• Suishou no Dragon
    Experimentation has always been in Square’s DNA, which makes their back catalog fascinating to explore. Suishou no Dragon is strange even for their standards, though; what if you made an 80s adventure game with no music, slim amounts of dialogue and few NPCs, progression that rarely takes too much effort, and a runtime of less than an hour? Suishou no Dragon is a game that’ll leave you feeling all kinds of ways by the end because nothing about it feels like it should be how it is. And yet, it is most certainly the way that it is! This is a game that I’d love to love, but there’s so little to hold onto that even its most interesting qualities struggle to overcome how inconsequential it ends up feeling.
  • Mighty Guy
    Mighty Guy is enjoyable enough to get into the zone with, focusing purely on survival as you charge upward and wipe out anything in your path, but there isn’t much to it and it’s all over too quickly even for arcade standards, with a single loop taking about 10-15 minutes. It’s surprisingly reasonable to make it to the end with just a bit of effort and see everything it has to offer too, which I imagine made it not so lucrative in the arcades that actually had it set up. It’s the kind of game that begs for a sequel or an updated version for “super players” that would really put your skills to the test, but with how obscure it is today, it’s safe to say that isn’t happening. Your mind won’t be blown playing this one, but it’s a quick and fun romp that offers some interesting ideas. In a way, thinking about the ideas it has on offer and how newer games have adapted them is more exciting than the game itself!
  • Armalyte
    Armalyte isn’t insurmountable, but it does require patience, memorization, and preparation to complete it, let alone get past its first level. For that reason, this game is one that you really want to have save states for if possible so you can practice its toughest bits. If you’re willing to persevere or do whatever it takes to survive (if you catch my drift), you’ll be rewarded with a shoot ‘em up experience that’s genuinely atmospheric and intriguing the whole way through. The world of Armalyte, even with its lack of text, tells a story that makes you want to see it through to the end just to see what the developers came up with. I could have easily turned it off during that fireball sequence for something else, but it immediately drew me in enough to make me want to get past that part and see what else it had lying in wait for me.
  • Wirehead
    Wirehead should aspire to be the most game-y game movie out there, but it never quite wants to fully commit to the bit. There’s chuckle worthy moments here and there thanks to the acting, but most of the game really does end up playing itself straight and the story wraps up in a disappointingly quick and clean way. It’s a game that I would say is still worth experiencing (ideally with save states or that cheat code in tow) since it’s a vestige of the past that serves as the capstone to a fascinating part of Sega’s history, but if you’re looking for something to howl with laughter at at or for a strange buried treasure that nobody talks about but is actually really good, it’s not going to satisfy either of those desires.
  • Shape Shifter
    Despite its myriad frustrations, I was able to find a bit of joy in Shape Shifter, at least when I look at it as doing research and catching up on a platform I never got to grow up with. The platforming is an absolute nightmare, the RPG elements are basically nonexistent, and the inclusion of lives combined with an obtuse means of healing only makes the game needlessly stressful, but its impressive presentation and strange world do a lot to make it interesting enough to push through. While I can’t recommend Shape Shifter as something most people would enjoy, I can recommend it as something that I think people would find fascinating.