Override

Override might not be the most exceptional shoot ‘em up ever, but it’s one that does nearly everything well, and the things it doesn’t do as well were corrected for its remake, which is a privilege most games don’t get to experience. Between the PC Engine version’s approachability and the Sharp X68000 version’s added bells and whistles, there’s something here for everyone who has even a passing interest in shoot ‘em ups. Override can be safely recommended for those unfamiliar with the genre as something that’s reasonable for them to finish (I beat it on my first attempt and I’m not good at the genre!), whereas veteran players can try to go for Last Battalion's elusive second ending to get the thrills they seek.

Rat Attack!

Honestly, I didn't expect much from this game before I turned it on. I’d never heard of it, its box art is pretty ugly, and the developer didn’t exactly have the strongest of careers. But I gotta say, Rat Attack! is a solid game! It takes a simple, tried but true concept and throws so many wrinkles and wrenches into it that it becomes a chaotic yet considered cacophony of hazards, ideas, challenges, and triumphs. Qix is the kind of concept that’s hard to add onto, but I think this game does a really good job of expanding on the idea. Having to juggle dozens of rats while keeping hazards, power-ups, and pad locations in mind makes for a surprisingly tense and exhilarating experience.

Challenger

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.