TWINKLE TALE / Toyo / Sega Genesis
Twinkle Tale was only released in Japan so I'm not totally sure what the story is, but it appears that you play as a cutesy witch who is sent on some sort of quest through monster-infested territory by Zombie Impa.
The most familiar comparison I can think of is the two Pocky and Rocky games for the SNES, but those are almost as obscure as this one is. It's pretty much a shooter seen from an overhead perspective, but you move freely instead of auto-scrolling. Your witch has three weapons you freely switch between - a cluster of homing fireballs, a spread shot and a volley of lasers that goes straight forward. Each one can be upgraded two levels, but you lose a level of power every time you get hit with that particular weapon equipped. You also have a health bar of three hits that gets depleted each time you take a hit as well.
The game has selectable difficulty, and the Easy mode is the one you'll want to start with as all modes are a pretty stiff challenge. Enemies come at you fast and furious from all sides and there's frequent little sub-boss battles that require tons of hits and precision dodging to get by.
The graphics are nice, but the music and sound are nothing special at best and irritating at worst. The game ultimately gets the Meh face because it's just a little too hard for anyone to get into (and probably way too hard for something that looks this cute), but if you have a taste for challenging old-school action games this is a very solidly made one.
* Gameplay Video