Total Soccer Yaroze by Charles Chapman
This is a very slick top-down football game in the vein of Sensible Soccer. Apparently it's a conversion of a PC game from 1997, which is remembered as fondly as... well, I forget exactly what. Still, it runs rather brilliantly on PlayStation, with cute little 3D footballers and a camera view that zooms smoothly in and out depending on what's happening on the pitch.
Best bit? The fact that the player names have all been slightly altered to avoid license issues. So it's 'Backhim' of 'Minchaster Utd' that bends the ball into the top corner in the video. Obviously that's supposed to be Gary Neville. Can't fool me.
Haunted Maze by Edward Federmeyer
I love Haunted Maze, because it's so... shonky. It's a bit like Pac-Man in that you have to run around a maze, avoiding the undead while collecting things. But in this instance, collecting everything opens a door and, instead of ghosts, you have zombies chasing you. So it's actually totally different.
But by far Haunted Maze's greatest feature is its music, which has you running around to the likes of 'In The Hall of the Mountain King'. Speaking of which, don't you find it annoying that you can't fit all the words of that title into its tune? 'In the hall of mountain king' sounds too much like Niko Bellic is singing it. Unless you start on the 'The'. As in: 'Iiiiin... the hall of the mountain king, mountain king, mountain king...'
Blitter Boy in Operation Monster Mall by Chris Chadwick
Blitter Boy is a legitimately brilliant video game and the clear 'winner' for me in terms of best Yaroze offering. It's got the rescue/lead/export mechanic of Flicky, the tilted, top-down aesthetic of Smash TV and the classic iconography of '80s gaming (only updated to '90s-spec) with its Pac-Man-esque ghosts and fruit.
With various weapons to pick up (one of which made our list of 100 best weapons ever), a jump button to take out those pesky UFOs, a dash ability that saps health and countless clever little touches and special effects, it's a masterclass in game design. And I doubt it would look out of place if it were released on PSN today. Wonderful.
Pushy II by R Fred Williams
This one is more about the design than the execution, with 'functional' graphics and sound leaving the gameplay to take centre stage. Maybe I've turned shtoopid from too many video games, but I struggled to get past even Joanna. I don't mean you have to push people out of the way and there's a girl called Joanna who simply won't budge. The levels are named like people, see?
I would love to have more to say about Pushy II, but you can probably tell I'm struggling. For some reason, I feel like the lead character should have been a penguin. I don't know why. Let's move on.
Psychon by Ben James
Loading up Psychon in 2014 immediately brings Hotline Miami to mind. The top-down, ultra-violent gunplay is obviously familiar. But this is actually more like a game you've probably completely forgotten about, called Loaded.
Loaded was a Saturn and PlayStation game that had a really strange advertising campaign. Something about 'If you must wear panties, make sure they're LOADED'. I still don't really understand what the implication is there. But anyway, Pshychon is fast, smooth and still satisfying, if a little too repetitive.
Between the Eyes by Lewis Evans
This may look like a bizarre screensaver from a late-'90s PC, but there's actually a lot of programming prowess on show here. You pilot your ultra-shiny craft through a psychedelic tunnel of ever-changing colours, attempting to avoid the walls and post a time faster than the enemy craft in front of you.
Its handling is too basic and the walls too close to really make the game fun, but a 3D racer of any description built in this environment is impressive. Come on, it's over now. Stop convulsing on the floor.
Bouncer 2 by Scott Evans
Second-best game on this list, make no mistake. Bouncer 2 is way, WAY better than it looks. It's a breakout clone with an oddly dark colour palette choice, in which you must bounce two pixelly men on a see-saw, collecting every diamond in the level to move onto the next. But there's much more to it than that. Its simple looks mask a brilliant game with immense depth. Seriously, IMMENSE depth. Look, it's even got me using capital letters for emphasis, it's THAT good.
