Criminally underrated videogames from Respawn's Vince Zampella and Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann

Viva-Pinata.jpg

While EW’s gamer braintrust compiled our list of criminally underrated videogames, we also went out to some experts in the field. And we’re not kidding about experts: Vince Zampella (Call of Duty, Titanfall), CEO of Respawn Entertainment and Neil Druckmann (The Last of Us), creative director of Naughty Dog. Here’s their picks for some game titles you’re missing out on:

Vince Zampella:

Viva Piñata (2006, pictured above)
“I don’t think they sold very well and maybe it was because I played it with my kids, but these games were really good, just really fun and colorful.”

Descent (1995)
Everyone always talks about Quake 3 and Doom when they talk about first-person shooters from that era, for me it was Descent in there too. That was a great game I played a lot of.

Limbo (2010)
“You play as this boy who has to save his sister, but the style is so unique—it all takes place in this shadow world.  You wouldn’t want a game like that to be not stylized.”

Super Star Wars (1992)
“Simple, straightforward, but great gameplay. A great solid franchise game, and I don’t know if we have the equal of that in this climate.”

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Neil Druckmann:

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2003, pictured above)
“I think a good scary game is scarier than any film out there. My wife was watching me play that one and she actually said, “I can’t do this anymore” and had to walk away. I could only play that game in one- to two-hour chunks at a time before I was so stressed I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d have to quit and come back the following day.”

Shenmue (2000)
“I remember playing that and just being taken by a world that felt like it was living. Just the sense of exploration and progression, how you picked up almost any object in the world, and you could stare at it, how you could talk to anyone on the street, and they had jobs that they’re walking to. It felt like a living, breathing world with, at the time, very next-gen graphics.”

PaRappa the Rapper (1997)
“I think all the Guitar Heroes and Rock Bands and dancing games all owe everything to this game. I remember I was in college when it came out. My crew at the time was very into hardcore hip-hop. I wasn’t, and I pulled in these people who had never played a videogame before. They were taken aback by it and were rolling around and laughing. We played through the whole thing that night. I think that kind of blew the door open for music-based games.”

Way of the Samurai (2002)
“You’re a samurai that enters this town that has all these warring families. The whole game at most takes  two hours to complete. It’s very story-driven, and you can align yourself with any one of these families—you can attack anyone and kill them, and it totally changes the story. It’s meant to be played repeatedly. So you keep seeing the same story from multiple angles and get multiple perspectives on the world. It’s kind of brilliant in that way.”

The Adventures of Willy Beamish (1991)
“This was one of my favorite games growing up. It’s the last day in school before the summer break and [Willy's] in detention, so it starts out with you having to sneak out of detention to get more time to play your videogame system at home. His videogame system is called Nintari, and there’s a Nintari championship that you’re trying to get to. It was just this pretty, quirky family adventure that I could very much relate to because it was about a kid who just loved videogames.”

(Reporting by Keith Staskiewicz and Aaron Morales)

in_this_issueFor more criminally underrated entertainment, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.

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