Last week, two forgotten gaming masterpieces appeared on two separate downloadable services—one a decade too early, the other a decade too late. Yet with both Out of This World (a.k.a. Another World) and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood now on Good Old Games and the Wii's Virtual Console, these gems can finally be given the attention they deserve.
Out of This World was ahead of its time in many ways. Originally released in 1991, it was marketed as a "cinematic platformer." While the industry as a whole was content to cash in on mascot based platformers, Out of This World was a game that attempted to be so much more. Developed and designed by Eric Chahi, it was one of the first games that attempted the marriage of gameplay and storytelling as a single, cohesive experience. Industry legends such as Hideo Kojima (the creator of the Metal Gear Solid series) and Fumito Ueda (the creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus) mark this game as an inspiration for many of their groundbreaking projects. Sadly, while the game did get praised by various outlets for pushing the possibilities of the medium, lackluster sales condemned it to "forgotten masterpiece" status. Luckily, Good Old Games (a downloadable service for old PC games) has brought it back, making it compatible with today's PCs. For only $10, and with additional extras like a "making of" documentary and production documents, you would be doing yourself a disservice to pass it up a second time.
Another lost gem that has recently resurfaced due to digital distribution is from Konami's seminal series of Castlevania games. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood—which, unlike Out of This World, was released in 1993 on the PC Engine CD as a Japanese exclusive—is a throwback to the original Castlevanias that appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System. While many iterations of this game have appeared on various platforms, like the Super Nintendo and Sony's Playstation Portable, this is the first time that the original has appeared in North American regions. Many have stated that it is the best Castlevania in the series, only rivaled by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which found both critical and commercial success on the original Playstation. Import copies of the game go for over $100 online, so with a price tag of $9 on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console service, this is an absolute steal for one of the best games of its generation.
Even though both games are almost two decades old, they represent their respective best of the medium. Most of us missed out on them the first time; let's not make the same mistake again.
Sumantra Lahiri is a freelance writer for video games. His work has appeared in such sites as Gamasutra and The Escapist magazine.