In the early days of gaming, there were video rental stores every few miles and almost all of them included game boxes on their walls of shelves. Renting games from a Blockbuster Video or the local "Mom and Pop" storefront was the way most people played most of their games in those years. A family with shelves of games or a massive Steam-style library was a rarity (especially for the latter, as storing games on a drive didn't even exist at the time). It wasn't difficult or expensive to try out the latest big game within a month or two of the release date. Sometimes you were able to get to the video store and grab the game on day one. Other times, you had to wait and opt for something else. Choosing a different title could end up as a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, you could end up pulling Little Nemo: The Dream Master, MC Kids, or Aero the Acro-Bat off the shelf and be pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, you might grab Home Improvement for the SNES or the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for NES and be stuck with a virtually unplayable game the entire weekend.
While there was the prospect of a bad game, usually you ended up with something that was at least playable. While some of these games we settled for were good (or even great), they generally were serving as a placeholder for when the latest Mario or Sonic title was available on the shelves. Sometimes we never played these games again. We remembered them fondly, but their names became lost to time. In my own experiences, these fifteen games get brought up a lot when forgotten games of the past are discussed. Basic premises, character designs, and some levels are remembered, but the titles themselves are lost. Read on to see if maybe one of these gems is something you've been trying to remember for yourself.
15 Wrecking Crew
As many of you old-school gamers probably know, Mario wasn't just featured in Mario titles alone; he served as a character in a number of other games that didn't feature his name. The titles most of us think of when we think of non-Mario games that featured Mario are Donkey Kong and his stint as the referee in Punch-Out. There is another title that featured Mario in the lead role. Many of us played it, but few remember its name. That game was Wrecking Crew. In the days where people generally didn't have vast gaming libraries, you probably passed this one up on rental shelves, but there was a good chance you had a random friend that owned it.
A major thing that set Wrecking Crew apart from other games featuring Mario is it also featured Luigi. Wrecking Crew saw Mario and Luigi acting as one of their most infamous adversaries - the Hammer Brothers! The main objective was to smash a certain number of objects on a single screen level without being killed by enemies. In this game, neither Mario or Luigi have their jumping ability which if you remember, would have proven very useful.
14 Deja Vu: A Nightmare Comes True
Deja Vu was an excellent game that we'd all seen on the shelves and had to try at least once. Unfortunately, it wasn't as action-packed as other NES and PC games of its time. Super Mario Bros. it was not. Deja Vu was an entirely story driven point and click adventure, something you would see quite a bit on PC, but not on the NES where most of us played this. It's for this reason that most of us never played the game again and allowed it to fall into obscurity.
The game was set in the 1940s, calling back to film noir hard-boiled detective stories. The story centered on a private eye, unable to remember who he is, waking up in the bathroom of a bar. In the early game, the player finds a dead body in the bar and is able to piece together that he is about to be set up for murder. The player has to make a series of decisions that will lead to the discovery of their identity and the unraveling of the game's mystery.
13 Monster In My Pocket
Monster In My Pocket was an incredible game that almost all of us played and loved, but we forgot the name as the Monster In My Pocket trend came and went pretty quickly. There was a good chance that you didn't own this one as it wasn't a known and dependable franchise, but if you rented it there is absolutely no chance that you didn't enjoy it.
Due to a spell that went awry, The Warlock accidentally shrinks all your classic movie monsters into adorable little one-inch tall horrors. The player plays as either Dracula or The Monster (or both in one of the better 2-player co-op modes in its day) as they make their way through a seemingly gigantic typical suburban home.
For folks who don't live in North America, you might remember a sprite-swapped version of this game that featured Batman and The Flash in the roles of Dracula and The Monster.
12 Brutal: Paws Of Fury
Thanks to the popularity of 2-D fighters like the original Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2, a whole slew of strange and unusual fighting games were released around their initial release. Some were better than others, but fighters like Eternal Champions and Clay Fighters easily stand out in our minds. The former for being the game that shipped with the Sega Interactor, and the latter for its very unique look at the time. Brutal: Paws of Fury was played by almost all of us as it was ported from the Sega CD to almost every other gaming platform on the market. It featured a number of awesome anthropomorphic characters that looked awesome on the cover of the box. It was enough to ensure most of us would rent it. Unfortunately for Brutal, the game was pretty mediocre outside of the art direction - the title eludes us, but the visuals remain etched in our brains.
11 Designasaurus II
There's a very good chance you probably played Designasaurus II, even if you didn't own a computer back when they couldn't fit in our pockets and having at least one desktop or laptop in every home wasn't virtually a norm. Designasaurus II was one of the games to own if you actually had a computer back in 1988, but most importantly it was one of those games that you might remember as an educational tool in the classroom. Many of us played it, but few of us owned it, so the title eludes most of us.
Designasaurus II allowed you to build your own dinosaur out of the the parts of other dinosaurs. The educational aspect was given as flavor text that told you all sorts of facts about the dinosaur you were taking a part from, like alternate names, fun trivia, and the periods it thrived in. Once your dino was built, you were able to choose a period and take it for a test drive. The gameplay was pretty comparable to the open environment stage of Spore.
10 Mischief Makers
The marketing campaign and exposure for Mischief Makers on the Nintendo 64 was pretty in your face. Nintendo pushed the game everywhere, but since it wasn't a tried and true franchise that we were all familiar with, odds are you opted for Mario 64 or one of the off color Pokémon titles. If you did purchase something outside of your comfort zone you probably went with the much more popular GoldenEye or Turok games, but like many games on this list, renting was a norm at the time and this game was hard to avoid. The reviews were mixed to average, so you probably never played it again once you returned it. Many players remember the look of the mascot over the actual gameplay or title.
