Elemental Gimmick Gear (Dreamcast / E)
The back of the case claims the scenery was hand drawn, and you'd probably think "Yeah right". But the game's environments really do look like somebody drew, inked, and colored it all by hand, and the result is gorgeous. There were seriously times when I was put into a trance by the graphics and music. Combat is kind of awkward because of how close you have to be to enemies to hit them and how the EGG doesn't punch right away, and it has some low points like one boss that just takes forever to kill and another that's pointless more than anything, but it's nothing game crippling. And the exploration, puzzles, alien atmosphere, and some good bosses make up for that.
Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Master System)
Everything about this game causes headaches, from the super-bright graphics to the screechy, whiny music to the slow, clunky gameplay.
Killer7 (Gamecube / M)
Most of the "puzzles" are either "look at a poster, memorize the information on it or write it down if you have to, then find the spot where you regurgitate that information" or "find a silver figurine, then find the slot shaped like it that you stick it in." Almost every puzzle is accompanied by this ghost man holding a mask who gives you clues, or you can also shoot the mask he's holding to have the answer spelled out for you, but I never had to do that. This is even worse when most of those puzzles are things any gamer has seen before, and the odder ones can be solved through trial and error (I solved the locker puzzle by taking Con and shooting up and down all the lockers until I caught on to what was happening). Also included are some of the worst bosses ever, such as this woman on a burning bridge where you stand there shooting each other for a minute, the hits are tallied, and whoever got more hits on the other one wins, that old man where you sit there waiting and waiting for the pigeon on his shoulder to fly off so you can shoot him, there afro man who's beaten in a single shot to his large, obvious, and easy-to-expose weak point, and the final boss that just stands there waiting for you to kill him. The game was mediocre plodding up until the endgame which was one of the most offputting things I've ever played through. As for the plot... let's just say that the only acceptable ending to this game would have been Suda51 waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, vowing never to eat pickle and anchovy pizza before bed ever again.
Contra 3: The Alien Wars (SNES)
I dunno, I may have thought more about this game had I played it before Hard Corps, which took this premise and rocketed it to a new level. Contra 3 features some good run and gun action and memorable bosses, but it's kind of short and I really don't like those overhead stages which seem to be there to show off Mode 7 more than anything. The graphics are dull, and the music is muffled, whiny, and forgettable. It's a good game, and I respect that without it there probably never would have been Hard Corps, but if people continue to go around calling this the Contra to end all Contras while Hard Corps continues to be ignored, buildings WILL burn down.
Miracle Warriors (Master System)
As far as Dragon Warrior clones go, you can do a lot worse. Yes, there is a bit of level grinding involved, mainly before you take on the Senpis and Hanjes, but the annoying part of it isn't so much the level grinding itself, but how repetetive the battles are. The only "strategy" involved with them is switching to a different character when one's HP gets low, maybe using a magical item. Some enemies have a spell that usually puts your entire party to sleep, and aren't afraid to use it every turn. But there are some decent mysteries, mazes, and exploration. Just not enough of them.
Yep, I finally got around to playing the original Point and Click adventure on the NES. I'm also kind of surprised how quickly I got through it. I heard of people taking a month to complete this game. It took me about four or five days, and I only GameFAQed two things (although one of them I could have sworn I already tried, but either I didn't click the right spot or it was so obvious I only thought I already tried it. Oh well). But those four days were filled with the sweetness of solving puzzle after puzzle, then hitting one, trying everything I could think of and turning the game off feeling like I'll never solve it, then the next time I start the game up I make some progress. Castle Shadowgate also houses amazing descriptions, a great opening theme that kind of gets lost in the second half of the game, and monsters which do their job but could stand to be better drawn.