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Top 10 Forgotten Strategy Games

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Kurt Hvorup These strategy classics just don't feel the love these days. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top Forgotten Strategy Games. For this list we're taking a look at strategy games of all sorts – be they turn-based, real-time, or simulation-oriented – that don't receive the same praise they did in their time. From age-old innovators to newer and quirkier titles, these games are ones we feel warrant more than a second look. Special Thanks to our user "Laballs" for suggesting this topic on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Kurt Hvorup

Top 10 Forgotten Strategy Games


These strategy classics just don't feel the love these days. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top Forgotten Strategy Games.

For this list we're taking a look at strategy games of all sorts – be they turn-based, real-time, or simulation-oriented – that don't receive the same praise they did in their time. From age-old innovators to newer and quirkier titles, these games are ones we feel warrant more than a second look.

#10: “Empire Earth” (2001)

Developed by Stainless Steel Studios, this real-time strategy title packs a few worthwhile surprises in its design. “Empire Earth” tasks the player with leading a civilization through 500,000 years of world history, by harvesting resources and battling rival civilizations. The game's depth comes from the variables affecting one's civilization – everything from the presence of summoned heroes, to a morale system that affects unit stats, to even the ability to create a custom civilization. It's a fascinating effort, to say the least.

#9: “Populous” (1989)

Is this how it feels to play god? That may very well be a question of note when playing “Populous”, a game partly developed by “Fable” series creator Peter Molyneux. “Populous” takes place from an isometric perspective, as players attempt to help a settlement grow in numbers and overwhelm their enemies. Throughout the game's 500 levels, you are granted control of mana-based powers that can affect the landscape, in order to aid your settlement's progress. As an exploration of the responsibilities that come with omnipotent status, “Populous” is undoubtedly deserving of more attention.

#8: “Seven Kingdoms” (1997)

Departure from formula can be a great thing, when done correctly. Case in point: “Seven Kingdoms” shifts from elements of real-time strategy to turn-based strategy in its gameplay about conflicting kingdoms vying for dominance. It places emphasis on training and managing spies, sending out proposals for diplomacy and keeping an eye on other kingdoms' reputations. Yet this change-up from standard base-building and resource-gathering makes the game distinctive and rather tense, with every action having the potential to pay off greatly or end in failure.

#7: “Europa Universalis” (2000)

Ah, grand strategy – a tried-and-true genre of choice. Yet some may not recall the epic scope and politically-oriented machinations of “Europa Universalis”. Spanning from 1492 to 1792, this 2000 game has the player command one of seven nations in Europe in an ongoing expansion of power, by whatever means necessary. While its options for progression are notable – the player can rely on military force, wealth or diplomacy – the game map's approximately 1,500 provinces are just as worthy a draw. Plus, “Europa Universalis” occurs in real-time, complete with a pause feature.

#6: “Master of Orion” (1993)

We're curious why this isn't as widely remembered. The premise of “Master of Orion” is reasonably simple: you command one of ten races in the pursuit of total galactic conquest, venturing across the stars and taking territory. Yet from this simple idea comes a fascinating mixture of space exploration, colony development, intergalactic relations and other entertaining elements. The depth of the game's tech trees and diplomatic options, coupled with randomly generated star maps, makes for countless memorable play sessions.

#5: “Advance Wars” (2001)

Turn-based tactics on a handheld – good times. Released for Game Boy Advance in 2001, “Advance Wars” stands as one of the finest titles for the system... and sadly, one forgotten in the present. It tells the tale of an ongoing war between four colour-coded nations, with the player bearing witness to betrayal and conspiracy aplenty. In contrast to this seriousness, the game delivers on a bright visual style and intriguing gameplay mechanics, such as terrain effects and careful limits on unit capabilities.

#4: “Dungeon Keeper” (1997)

Bask in the glory of evil, if you dare. 1997's “Dungeon Keeper” is an odd beast, so to speak – it's a dungeon management game in which players attempt to keep pesky heroes from looting their lair. From its focus on beings such as Imps and wild animals to the player giving commands via hovering hand, “Dungeon Keeper” deviates from the norm on many fronts. Yet with its infusion of black comedy and its embrace of the bizarre, it's a classic title that deserves a day in the limelight – just stay away from the mobile version (shudder).

#3: “Black & White” (2001)

Once more, Peter Molyneux's impact can be known to all. His first game with Lion Studios, “Black & White”, took the concept of a god game and flipped it on its head. Your task, as an omniscient figure, was to gain control of the entirety of an island's villages through kindly acts of assistance... or destructive and awe-inspiring gestures. The key selling point, though, was a controllable creature guided by complex AI; depending on how the player treated it, this creature could end up helping or hindering others. We'll say this: there's nothing quite like this game.

#2: “Total Annihilation” (1997)

To think, this was the first RTS game to feature 3D units and environments. Indeed, this title once stunned gamers with its fascinating mix of science-fiction elements with genuinely innovative strategy features. Set in a distant future wherein humanity is divided between two galactic factions, “Total Annihilation” tasks players with utilizing a constant stream of resources to build up offensive and defensive measures. Sporting mechanics like battlefields sporting hundreds of combatants and a radar that showed enemies despite the fog-of-war, the game experimented with the strategy genre in interesting ways.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II” (2006)
“Star Wars: Empire at War” (2006)
“Mega Lo Mania” (1991)
“Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns” (2001)

#1: “Dune II” (1992)

Though some have long since passed it, “Dune II” still holds an important role in the real-time strategy genre. Its story is reasonably straight-forward, placing you in the role of a military commander from one of three Houses sent to obtain spice on the world of Arrakis. Based in the universe of Frank Herbert's “Dune” novels, this RTS helped establish certain features of its genre – from the focus on base construction and resource-gathering, to using technology trees. Its status as a template for future strategy titles cannot be overstated, and we feel it warrants revisiting.

Do you agree with our list? What strategy games do you feel have been forgotten? For more thoughtful Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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