I'm glad I spent the time doing this. Now that it looks nicer it also seems a lot more fun to play, even though virtually nothing has changed gameplay wise.
So thanks for motivating me to polish it up!
Thanks for the credit! And the art is def improving! I'd suggest one more round of art for some of the reasons below, and fairly soon I think you'll hit "stair landing #1". Maybe not a "sweet spot" ... just not sour apples!
I think I have a bit of insight on this. It's a bit tricky to know what to tackle first, but I bet there's some kind of well known psychology principle here, though I don't know what any official name for it would be. Put colloquially, it goes something like this:
Some of us at certain ages were children of certain ages and abilities just at the ages these consoles were developing. So there was a bit of an innocence with consoles like the Atari 2600 because at a rapid pace in the early 80's, if we allow ourselves the small joke to anthropomorphize, the Atari 2600 was just reaching its last legs valiantly struggling to still entertain one last "half generation" of children by about 1983 with the brutal limits of 1977 hardware design decisions. 4k games, 128 byte racing the beam, and more. But as just an "averagely bright" child of nine, I was content to play the (now known as very bad!) port of Pac-man until I think at one point the machine overheated. And Yar's Revenge, and a few other games.
But as I grew as a child, even I vaguely began to realize that time was marching on, and the by-necessity square-block graphics in most games ... just wasn't really how games should look. And now, "still retro", take your pick of the Commodore 64, 1st gen Nintendo system, or Sega Genesis, and the game playability jumps by leaps and bounds, and def in many ways because of better art.
So when you're designing your game, I'm betting subconsciously you "see the future" with better art evolving, but now you have to "work to see past the current state". But with a fairly small chunk of time starting with something at least a little pretty to look at, then when you go back and add game elements (and fix bugs), even if it's still only in day four of development, let's say you get at least one section working, and then you can just spend an hour of testing watching nice pretty 5-color flaming buildings! Then come the 5 color explosions. And moving the plane around. Etc.