Top 15 Turbografx-16 Games

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For awhile now, I’ve wanted to create a ‘Top [insert number]’ list for the Turbografx-16 console.  Since I started this website/blog several years ago and subsequently began collecting and playing various console games, the ones that I’ve come back to the most are the ones for the TG-16.

The TG-16 that I use has been modded to output in 240p component video; it’s difficult to find an HD-tv these days that accepts that signal, and I’ve recently ordered a device known as the ‘Retrotink’ that should allow me to connect this particular console to  larger, more modern HD-tvs other than my older, Symphonic 32-inch one.  If you’re interested in the TG-16/PC Engine (the name of the console in Japan), I highly recommend you have it modded for component video or SCART because the picture is absoultey outstanding.

Additionally, I have a Turbobooster-Plus attached to my console for saving high scores/files on applicable games – this is a necessary accessory for full enjoyment of the console, in my opinion.

Finally, the only games I play are Hu-cards/Turbochips.  I’ve twice owned CD-attachments for the TG-16, even reviewing Double Dragon II, but I’ve had too many problems with keeping the CD attachments running – I NEVER have problems with the Hu-cards.

There’s something about the games for this console that, for me, are particularly enjoyable – more so than the Neo Geo, NES, SNES, Genesis, FM Towns Marty, or any other of the consoles I own or have owned.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I never owned this console when I was younger, and nearly all of the games were/are completely new to me.  There’s also something else about it – I think it’s that the graphics are somewhere, generally speaking, between the NES and SNES.  As great as the NES is, I don’t play it often because the games and the graphics seem a bit too simplistic; the SNES, which I do enjoy, often seems too busy.  The TG-16, on the other hand, falls right between them.  I like the standard two button controller paired with beautiful, colorful graphics in games that are not overly complex.  That may not make a lot of sense, but that’s how I can best describe it.

What is a ‘Top 15′ list, anyway, and how can such a thing even be created on something so subjective?  I love reading others’ ‘Top [insert number]’ list when it comes to games, and of course, it’s all based on the opinion of the writer.  I don’t play games on emulators, so clearly I have not played every TG-16/PC Engine game in existence.  I own roughly 50 games, and these are my Top 15 based on what I’ve played.  The criteria for me essentially boils down to a few factors, not all of which need apply to a single game: (1) Is it fun? (2) Can it be played in short increments? (3) Do I play it often?  (4) Is there any type of save/password feature? I hope you enjoy reading this, even if you completely disagree!  I’ve provided some basic information about each game.

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15.  Chew-Man-Fu

Players: 2, co-op

Why it’s in my Top 15: Chew-Man-Fu is a deceptively entertaining game.  The basic premise requires you to defeat monsters by pushing four giant, colored balls onto their respective colored-platforms to complete single screen stages.  The game becomes addictive quickly as you learn the mechanics of rolling, kicking, and blocking monsters with the balls.  The best part?  If you have the Turbobooster-Plus, the game will save your progress, and the game has over 550 levels!  I beat the first 50, and then it was on to Round 2!  The game has that just one more game factor to it, and it has two-player co-op.  The difficulty eases upwards slowly and strategy and luck sometimes play crucial roles in whether or not you beat a stage.  Additionally, this game allows you to access the data banks on your Turbobooster-Plus to see what games you have saved, and delete any old files as needed.

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14. Legend of Valkyrie

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15I’ve reviewed Legend of Valkyrie, but in short, this game is a fantastic hybrid RPG/Shooter/Adventure game.  It also has a short password system to prevent you from having to beat it in a single setting.  You’ll need to get the English translation to really appreciate this gem.

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13. Vigilante

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15Vigilante is a game that you can literally beat in 12-15 minutes.  It’s an arcade port that is amazingly accurate (I own the jamma pcb, and can attest to that – it is only missing short cutscenes).  What makes the game so fun is its amazingly simple control – walk right and kick, punch, jump-kick or nunchuck the bad guys.  Playing the game enjoyably absolutely depends on using the TG-16’s turbo switches.  If you have them turned on, then you’ll have no trouble pummeling the bad guys – have them turned off, and the game becomes overly difficult and not much fun.

