Slideshow

Under the radar games: the 29 best upcoming games you've never heard of

What about all the smaller games that are cool but aren't exactly household game brands?

  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/142423/dc-universe-online/|DC Universe Online|DC Universe Online]]



    For: PS3, PC

    Finally, your last memory of Superman in a video game doesn't have to be Superman 64. After years of development, Sony Online Austin is another step closer to having DC Universe Online ready for comic fans in 2010, complete with just about every hero and villain from every nook and cranny of Metropolis and Gotham. As far as we can tell, this game is squarely targeting gamers who have the chops for a World of Warcraft title, but really just want to fly around shooting stuff with laser vision. At our last count, DC Universe Online's cast of characters was over 100 total, with niche player characters like Black Adam, The Question and Zatanna. Yikes. --McKinley Noble
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ds/159975/golden-sun-ds/|Golden Sun DS|Golden Sun DS]]



    For: DS

    Golden Sun DS may be a long way off (we're not expecting another demo until the end of the year), but it's showing promise as a faithful continuation of the hit series that formerly wowed us on the Game Boy Advance. Nerds like us that follow the storyline are in for a treat, since this game will be the first one to feature a cast of protagonists -- specifically, the descendants of the original Golden Sun troop, all of whom will likely be involved in a new quest to protect the world of Weyard from the power of alchemy. Of course, the graphical nudge from 2D to 3D doesn't look too shabby, and we'll be looking forward to messing around with Zelda-style dungeon puzzles and turn-based psychic-magic battles. --McKinley Noble
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/161062/gladiator-a-d/|Gladiator A.D.| Gladiator A.D.]]



    For: Wii

    In Ridley Scott's brutally-violent action film Gladiator, Russell Crowe's character Maximus gets to determine whether his battered and broken enemies in the arena get to live or die. Oh, and he must make this tough decision as bloodthirsty spectators in the stands shout whether or not they want him to show mercy. If he goes along with the crowd, he'll be favored by them. This aspect of Ancient Rome's vicious gladiatorial games is a big part of the upcoming Wii-exclusive fighting game Gladiator A.D. In the game you can either show pity to your weakened opponents or finish them off in a fashion that's similar to Mortal Kombat's trademark fatalities. The game is still in its infantile stages of development--it's not coming out until the end of 2010--but the game already looks pretty slick in action. --Patrick Shaw
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/160935/magnacarta-2/|Magnacarta 2|Magnacarta 2]]



    For: Xbox 360

    With Magnacarta 2, there's a few things you should know right off the bat. First, it's technically the third game in this cult-hit RPG series. Second, you need to know that it's got some of the best damn artwork we've seen, and that's just the stuff on paper. Lastly, the extra two years it's been in development looks like it's paying off. During our test run of developer SoftMax's niche title, we found ourselves strangely addicted to the Star Ocean-inspired active turn-based combat system. As we ran around a lush, emerald green mountain forest, we'd occasionally get into scuffles with mutant wolves, which let us try out the new combat system that already outclasses its predecessor. Awesome battle transitions? Check. No loading times? We didn't see any. Incredible chain attacks? This game's got 'em, and they're fun (but tricky) to pull off. Magnacarta's only been really popular with Korean gamers, but we're hoping this slick-looking RPG doesn't get buried alongside the fall lineup later this year -- it's almost too pretty to go unnoticed. --McKinley Noble ([[xref:http://twitter.com/KenTheGreat1|Follow me on Twitter here!|Mckinley Noble (KenTheGreat) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/psp/161057/half-minute-hero/|Half-Minute Hero|Half-Minute Hero]]



    For: PSP

    I've decided that Half-Minute Hero is going to be an RPG for people with ADD. Giving players only 30 seconds to complete each mission, the game does away with many typical RPG mainstays, such as spending hours leveling up, and completely throws the long-winded story custom right out the window. The game itself has a decidedly old-school look to it, and the characters and enemies are basically a parody of RPG sprites; you can literally count the pixels on each character. With four different modes which range from typical (but extremely short) random battle fare to a full on shoot-em-up mode, Half-Minute Hero may be a schizophrenic RPG that anyone can jump in and play for... half of a minute. --Andy Burt ([[xref:http://twitter.com/Andy_Burt|Follow me on Twitter here!|Andy Burt (Andy_Burt) on Twitter]])
  • With mammoth games lined up for all three consoles like two new Metal Gear Solid games, Uncharted 2, two Halo games, God of War III, and two Mario games for the Wii just to name a few, there's certainly no shortage of blockbuster games coming in 2009 and 2010. But what about all the smaller games that are cool but aren't exactly household game brands?

