10 Great TurboGrafx/PC Engine Games You Never Played

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10 Great TurboGrafx/PC Engine Games You Never Played

The TurboGrafx-16, often known as the PC Engine in Japan, is a Japanese home console created by NEC and Hudson Soft. It was released in Japan in late 1987, then two years later in the United States and France.

Despite its popularity in its native market, the TG-16 was not a smash hit with western viewers. That implies there are likely a slew of games from that period that many of us have never heard of, much alone played.

While majority of the system’s library was cross-platform, we’ll concentrate on exclusives for this list. If you’re interested in multi-platform releases, check out a few of the greatest towards the conclusion of the post.

How to Play These Games

Many of these games have been made available on newer platforms, most notably Sony’s PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Unfortunately, the most of them are only accessible on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and the original Wii. Because these systems are all from the previous generation, this is far from optimal. If you have a Wii U, you may use Wii Mode to access the Wii Virtual Console titles.

Fortunately, you can still play TurboGrafx-16 games by using an emulator. Mednafen is the finest of the group, and although it is cross-platform, only Windows binaries are accessible. If you have a Mac, you may install OpenEmu, which has Mednafen as well as many other emulators. Linux users may need to assemble from source (though an Ubuntu binary is available).

You’ll need the relevant ROM file to play these games. Though it’s a murky area, downloading ROMs for games you don’t own is illegal, so you’ll have to locate them yourself if you want to play them.

1. Bonk’s Adventure (1989)

Bonk was to NEC what Mario was to Nintendo. At a period when consoles increasingly depended on famous characters and brands, Bonk became the TurboGrafx-16’s platforming poster child. What resulted was a polished, well-executed 2D platformer with a caveman theme that is a little more forgiving than Mario.

The game was released in Japan as PC Genjin — a play on the localized name— as “genjin” translates to “caveman” in Japanese. While Bonk’s Adventure isn’t quite as captivatingas theJapanese title, the game is absolutely worth hunting down if you’re a fan of retro 2D platformers.

These days you can grab it on Nintendo’s Virtual Console for Wii U and the PlayStation Network for PS3 and PS Vita.

See also — Sequels Bonk’s Revenge(1991) and Bonk 3: Bonk’s Big Adventure(1993) are even better than the first.

2. Air Zonk (1992)

If there’s one genre that the TurboGrafx-16 did better than any other console at the time, it’s shoot-em-ups (or shmups for short) (or shmups for short).There exist a huge number of these titles for NEC’s system, in both side-scrolling and top-down flavors. Air Zonk is aplayful side-scrolling shmup with a futuristicBonk-style character and brightly colored environment.

The game is different from many of the other shooters released at the time, most of which focused on corny but straight-faced sci-fi tales of alieninvaders. By comparison, Air Zonk has a more light-hearted appeal. You’ll fly through the air as a balding punk, gobbling up smiley faces, while battling comical bosses (one of which is a sentient pile of trash) (one of which is a sentient pile of trash).

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Grab it on Virtual Console for Wii.

3. Gunhed/Blazing Lazers (1989)

Gunhed is based on the Japanese film of the same name and is widely regarded as one of the finest shmups of all time (though this fact is only referenced in the Japanese version).The western edition of Gunhed was titled Blazing Lazers and received critical acclaim in the same way as the Japanese version did in Japan.

Many consider Gunhed to be one of the finest shooters on the platform, with others even proclaiming it the best game on the console of any genre. The gameplay is comparable to that of many other vertically-scrolling shooters. To proceed, you must battle waves of foes, dodge bullet patterns, and fight the monster at the conclusion of each stage.

Blazing Lazers is available on the Wii’s Virtual Console. The game was only available in Japan on the Wii U and PSN.

4. Bloody Wolf (1990)

Bloody Wolf began as an arcade cabinet in 1988 and made its way to the TurboGrafx-16 two years later. The western edition, like many Japanese titles, was given a new name and was known as Battle Rangers in Europe (which sounds nowhere near as cool asBloody Wolf).

It’s a scrolling run-and-gun shooter, similar to Contra and Streets of Rage, but with weapons and motorbikes. Despite the loss of the arcade’s two-player option, the remainder of the game was significantly expanded despite technological restrictions. This version has significantly bigger levels, a separate region, better music, a silly storyline, and more speech.

You can grab Bloody Wolf on Virtual Console for Wii.

5. Military Madness (1989)

There was Military Madness before Famicom Wars (or Advance Wars, or Nintendo Wars). The game is a futuristic turn-based strategy game set on the moon in the late twenty-first century. You command the Allies against the Axis-Xenon armies, making movements on a hex-based (six-sided) grid.

The game was well appreciated both at home and in the United States, and it became one of the primary inspirations for Westwood Studios’Dune II. In Japan, the game was called as Nectaris, and it was remade multiple times. In 1998, a PlayStation remake was released, followed by a 3D remake for PSN, Xbox Live, and WiiWare in 2010, and an aniPhone version the following year (since retired).

You can grab the original on Virtual Console for Wii.

