HAMMERIN' HARRY / Data East / Arcade
Hammerin' Harry is all about the Awkward Angles. If you don't know what I mean, think of the first Castlevania game; you've got badass weapons and head-on the enemies don't stand much of a chance against you individually, but it's excruciatingly hard because they always manage to approach from an angle that your weapons can't strike at conveniently, and also they're off in the background lobbing shit at you that also comes in at weird and inconvenient angles. That's the design philosophy of Hammerin' Harry from the jump.
I can deal with some of that in tasteful moderation; I mean, the original Castlevania is great. Here, however, I think Irem went a little too hard to the hoop with the concept. Right from the first few screens the game is annoying as hell and never gets any better.
Which is a shame because it has such great sprite work and backgrounds, and Harry has more of a dynamic range with his giant hammer than the usual arcade action hero. In addition to simply swinging it, he can also pound the ground to cause a mini earthquake, and hold it up while doing some sexual thrust as well. The awkward angle/cheap hit design style is just poured on too thick though; that and the bouncy background music gets a little grating, especially combined with the exuberant "LET'S GET BUSY!" yelled every time you die and revive.
* Gameplay Video