The USA is one of the most vibrant gaming markets in the world, with 2,457 companies contributing to more than 220,000 jobs according to Venture Beat. The country is responsible for some of the most famous games of all time, and it also attracts a lot of interest from foreign developers as a prime place to use a setting. Along with well-known titles, there are also a few obscure games that American players should be aware of.
Michigan: Report from Hell
Michigan: Report from Hell is one of those titles that attract players because of its rarity. Despite being named after one of the states in the USA, it was never released in North America. The survival horror game was directed by Japanese game designer Akira Ueda and developed by Grasshopper Manufacture. It was released in 2004 in Japan, and later in Australia. The unique title had an interesting twist on the traditional horror and was played through the lens of a video camera in a homage to the found footage subgenre, not unlike the game Fatal Frame.
Even though it had an enticing and original premise, the title was a niche offering that never found mass success. Perhaps if it was brought out today, it would earn a release in North America thanks to the rise of Michigan as a powerhouse in the gaming industry. There are nearly 30 game development studios in the state, with Virtual Repetitions and Redact Games, two of the names that are currently making waves. It’s also one of the leaders in the booming iGaming sector that is growing across the country. According to How to Bet, in Michigan where online casinos are abundant, there are various bonuses for players. This highlights how there is so much competition between businesses. Therefore, it is clearly one of the frontrunners in the country for this section of the gaming industry. It’s no surprise, then, that developers are flocking to Michigan to make games.
The Last Express
The Last Express takes players away from the comfort of home surroundings, and on an adventure on the Orient Express in the years just before World War I. Gamers are tasked with controlling an American who gets embroiled in a web of lies and treachery on the infamously long train journey. There are many original and fascinating aspects to the 1997 title from Smoking Car Productions, with the fact that the events occur in real-time being particularly enjoyable.
The Last Express also features a non-linear storyline, which helped it garner vast numbers of positive reviews from critics. However, the game from Jordan Mechner was a commercial flop thanks to it receiving little-to-zero marketing upon its release. This is one that’s worth a revisit.
Disney’s Guilty Party
The Nintendo Wii was primarily designed to be a console for communal gaming, where players could get together and have fun in a live setting. One of the most perfect titles for this form of group gaming was Guilty Party, developed by Wideload Games and published by Disney Interactive Studios.
In Guilty Party, four players got together to complete interactive mini-games and hunt for clues in a classic whodunnit mystery. The game was lauded for its humorous and intelligent dialog, but it was never a smash hit. This was, perhaps, because the console itself was in decline at the time of the game’s release in 2010. You may need to dig out your Wii for this one.
Super Monday Night Combat
If you’re one of the lucky people who got the chance to play Super Monday Night Combat, you’re part of a select group. The sequel to Monday Night Combat from Uber Entertainment was only available digitally, and players had access to the title from 2012 to 2018. At that point, it ceased to exist because of the GDPR mandate, and it can no longer be found anywhere. Because this was a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena, it required an online ecosystem of players to function, and couldn’t be downloaded for players to enjoy alone.
The third-person shooter used the Unreal Engine 3, Developed by Epic Games, and put players in a random match-up with a certain number of online opponents. It was lauded for its varied gameplay, with players able to choose from Super Crossfire, Turbocross, Snake, and Super Blitz game modes. Players were devastated that it faded into non-existence, but the game’s legacy will live on through online forums. Anyone who enjoyed it still has the option to play its predecessor as well, which is available on Steam. The 2010 title is compatible with Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows and has a rating of 79 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Lucky & Wild
One of the last films to be released in the 1980s was Tango & Cash, a classic buddy cop film with Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as the leads. The movie from Andrei Konchalovsky used many of the tropes found in the similar television series, Starsky & Hutch, which ran from 1975 to 1979. Despite the popularity of this genre, there have been few occasions when it has been translated into the game world.
One game that tried to recreate the vibes of the William Blinn series and the Warner Bros. movie was Lucky & Wild, a first person racing and shooter arcade-style game for the Namco System 2. The 1993 offering gave players the chance to choose between the Starsky or Tango inspired character, Lucky, or the Hutch or Cash influenced option of Wild. Players had to work together to pursue enemies and shoot them down with light guns.
If you’re tired of mainstream hits and you want to check out some classics that didn’t receive the recognition they deserved at the time of their release, have a look for these obscure offerings. Or in the case of Super Monday Night Combat, find some like-minded people who want to reminisce about the classic game. Some other titles that may interest you are No One Can Stop Mr. Domino! and Terranigma.