  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/157388/a-boy-and-his-blob/|A Boy and His Blob|A Boy and His Blob]]



    For: Nintendo Wii

    A remake of the 1989 NES game, not to be confused with the DS version which is a sequel, A Boy and His Blob has me wishing it was autumn already. If the idea of having a pet blob that turns into things like a bomb and a blowtorch doesn't immediately win you over, you really need to see this game with your own eyes to be convinced of its cute awesomeness. The NES original A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia may not have been as huge as Super Mario Bros., but it's definitely good to see this inspired series being reinvigorated. --Heather Bartron ([[xref:http://twitter.com/Terrorincognita|Follow me on Twitter here!|Heather Barton (Terrorincognita) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/pc/133661/darkest-of-days/|Darkest of Days|Darkest of Days]]



    For: PC

    This is sort of a sleeper title that could make some noise when it comes out. Take FPS shooter action and mix in a dose of time-travelling -- that's the gimmick behind Darkest of Days. You're basically a Time Cop (Jean Claude Van Damme's finest movie -- just kidding) and you hop all around time making sure the natural course of history stays intact. That means blasting people during Custer's Last Stand with lasers and witnessing the disaster of Pompei with your own eyes. Time travel always makes for an interesting premise, so this is one indie shooter that bears watching. --Tae Kim
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/159873/afrika/|Afrika|Afrika]]



    For: PS3

    So it may not be the most explosion-filled, high energy game on the planet, but you'd be surprised how addicting this oddly spelled game turns out to be. During the first hour, I wanted to shoot myself as I waited for a Hippo to stop yawning so I could snap a photo of it. But when I was awarded a new, more complicated camera and the chance to shoot a Cheetah stalking its prey, I was in it for the long haul. --Heather Bartron
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/159786/pixeljunk-shooter/|PixelJunk Shooter|PixelJunk Shooter]]



    For: PS3

    When one of the most creative development houses in gaming comes up with a new title, you'd do best to listen up. PixelJunk's latest is a frenetic take on the classic arcade-style shooter genre (hence the name) with enough quirky twists and puzzle elements to make it all their own. The main goal in Shooter is to pilot a spacecraft and rescue humans who are stuck in underground channels (how they got there is anyone's guess) from a fiery death by lava by strategically destroying rock formations, releasing refreshingly cold water into the levels to extinguish the lava. Somehow bats and other enemies made their way down into the lava-infested channels (maybe they followed the humans in?) which you'll need to destroy, all the while rescuing humans and avoiding getting torched by the lava. PixelJunk, just hurry up and give me the damn game already, I'm tired of waiting. --Andy Burt
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/109701/huxley/|Huxley: The Dystopia|Huxley: The Dystopia]]



    For: Xbox 360, PC

    Huxley's had a bumpy road to release, with endless delays and restarts. Originally envisioned as an MMO first-person shooter, Huxley is now closer in spirit to the Unreal Tournament series. The FPS deathmatches are fast-paced, and you can customize your character with special buffs, boosters, and abilities that you can assign to a key press. For a $60 retail game, this might not sound particularly exciting. But Huxley will be released as a free-to-play title online, with extra content available for a small fee. Huxley won't change the world, but it might find more success than the too-little, too-late Unreal Tournament 3. --Sid Shuman
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/psp/160976/invizimals/|Invizimals|Invizimals]]



    For: PSP

    Invizimals could turn out to be the next big RPG in the style of Pokemon if the gameplay is as exciting as it looks to be. Invizimals is another upcoming title that uses Augmented Reality, allowing players to see 3D monsters floating around in real space via their PSP camera. Players can search their homes or any other area, using their PSP to track and sense monsters, eventually capturing them for training and battle. The battles utilize all new PSP add-ons, such as wind attacks (blowing into the mic), lightning attacks (using your own shadow) and earthquake attacks (shaking the console). While it seems lacking in story, the incredibly interactive battles seem more than enough to make up for it. --Sean Mirkovich
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/psp/160912/soul-calibur-broken-destiny/|Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny|Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny]]



