I like big arguments!
I remember Solar Winds was kind of neat. I don't know how obscure that is, though.
Not particularly obscure, but then again, it had a pretty niche gameplay, just like games like Traffic Department 2192.
For some reason, I feel that freeware/shareware games don't belong to such "forgotten gems" lists, primarily because there were way more of them vs commercial retail releases, and had much more quality variation and gameplay/style experimentation, so obviously you'll get an enormous number of "obscure" and "forgotten" games in that category. Just browsing through the "games" directory of any old BBS or Simtel archive mirror will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
It would make more sense to restrict this to commercial games that somehow failed to leave a mark at their time (in particular if, at first glance, there was nothing apparently wrong with them) or that left no obvious legacy, meaning that at best, they were just a product of their time and nothing more, or worse, the byproduct of some passing trend. Again, there are hundreds if not thousands of them even if you restrict yourself to e.g. arcades or a particular console.
But sticking to PC, I'd say Magic Carpet, Pyrotechnica, Cyberbykes, Maabus, Under A Killing moon, each for different reasons.
- Magic Carpet: the actual Magic Carpet game was more of a showcase for its innovative graphics engine, which later was used in other games through the mid 90s, but after 3D accelerators hit the market, both the games and the engine were all but forgotten, let alone that it was overshadowed by Doom at its time.
- Pyrotechnica: 3D puzzle-shooter reminding you of Descent with a "cyberspace"/Tron theme by Psygnosis. Big name, big expectations, but virtually unknown game, and sincerely it felt just like an abstract 3D sandbox. Probably a byproduct of the 90s "VR" craze.
- Cyberbykes/Spectre Racer VR: Ah, the infamous polygon-graphics game released in 1995 by Realtek. Polygon graphics, in a world of Doom, Quake and DN3. OK. Right. A by-product of a time where everybody was trying to cash into that whole "VR" thing.
- Maabus: pretty obscure FMV action-adventure title where you controlled a sort of robotic vehicle in first person view. Spawned across 4 CDs (in 1994!) and had the typical flaws of FMV games, in addition to having a postage-stamp sized action window. Windows-based too....when Windows 3.1 was still king. Using the dreaded WinG libraries. Meh. Definitively a product of its time.
- Under A Killing Moon: not a bad game by any means, actually it's an adventure game classic, and the first game I recall using 4 CDs (!) in 1994. It had a sequel (The Pandora Directive) on 6 CDs (!) in 1995 or 1996, and that was it. After that, no more games like it, whether we're talking about the technology ( a hybrid of 3D FPS gameplay, with FMV cutscenes, and a clever action/dialog system) or the plot/style.
Last edited by Maes on 03-15-14 at 00:00