COLUMBUS: GOLDEN DAWN / Tomy / NES
At first blush, Columbus promises strategy/nautical/RPG hybrid action in the vein of Uncharted Waters. You (roughly) follow the life of Christopher Columbus as he goes from rookie captain to his landing in America. It's actually a pretty good concept - after doing some tutorial missions, you get turned loose on an open world to build "fame" for yourself by doing quests, slaying rare monsters holed up in dungeon areas, etc., until a King of a prominent country can be convinced to kit you out for an expidition to the New World.
Unfortunately, the execution is just all kinds of terribad. The structure of the game is basically a Dragon Warrior/Final Fantasy clone, but a really primitive one. I'm not knocking points off the game for dialogue since I'm playing a fan translation, but it seems really caveman-level; the game literally starts out with Columbus looking out at the sea, grunting something like "Sail is fun! Look at old boat, she is old but firm!" then arbitrarily deciding to become a sailor. So you go on a quest for sailors unrivaled by any other game but Shenmue, unfortunately it seems like everyone in town think sailing is the worst profession ever, and what actual sailors you find want nothing to do with your broke ass. Given no other options you have to go aboard some infested pirate ship to get "training" from some dodgy dudes.
This is where the game immediately falls apart. Combat is horrible. The pirate ship is inexplicably infested by aggro pirates, giant fish, and mermaids who hang out on deck. And attack you every five steps or so. And are way too much to handle even if you blow your tiny allowance from the start of the game on the best weapon and armor you can afford. First off, combat requires you to use turns to walk toward the enemy. There's really no strategic value in this, it's just a waste of time. Then you get in some slap fight with them where you do 1 damage per hit and they do anywhere from 1 to 10. If the battle drags out too long, the pirate enemies comically pull out a pistol and gun you down with a barrage of shots to put a quick end to this silliness. And its not like youre supposed to go grind outside first or whatever, the pirate ship is the only place you can go.
Like most old 8-bit games, there's really no documentation in-game of what's going on or how to play either. If you pick Historical mode at the outset, apparently the game starts in 1465, and you have only until 1492 (time is measured by steps that you take) to reach America. Not that you would know that except for reading it ahead of time at a place like this, because the game doesn't explain it.
* Gameplay Video