NARC was another one of those games we all saw sitting on the shelves at almost every video rental store. It was also unique in that it had a lot of placement in video arcades. In the early days of gaming, NARC was a major target for parents that felt video games were leading to violence and overall juvenile delinquency. The object of the game was to arrest and kill drug offenders. The major issue here isn't the arresting of drug offenders, but more so the killing of said offenders. It doesn't help that one of the two players is named Hit Man, a name you wouldn't expect someone on an elite government drug busting squad to flaunt.
Since many parents didn't let their kids play it, it became forbidden fruit...which meant you had to play it. If you were like most kids, you probably saw a chance when you were unsupervised in an arcade or at the home of a friend with less over-protective parents. We all got some time with NARC, but not enough to remember much of it.
8 Stickybear (Series)
If you ever attended an elementary school in the '80s or '90s, there was a good chance a Stickybear game taught you almost everything you needed to know. In addition to giving you familiarity with and access to computers at a time when they weren't common in the home, Stickybear had games for a number of your basic elementary school level subjects.
When it came to playing games in school in the retro era, most of us recall the pioneer sim Oregon Trail. Odds are, more of us played something from the Stickybear line of educational games, we were just too young to remember it vividly, let alone the titles of the games in the series. The games won a number of educational awards, and updated titles in the series were developed going all the way back to 1983 and all the way up to 2008.
Fans of Boogerman and Earthworm Jim most definitely played Blasto, but for some reason we don't recall it as fondly as the former two titles. The game was a fun and playable space adventure-platformer, but pretty plain looking and a bit weak in variety. The humor was great, the character was voiced by the late comedic legend Phil Hartman, but there just wasn't enough there to make Blasto anything more than a weekend rental in the eyes of most gamers of the PS1 era. Reviews were mixed, so odds are you played it for a weekend and never thought of it again.
6 Primal Rage
Much like Brutal: Paws of Fury, Primal Rage was another fighter that got lost among the popularity of superior fighters of the 16-bit era like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 2, and Killer Instinct. The fighter featured a cast of prehistoric creatures, worshipped as gods by humans, resurrected from the crust of the Earth after a cataclysmic event.
Primal Rage was actually pretty awesome, especially if you were able to play this one on the PS1 or an arcade cabinet instead of an SNES or Genesis. If so, you were able to play a much better looking game that did the over-the-top story justice. Unfortunately, games like the aforementioned fighters were just so much more popular, so chances are Primal Rage was relegated to a rental or you were able to play it at the home of a friend who always seemed to own those lesser known games (we all had at least one of those friends, and we loved them for it).
5 T & C Surf Designs: Wood And Water Rage
This was another one of those games on the classic NES that you saw at the home of a friend that had a collection of more obscure games rather than the obligatory The Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out, and Super Mario Bros. cartridges. This was the friend that had games like Rygar, 3D World Runner, or T & C Surf Designs. T & C was published by the absolutely horrid LJN, generally known for publishing a lot of bad games based on popular shows and movies back in the 8-bit era. This time, they made a game based on mascots of a surfboard manufacturer the game shared its name with... an odd choice.
Many of us remember this name but often confuse the title with that of the game's sequel, Thrilla's Surfari.
4 Skate Or Die!
Anyone who owned a Nintendo played Skate or Die, at least for a weekend. It was a hard game to avoid since it had an advertisement in almost anything that was made out of paper: comic books, gaming magazines, and even non-gaming magazines. It was carried by any and every video store, and it was usually in as it was the epitome of play it once and forget about it forever games. It did spawn a sequel and a winter version (Ski or Die), but reviewers usually gave it pretty low scores - it was one of those situations where only the players that seemed to take to it.
A remake was planned for PS2 and Xbox, but the developers opted to work on something else, probably because the interest just wasn't there with players anymore. Many of us still remember "that one skateboarding game from a long time ago" though.
Uniracers (or Unirally in some regions) was an amazingly fun game and almost anyone that had a Super Nintendo surely played it at least once. Reviews were mixed, but anyone who played it knows it wasn't a wasted rental over the weekend. Its only issue was it wasn't infinitely re-playable like Super Mario World or Chrono Trigger, so it only gets remembered as "that weird racing game with the bikes... or maybe unicycles".
The reason behind the Uniracers development is actually pretty interesting. Super Nintendo wanted to show that it could compete with Sega's "blast processing" and produce a game just as fast as any Sonic game.
2 Sewer Shark
Not many of us owned a Sega CD, but in its day you could rent consoles from the video store. The Sega CD was quite the popular console to rent. At the time, seeing games that were composed of actual video was mind-blowing. Sewer Shark was the first console game to use full motion video, and this rail-shooter proved so successful on the system that it was eventually the game that came bundled with the Sega CD. While Sewer Shark was popular on the Sega CD, the Sega CD itself wasn't a widely popular system, making Sewer Shark the equivalent of being the healthiest person in a hospital bed.
This was the game you likely played when you got the rare opportunity to play a Sega CD, but chances are you didn't own it and the name was eventually lost to you.
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour
If you were a child when this computer game came out, chances are you had a few kids at school with dot matrix print-outs from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour. This wasn't your typical video game, it was more akin to something like Mario Paint; a far cry from the terrible LJN Turtles game or the amazing arcade port.
Even for those of us that owned the game and were able to get a little more playtime than our friends that didn't have computers, the name is lost on us because it's more often remembered as "that one Ninja Turtles coloring game". The fact that you were coloring the Turtles while they visited famous monuments and locales across the globe is a detail lost in our wibbly-wobbly ball of childhood memories.