While the bells and whistles of the NGPC version are very much appreciated and do a lot to give you more reasons to come back, the arcade game’s tighter controls, more balanced speed, and fairer opponents just feel a lot better to deal with when the game is in your hands. Aesthetics are great and all, but ultimately, this is a game with arcade roots, so how it feels to play for continued periods of time is what I would consider to be the most important thing. Faults and all, Crush Roller is more than just a “Pac-Man Clone” - it’s an interesting spin on the ever-enjoyable maze game genre and even if you’re like me and you don’t jive with it a whole lot, you’ll probably find an idea or two to appreciate in your time with it.
Miracle Ropit’s Adventure in 2100
There's some legitimately creative and cool stuff here in the year 2100, it all just needed a better wrapper of a game to fit into. I’m a fan of the variety of the alien world and how visually inspired each location is. In particular, this game actually does a remarkable job of using black backgrounds to establish atmosphere and mystery in the game’s later stages. I also really enjoyed seeing the variety of environmental hazards the game decides to throw at you, whether that’s plants floating in the void or doors that randomly push you away or send you back to an earlier point in the level. Even though the game is pretty dreadful to control, I found myself appreciating the boldness of its many eccentricities.
The Famicom had a ridiculously large library and I get the impression a lot of people outside of Japan still have yet to dig deep into its JRPG library beyond the usual suspects. That’s because most people get turned off by their difficulty, their obtuseness, or their slowness, but Shadow Brain defies all of those expectations. Shadow Brain is an exceptionally thoughtful game that offers some of the best world building on the platform alongside convenient and smart features that wouldn’t become commonplace in the genre until years later. It’s rare that we see something so ambitious that actually works out, so this game is worth celebrating for that reason alone.
Challenger is yet another game to add to the pile of "misunderstood NES games that are actually good but people think are bad because they played them years past their ideal historical contexts" alongside games like Hydlide, Deadly Towers, The Legend of Kage, and Xevious. People playing it for the first time nowadays could easily walk away unimpressed thinking it's just a worse Zelda with some other stuff, but when looked at in the context of 1985, it comes off as something really ahead of the curve. With multiple genres of play, a large world that takes exploration and practice to master, and a flexible difficulty curve for all kinds of players, it's a game that impressed me in short order.
There aren't many English sources or reviews on this game, and those that exist tend to be outright dismissive towards it, thinking it to be nothing more than "just another golf game". And to an extent, I don't blame them! For the most part, Golf-kko Open IS "just another golf game". But if you're able to crack the code and figure out what kind of game this really is, you'll find that there's more to it than meets the eye...