Old treasures rediscovered: forgotten game hits

Old treasures rediscovered: forgotten game hits
Each of us knows the usual suspects: Half Life is one of the greatest games of all time, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It's no longer a "sleeper hit" and everyone has heard of Civilization 2 before. Retro classics are so famous because they are timeless and still provide hours of fun without any problems. Instead of tinkering with another best-of-retro list, we're going a different way this time: In this list, we're introducing you to classic games that were on everyone's lips at the time but have been forgotten today.

It is important to us that the games in question either received good ratings in their time or were already considered sleeper hits that, despite all the conditions, did not make the step to a mega hit. Each of the games mentioned below deserves (according to the humble opinion of this editor) a modern sequel or a crisp reboot. So let's go! Put on your monocle and join us on a treasure hunt. We guarantee you that you can either dig up a previously completely unknown relic with us or indulge in memories.


In 1999 the developer Terminal Reality brought us the horror game "Nocturne". The action adventure transports you to the gloomy America of the year 1920: Here not only the Prohibition and the great depression raging through the USA, but also vampires, werewolves and other horrors. President Theodore Roosevelt therefore created the government agency "Spookhouse", which counteracts the threats with a lot of firepower and magic. You play "Stranger", an agent with a trench coat, a grater voice and so much ammunition that he could split the planet in two. Nocturne has a first-class graphic for its time, which not only lets Stranger's coat blow in the wind, but also plays with light effects and distributes the (very lavishly measured) blood of your enemies physically correct on the floor and the wall.

The story of Nocturne doesn’t offer much cinema, but it is well set and combines Gothic with cosmic horror. Source: PC Games The target mechanics of the game are also interesting: Despite the "Resident Evil tank control" that was common at the time, which gives you the elegance of a crawler excavator, the fights are entertaining because Stranger aims independently by throwing his arms in Towards the target. This gives you the ability to target two goals at the same time. A daring protagonist, with sunglasses, a billowing coat and two guns ... Did we mention that the movie "The Matrix" was released in 1999? With its realistic graphics and gloomy setting, Nocturne met the zeitgeist of the decade exactly.

The chic blood and a targeting system that steers two weapons independently of each other still gives you the feeling of being in control of a real warrior. (2) Source: PC Games In fact, Nocturne 2 was already being planned when the publisher "Gathering of Developers" surprisingly rejected the project and subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Due to the very fresh collaboration with "Majesco Entertainment", the developers did not want to endanger the burgeoning Nocturne franchise and used the assets to create a new game from 2002, which was also very popular at the time: Blood Rayne! If you compare the story, the look of the characters and the terms, you will very quickly discover strong similarities between the two games. The Blair Witch trilogy from Terminal Reality, published in 2000, also takes place in the Nocturne universe.

Interstate 76

Activision complained to us in 1997 with "Interstate 76" (Download of the original test here) a very special treat. The developers experienced in vehicle combat through "Mech Warrior" and "Mech Warrior II" tested a new concept by transferring the player to the USA in 1976 - only that the oil crisis never came to an end in this timeline. Crime and violence dominate the streets, so that not only criminals arm themselves, but also ordinary citizens: The fat muscle cars of the 70s are adorned with mortars, miniguns, rocket launchers and armor in Interstate 76. The result is a street ballet of the extraordinary kind, in which the player not only has to pay attention to armor and ammunition, but also has to adjust his speed and the range of his weapons, as well as cleverly outmaneuver his enemies.

The gameplay and story use the same style and therefore look like a piece. Groove Champion and Taurus also have loads of character! Source: PC Games

Interstate 76 broke new ground in many ways: Where at that time the lion's share of all games tried hard to make their cutscenes stand out from the general game scene as bombastically as possible via FMV, Interstate 76 took a different route. All scenes were shot in the game's own engine, so that the story and the gameplay appeared to be from a single source. The whole thing works so well that the result is a style of its own that is still impressive today and looks a bit like an attempt at proto-cell shading. The protagonist "Groove-Champion" is also unusual, as the mustache bearer is not a daring hero who rescues a chaste lady from an ivory tower. On the contrary! The peace-loving normal and aspiring poet only learns about the adventurers of his sister "Jade Champion" through his buddy Taurus. The well-fortified lady bequeaths her vehicle and her mission to Groove.

