Cult video game

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A cult video game is a video game that has maintained a dedicated cult following among gaming enthusiasts, although not meeting commercial success upon release.


Generally, the definition of a cult video game is a video game that was not widely successful, but has maintained a strong and dedicated fan following nevertheless. Other cult video games may be widely successful and critically acclaimed, but may have been overshadowed by other video games in the same series or released around the same time. For example, while Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask are both critically acclaimed titles in the Legend of Zelda series, the former is widely heralded as one of the best video games of all time, while the latter is remembered for its difficulty, unconventional gameplay and deep characters; a cult following of minority gamers who prefer Majora's Mask over Ocarina of Time has since developed.

The appeal of cult video games often derives from their unconventional characteristics that are not present in other games, and which do not appeal to a wider audience. For example, certain Japanese video games have developed a cult following in the West due to cultural differences and other idiosyncrasies that appeal to a minority of non-Japanese gamers.

There are other elements which may contribute to a game's classification as "cult":


Cult video games often stray from genre conventions, and may therefore be difficult to pigeonhole or to appeal to a specific gaming demographic (e.g. first-person shooter fans, role-playing game fans, etc.)

Plot and characters

Where applicable, cult video games often contain unconventional plotlines and characters.


Graphic adventure games have seen a cult following in recent years. The Flash cartoon website Homestar Runner features a game called "Peasant's Quest",[1] a parody of the King's Quest series (particularly the first four games) with some references to The Black Cauldron and other early graphic adventure games using text parser. The website also features a parody of text-based adventures such as Zork or Hunt the Wumpus, known as Thy Dungeonman.[2] This game is part of a trilogy, the third of which features still images in a parody of early computers such as the Apple II.[3] The protagonist of the second game is described as being a "custodial knight", a reference to Roger Wilco, the janitor hero of the Space Quest series.

Telltale Games developed a few graphic adventure games for WiiWare, such as the Homestar Runner episodic series Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People and a revival of the Tales of Monkey Island series.


Since cult video games are not generally considered mainstream, they are not widely received in a positive manner. However in the media, reviewers often consider cult elements to be enriching experiences and provide positive reviews.



1979: Star Raiders[4]
1981: Castle Wolfenstein,[5] Wizardry[6]
1984: Boulder Dash[7]
1986: Fantasy Zone
1987: Maniac Mansion, Phantasy Star[8]
1988: Bionic Commando,[9] Snatcher[10]
1989: Herzog Zwei,[11] Mother,[12] River City Ransom,[13] Strider [14]


1990: The Secret of Monkey Island[15]
1991: Battletoads[16]
1993: Gunstar Heroes,[8] Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
1994: EarthBound,[12] Marathon,[17] Policenauts,[18] Samurai Shodown II,[8]
1995: Cosmology of Kyoto,[19] Full Throttle, Panzer Dragoon
1996: Dragon Force,[20] The Neverhood,[21] Tetris Attack,[8] Toonstruck[22]
1997: Intelligent Qube,[23] Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee,[20] Shadow Warrior [8]
1998: Grim Fandango, Guilty Gear,[8] LSD,[24] Panzer Dragoon Saga,[8] Suikoden II [25]
1999: Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber,[26] Planescape: Torment,[27] R-Type Delta,[8] Shenmue,[28] System Shock 2,[29][30] The Longest Journey,[31] Valkyrie Profile, Vib-Ribbon[32]


2000: American McGee's Alice, [33] Jet Set Radio, Skies of Arcadia, [34] Sin and Punishment, Vagrant Story
2001: Conker's Bad Fur Day,[35] Fatal Frame, Ico,[8] Rez, [36] Shadow Hearts, Zone of the Enders [37]
2002: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem,[38] Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven,[39] Ikaruga [40]
2003: Amplitude, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean,[41] Beyond Good & Evil,[42] F-Zero GX, Panzer Dragoon Orta [43]
2004: Cave Story,[44] Katamari Damacy,[45] Yume Nikki,[46] Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines[47]
2005: Fahrenheit,[48] Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance,[49] Haunting Ground, [50] Killer7,[51][52] Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath,[12] Psychonauts[53][54]
2006: God Hand,[12] Ōkami,[12] Rule of Rose
2007: Folklore, [55] Odin Sphere, [56] S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl,[43]
2008: Mirror's Edge,[57][58] No More Heroes, Persona 4,[59] The World Ends with You,[60] Valkyria Chronicles [26]
2009: Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, [61] 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors [62]