    For: PSP

    PSP fighters don't get much love, but that might change with Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny. It is, without a doubt, the most technically impressive game I've seen on the PSP. The graphics are up to the quality of the PS2 editions, and the action and character customization is straight out of Soul Calibur IV. Of course, guest star Kratos (from God of War III) is a key selling point to this edition. But the fluid 60 frames-per-second action and endless unlockable content makes Broken Destiny one of the most promising PSP games I've seen yet. --Sid Shuman
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ds/160977/ghostwire/|Ghostwire|Ghostwire]]



    For: DS

    For a DS game, Ghostwire looks pretty freaky and I'm interested to see if the ghosts and ghouls found within the game provide some legitimate scares. The game will be Nintendo's first foray into Augmented Reality, which allows users to see ghosts everywhere and anywhere in the real world. The game utilizes the DSi's built in camera as a kind of seeing stone into the paranormal world, and your purpose will be much like Haley Joel Osmond's character in the Sixth Sense: Finding ghosts and helping them resolve some unfinished business so they can move on peacefully. It could turn out to be a surprise ghostly treat, later this year. --Sean Mirkovich
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/158832/zombie-apocalypse/|Zombie Apocalypse|Zombie Apocalypse]]



    For: Xbox 360, PS3

    I really like Smash TV and Left 4 Dead, but you know what sucks about them? They're two different games. Why, oh why, is there not a game that combines the gritty gory zombie slaying of Left 4 Dead with the twitch-friendly overhead arcade style of Smash TV? Thankfully we won't have to lament much longer, because Zombie Apocalypse is coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. With loads of weapons, enemies, environments, and cool quips, Zombie Apocalypse is pure, simple, zombie-slaying fun on the cheap. And who doesn't want that? --Dave Rudden
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/111288/l-a-noire/|L.A. Noire|L.A. Noire]]



    For: PS3

    Not much has been said about Rockstar and Team Bondi's L.A. Noire for quite some time. The game has been in development for over five years now, with only one teaser and trailer being released all the way back in 2006. The game has been pushed back over and over again, but hopefully this will be the year L.A. Noire finally makes its seedy 1940's themed debut. The game allows players to uncover the gritty crime and corruption mysteries of pre-freeway bombarded Los Angeles in the 1940's and are loosely based off of James Ellroy's crime novels. Looks like my chance to play L.A. Confidential and Chinatown-esque games may come true. Now, if only the release date wasn't the big mystery that needs solving. --Sean Mirkovich
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ds/160967/scribblenauts/|Scribblenauts|Scribblenauts]]



    For: DS

    I've already gushed about this game after seeing it at E3 but I'll say it one more time: Scribblenauts has tons of serious potential. I basically begged Warner Bros. for a copy, even promising that I'd drive to their HQ to pick it up if I have to. There are a lot of triple-A titles releasing in 2009 but this is probably the one I'm most excited for. The first thing I'm going to do when I get my copy is conjure up a zombie and put it on a skateboard. And I can't wait for the crazy videos that are going to pop up on Youtube. --Tae Kim
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/159997/warhammer-40-000-space-marine/|Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine|Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine]]



    For: Xbox 360, PS3

    Relic's new game, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, is friggin incredible. Warhammer 40K fans know they can expect nothing less than what the series is known for: Ork on Ultramarine mega-violence, massive blood-spurting battles, and BFG-type weapons that make World of Warcraft players blush. But one thing long-time fans won't expect is that the game is not real-time strategy. Space Marine is an action-RPG like Devil May Cry where you'll play as a single Space Marine, hacking and slashing through tons of Orks to earn upgrades, such as jetpacks and new weapons, to customize your badass Ultramarine. --Travis Moses
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/159987/tatsunoku-vs-capcom-ultimate-all-stars/|Tatsunoko vs. Capcom|Tatsunoko vs. Capcom]]



    For: Nintendo Wii

    Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is freaking insanity. Its birth spawns from the strangest of blends, but the outcome is the Wii's greatest fighting game. Try to imagine if Marvel vs. Capcom's crack-cocaine dealer made whoopee with all of Tatsunoko's Japanese production staff and Street Fighter IV's art director while Nintendo execs watched, liked what they saw, and wanted to see that same magical moment recreated on the Wii. That is Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, the zaniest fighting game the Wii will ever see. Just look at that screen and tell me it's not beautiful. --Travis Moses ([[xref:http://twitter.com/Travis Moses|Follow me on Twitter here!|TravisMoses (TravisMoses) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/160918/tales-of-monkey-island/|Tales of Monkey Island|Tales of Monkey Island]]



