, I'll highlight a game that was largely ignored by the gaming populace that I think deserves the attention and fandom the more popular game receives.
OVERRATED - Odin Sphere (PS2)
Yes, I highlighted my personal issues with Odin Sphere in the Opinion section already, but when I was thinking of setting up a new ORvUA article, Odin Sphere quickly popped into my brain as one that a ton of game reviewers hailed as fantastic, and honesty, I really don't know why they did so. I can say this - the game was gorgeous, the character designs were cool, and the music is excellent. However, I have to really ponder if any of the reviewers who plastered it with so much praise actually played through the same game that I did. Did they get more diverse enemies to battle? Maybe they were less cheap than the retail release? Perhaps slimes took normal damage without having to concoct some sort of potion the game failed to warn you about? I don't know. All I know is that I read so many gleaming reviews about this game, and when I sat down and played it, I did not enjoy it all that much thanks to its broken combat and its poor decisions on certain aspects of the gameplay. Did we really need 5 different forms of currency? Why must I get juggled when the enemies don't? How come I stop attacking when I'm struck while my enemies shrug my blows off and resume wailing me? There's way too many nagging issues for this game to be hyped so heavily, and I have to think they were too star struck with the pretty spritework (which, no matter how pretty it is, gets very old when you revisit each level as often as this game forces you to), coughing up B-range scores to a game that really didn't deserve them. Hopefully, Vanillaware will fix many of these issues for their upcoming Wii title.
UNDERAPPRECIATED - Elevator Action II/Returns (Arcade, Saturn [JP], PS2/PC through Taito Legends 2)
Now this is how one ought to revitalize a classic. The simplistic gameplay of Elevator Action was carefully rebuilt into a topnotch action game loaded with excellent graphics (especially for the size of the sprites!), extra responsive controls and plenty of challenge. The addition of explosive barrels and interactive objects adds a ton of depth into the enemy battling, and the game's six stages are varied enough to all feel fresh. A game that deserved to be better recognized as a true classic, but alas, the game's lack of a domestic console release until the PS2 Taito Legends 2 comp has hampered its legacy (unless you were lucky enough to find the arcade cabinet or imported the ultra-rare Saturn port). Overall, I was blown away with the quality Taito poured into this game, and I recommend tracking this game down so you can play it. Taito Legends 2 is ultra cheap - $15 or less snags you a hefty 38 games. Can't go wrong, there. Hardcore Gamer 101 mentions that a touch of slowdown and a nerfed machine gun are in the PS2 port, but I didn't think it hurt the quality of the game at all (in fact, I don't think I really noticed either issue while I played it), so it's nothing to worry too much about.