2010: Alan Wake,[63] Deadly Premonition,[26][64] Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Nier,[65] Vanquish [55]
2011: Catherine,[55] Shadows of the Damned, [55] Xenoblade Chronicles [55]
2012: Spec Ops: The Line [66]
2013: The Stanley Parable [67]
2015: Undertale [68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ «A cult classic on the Atari 400 & 800 computers». "Star Raiders". Phosphor Dot Fossils. Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  5. ^ D'Silva, Roy. (April 4, 2007). "History of Video Games". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  6. ^ Parish, Jeremy. (2009). "The Coming RPG Storm: The Dark Spire". Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Tour the planet: Boulder Dash - Rocks! new trailer". December 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Top 10 cult classics". June 22, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Previews: Bionic Commando". March 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ Tom Goldman (19 Jun 2010). "Kojima To Unveil "Massive PS3 Exclusive" at TGS 2010". The Escapist. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  11. ^ Ian Erickson. "Game of The Week: Herzog Zwei". GameSpy. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  12. ^ a b c d e John Perkowski (February 11, 2010). "The Five Cult Video Games that will never get their due". Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-07-03. 
  13. ^ "Atlus Set To Release River City Ransom Ex". GameZone. May 14, 2003. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Mike "Scrimshaw" Potts (2011-07-07). "Bungie Day Brings Marathon to the iPad". Mishmash Magazine. 
  18. ^ David Chen (2005-12-14). "Retroactive: Kojima's Productions". Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  19. ^ David Coller (October 30, 1994), CD-ROM REVIEW : The Endless Cosmology of Kyoto, Los Angeles Times
  20. ^ a b [2]
  21. ^ Jim Sterling (2011-04-07). "Cult PC game Neverhood being pitched as a mobile title". Destructoid. 
  22. ^ "Cult PC game Throwback Thursday: Toonstruck Review title". Gamenesia author=Cameron Ward. 2013-11-28. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Justin Page (December 6, 2012). "LSD: Dream Emulator, A Game That Conveys The Weirdness of Dreams". 
  25. ^ Jenny Major/Kevin (March 1, 2012). "Retro Gaming Session: Suikoden II". GPXGaming. 
  26. ^ a b c Stewart Shearer (February 14, 2011). "The 19 Best Underrated Games". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2011-11-30. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  27. ^ Chris Dahlen (August 23, 2005). "Planescape: Torment". The Escapist (magazine). Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  28. ^ Don Reisinger (November 16, 2010). "Shenmue creator wants to make a third title". Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  29. ^ Andrew Park (October 8, 2004). "System Shock 2 Retrospective". GameSpot. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  30. ^ Ackerman, Dan (2013-02-13). "Cult classic PC game System Shock 2 getting rereleased". CNET. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  31. ^ Davi (November 1, 2012). "THE LONGEST JOURNEY Series Gets Revived!". UnleashTheFanboy. 
  32. ^ Dave Parrack (July 11, 2012). "6 Cult Japanese Video Games Still Worth Playing [MUO Gaming]". 
  33. ^ Watchmojo
  34. ^ [3]
  35. ^ "Is Conker's Bad Fur Day actually good?". 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  36. ^ [4]
  37. ^ WhatCulture
  38. ^ Zachary Gasiorowski (19 August 2004). "Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes". Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ Paste Magazine
  41. ^ "Top 10: Why We Still Play". IGN. 
  42. ^ Nacisse, Evan. "Cult Classic "Beyond Good & Evil" Coming Back as HD Downloadable Release". IFC. Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  43. ^ a b WatchMojo
  44. ^ Luke Plunkett (2011-02-11). "Cult PC Game Being Remade For The 3DS". Kotaku. 
  45. ^ Chieng, Kevin. "PS2 Classic Katamari Damacy Rolling to US PSN on April 30". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  46. ^ "The II Weirdest Games in the World". The Telegraph. 
  47. ^ "Vampire: Bloodlines Achieves True Immortality, Hits Patch 9.0". Nathan Grayson. 
  48. ^ "Fahrenheit, also known as Indigo Prophecy in North America, is a cult video game developed by Quantic Dream and manufactured and marketed by Atari.". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  49. ^ "Nintendo World Report's Greatest GameCube Games". Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  50. ^ [5]
  51. ^ Ashcraft, Brian. "New Game Killer Is Dead Isn't a Sequel to Cult Hit Killer7". Altered Gamer. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  52. ^ Sanchez, David. "Killer7: Is It Still Playable?". Kotaku. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  53. ^ Dutton, Fred. "The Cult of Psychonauts". Eurogamer. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  54. ^ Hopkins, Tom. "Double Fine's Cult Classic Psychonauts Hitting PSN Next Week". NowGamer. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  55. ^ a b c d e Entertainment Buddha
  56. ^ [6]
  57. ^ Reeves, Ben. "Cult Classics – Mirror's Edge". GameInformer. Retrieved 2013-05-27. 
  58. ^ "EA’s media briefing: Mirror’s Edge 2, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Peggle 2". Metro. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  59. ^ Gaston, Martin. "Classic cult JRPG Persona 4 could be coming to PS3". Retrieved 2014-09-27. 
  60. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley. "The World Ends With You sequel hinted at". Eurogamer. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  61. ^ [7]
  62. ^ [8]
  63. ^ Kartik Mudgal (13 Mar 2012). "Alan Wake sells 2 million units, game is a "cult classic"". Gaming Bolt. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  64. ^ Brandon Sheffield (December 22, 2010). "Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: Top 5 Cult Games". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  65. ^ Kimberley Wallace (17 Aug 2012). "Sleeper RPGS 10 Games You Shouldn't Miss". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-09-13. 
  66. ^ "SPEC OPS: THE LINE DEV WORKING ON NEXT-GEN GAME title". IGN author=Colin Moriarty. 2013-03-14. 
  67. ^ [9]
  68. ^ [10]