I had implemented my own drawImage() that was much faster than the awt one. You know using one huge array that represented the entire screen buffer and I would copy things on top. There was one drawImage() call at the end to blast the contents to the screen. Plus rotations, scaling, etc.
For 1.1 it was awesome. Not such a big deal for the newer Javas. Anyway, anything that would be simple enough to do direct clipping and blitting, not having to deal with textured quads or whatever is being used as the engine, that'd be great.
I would like to remain somewhat anonymous at this stage if you don't mind. Although I've given enough clues. (Not that I consider myself to be anyone special)
Any chance we could see some of the games so it'll be easier to suggest what other APIs will give you required functionality?
Are you just blitting images to the screen at the end of the day, or are you dependent on more of AWT than that?