While many people cite WipEout 2097 as their favourite entry in the series, we’re willing to bet that many of those players missed out on the excellent WipEout 3 Special Edition. Released only in PAL territories during 2000, the game attracted little coverage and did little to bump up sales for the futuristic racing franchise after Wip3out surprisingly failed to set the world on fire the previous year.

That’s a huge shame, because Wipeout 3 Special Edition isn’t just a slight improvement on Wip3out – it’s a full-blown greatest hits compilation. The highly refined futuristic racing gameplay is lifted directly from the third game, complete with idiosyncracies such as the boost button and weapons like the Force Wall, and its tracks, vehicles and music all come over too. However, there are some slight physics tweaks and two prototype tracks, previously exclusive to the Japanese version of the original game. Those aren’t the real story though – that honour belongs to the eight tracks lifted from previous WipEout games for the Classic League, three from the original and five from 2097. As well as offering the opportunity to play through classic races with the new vehicles and weapons, the Classic League displays the old locations with a new lick of paint, adding scenery and tidying things up to the standards expected of a PlayStation release in the year 2000.

We were already fans of Wip3out, but the addition of the extra content pushed it into contention for the title of best PlayStation racer – a hotly contested one indeed. Unfortunately, the game’s relative obscurity meant that it’s often left out of that conversation, and Psygnosis Studio Leeds was shut soon after the game was released. A tragic end for a great game.

One of the things I really love about the very early days of console magazines in the UK is the prominence given to import games. Rather than being confined to their own small section at the back of the review pages, they were given equal billing with domestic releases, which meant you’d get to see all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that might never even make it over here. The Berlin Wall was one such game that I saw in a hand-me-down copy of Sega Pro. I thought it looked very cool and the review suggested it was great, but I had no opportunity to play it at the time as I got my first handheld console about a week before the end of the Nineties.

For those of you expecting some Cold War shenanigans, forget it – while the original arcade version was full of digitised photos of that major moment in political history, The Berlin Wall on Game Gear has absolutely nothing to do with its real life namesake. Well, unless historians have lied to me and there really was some bloke with a hammer getting chased around by penguins. I don’t know, I was a toddler. Anyway, it’s one of those puzzle platform platform games in the tradition of Lode Runner and Space Panic, in which ladders are crucial for movement and you defeat enemies by smashing the floor away to trap them. Apart from looking quite a lot nicer than those older games, The Berlin Wall includes modern elements like boss battles, and it makes things a little easier on the player by making enemy movements more predictable. There’s even a neat little combo mechanic – if you smash one enemy through the floor, it’ll take out any enemies it falls on too.

Sadly, The Berlin Wall never officially made it to UK shelves. In fact, even though a North American version was not only planned but advertised in magazines, the game never made it out there either. That’s a real shame, though you really don’t lose much when you play it with Japanese text, so it’s worth a look regardless.

To be completely honest with you, I didn’t care at all about NFL 2K when I bought it. I wasn’t really into American football and the last videogame version I’d played was Madden NFL 94 on the Mega Drive, but the seller threw the disc and manual in as a freebie with the copy of NBA 2K I actually wanted. At the time, I was running a Dreamcast website so any extra review fodder wasn’t to be sniffed at, but I didn’t see myself playing it much beyond that. Of course I am a spectacular fool, and had no idea that the game was excellent and had been very highly regarded the US press.

It was a bit of a struggle to get used to it, as the way plays are selected with the analogue stick is a bit funky and I wasn’t familiar with the rules beyond “you’ve got four goes to move the ball ten yards.” Thankfully the game starts you out on Rookie difficulty, which lets you get into the fun of the game – big meaty dudes, fully decked out in body armour, smashing into each other like shoppers fighting over the last big TV on Black Friday. Boy, do they ever hit hard too. You’ll see arms wrapped around heads, players dragged down by the ankles and even full body slams, and plenty of other similarly impactful tackles.

It was exactly that sense of brutality that made the game a hit with my friends, too. Playing together on the same team, we eventually figured out that you can’t just clobber a receiver (that’s called “pass interference,” folks) and managed to develop a respectable level of co-operation that allowed us to win games. We did have to pick the Broncos to do it though, and I was later informed by some American football-playing housemates that this was tantamount to cheating. Still, we had so much fun with it that I actually ended up spending way more time with NFL 2K than I ever did NBA 2K, making it a powerful argument for giving every game a chance.

I’ve always loved televised pseudo-sports. Ever since I first watched the likes of Hunter and Lightning humiliating the nation’s fitness fanatics on Gladiators, I’ve gone for everything from the predetermined pugilism of pro wrestling to the slapstick obstacle course nonsense of Total Wipeout. With that in mind you’ve probably already guessed that I’m a fan of Ninja Warrior, and particularly the original Japanese version known as Sasuke in its homeland. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that there was a whole series of licensed games based on Muscle Ranking, and that its spin-off Sasuke was the subject of one of them.

Normally, this sort of tale ends in tears – licensed games are normally duds, especially ones based on oddball non-sports with no genre conventions to lean on. Thankfully, the game actually turned out to be quite good indeed, mostly because Konami developed it. The developer sensibly applied the Track & Field template to the game, so each part of the course requires a different set of skills, whether that’s button-bashing to build speed or power, or timing your movements along the Spider Walk. It’s also quite an attractive late era PlayStation game, running at a high resolution and capturing the atmosphere of the show well, particularly with its use of signature camera angles.

However, the thing I really didn’t expect was the main mode, which allows you to create a character and guide them along the road to the show. You’ll have to manage their diet and budget to build their stats in a training regimen comprised of mini-games, all the while keeping tabs on stress levels. Unfortunately, that’s the biggest barrier to enjoying the game – if you can’t work your way around a Japanese menu and figure out which meals will help with strength training or reduce your stress, you’re going to be stuck playing in Practice Mode. But if you do have the required language skills and you’re up for a twist on the old multi-sports formula, Muscle Ranking: Road To Sasuke could be as pleasant a surprise for you as it was for me.