10 best obscure games of the 90s

With the introduction of the World Wide Web and other major technological advancements, the 90s became a major historical and cultural turning point. Since people could create things they had never been able to before and easily connect with people around the world, there were many new cultural movements, musical genres, art forms and, of course, video games.

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Because of all this, many iconic video game franchises, such as Sonic and resident Evil, were created at that time. But, this rapid growth in the gaming industry has led to the loss of some mostly interesting titles in history.

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Cosmology of Kyoto


A screenshot of one of the first events in the game Cosmology of Kyoto where the player encounters Watanabe no Tsuna

In Cosmology of Kyoto, the player creates their own character and explores ancient Kyoto during the Heian period. While exploring, the player can interact with the world through point-and-click gameplay and typing in the text box. Even though there is an official ending to the game, the real main objective is simply to explore the non-linear world and learn more about the history, mythology, religion and philosophy of the region at the game encyclopedia help.

But this game is more than just an edutainment game. There are so many different events and secrets to see that it’s impossible to see them all in one playthrough, and there are a lot of dangerous things in the game that can kill the player. If the player dies, they are reincarnated and must take on their previous corpse’s clothing to continue.


Gadget: invention, travel and adventure


A screenshot from the game Gadget: Invention, Journey and Adventure

Gadget: invention, travel and adventure follows a government agent tasked with finding a scientist named Horselover Frost. But, once the player boards a train, they find themselves going through a series of surreal events that make it difficult to discern what is real and what isn’t.

Although the game uses pre-rendered 3D animation which looks like games like Myst, this game is more of a visual novel than an adventure game. The entire experience is completely linear, and the player simply clicks to move forward and activate things. Apart from a puzzle, the player is basically trained for the ride, which ends with more questions than answers.


Madness


A screenshot of the protagonist, Fred, from the opening cinematic of the Sega Saturn game Lunacy

Among the many forgotten games on Sega Saturn, the adventure game FMV Madness is one of the most obscure. In this game, the player controls an amnesiac traveler named Fred who has a strange symbol on his forehead. He decides to visit a strange place called Misty Town in order to possibly find his past. Shortly after arriving, he is imprisoned and later sentenced to death unless he can find the entrance to the legendary City of Moons which is said to be located within the city.

Similar to games like The 7th Guest, the player transitions between different locations in the Mysterious City by watching numerous FMV cutscenes. As the player talks to the strange residents and explores the mysterious world, they will slowly uncover magical mysteries that will reveal the truth about Fred’s past.


Note


A screenshot of the opening cinematic of survival horror game The Note

In the same way as the dark horror game Hellnight, the note is a PS1 first-person survival horror game that was only released in Japan and Europe. The game follows a freelance occult journalist named Akira as he tries to find three missing high school students with his partner, Angela. Akira and Angela discover that they have disappeared in an abandoned mansion in a remote European village, so they decide to investigate the house.

While exploring the mansion, Akira and Angela solve puzzles, collect items, meet other characters, and battle various creatures. During the game, the player can leave the mansion in order to buy and sell items at the village shop, and the player can rest in a hotel and save the game.


D


A screenshot of Laura from the game 3DO D

Originally released in 1995 for 3DO interactive multiplayer, D is a horror adventure game that follows a woman named Laura Harris who rushes to the local hospital after learning that her father, Dr. Richter Harris, has just embarked on a mass shooting. The Los Angeles police tell Laura that he has barricaded himself in the hospital, so she decides to try to find him. But, shortly after entering the building, she finds herself in an alternate universe where the hospital is actually a castle.

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In two hours in real time, the player must guide Laura through the castle in order to find her father and reveal the truth about her family’s past. Depending on what is done during those two hours, the player will get one of many endings. This game has two sequels, enemy zero and D2, which are not narratively related but still feature a woman named Laura.

MDK


A screenshot of the MDK game

Developed by Shiny Entertainment who also created The earthworm Jim, MDK is a third-person shooter that stands out for its graphical achievements, sense of humor and sniper mode. The game follows a janitor named Kurt Hectic who must save the world from “Streamriders”, who are aliens who use large vehicles called “Minecrawlers” to steal all of Earth’s natural resources.

To stop the aliens, Kurt dons the “Coil Suit”, which was created by Dr. Fluke Hawkins, and enters the Minecrawlers. Each Minecrawler has different environments, enemies and bosses. Years after the first game, BioWare made a sequel for PC, Dreamcast, and PS2.

PowerSlave


An official screenshot of PowerSlave's upcoming KEX Engine port that combines both PS1 and Saturn versions

Known as exhumed in Europe, PowerSlave is a first-person shooter set around the ancient Egyptian city of Karnak in the late 20th century. The player is a member of a group of soldiers who are sent to Karnak to find out what strange forces have taken over the area. But, once the helicopter is shot down, the player must help the spirit of King Ramses defeat an alien species known as Kilmaat.

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Although the game shares many similarities with other LOSS-like the games of the time, the console versions also had Metroidvania aspects where the player slowly earned items in order to unlock more areas. An enhanced port of the game that combines both the Sega Saturn and PS1 versions, PowerSlave unearthed, will be released this year.


Revolt


A screenshot from the game Re-Volt

Released in 1999, Revolt is a racing game where players control miniature cars that gained sentience after being developed by a mysterious toy company called Toy-Volt. After choosing one of 28 different cars, the player can compete against the AI ​​or other players in single races and championships.

There are 13 main tracks to choose from and each of these tracks has a few variations. Apart from racing, the player can also compete in several other modes including a multiplayer mode called Battle Tag where each player first tries to collect the stars.

Tokyo Twilight Breaker


Three monsters appear on screen in Tokyo Twilight Busters

One of the best PC-98 games is the horror adventure game Tokyo Twilight Busters, which was developed by the same team that created the Tales JRPG series. Set a month before the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the player controls a young man named Sho Kusanagi who discovers that his father, Professor Takuma Kusanagi, is missing.

Although Sho was studying abroad in England, he immediately returns to Tokyo to search for his father, which leads to him getting caught up in a series of strange events. Along with having regular point-and-click gameplay, the game also includes real-time puzzles, RPG mechanics, and strategy elements.

dark seed


Black Seed Prison

With high resolution graphics for the era and art created by Swiss artist HR Giger, dark seed is a point-and-click psychological horror game that’s also an artistic masterpiece. The game follows a young man named Mike Dawson who recently bought an old mansion in a small town. While living in the house, however, he discovers a parallel universe called the Dark World, which is ruled by sinister aliens called the Ancients.

In three hours in real time, the player must solve puzzles while passing between the real world and the world of darkness in order to prevent the Ancients from using the “Dark Seed” which has been placed in Mike’s brain to destroy all humanity. A few years later, a sequel was made called Dark Seed II.

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