    For: Wii, PC

    The original Monkey Island series is one of the funniest and original game franchises around. Now, one of the original developers, Ron Gilbert, is back with another hilarious adventure starring Guybrush Threepwood, inept pirate extraordinaire. I'm excited because TellTale games, the company responsible for bringing back Sam & Max, is handling development, so you know it's going to be awesome. You can expect some smart writing, challenging puzzles and ridiculous pirate adventures. The game's getting a new visual style to similar to TellTale's other adventure games. --Tae Kim ([[xref:http://twitter.com/taelurkim|Follow me on Twitter here!|Tae Kim (taelurkim) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/159952/shadow-complex/|Shadow Complex|Shadow Complex]]



    For: Xbox 360

    Microsoft's Shadow Complex, developed by Chair, is far too under the radar. I previewed Shadow Complex in GamePro's August issue and then blew up the internets with the extended preview on GamePro.com after Microsoft's E3 press briefing. There's exclusive info you won't find anywhere else. I think this game is rad because it's a side-scrolling shooter that blends my favorite features from several games: Super Metroid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Uncharted, Pitfall, and Gears of War. Imagine Contra on steroids with a next-gen facelift and you'll have a good idea what Shadow Complex is like. --Travis Moses
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/159803/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-turtles-in-time/|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-shelled|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-shelled]]



    For: Xbox 360

    Some of you reading this may not the remember vibrant, footsoldier-smashing, pizza-slice munching, four-player arcade game Turtles in Time, but believe you me that this was not only the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game ever created, it's one of the all time greatest beat 'em ups, right up there with Double Dragon, Sunset Riders, Golden Axe, and Street of Rage 2. The upcoming Re-shelled version of Turtles in Time has completely redone 3D graphics, and you'll be able to purchase it on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). It's not cheap, but it's a hell of a better deal than $20 for that middling Watchmen: The End is Nigh game. --Patrick Shaw
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/159815/rabbids-go-home/|Rabbids Go Home|Rabbids Go Home]]



    For: Wii

    So we've got two Mario platformers coming to the Wii. Awesome, right? Not if you like originality. Basically, what Nintendo is serving up is two plates of "more of the same," reheating New Super Mario Bros. DS and Super Mario Galaxy 1 with some light seasoning. For gamers looking for a fresh new take on platforming, may I suggest Rabbids Go Home? The first time I saw this game, I'll confess, it looked generic as hell, but after trying out this game that mixes elements of Katamari, Spryo, and Tony Hawk (back when all three were good), I've suddenly become a fan of these fanatic furry creatures. --Dave Rudden (Follow me on Twitter here!)
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/161063/the-grinder/|The Grinder|The Grinder]]



    For: Wii

    Okay, so maybe The Conduit didn't exactly revolutionize the first-person shooter genre, but it's easily the best shooter on the Wii with one of the most original premises for an FPS game on any platform. The Grinder, which comes from The Conduit developers High Voltage, continues their trend of spicing things up premise wise with their next FPS game. It's set in the southwest and feels like the video game equivalent of From Dusk till Dawn, only with more beasts other than just giant vampire bats, like Tremors-like sand worms, werewolves, and big lumbering Jason Voorhees-esque enemies called Slashers. The Grinder will appeal to horror buffs and FPS fans alike. --Patrick Shaw ([[xref:http://twitter.com/patrickshaw|Follow me on Twitter here!|Patrick Shaw (patrickshaw) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/xbox360/143746/dead-to-rights-retribution/|Dead to Rights Retribution|Dead to Rights Retribution]]



    For: PS3, Xbox 360

    If you judge on looks alone, you might catch a glimpse of Dead to Rights: Retribution and think it's a B-grade action romp. But dig a little deeper and you'll find a Max Payne-style police shooter with a style all its own. In stark contrast to the sanitized violence in the previous games, Retribution's gore is off the charts. You can snap enemy arms like twigs in order to steal their guns or, when playing as police dog Shadow, rip their genitalia off in a gruesome canine takedown that has to be seen to be believed. Gore hounds, take note. --Sid Shuman ([[xref:http://twitter.com/sidshuman|Follow me on Twitter here!|Sid Shuman (sidshuman) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/143550/mini-ninjas/|Mini Ninjas|Mini Ninjas]]



