The 10 best obscure games of the 90s

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With the introduction of the World Wide Web and other major technological advances, the 1990s became a major historical and cultural turning point. Because people were able to create things they never could before and could easily connect with people from all over the world, there were many new cultural movements, music genres, art forms, and of course, video games.

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Because of this, many iconic video game franchises, such as sound and resident Evil, were created during this period. However, this rapid growth of the gaming industry meant that some interesting titles were mostly lost in history.

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Kyoto cosmology


A screenshot from one of the beginning events in the game Cosmology of Kyoto where the player meets Watanabe no Tsuna

In Kyoto cosmologythe player creates their own character and explores ancient Kyoto during the Heian period. While exploring, the player can interact with the world both through point-and-click gameplay and by typing in the text field. While there is an official ending to the game, the true main objective is to simply explore the non-linear world and learn about the history, mythology, religion and philosophy of the region using the in-game encyclopedia.

But this game is more than a simple edutainment game. There are so many different events and mysteries to see that it is impossible to see everything in one go, and there are many dangerous things in the game that can kill the player. If the player dies, they will be reborn and will have to take the clothes from their previous corpse to continue.


Gadget: invention, travel and adventure


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

Gadget: invention, travel and adventure follows a government agent tasked with finding a scientist named Horselover Frost. But after boarding a train, the player experiences a series of surreal events that make it difficult to discern what is real and what is not.

Although the game uses pre-rendered 3D animations that look similar to games myst, This game is more of a visual novel than an adventure game. The whole experience is completely linear and the player simply clicks to move forward and activate things. Apart from one riddle, the player is dragged along, which ends up with more questions than answers.


insanity


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

From the many forgotten games on the Sega Saturn, the FMV adventure game insanity 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 to possibly find his past again. Shortly after arriving, he is sent to prison and later sentenced to death unless he finds the entrance to the legendary City of the Moons, which is said to be within the city.

Similar to games like the 7th guest, The player moves between the different locations in the mysterious city by watching many FMV cutscenes. As the player talks to the strange residents and explores the spooky world, they will slowly unravel magical mysteries that will reveal the truth behind Fred’s past.


The note


A screenshot from the opening sequence of survival horror game The Note

Similar to the obscure horror game Hellnight, The Note is a first-person survival horror game for PS1 that was only released in Japan and Europe. The game follows a freelance occult journalist named Akira who, with his partner Angela, tries to find three missing high school students. Akira and Angela discover they have disappeared into an abandoned mansion in a remote European village and decide to investigate the house.

As they explore the mansion, Akira and Angela will solve puzzles, collect items, meet other characters, and fight various creatures. During the game, the player can leave the mansion to buy and sell items in the village shop, and the player can rest in a hotel and save the game.


D


A screenshot of Laura from the 3DO game D

Originally released in 1995 for the 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. Judge Harris, just committed mass murder. The Los Angeles police tell Laura that he’s 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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Within two real-time hours, the player must guide Laura through the castle to find her father and uncover the truth about her family’s past. Depending on what is done in those two hours, the player will get one of several endings. This game has two sequels, enemy zero and D2, who are not narratively related but nonetheless star a woman named Laura.

MDK


A screenshot from the game MDK

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

To stop the aliens, Kurt pulls the Dr. Fluke Hawkins develops “Coil Suit” 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.

power slave


An official screenshot of PowerSlave's upcoming KEX engine port, combining both the PS1 and Saturn versions

Known as exhumed in Europe, power slave is a first-person shooter set in 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 after the helicopter is shot down, the player must help the spirit of King Ramses to defeat an alien species called the Kilmaat.

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Although the game shares many similarities with others DOOMLike games of the era, the console versions also had Metroidvania aspects, where the player slowly obtained items to unlock more areas. An extended port of the game combining both the Sega Saturn and PS1 versions, PowerSlave exhumed, will appear this year.


revolt


A screenshot from the game Re-Volt

Released in 1999, revolt is a racing game in which players control toy cars that have become sentient after being developed by a mysterious toy company called Toy-Volt. After choosing one of 28 different cars, the player can compete against either 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. Besides racing, the player can also compete in several other modes including a multiplayer mode called Battle Tag where each player tries to collect the stars first.

Tokyo Twilight Busters


In Tokyo Twilight Busters, three monsters appear on the screen

One of the best PC 98 games is horror adventure game tokyo twilightbusters, which was developed by the same team that created the stories 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, has disappeared.

Despite studying abroad in England, Sho immediately travels back to Tokyo to look for his father, which leads to him getting caught up in a series of strange events. Besides the regular point-and-click gameplay, the game also includes real-time puzzles, RPG mechanics, and strategy elements.

Dark Seed


Dark Seed Prison

Featuring high resolution graphics for the time and art by Swiss artist HR Giger, Dark Seed is a psychological horror point and click 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 learns of a parallel universe called the Dark World, ruled by sinister aliens called the Ancients.

Over three real-time hours, the player must solve puzzles by switching between the real world and the dark world in order to stop the Ancients from using the “dark seed” planted in Mike’s brain to destroy all of humanity destroy. A few years later a sequel called was made Dark Seed II.

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