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Thread: TurboGrafx-16

  1. #1


    In the past I made various threads on developers that created games for NEC consoles but since those were a long time ago and underrated system threads are fun to make, here's another one.

    Whenever the Genesis/SNES battle of the 16-bit era comes up in conversation I always think of the often ignored TurboGrafx-16. While it was successful in Japan and loved by a niche crowd in the West, it sold poorly worldwide. I don't have any exact numbers but I'm pretty sure it sold less than the Sega Master System but more than the Atari 7800 in North America, to use a comparison with the 8-bit era.

    For those who don't know, the system was a joint venture between the electronics company NEC and software maker Hudson. It was launched in Japan in October 1987 under the name of PC Engine.

    It was released in North America in September 1989, around the same time as the Genesis.

    In 1990, a portable version of the console was released called the Turbo Express(PC Engine GT in Japan).

    Here are some games that impressed me:

    An excellent port of the Kaneko arcade game. Some people seem to prefer the Genesis version(Air Buster) but I always liked the look and feel of the Turbo one more.

    Air Zonk
    This was a futuristic spin off of the Bonk franchise.

    Alien Crush
    Still one of the best video pinball games ever made.

    Aoi Blink(import)
    A neat platform/shooter. It reminds me a bit of the Wonder Boy series which isn't surprising since it was developed by Westone.

    Blazing Lazers
    One of the domestic launch titles and an excellent shooter from Compile.

    Bonk's Adventure
    Although he showed up on other systems, Bonk was pretty much the mascot of the TurboGrafx. The first game came out domestically around the same time as Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. Maybe I'm in the minority but Bonk impressed me more in 1990. It just had so much personality and a distinct feel.

    Bonk's Revenge
    Although more refined in graphics, I really missed the ultra rapid spin attack of the first game.

    Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure
    This is good although it didn't really offer anything over the previous games aside from being able to grow super big.

    A Bonk RPG was in the works but it was never released. I remember the screenshots in EGM and wishing it would come out here.

    Chew Man Fu
    A very addictive action/puzzle game but man is the name horrible. In Japan it was called BeBall which is generic but better.

    Coryoon: Child of Dragon(import)
    A colourful shooter from Naxat.

    Devil's Crush
    Most people like this more than Alien Crush since it's more varied. I like it about the same. You can't go wrong with any of the Naxat/Compile pinball games. I remember back in 1990 my local mall had a contest where you played this game.

    Don Doko Don(import)
    A port of the Taito arcade game and one of the best single-screen platformers ever.

    Another great shooter. I'm not big on modern "bullet hell" shooters so I always enjoy going back and playing the more methodical ones like this.

    Fantasy Zone
    TG16 ports of Sega arcade games varied a lot in quality. This was one of the good ones.

    Final Soldier(import)
    A quality game in the Star Soldier series.

    Galaga '90
    A port of the Galaga '88 arcade game and a nice update on the classic.

    Gekisha Boy/Photoboy(import)
    Sort of a shooter where you take pictures of all kinds of weird shit. It was re-released on Playstation and had a sequel on Playstation 2.

    Gomola Speed(import)
    A unique game where you have to increase the size of your segmented worm creature and surround enemies and food. There's a bit of Gauntlet influence in the way keys and exits are used.

    Hana Tahka Daka!?(import)
    A quirky shooter from Taito. I was pleasantly surprised when I found it a flea market.

    Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu
    A neat action game, better than the Famicom one.

    The Legendary Axe
    This action/platformer one of the most critically praised of the early TG16 releases.

    The Legendary Axe II
    While it wasn't really a sequel in Japan, NEC slapped the Legendary Axe name on it and many fans were disappointed. I'm not sure why though as I thought it was a damn good Rastan-style game with some eerie atmosphere. The main character could use some more clothing though.

    Military Madness
    If you're familiar with Nintendo's Famicom/Advance Wars series this is like its darker, more serious cousin.