You can hold Square to trigger a magnetic beam (blue stuff, pictured) that pulls the man in the air towards the empty side of the see-saw, which means you can influence the movement of a man bouncing along at the top of the level. Bonuses that fall from blocks can be caught with the see-saw, level warps and power-ups reward careful play, and discovering all these joys suddenly means you've lost a day to tiny, bouncing men. Amazing.
Hover Car Racing by Richard Smithies
This top-down racer is very simplistic, offering stripped-down Micro Machines-esque racing on featureless tracks. It's quite tricky to control and would benefit from having a track map in the corner of the screen, as there's not really enough time to react to corners before you're on top of them. Chicanes? Forget about it. Might as well just steer into the wall now, save some time.
When you learn the tracks and get used to the controls, it's a challenging but playable experience, but not one that I would recommend. Also, I have a question I simply must ask: if these cars are hover cars, why do they get bogged down in the sand at the side of the track?
Time Slip by David Johnson and Mike Goatly
This one's not in the video because sadly I don't own a copy of it, but it certainly deserves a mention. It's similar to Braid in that it uses time as a fundamental gameplay mechanic in a 2D platforming world, although it's used differently here. When the clock starts to tick round, the game records everything you do. Then, after 30 seconds or so, it replays exactly what you did as a clone of yourself. So if you stand on a switch while recording, the 'other you' will do the same when you resume, allowing you to pass doors. That's what we in the trade like to call 'really neat'.
The game's original creator, David Johnston, re-released the same game on Xbox Live's Indie channel, with some slightly improved graphics. Worth checking out if you like the sound of it.
Terra Incognita by Team Fatal
Perhaps the most ambitious of the Net Yaroze titles, Terra Incognita delivers a true 3D RPG. The intro sequence is full of graphical wizardry, like translucent water and lens flare that even cuts out when the sun passes behind the mast of the 3D ship.
It is basic to play, reminding me more than a little of Dark Savior/Landstalker by Climax. But unfortunately it's been translated from Japanese to English very badly. Very, very badly. For future reference, monsters normally make people 'scared', not 'scary'.
The Incredible Coneman by Lars Barstad
There's not really anything incredible about The Incredible Coneman. In fact, as Conemen go, most of what he does seems relatively run-of-the-mill.
It's a 3D Pac-Man clone, which works as you might expect, although the 3D sometimes allows you to miss a dot as you walk by, which is annoying in an unexpected kind of way. The Power Pills also don't let you defeat the ghosts, instead merely passing through them (maybe that's why he is incredible?), and the music is awful. Great success.
Rocks 'n' Gems by Gerhard Rittenhofer
This is a Boulder Dash clone, which is well-delivered and smooth to play. I remember giving it a chance when I first played it, but couldn't really see the attraction of it. And then I remember playing Boulder Dash on DS and thinking that I couldn't really see the attraction of it, so maybe the problem lies with Boulder Dash itself. Or me.
I suspect if this game had been made today, it would be called 'Flappy Gems', if you know what I mean. Pac-Man, Boulder Dash, Pac-Man, Breakout, Pac-Man... imagination doesn't seem to be the Yaroze catalogue's strong point.
Clone by Stuart Ashley
"OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE! AAAAARGH! AAAARGH! KILL IT! KILL IT NOW! OH GOD! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!" That's the reaction Clone evokes in most people. I mean... translucent, fat-legged humanoids with massive staring eyes and broken bone stumps for arms? I had blocked these monstrosities from my thoughts for a good 15 years until loading it up again to take a screenshot for you. I hope you're happy. I'll be in therapy for months.
As for the game, it's a simplistic but reasonably slick Doom clone, as the name would suggest. And it was certainly not worth the mental trauma just to bring you that journalistic 'insight', let me tell you.
Remember Net Yaroze?
This list isn't exhaustive. For instance, I didn't include the Mah Jong game because, frankly, ain't nobody got time for that. Neither did I include Gravitation because the track design is so annoying, I actually killed myself. Yes, I am writing this from beyond the grave. Now I'm off to chase after people in a maze while I try to fit words to 'In the hall of the mountain king'. Iiiin... THE hall of the mountain king...