6. Super Star Soldier (1990)

Super Star Soldier, the successor to the 1986 NES and MSX game Star Soldier, is another side-scrolling shoot-em-up worth picking up today. The plot is standard sci-fi shooter fare, with invading aliens from another galaxy threatening Earth and you needing to rescue the day by evading gunfire and firing waves of foes.

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There are eight levels to complete, as well as a variety of weaponry to gather and use, such as flamethrowers and heat-seeking missiles. While the game was favorably regarded in Japan, it did not sell nearly as many copies in the West. Because the game was only available on the TurboGrafx-16, many fans missed out on this wonderful sequel.

The game is available on PSN for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP, as well as Virtual Console for Wii.

7. Gomola Speed (1990)

Did you ever like playing Snake on your ancient Nokia phone? Gomola Speed is a similar game, but with a few key distinctions. To begin, you are a caterpillar-like creature that must acquire more body parts in order to develop your “snake” and evade or kill adversaries by dropping bombs.

To complete a level, gather all of the body parts and then surround your meal, which will reveal the level’s exit. It’s a difficult game, but it’s playable right away. Despite the fact that it was never published outside of Japan or on any other platform, Gomola Speed is much regarded.

The game has never been re-released in contemporary times, however you may learn more about it in the PC Engine Software Bible.

8. Time Cruise (1991)

Pinball games were popular previously, and the transition to a virtual play arena enabled creators to take the idea to the next level. One such title is Time Cruise. The key difference is that extra play sections immediately branch off the main table, creating a unique “zone-based” pinball experience.

This results in a more fluid experience than traditional pinball games, which are focused on table accuracy and physics. It’s not as refined as Pinball Dreams or Pinball Fantasie on the Amiga, but it’s a fun spin on a subject that’s still amusing today.

Time Cruise has yet to be released on contemporary computers, however you may learn more about it in the PC Engine Software Bible.

9. Neutopia (1989)

Every platform needed a game like Zelda in the late 1980s, and Neutopia filled that duty for the TG-16. The game is a blatant rip-off of Nintendo’s open world role-playing adventure, which was launched barely three years after the NES’s breakthrough smash. It’s difficult to discuss Neutopia without invoking Zelda, yet the game stands on its own as an intriguing early adventure title.

A maze-like landscape that invites exploration, dungeons in the form of “crypts,” and boss confrontations are all similarities. The focus on collected artifacts to advance the story, as well as the general visual design, are reminiscent of Zelda. Some players have complained about the game’s usage of Japanese passwords to store progress and its faulty collision detection.

It’s available on PSN for PS3 and PS Vita, as well as Virtual Console for Wii.

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Also see — Neutopia 2 was released as a sequel to the game, with several enhancements. The third game, Neutopia III, was never published despite the hype.

10. The Legendary Axe (1988)

The TurboGrafx-16 was released almost two years after public release in Japan, and The Legendary Axe was one of the console’s first games in the United States. The game garnered positive feedback from critics, who praised the animation, visuals, soundtrack, and easy platforming gameplay throughout six different levels.

The Legendary Axe is a strong illustration of the TurboGrafx-16’s hardware advantages over competing systems like the NES, and it appears in TurboGrafx-16 promotional materials in the United States. Following its debut, it also garnered a number of accolades and became somewhat of a must-have for new console owners.

Despite the accolades, the game has never been modernized. More information may be found in the PC Engine Software Bible.

Cross-Platform Classics

Some of the top TurboGrafx-16 games also appeared on other systems. While we’re concentrating on exclusives and console sales, these multi-platform titles are also worth mentioning:

  • R-Type — R-Type, one of the finest shoot-em-ups ever made, was released on a variety of platforms after its arcade debut in 1988. The PC Engine port was the original home console version, and it is still one of the finest available today.
  • Street Fighter 2 — This edition of Capcom’s popular fighterup shown that the machine could compete with the greatest, even the SNES.
  • Splatterhouse – A true gory version of the well-known arcade platformer.
  • Bomberman ’93 – One of the finest Bomberman games ever, including new power-ups and levels.

  • Ninja Spirit — An outstanding arcade platformer set in medieval Japan that was published on a variety of platforms but is most recognized for its home version on the PC Engine.
  • Dragon’s Curse is an updated re-release of the 1989 Sega Master System game Wonder Boy III.
  • Rondo of Blood – Castlevania Though it was only only launched on the TG-16, Dracula-X was eventually re-released on the SNES, so you’ve undoubtedly played it by now.
  • Turrican — A challenging platformer created for the Commodore 64 that was ported to the TG-16 in 1991.
  • Yu Suzuki’s iconic jetpack-fueled shooter Space Harrier.

And there are many more! Visit the PC Engine Software Bible to see the whole collection.

What Did We Miss?

Do you own a TurboGrafx-16? Perhaps you’ve begun collecting vintage consoles. Or maybe you grew up on emulators and ROMs and have played TG-16 games without ever seeing a real one. We’d love to know what your favorite PC Engine games are.

Leave a comment below and tell us what we should play next!

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