    Mizubaku Daibouken/Liquid Kids(import)
    An excellent port of Taito's uber charming platformer. I haven't played the Saturn version but this is very close to the arcade's quality.

    Hudson's attempt at cloning Zelda turned out quite nicely.

    Neutopia II

    New Adventure Island
    I like this one more than the NES and SNES versions.

    Ninja Spirit
    I love ninja games and this port of the Irem arcade game did not disappoint. It reminds me of Taito games like Legend of Kage and Demon Sword except better looking and playing.

    This was as close to the arcade game as you could get at the time. I can see how some prefer the atmosphere in the SMS version though.

    Silent Debuggers
    This was an FPS-like game from Data East. I remember it being really cool although I haven't played it in a long time.

    Soldier Blade
    Another fine shooter, one of my favourites on the system.

    Son Son II(import)
    NEC Avenue's sequel to the 1984 Capcom arcade game.

    While the gameplay wasn't spectacular, this was a milestone for the horror theme in games. It was so damn creepy. I used to play the arcade game a lot and I was surprised at how close this port was. They changed the colour of the white "Jason mask" for the domestic release.

    Street Fighter II: Champion Edition(import)
    I'm not sure as to the reason why such a high profile game got left in Japan. This was a great version and a 6-button controller was made for it.

    Super Star Soldier

    In 1988, the PC Engine introduced CD-ROM gaming with its add on. This allowed for high quality soundtracks and cinemas unlike anything before in console gaming. Domestically, the TurboGrafx CD was released in 1990.

    Later on, a combination card/CD system was released called the TurboDuo(later renamed Duo). This also included the Super CD system card required to play most of the CD games. Late in the system's life was a RAM upgrade called the Arcade Card which was sold separately was only needed for a few games like Strider and Sapphire. NEC was just as crazy as Sega for all the add ons and variations they released.

    Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo(import)
    By far the best of the traditional Castlevanias and a contender for best game of the 16-bit era. The detail in this game is amazing.

    Download 2(import)

    Dungeon Explorer 2(import)

    This was an Action/RPG series by Telenet and localized by Working Designs. It's not related to the Western computer game of the same name.

    Exile: Wicked Phenomenon

    Fausseté Amour(import)
    Although it's a fantasy themed game, the grappling move reminds me a lot of Bionic Commando. The near nudity might have helped keep this is Japan.

    Forgotten Worlds

    Gate of Thunder
    Sort of similar to the Genesis Thunder Force games although I prefer it to them. This is one of my all time favourite shooters. It was one of the pack in CDs for the TurboDuo and had the first two Bonk games on it plus a hidden Bomberman.

    Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman 3: Ikai no Princess(import)
    The first two games in the series weren't that great(number 2 was localized as Shockman) but this one's a huge improvement. I consider it one of the era's hidden gems.

    Kaze Kiri(import)
    Opinions seem pretty divided on this ninja action game. I think it's a case of more style than substance but that's okay; an average playing game can be elevated by coolness factor. Gameplay-wise it's closer to Ninja Warriors than Shinobi.

    Last Alert
    It's probably best known for being one of the earliest games with horrendous voice acting. The game itself is a quality action game. Check out some voice clips here:

    One of the few Western developed games on the system worth playing. This was a port of the LucasArts adventure.

    Lords of Thunder
    Awesome designs, excellent gameplay and wailing prog metal make this a classic. It's also on Sega CD but that version doesn't look as nice.

    Monster Lair
    I generally find Hudson ports of Wonder Boy games to be inferior to the Sega published ones but this is the exception. Ported by Alfa System, this port captures the look and feel of the arcade game while adding a CD soundtrack with electric guitars. Avoid the Mega Drive version and get this one.

    Pomping World(import)
    AKA Buster Bros./Pang.

    Psychic Storm(import)
    A neat shooter from Alfa System.

    R-Type Complete CD(import)
    In Japan the original HuCard R-Type was divided into two parts so that's why this version has "complete" in the name. It's more than complete though as they added cinemas that aren't in the arcade game. This version was done by Irem themselves while the card version was from Hudson.

