In parts one and two of our Cult Classics PS2 series, we danced with the likes of Okami, ICO, Dark Cloud and Dog's Life. For the third (ah but is it final?) instalment, we're in the company of old friends, but friends who could do with a hug. Hold them tight.
- Developer: Bungie
- Publisher: Rockstar
Can you imagine the feverish anticipation today if it were announced that Bungie and Rockstar were working together? Grand Theft Halo! Master Chief Auto! Oh my! But back at the start of 2001, GTA III and Halo were both unknown quantities. Instead, Oni landed on shelves with the less marketable pedigree of "From the guys who made that Apple Mac shooter and that top-down car crime thing!" Suffice to say, sales records were not broken, even though the game received good to glowing reports in the press.
A conceptually ambitious third-person action game that melded blasting with hyperactive martial arts fighting, Oni drew some fairly blatant inspiration from the Ghost in the Shell anime. With levels that broke the game down into specific days, from 22nd November to 3rd December 2032, and a secondary character that was a human consciousness inside an artificial "life doll", Bungie certainly hit the manga tone on the nose, yet audiences weren't biting. It's hard to blame them - the world was hardly short of female-led action games in the wake of Lara Croft, and most of them were rancid slop - but Oni's balletic action and leftfield story definitely warrant a revisit.
What we said: Not reviewed
Ebay price guide: Less than GBP 5
- Developer: Core Design
- Publisher: Eidos
After Herdy Gerdy, here's another non-Lara offering from Core Design, and another game that few will remember. Hmm. Could there be a connection? Although Project Eden takes the third-person approach, it's actually more puzzle game than action adventure. You command a four-strong squad of futuristic grunts - three human, one robot - and must utilise all their skills to make your way through each maze-like level to achieve your mission objectives. The hacker uses computer systems, the robot does the heavy lifting, and so on. Finding the right combination of skills and tasks is the key to success. Those who recall the Lost Vikings games will probably be nodding in recognition right about now. Project Eden is far from a perfect game - it's a rather clunky PC port, with a steep learning curve - but it has remained lodged in the mind of several of your Eurogamer hosts for the best part of six years so there's clearly something meaty and chewy beneath the sometimes frustrating exterior. For the cost of a Subway footlong, there's no reason not to find out.
What we said: "If you have a penchant for games that test your grey matter, Project Eden should definitely be on your shopping list."
Ebay price guide: Less than GBP 5
SOS: Final Escape
- Developer: Irem
- Publisher: Agetec
By the time this small-fry action-adventure shuffled in and out of European stores in 2003, the survival-horror genre was well-established and starting to show signs of rot. Thematic rot, I mean, not zombie rot. The obvious-in-hindsight approach taken by R-Type creators Irem was to simply chop the word "horror" off the end, and create a straight-up survival game. You're Keith, a rookie journalist caught up in the middle of a cataclysmic earthquake. As well as keeping yourself alive, by avoiding collapsing buildings and not dying of thirst, you find and rescue other survivors while investigating the dubious official story behind the quake. It's a bit like Cloverfield, only with a joypad and without the cruddy CG monster and stupid ending. Actually, the ending to SOS is a bit stupid. But it's also blessed with that charming Japanese earnest streak, which takes clunky graphics and woefully bad voice acting and turns them into something you enjoy despite the obvious shortcomings. It's also worth mentioning that the Japanese version supports the Rez Vibrator for that full-on sexual disaster experience. Oh baby.
What we said: "A neat, refreshing original idea that doesn't quite do enough to tempt Ł40 out of your hard pressed wallet."
Ebay price guide: Between GBP 5 and 10