Hidden Treasures of Game Design Volume 4

There are many amazing games that go unnoticed and not played for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a diamond in the rough, or the marketing wasn’t there, or it could be a game ahead of its time. For this monthly series, I asked my fellow SUPERJUMP writers to pick a game they think deserves a shot in the spotlight. Let us know your favorite hidden gems in the comments.

Josh Bycer

Prodigal (2020)

Trying to create an original game is one thing, but trying to reinvent the wheel of a popular genre is a completely different ordeal. ColorGrave’s Prodigal starts out as an independent version of Link’s Awakening but morphs into something else.

Players take on the role of Oran, who left his Vann’s Point home years ago after stealing his parents’ life savings. Returning home after their deaths, he discovers that the town distrusts him, that a mysterious newcomer works in his grandfather’s shop, and that there are dungeons full of monsters in the vicinity.

Tess’ story is a perfect example of the light and dark of this game. Source: Steam.

To advance the story, you will need to solve each dungeon, collect their respective upgrade, and defeat the boss. When I interviewed the team about the game, they talked about having a lot more items and abilities, but found that it bloated the game too much and cut it down to three. You have a mysterious hand that lets you warp to a room entrance, your rusty knuckle that lets you punch heavy objects, and a hook to move distances or bring you items and items. enemies.

The puzzles in the game are a bit more difficult compared to your usual Zelda, with increasingly tricky Sokoban-like puzzles. Although the game is shorter, it’s very meaty in terms of what you can do early on. You can meet and hang out with the various ladies in town, find hidden side quests and upgrades, and start learning more about what’s going on.

One aspect of Colorgrave’s style is that more is always happening below the surface. Both the island and the world have traditions about various gods. Every woman you can romance has more to her story; in fact, everyone in the game feels fleshed out. Nobody is 100% good or bad except for the game’s final boss. Everyone has moments of levity and those that hint at darkness in their stories. A major theme of the game is finding redemption and becoming a better person. There’s this feeling that the story you’re playing in is just part of a bigger world, something that comes back in their latest game: Curse Crackers For Whom the Belle Toils.

The game has found interesting ways to make it challenging even for experts. Source: Reddit.

What makes the game worth including in this list is the amount of post-game content and support it received. While the game released in 2020, it received an entire year of additional support. New thumbnails and stories have been added, including the game’s true end dungeon for the true ending, as well as a super-difficult secret dungeon. A favorite mode is being able to anger the different gods and add different difficulty buffs for a run. These don’t increase or decrease enemy stats, but do “fun” things like having god lightning chase you wherever you go, activating Ironman mode, and more. It’s a badge of honor among the community to beat the base game with all modifiers enabled, and a huge deal if anyone can do it after the game.

Overall, Prodigal is a fantastic modern retro game and has, as many of our hidden gems seem to do, an amazing theme song to boot.

Antoine Terence

Wild West (2002)

Cowboy Duels, Real-Time Strategy, and Cattle Management feel like three different games. But JoWood’s (aka Wild West Tycoon) 2002’s Wild West combines these distinct elements to create a Wild West strategy game that was useful if not memorable. Feeding cattle before selling them might not seem like much until you hire gunslingers to keep bandits and bounty hunters in line. The game lets you pour those profits into building your city, from hangars and banks to churches and railroads.

The basic loop of being a cattle baron has more steps than you might think.

Source: MyAbandonWare.

First, you will need to choose a nice little pasture for your beetles. You’ll need saloon cowboys to protect them from threats, and their salaries aren’t cheap. Then a cart must be sent to bring supplies and a second cart allows you to mark your cattle as your own. Selling them at your local warehouse is one thing, but taking the long way to distant towns yields greater rewards.

I wasn’t much of an economist in grade school, so I ended up losing my herd.

But Far West didn’t knock me off the saddle and I took the options. My gunslingers, who were no longer amateurs, ended up serving a different purpose. We turned our coats, becoming the same bandits who drove me out of business. I turned my gaze to my neighbors, whose cowboys were far from seasoned. It’s an appropriate character arc for a protagonist who loses his grandfather to a gunshot.

A few dead men later, I had fresh cows rolling through my pasture by the minute. Far West might not have been the most ethical game, but it taught me to treat challenges as opportunities.

Far West. Source: MobyGames.

Far West isn’t pretty, even by 2002 standards.

Vast expanses of sand and pixelated buildings sticking out of it inspire neither awe nor wonder. And the “animations” in Wild West are mostly of the “thing moves here” kind. Wild West missions take a while to get beyond ‘taking care of the cattle’, but once things pick up again, there’s a surprising level of depth to offer. Although the game has its moments, especially “I’m the bandit now”, Wild West is an ancient relic that appeals to the most patient strategy fans.


Thanks for reading, come back next month for another entry and more hidden gems to discover!


Log in or become a SUPERJUMP member to join the conversation.

Comments are closed.