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.
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.
While it doesn't do anything surprising or exceptional, Imperium is a good time. It plays well, takes a lot of notes from other beloved shoot 'em ups (Compile ones in particular), and is bolstered by a solid soundtrack by the underappreciated Tenpei Sato of Disgaea fame.
If I had to sum up Kung Food in one sentence, I'd say it's "the Atari Lynx's Altered Beast if Altered Beast came out four years into the Mega Drive's lifespan". As you might be able to glean from that statement, Kung Food is a beat 'em up that focuses first and foremost on impressive visuals and large sprites. If you like large, chunky sprites, this game really delivers in that regard. Playing through Kung Food, on the other hand, can be quite the ordeal for a variety of reasons!
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.
Hammerin’ Harry: Ghost Building Company
If the experience of playing Ghost Building Company was just a bit more polished, just a bit more smooth and consistent, this would be one of the best games on the Game Boy. It’s a joy to play through for its spectacle and simplicity, but the uneven difficulty towards the end can make it take far longer to complete than a portable game session should go on for. Despite its problems, it wears its horror influences on its sleeve in a way that feels familiar yet ambitious compared to what other games of the time often did and its visual style is simply superb enough to make the whole thing worth struggling through.
In Twinkle Tale, the run and gun action is exciting and impeccable, the visuals are best in class, and the soundtrack is right up my alley. Usually, the rarest and most expensive games for a system tend to be overrated or just plain bad, but this one almost (almost!) feels like it's worth the hefty price of admission. I'm honestly having a hard time thinking of any significant flaws! If you want something that contains all of the Mega Drive's best qualities in one lovely package, this is the game for you.