Although the main gameplay of Grelox has been decided, I'm currently standing at a fork in the road and have to make a choice. When Grelox was originally conceived (as Apothecary) the aim was to make it suitable for short development and also to fit in PC Engine rom space. Now, we have a little more freedom, there are choices to be made.
The size of the game map is tied in to one of two styles. The first (original) style was a game where you played, learned the map, learned the puzzles, hit Game Over and started again. Each time you'd get a bit better, know where to go and what to do to progress. The Zillion model. The second style is where you have save points and progress just by getting a bit further each time you play, without having to repeat the puzzles or areas each time. The Metroid model.
There's something to be said for each model. Zillion-style is more traditional and can mean a tighter, more challenging game with a smaller game map (as it has to be practical to complete the game in one session once you know what you're doing). Metroid-style means satisfaction by constant progression, more of an adventure feel but requires a much larger game map as you don't get the 'replay' value of a die-and-start-again Zillion style. Another aspect of the Metroid model is that it seems fairer to most skill levels, less repetitive and easier to balance.
I'm currently considering doubling the game map (to over 200 screens) and choosing the save-driven Metroid style. What do you think?