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10 PlayStation Games That Bombed But Became Cult Classics

CBR logo CBR 8/6/2022 Daniel Kurland
© Provided by CBR

The video game industry continues to evolve in unbelievable ways and the advancements that each new gaming generation introduces opens audiences up to unprecedented experiences. A lot of important names have emerged as innovators in the gaming industry and for years Sony’s PlayStation has dominated with their hardware and games.

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Some of Sony’s most popular PlayStation franchises have forever changed the scope of the industry. Certain titles find immediate success and are destined to be evergreen properties. However, there are also plenty of titles that gradually find audiences and reach cult classic status, but spend their initial releases lost in anonymity.

Katamari Damacy Is An Undeniable Burst Of Creativity That’s Become Its Own Genre

Katamari Damacy has thankfully been given the time to develop a long-running franchise that continues to push its odd premise to exciting, new places. The nonsensical nature of Katamari Damacy is exactly why audiences love it, but this is a much harder sell for the original game in the franchise that didn't benefit from existing proofs of concept.

The unique puzzle elements and cute visual aesthetics make Katamari a trendsetter in every department. This weirdness led to initially anemic numbers and the first game in the series underperformed to the point where it didn't even receive a European release.

Ico Is An Artistic Achievement That Pushes Puzzles And Storytelling To New Places

Ico is a true masterpeice of gaming and it presents audiences with a touching story that's a testament to character development and pacing. Ico is often described as an extended escort mission, but it's so much more than that. The clever puzzles and stark environments are so different from the standard PS2 adventure.

In many ways, Ico walked so that the developer's spiritual successor, Shadow of the Colossus, could run. Both are extremely important PlayStation games, but Shadow of the Colossus figures out how to take many of the ideas, themes, and visual elements of Ico and contextualize them into a more accessible package.

Bushido Blade Is A Taxing Fighting Experience With A Core Concept That Splits The Audience

Gaming's fighting genre can occasionally be impossible to penetrate when it comes to finding a balance between casual button-mashers and those that relish a difficult control scheme. Bushido Blade is a samurai-centric fighting game for the original PlayStation that made a name for itself through its realistic approach to combat where fighters would lose control of their limbs if they're viciously attacked.

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This punishing mechanic appealed to hardcore fighting fans, but it left general crowds frustrated. It’s unfortunate when a game gets overlooked because its innovative features are just too ahead of their time.

Okami Is A Love Letter To The Power Of Art And Mythology

Okami is a rare artistic achievement in the gaming industry that truly blurs the lines between entertainment and immersive art. The game is deeply stylized and influenced by ancient Japanese folklore, right down to its lupine protagonist, Amaterasu.

One of the greatest deterrents that worked against Okami’s mainstream success is that it was one of the last games to get released on the PlayStation 2 during a point where PS3 hype was already in full-swing. Additionally, the PlayStation 2 Okami original started to seem less essential in comparison to the Wii port that followed and the proper HD remaster that accompanied next-gen consoles.

Shadow Of Rome Is A Robust Recreation Of A Terrifying Time Period

There's so much potential in an Ancient Rome setting for video games. More recent titles, like Assassin's Creed, are able to truly dig into the depth of these combative time periods. Shadow of Rome is a PlayStation 2 title that uses Caesar's assassination as its jumping off point for an exciting adventure that mixes action and stealth gameplay before it was the norm.

Shadow of Rome does all of this well, but its complex mechanics were perhaps enough to keep away mainstream gamers. Curiously, the initial plans for a Shadow of Rome sequel would gradually transform into the first game in the Dead Rising series.

Rez Is A Rhythmic Rail-Shooter That’s Like No Other

Sublime presentation can help elevate an average game to totemic heights, especially when all of a game’s elements seamlessly work together. Rail-shooters can be a polarizing genre, but these don’t feel like truncated or bare-bones experiences when they’re done right. Rez is a kaleidoscopic of creativity that embraces a synth soundtrack that compliments the patterns of the game’s combat.

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The destructive blasts add to the evolving soundscape and the wireframe visuals make it feel like the player has entered an exciting virtual reality. While initially released on Sega’s flailing Dreamcast, Rez also initially struggled to find its people with its PlayStation 2 port.

Dark Cloud Adds Justified RTS And Crafting Components To The RPG Genre

The original PlayStation helped build a name for itself through its many sprawling RPGs. Gamers were excited for what the PlayStation 2 could do with this gaming genre and titles like Dark Cloud are fascinating products of their time.

Dark Cloud subscribes to standard fantasy RPG storytelling, but it's also heavy in crafting and real-time strategy elements that require the protagonist to rebuild their fractured world. Unlike other games with unfavorable initial reviews, Dark Cloud was at least able to conjure enough of an audience that an even deeper and polarizing sequel, Dark Chronicle, was also released.

Psychonauts Combines Clever Platforming With An Introspective Journey Of The Mind

Tim Schafer is a prolific director who made his mark in the late 1990s and early 2000s through acclaimed adventure titles like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. Schafer slowly shifted over to console gaming with his company Double Fine Productions and Psychonauts made critical waves as an inventive take on the platforming adventure genre for the PS2 and Xbox.

Psychonauts uses an eclectic array of psychic abilities to inform its gameplay, but it's the deep psychological journeys into characters' minds where the storytelling truly excels. A small core audience embraced Psychonauts, but its fringe success is why it took more than 15 years for a proper sequel to materialize.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Gives Sony’s Gaming Mascots The Smash Bros. Treatment

Nintendo has found unprecedented success with the continued acclaim of their crossover fighting franchise, Super Smash Bros. It’s easy to understand why crossover fighters that reflect a company’s legacy are popular with fans and it was only a matter of time until Sony decided to indulge in this territory.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale should have been a guaranteed hit, but the PS3 and Vita release that combines two-dozen characters from various PlayStation games couldn’t meet initial sales projections. A cult audience persisted, but plans for a sequel and even additional DLC characters were scrapped.

Beyond Good & Evil Loses Its Audience In A Glorious World Of Whimsy

Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil creates an immersive fantasy world that's easy to get lost in. There are intuitive action elements that bring more popular franchises like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid to mind, but Beyond Good & Evil is a singular vision that gains strength from its overwhelming depth.

Beyond Good & Evil 2, a prequel to the PS2 title, has been announced, but it's been two decades since the original's release. When the game does finally release it's going to be incredibly difficult to meet the growing expectations that have had decades to develop.

NEXT: 10 Games That Got Review-Bombed Before They Were Even Released

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