    For: PS3, Xbox 360, DS, PC, Wii

    Has there been an action-adventure game worth playing through in the last year that hasn't been filled from beginning to end with buckets of blood? Don't get me wrong, gore is great, but a change of pace would be more than welcome. Mini Ninjas takes the great action gameplay io Interactive has been honing while working on games like Hitman and Freedom Fighters and applies it to an artistic and cute interface. The world of Mini Ninjas is filled with adorable characters, humorous action, but most importantly, great combat. If the team that made Wind Waker ever put their art style to Ninja Gaiden, I bet the end result would have been Mini Ninjas. --Dave Rudden
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing



    For: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii

    Okay, it's not the first time Sonic's been in a racing game (cough, Sonic R on Sega Saturn, cough) but Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing already plays and feels ten times better than whatever Sonic Riders was trying to accomplish. This time around, everyone's ditched the snowboards and taken to the racetrack, while characters from all around the Sega-verse are bringing their own Technicolor vehicles to the fray. Sure, purists can cry foul about Sonic the Hedgehog being faster on foot than on wheels, but with tons of wacky courses and playable characters hailing from games like Super Monkey Ball and Samba De Amigo, half of the fun is just seeing everyone's "All-Star Moves". Anyone think a collection of characters from Jet Set Radio and a cameo from Ulala should be in order? --McKinley Noble
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/psp/143767/shin-megami-tensei-persona/|Persona PSP|Persona PSP]]



    For: PSP

    In a genre populated by spiky-haired protagonists, over-sized swords and rag-tag groups of adventurers, the Shin Megami Tensei series made a name for itself by taking an incredibly unique and considerably darker approach to the traditional role-playing formula in the franchise's North American debut, Revelations: Persona for the original Playstation. While Persona was met with both critical acclaim and a cult following of fans at release, it was often overlooked in favor of the Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests of the world. Thankfully, the good people at Atlus are bringing the game that started it all to the PSP in this complete overhaul of the original Persona title, including a brand new user interface, cinematic cut-scenes, never-before-seen dungeons, and an entirely new localization from the ground up. If you're a fan of the Megaten franchise, or if you simply missed it the first time around, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the September 22nd release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona for the PSP. --Will Herring ([[xref:http://twitter.com/grey2scale|follow me on Twitter here!|Will Herring (grey2scale) on Twitter]])
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ds/159976/cop-the-recruit/|C.O.P. The Recruit|C.O.P. The Recruit]]



    For: DS

    While open-world gameplay has become a staple in countless contemporary titles, only a handful of games have successfully executed a living, breathing sandbox capable of truly immersing the player. Ubisoft's latest effort looks to captivate and intrigue audiences by offering up one of the deepest real-time worlds to date in their newest adventure, C.O.P. The Recruit. Players fill the shoes of former street racer turned undercover agent Dan Miles as he takes on the criminal underbelly of New York City. "Expansive" is an understatement for this ambitious action title, as C.O.P. will not only feature an impressive, six square mile recreation of New York for players to explore, but will feature NO loading screens, not to mention gameplay that consistently runs at 60 FPS. Throw in about 60 missions, 30 vehicles and over 20 hours of gameplay and Ubisoft may very well have the next definitive open-world action game on their hands. --Will Herring
  • [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/wii/159723/muramasa-the-demon-blade/|Muramasa: Demon Blade|Muramasa: Demon Blade]]



    For: Nintendo Wii

    Even with most of the E3 showroom floor focused on next-gen texture and bump-mapped protagonists, there were few titles that could hold a light to the jaw-dropping, drool-inducing world on display in Vanillaware's Muramasa: The Demon Blade. From the creative forces behind the 2007 sleeper hit Odin Sphere comes an absolutely stunning twist on the action-RPG genre. In this exciting Wii exclusive adventure, players are invited to explore an amazing world of legend inhabited by enchanting Japanese mythology, brought to life through breathtaking hand-drawn environments, characters and animations. As either the warrior princess Momohime or the amnesiac shinobi Kisuke, players will hack and slash their way through this immersive and magical world, tasked with collecting 108 mystical katana, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. --Will Herring
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