There's truly infinite potential with an idea like the World of Drawings, so it would have been nice to see it pushed harder here. As it is, A Drawing's Journey is a game that's unfortunately one I wouldn't recommend. Its gameplay is tedious and full of needless misdirection, its story is unfulfilling and rings hollow when it tries to make a big play at the end, and the whole thing just bums me out because it's nice to see small projects like this succeed. Having played it myself, I suppose I'm not surprised to see that the few people who bought it seemingly never made it far - I highly doubt normal people would stick with that nonsense battery puzzle as long as I did!
Stahlfeder: Tekkou Hikuudan
I'm really not sure why this game garners the hate it does (when it gets any acknowledgement, anyway). I know it's far from the peak of the genre and it's certainly not without things that would dissatisfy diehard STG players, but when you boil it down, it's… really not doing anything particularly wrong or different from what you'd typically expect. It's slower than the likes of, say, Ikaruga, and much easier than it too, but I think it's really nice to have something that's both an entry point and something you can just suck down in 30 minutes and have a good time, even if said time isn't an exceptional one.
When you boil it down, I suppose Funky Jet isn’t much more than a fun 30 minute jaunt with some lively visuals, but it achieves that humble goal with such aplomb that I can’t help but think it deserves much more credit than it gets. The formula it strives to improve upon is a tricky one to touch since it’s the kind of thing that was practically perfected from the jump, but Mitchel Corporation really found a way to make it their own. It’s kind of genius how they took two genres with such straightforward fundamentals and figured out that they’d work together so well.
Cacoma Knight in Bizyland
Realistically, I don’t think Cacoma Knight is going to blow anyone’s socks off. It’s a solid iteration on Qix with a fair amount going on mechanically and a juicy flavor to appreciate, but once the novelty wears off, I have to imagine the endless replayability and challenge of Qix will always win out in the end with diehard fans. Even so, I find Cacoma Knight to be one endearing game. I love the way it looks and I really appreciate how it takes a puzzle game formula and expands on it in such a way to make it feel like a proper adventure. Its increased emphasis on storytelling and cooperative play definitely give it a distinct identity, and even though people don't exactly play Qix for the story, the effort is absolutely appreciated nonetheless.
Effacer: Hangman from the 25th Century
Beyond the core loop of Hangman and a multiplayer mode, that’s really all there is to Effacer. It’s an undeniably slim package and even though it boasts a whopping 40,000 words, I can’t imagine most people will get anywhere near seeing all of those words. Still, there’s a lot to like about the general vibe of Effacer, both on its own merits as a bizarre twist on Hangman and as a representation of the curious world of the CD-i. There’s really nothing else like it and playing Hangman normally isn’t exactly going to be the same thing unless you create your own alien backstories and role play them or something!
Fighting Run is simultaneously a game that’s a gigantic pain in the rear and also one that I kinda love. Everything about this game is just so dang cool! The aesthetics create an environment that’s both grim and silly, the concept is something that so rarely gets an entire game dedicated to it, and the mechanics leave a ton of potential for an indie developer to build upon and the foundation for a passionate competitive community to take root in. If this game was something people were aware of and if it was just a bit more polished, I seriously think it could be a proper cult hit!
I like how this game takes what Comix Zone put down and tries to grow it in ways that make sense for the era of gaming it came out in while making it more mechanically approachable, but at the same time, it feels like a showcase of many of the things wrong with that particular point in the medium's relative infancy. Unbound Saga feels like it so badly wanted to be "hip" and "cool" by seeming aloof and contradictory about its themes, but I think it would have been better served by just being sincere with its players and having faith in what it started as.
Though Ganryu 2 has plenty of highs between its excellent visuals and strong fundamentals, some of its more questionable design choices and unfortunate number of glitches ensure that building the level of trust needed to master the game and fully appreciate the intent of its developers will be far too difficult for most people to consider. I definitely enjoyed it, but I also can't see myself trying to master it in its current state. Knowing that my controls could suddenly stop working or level progression could break down at any moment and ruin my run is enough to deter me, which is a huge shame as someone who very rarely lets glitches get in the way of their enjoyment.
Wuz↑b? Produce: Street Dancer
Street Dancer is a perfectly competent game if also an unexciting one when you approach it as a conventional rhythm game, but because of how it utilizes the Wonderswan hardware, it suddenly becomes way more memorable. You could hypothetically tweak it to work on anything if you really wanted to since its core mechanics are very simple, but the game would be fundamentally different, and without that playful spirit at its core, that desire to get you to interface with your video games in a new way, what would the point even be?
Otenba Becky no Daibouken
The idea of a maze game or having to deal with pursuers using indirect attacks wasn’t new at this point, obviously, but the way that Becky is intentionally dis-empowered in most cases and only given true control in the most ideal of circumstances is genuinely creative and unusual to see. The randomized levels and variable speeds of the aliens can create a lot of problems that aren’t the player’s fault, but doing your best to work with what you’ve got can be engaging in its own way. Because of the constant disadvantage that the player faces, achieving victory becomes all the sweeter and it’s easy to gain an appreciation of every aspect of the mechanics because of how much thought has to go into every action. This isn’t a game you can save state or mash through, this is a game that demands you not give up and keep tackling it head on to eventually find a way further in.