Despite the hopes and best intentions of their authors, many games fade into obscurity after their release, without ever gaining traction among gamers. This could be especially true in the 90's, where often the same popular games could be found on every BBS file archive.
Following up the first Ten DOS Games You've Probably Never Played, here are ten more games that are somewhat obscure that deserve to be played ... some are better than others, so, caveat emptor!
Catch Simona in New York City
1993SharewareEducational / Kids OctagonSoft Inc
Ever wanted to play a shameless shareware knockoff of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? If so, you're a bit of a strange duck. Also, Catch Simona in New York City may be right up your alley! Just like the game it's copying, your goal here is to catch a criminal by traveling around and collecting clues before getting a warrant and arresting the bad guy/girl. As the name suggests, the game takes place entirely in New York. The graphics are decent, obviously derivative of the game it's cloning right down to the typewriter in the lower corner. This game also REALLY wants you to register it, with a 10 second intro wait and a constant message on the screen admonishing you to send the developer money! Not a bad game actually but the shareware version has a limited number of missions available, and the fact that it's a clone and constantly begs for money is a bit off-putting. VIEW
1994FreewareBall & Paddle Gagne Software
Ever wanted to play a parody of Pong done in a Mortal Kombat style? Well, uh, then you're a weirdo and this is the perfect game for you! ;) Its basically Pong but ... with some Mortal Kombat stuff thrown in. Intended as a parody, it partially succeeds, since its a bit more interesting than just plain 'ol Pong. Graphics and sounds are not great, but its certainly unique ... VIEW
1996Demo3D Shooting ORIGIN Systems
According to the included documentation, Transland has an interesting backstory of how it came to exist, created by members of ORIGIN Systems back in the mid 90's. From the included readme file: "Untried, untested, and never finished, Transland was never intended for public consumption. In fact, Transland is the result of an exercise by some creative folks here at ORIGIN who were learning about the ins and outs of 3-D games." How it eventually DID get released, I'm not sure, but it's definitely an interesting short game / tech demo. You wander around in one of four different areas and perform tasks as you marvel at the mid-90's era 3D graphics, generated without the aid of a 3D accelerator. Not only the environments themselves but also the objects (people, for example) are rendered in 3D (not sprites). Definitely fun to play around with for awhile but it's a bit disappointing that it was never intended to be a full game! (Press Alt-H to view the help screen.) VIEW
1995SharewareSpace Shooting ACRO StudioThe Game Factory
Baryon is a little-known shoot-em-up, created by unknown South Korean developer ACRO Studio. The gameplay is similar to most vertically scrolling shooting games, but what sets this game apart is all of the crazy action going on. There's stuff blowing up left and right, along with a rocking Soundblaster soundtrack and some impressive graphical effects. (This game uses an obscure 256x200 video mode, perhaps to allow for all its graphical trickery?) There are different powerups available, as well as two different ships you can choose, each with its own abilities. The main problem with the game is that it's sometimes quite difficult to see the bullets and other things that will kill you. But it's an impressive looking game that's fun to play. Personally I die pretty quickly but if you're a shmup fan maybe you'll actually finish the first level ... there's only one level included in the shareware version. (Run GO.EXE to start the game.) VIEW
Adventures of Dianalee in the Lost Temple of the Aztecs, The
1994SharewareSidescrolling Menlor Inc.
The extravagantly named "Adventures of Dianalee in the Lost Temple of the Aztecs" (the protagonist being named after the author's wife) is a platforming game that is interesting and playable despite some small flaws. The object is to collect five artifacts from the temple. In order to do so, you must use your jumping skills along with your trusty Indiana Jones style whip to defeat the enemies. The game doesn't make things easy for you, even from the very beginning! One hit deaths, combined with sometimes touchy controls make things difficult. Also be careful since enemies can still kill you even if you've hit them with their whip and their death animation is playing! Definitely a unique game that it seems like not a lot of people have played. VIEW
1998SharewareSidescrolling PsychoHazard Software
If you're looking for an original game ... I think you've found it. Check out the screenshot to see for yourself. It's a weird game, but in a good way! The entire aesthetic of the game is in a hand-drawn style of a young child. The story involves a brother and sister's squabble over a notebook; as one of the stick-figure doodles, it's your mission to escape the pages of the notebook. Despite the graphic style, the game has great animation and sound effects, and is quite fun to play. Download it when you've become bored with the ordinary. It's unfortunate that the company never released any other games. VIEW
1997SharewareAction Nissen Ventures
DentureMan is a strange clone/reworking of the classic Pacman dot-eating game. The playing field scrolls as you (disembodied teeth) proceed to eat all of the dots (toothpaste?) and avoid the ... uh, things. There are three different levels you can play in the shareware version, and while DentureMan offers decent (yet weird) graphics it doesn't really improve the basic Pacman formula. VIEW
Ever wanted to play a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type game, except you're looking for a game that insults you all the time? Beasley's Deathtrap might be just the game you're looking for! This is a simple "choose path 1 or path 2" type game that involves a nonsensical storyline and multiple ways to get killed if you happen to choose the wrong path. You'll need to restart the game multiple times you want to get through it, because choosing the "correct" option (blue or red button?) is entirely arbitrary. The graphics are amateurish, and the game is quite violent. But it's nonetheless a unique and interesting example of what a 17 year old teen could come up with in his spare time in the early 90's! VIEW
1997SharewareSidescrolling Ben Marty
Technoventure is a strange side-scrolling action/adventure game. The plot, and entire game really, is a bit strange, but still oddly compelling. It does include many different gameplay elements like bombs, coins, swords, keys, and many people to talk to and signs to read. The graphics are nothing special but it's certainly a unique game. (Note: Press and hold the right arrow key to speed up the text messages which scroll often during the game, or press Ctrl to clear the message right away.) VIEW
Death by Dark Shadows
1994SharewareSidescrolling SoftLab Laboratories
Clearly inspired and modeled after the Prince of Persia series of games, Death by Dark Shadows is a competent entry into the genre. It includes a macabre backstory of voodoo and death in the bayou so it's not really suitable for children. The game has you playing as a sort of panther-like creature, although you instantly transform back into a human for certain actions, like picking up items. The graphics are dark and suited to the game, and the background music sounds quite professional as though it's from a commercial release. However DOSBox seems to lock up sometimes when the SoundBlaster sounds are enabled, so you should probably choose option 'B' when running the game to play without sound or else the game will lock up on you. VIEW
Have suggestions for other "hidden gems"? If you know a game that should be added to DOSGames.com (and it is legally distributable for free) please let me know! Thanks for reading!