Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hidden Gem In Plain Sight

In the wake of the “Wii has no games” stereotype, there is a term I see used a bit too often. A “hidden gem” is a game that was overlooked at release, and then later discovered by enthusiasts to be a game of rather good quality. There have unfortunately been a number of titles on Wii that are underappreciated, but that doesn't make them all hidden gems. It depends on the circumstances for each individual game.

As an example, I've witnessed No More Heroes be labeled as a hidden gem. From what I recall, this game received some hype around its release, as well as favourable reviews from many sources. It may not have quite reached a million copies sold, but it did receive a sequel, indicating it was not only a profitable venture but performed well enough to warrant a second outing. If you ask any Wii enthusiast for game recommendations, chances are, this one will be listed. In fact, I'm sure the lot of you have at least played it. Does this sound like a game that nobody heard of and later discovered?

Compare that to a game like, say, Tornado Outbreak. Ten bucks says you never heard of this game and think I'm making it up. It released quietly onto shelves without anyone taking a notice, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a review of it anywhere. Its packaging probably didn't help matters either; the cartoony artwork typical of shovelware titles belies the excellent game underneath. No one bought this game and no one ever mentions it in the same breath as recommendations. It's a shame that this game still remains to be discovered.

No More Heroes is not a hidden gem because, even if it didn't reach its sales potential, lots of people heard about the game, regardless of whether or not they bought/played it. Tornado Outbreak is a hidden gem because, even today, I haven't come across anyone else who's so much as heard the name, besides the one Wii enthusiast crazier than I who pointed it out to me. Now, games don't need to remain unknown to be hidden gems; the status is typically past tense. Some examples of that include Little King's Story and A Boy And His Blob, both of which received little attention around launch but soon became known as quality games.

“Hidden gem” is not synonymous with “underappreciated” as it is sometimes used. While the game can't still be hidden if people know about it, it was once largely unknown to a majority of people, then later attracted a following. The term refers to where a game originated, and though that means it was underappreciated at launch, it doesn't make it the same thing; even games that receive some attention can be underappreciated, but they were never hidden.


NinSage said...

As I told Mop_it_up, I almost bought Tornado Outbreak many moons ago but put it back on the shelf when I saw it was multi-platform and assumed that meant the Wii version got the shaft (as they are oft to do).

Seems the Wii version might be just as good though... so perhaps I'll pick it up someday!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! The different classifications for shafted Wii games is useful to sort out because - in my humble opinion - there is an alternate history of sorts within the system's library and muddy terms make it hard to get to the heart of matters sometimes.