You can immediately see the Mech Warrior background: Activision went back to its strengths with Interstate 76 and transported the whole thing into a world that is bursting with charm. Source: PC Games Anyone who takes to the streets quickly recognizes that the Mechwarrior developers are behind the game: A detailed damage model not only deforms your vehicle, but also has a strong influence on the handling of the car. Dented bonnets, flat tires and blown off weapons - even the "Colin McRae Rally", which was released a year later, did not show such detailed vehicle damage. If you add the perfectly coordinated soundtrack of the session band Bullmark, you get a highly polished game. Treasure, who more than deserves a sequel.

Die by the Sword

With "Die by the Sword" Treyarch created a strange adventure beast in 1998, which has one of the craziest mechanics who brought game history. The warrior Elric is looking for his comrade in battle and plunges into an adventure that can easily compete with Dark Souls in terms of difficulty - thanks to its innovative and great poor operation. With the help of the so-called "VSIM control" you steer Elric's body with the keyboard and his sword arm with the mouse. No predetermined attack movements. No combos. Just your mouse hand. The result of it all is that Elric's arms rotate like grotesque meat propellers in their joints and your mouse pad is worn out after two hours. If you add the physics engine, which lets the hero crash into the face with force after every jump, you get the best, worst feature that has ever made it onto the market.

The arena battles were in its time the highlight of every LAN party. Wildes Hacke alternated here with true masterpieces of the art of fencing. Source: PC Games Die by the Sword and its expansion "The Sword of Fate" achieved cult status within days when they were released, because the awkward sword skills of the VSIM controls were incredibly entertaining, and not just in single player mode. Multiplayer matches such as "ogre hockey", in which two teams of giants armed with clubs trying to beat an invulnerable goblin into a goal, were the highlight of every LAN party back then. A new edition of Die by the Sword would be difficult to implement these days. Because the mixture of brutal fight including chopped off limbs and involuntarily silly circus performance was an absolute hit. Bravo Treyarch! And to all other developers: Have the courage to bring something really weird onto the market.


Origin Systems, brought "Bioforge" onto the market in 1995, that of Altmeister Richard Gariott himself was touted as an "interactive film". Instead of long FMVs, however, the developers decide to make a strong story the central feature of the game. The player wakes up as a cyborg with memory loss on a strange planet and has to discover the entire story for himself: There is no information that is given to you in a wheelbarrow and no chatting NPCs. Bioforge shaped the "holotapes" and notes that are typical today, with the help of which both the story of the game and excerpts from the everyday life of the NPCs are conveyed to the player.

A gripping story, good soundtrack and a mixture of puzzle and struggle: Bioforge established many of the features that are common today. Animation technology was groundbreaking back then. Source: PC Games But those weren't the only features that saw the light of day in Bioforge for the first time: Your cyborg shows clear wounds and starts to hobble in the event of severe injuries and lasers are reflected by reflective metal surfaces. Bioforge also brought a special vector-based skeleton animation technique, which was then copied thousands of times and forms the basis for today's animation techniques. The strong combination of puzzles, combat and gripping story makes Bioforge unforgettable for many players to this day.

MMORPG bonus: Neocron

In 2002, "Neocron" from the German company of the "Reakktor Media GmbH" is the world's first cyberpunk MMORPG - Neocron just had to cede the title as the first shooter MMORPG to WWII Online, which appeared in 2001. As is typical for this time, Neocron includes, in addition to a strong PvE component, also an open PvP as a component. Anyone who encounters an enemy as a member of one of the factions should therefore also dress warmly as a newcomer. It is this dynamic that makes Neocron appear so alive: Both the game's two major metropolises and the wasteland are enlivened by a network of player alliances, craftsmen, soldiers of fortune and mercenaries, similar to how it is in EvE-Online experienced; faction pride is capitalized in Neocron. Features such as vehicles, hacking and a comprehensive craft system, with the help of which you can even leave signatures on the created equipment, caused a stir back then.

The community ensures that Neocon not only lives on, but thrives. The world's first cyber point MMORPG can therefore be played for free. Source: PC Games And now the good news: Neocron, like all other titles in this list, is still playable without any problems! When Reakktor GmbH filed for bankruptcy in 2012, they passed the source code for their world to the community. Neocron not only received this, but consistently expanded the game. In the meantime, "Neocron Evolution" has been provided with graphical improvements, new dungeons have been added, as well as completely fresh content in the style of black markets, new weapons and quests. So if you want to take a look into the past and admire a modern, functioning community at the same time, visit Neocron and take a look around.

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