Mega Man 6 (NES)
Was this game made by a different team from the others? I heard somewhere Nintendo actually made this game, or maybe just published it. There's definitely something different about this one. Although it's the most colorful of all the NES Mega Man games, there's noticable slowdown and flicker when there's only a few enemies on screen. Level design is kind of easy, and the Wily stages are much too generous with the E Tanks and many of them are sitting right in your path with no catches whatsoever.
Okami (PS2 / T)
A fairly solid Zelda clone with some decent puzzles and mysteries. While the game does look very good (although it looks more like somebody ran Wind Waker through Adobe Streamline than Japanese watercolor) the graphics still fall asleep and wake-up calls are few and far between. The fact you can carry 99 each of three levels of healing Bones, two levels of shield-forming Charms, and Golden Peaches which instantly fill the Astral Pouch, and money and Demon Fangs are so abundant that they're all practically free means it's almost impossible to die in this game (I died once at the very beginning out of my own carelessness, but I assure you I am very embarassed about it). There's a boss that takes roughly fifteen minutes to defeat, but you're never in any danger and what's worse, you have to fight him THREE TIMES throughout the game and he's exactly the same each time! And while the first third of the game has a steady, coherent plot, for the rest of the game they decided that lots of random, barely related plot twists equal depth. There's some good stuff here, but you have to sift through so much fluff to get there.
Alberty Odyssey: Legend of Eldean (Saturn / K-A)
It's pretty, the music's good, and that's it. A very easy and barebones RPG, and the only dungeon with any real design is the final one where you get into fights every five damn seconds. The only good thing about the plot is the humor Working Designs put in, as most of it is underdeveloped and things are the way they are because somebody said so. Many characters come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly, and the most of the remaining characters weren't used to their full potential. There was so much they could have done with Balan, but they used him to his bare minimum then killed him off and forgot he ever existed.
The best thing about this game is the graphics, and the music is decent. But the actual game is a dull, easy R-Type clone with bad slowdown and flicker. It's kind of depressing, because there are brief moments of inspiration that if expanded on could have made for something great, but they weren't and the game feels like a practice in level and graphic design that wasn't even coded well. There's a harder "second quest" found after beating the game or through a code, but the only differences are enemies take more hits to kill and one-hit enemies shoot a bullet when you destroy them. The former is boring and the latter causes more slowdown. Needless to say, I didn't have the interest to play through it.
It's a playable enough Zelda clone, but the makers missed a lot of what made Zelda great. The compass tells you where all the dungeons are, so there goes exploration and the dungeons themselves are incredibly easy. Most of the bosses can be beaten by running in, button mashing them, and using a Potion when necessary, and in some cases there's no other way because if you try to be strategic about them, you'll either get your ass kicked or it'll take forever to beat them. Combat is incredibly awkward because of the tiny sword that frequently misses enemies and 2 dimensional hit detection (i.e. if an enemy that's closer to the bottom of the screen than Jazeta leaps and its sprite overlaps Jazeta, Jazeta gets hurt).
Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis / MA-13)
YES. THIS is more like it. THIS is what I wanted from the original Contra. A game that repeatedly kicks you on your ass, waggles its finger, and you just get back up for more. And even when you beat the game, different choices made in the game can take you to four endgames. And if after you complete the four engames you still haven't had enough, there's three more characters with their own arsenals to take through for a grand total of 16 ways to experience this game. Topping off this delicious challenge is incredible graphics with gorgeous scenery and large, creative bosses full of personality (one of my favorites personality-wise is that dancing ball boss in the jungle stage), though the music could stand to be better.