Retro gaming is all the rage in this era of digital distribution, but while famous games such as Super Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog have popped up in several places in different forms once again, there are some video games that are doomed to remain in the vault for complicated copyright or licensing issues. GamesRadar offers up a list of ten games worth your time that are hard to find and explains why you'll probably never see fun titles such as Uniracers ever again.
Before Rockstar North was known primarily for the Grand Theft Auto series, it went by another name: DMA Design. It was already making awesome games, though. Uniracers, for example, is by far the best side-scrolling racing and stunt game featuring unicycles ever to be released for the Super Nintendo. The game already feels pretty fast, but doing tricks in midair gives you a speed boost if you land them, so you’re constantly encouraged to flip like a madman (or madunicycle). This can get really tricky when the tracks are throwing you crazy loops and constantly changing which direction you’re supposed to be going. You could play split-screen with a second player or even set up an eight-player tournament, making it a fast and fun party game.
So why aren’t we still playing Uniracers every day? Because back in 1987, Pixar released a four-minute-long short film called Red’s Dream, which starred an autonomous, computer-generated unicycle. Apparently this gave Pixar the idea that any later appearance of a rider-less CG unicycle was stealing its concept, and it sued DMA Design shortly after Uniracers was released. Unfortunately, the court sided with Pixar, forcing Nintendo to stop production on copies of the game and ensuring we’ll never see it again. So next time you’re thanking John Lasseter for directing Toy Story, take a moment to curse him for indirectly taking Uniracers out of the world.
Other games of interest on the list include perennial fan favorites such as Mega Man Legends and EarthBound. The stunning thing about all of this is that most of the games in the spotlight here have been rereleased in Japan where apparently copyright laws are weaker, lawyers are smarter, or sales expectations are more realistic. Mega Man Legends and EarthBound have both been brought back there in recent years (for the Sony PlayStation Portable and Game Boy Advance respectively), as has NiGHTS: Into Dreams (as a PlayStation 2 port). None of those saw the light of day elsewhere. If that's not a shameable offense, then it really should be.