    Compile continued their quality shooter streak.

    Spriggan Mark 2(import)
    This horizontal view sequel wasn't as well received as the first game judging by various reviews although I think it's almost as good.

    Star Parodier(import)
    A cute parody version of Star Soldier. This just might be the best in the series.


    Valis III
    I like the Genesis version but this is the real deal with more refined gameplay, a CD soundtrack and more levels. If you aren't familiar with the series it's sort of like Castlevania with anime cinemas.

    Valis IV(import)

    Ys Book I & II
    I'm not a fan of Ys' gameplay but man was this a showpiece for that newfangled CD-ROM technology back in the day with its anime cutscenes and awesome soundtrack.

    What are your thoughts on the system?

  2. Genesis pack-in = Altered Beast
    TG-16 pack-in =Keith Courage in Alpha Zones

    That right there was a big reason for me to bypass the Turbo when it was released, although I still did hold out hope that I would be able to afford both systems, but that never came true for me until I was a working automaton.

    Not to mention that the total lack of quality in the 'TV Sports' lineup did alot to disuade customers, when the Genesis without doubt dominated, not only in the first generation of sports games, but dominated throughout the entire Genesis lifecycle. That doesn't make the TG-16 bad, but you have to appeal to the mass audience to succeed, especially in the time period before Playstation when video games were for nerds...ahh the good ole days.

    I lost total interest in the Turbo when they released the CD add-on that was like $400 or something, and also the Turbo Express was $ was just too much money for a high school kid. I prefered to spend my money on games, not hardware. In retrospect I made the right moves by going Genesis because I have a TG-16 today and I hardly play it. For the price this system was, it didn't deliver the quality that the Genesis did for less dollars.
    Last edited by Blaster; 02 Jul 2006 at 11:41 AM.
    Currently playing: AES: Metal Slug 3, Prehistoric Isle 2, Blazing Star, Fatal Fury Special

  3. My neighbor used to have this system with Bonk's Revenge, Blazing Lazers, and Keith Courage. I ended up playing it more than his SNES after a while.

    While I'd love to own one, I have to say, this system seems kind of expensive today. Moreover, many U.S. games had absolute shit box art, and I'm already bad with Saturn games, so this would be a system I'd need to avoid.

    I am curious, though... exactly how rare is Dracula X? I remember ECM saying something to the effect that it's not as rare as advertised, just sought after.

  4. I don't think I've ever seen a TG-16 (or any of it's iterations) irl before. Those games look really good from the sceenshots too.

    Excellent thread as usual Neo.

  5. What, no Dungeon Explorer?

    One of my favourite systems ever, even though 3/4s of the good stuff stayed in Japan. The sound processor was really distinctive and had alot of personality, and the graphics were brilliant and colourful. On purely a hardware level, it doesn't have as much horsepower but I think PC Engine >>>> Mega Drive. Everything looked and sounded cleaner and nicer.

    One of these days I'm going to track down a Duo R; never did play any of the arcade card games.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by StriderKyo
    What, no Dungeon Explorer?
    I listed the second game but I forgot to add a picture. I also accidentally put "import" beside it but it did get a Western release(these giganto-threads can't be edited without removing a ton of screenshots). It's a cool series on Turbo and on Sega CD.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by NeoZeedeater
    The main character could use some more clothing though.
    This seems to apply to a lot of TG16 games.

  8. I love my turbo 16/cd the only problem is collecting for it is even more expensive than the saturn. I only have about ten games and finding them in the wild is next to impossible and prepair for blunt force trauma on ebay.

  9. I'd love to see the Valis series resurrected. What ever happened to Telenet? Do they even exist anymore?

  10. #10
    Wow. Thank you for the effort on this thread. I'll have to try out some of this fun stuff. Not a huge shooter fan, but all the other stuff totally looks like I'd enjoy it.

    How did the Street Fighter port compare to Genesis/SNES?
    I took all your French Toast.


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