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I'll have to disagree with the Nuts & Bolts example. I don't think that was a case of a good idea wasted in a bad game. The good idea is the game. I imagine the mechanics would have seen a more positive appraisal had the title starred unfamiliar characters, as you noted.

As for other examples, I beat a game earlier this year called Mages of Mystralia. It has a really cool spellcrafting system, where you can add behaviors, augments, and triggers to individual spells. Adding an ice augment to an AoE spell lays down a tile of frozen water, for example. Really cool stuff, but it's wasted in a generic, formulaic action-adventure game.