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12. Magical Chase

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15This side-scrolling shooter has fantastic control, bizarre characters, and great replayability.  Blasting your way through several stages successfully requires learning where to place your ‘Star Maidens,’ two stars that accompany your witch protagonist.  Stopping at shops mid-level allows you to ‘level up’ your character by adding hearts or buying more powerful projectiles.  Beating the game on the Medium and Hard levels will require multiple playthroughs, yet the game never enters into the ‘impossible’ realm.

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11.  Bonk’s Adventure

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15: Bonk’s Adventure is probably the most well-known game for the console, and it’s a fantastic simple Platformer.  The game is not overly difficult as you run over, around, and through the bad guys using Bonk’s giant head as a weapon.  This game represents the best in the series, in my opinion, as its two sequels were overly long and a bit more convoluted.

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10. Super Dodge Ball

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Players: 2, competitive

Why it’s in my Top 15: Super Dodge Ball is another port of an arcade game, but it is actually an improvement (see my review).  The game proper can be beaten in approximately 15 minutes once you learn the controls, and there’s just something innately satisfying about smacking the other team with dodge balls.  Hopefully, someone will translate the names and the short ‘story mode’ one day, but the Japanese language that is present does not prevent the game from being outstanding.

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9. Devil’s Crush

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Players: 2, Alternating

Why it’s in my Top 15Devil’s Crush might be the best pinball game on any console, as I’ve yet to play one that I would qualify as even being close to this one.  That graphics on the board are suitably dark, the control and music are great, there are multiple bonus stages, and there are two ‘speeds’ for the ball that essentially allow the game to have an Easy and a Normal mode.  The game also saves your high scores on a ‘Top 5’ table if you have a Turbobooster-Plus!  Although I should note, it does not automatically save your score.  First, you’ll need to set a score that makes it on the table and enter your initials, then start a new game.  Pause the game, then press Select.  Then press Button I to save to one of the files.  Then reset the game, and Load the save file.  This makes for additional replayability as you try to beat your previous high scores without having to write them down somewhere!

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8. Cadash

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Players: 2, co-op

Why it’s in my Top 15: Cadash is probably the game I come back to the most often to beat.  Once you understand the simple nature of the game, it can be beaten in just over an hour.  With four distinct characters to choose from, the replayablity, while not outstanding, is present as each character has strengths and weaknesses.  You can ‘level up’ your character by defeating monsters and buy new equipment in shops.  You only get one life (although you can find elixirs that fully restore your life when you’re killed), so you’ll need to spend about 15 minutes in the first area grinding and strengthening your character.  The one thing I would have added to this game would have been a save file or password feature, but since the game isn’t overly long, that aspect isn’t missed too sorely.   I’m not sure why this game is so addictive – I think it’s the Dungeons & Dragons type characters and setting, the ‘leveling up’ aspect, and the simplistic ‘defeat the evil bad guy who is destroying the kingdom’ story.

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7. Neutopia

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15: I’ve previously reviewed the sequel to this game and provided some additional ‘tips’ on beating this one (see my reviews).  I love Neutopia because of its insanely simple RPG/adventure nature.  There is absolutely nothing complex about the game’s setup.  You are tasked with defeating the evil Dirth and acquring ‘medallions’ in labyrinths, which are being held by bosses whom you must defeat.  The Overworld and labyrinths are easy to navigate, but the game is not a complete cakewalk as you will need to learn to manage your character’s health and try a few different strategies to defeat some labyrinth bosses.  Your are able to save your game using passwords or the Turbobooster-Plus save files, making this a great ‘pick up and play in short increments’ RPG.

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6. Splatterhouse

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15: Splatterhouse, aside from Bonk’s Adventure, is probably the most well-known game for the Turbografx-16.  It’s a port of an arcade game, and one that was done quite well.  The game’s creepy atmosphere and excellent play control are what make it fun to come back to again and again, even after you’ve already mastered it.  The game’s soundtrack is also incredible and adds to the already spooky nature of the game.  Punching, kicking, bashing, and blasting your way through the monsters in the game on your way to save your girlfriend in Dr. West’s mansion is fantastic entertainment.

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5. Parasol Stars

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Players: 2, co-op

Why it’s in my Top 15Parasol Stars is an amazingly addictive single screen platforming game, and it’s really all about getting High Scores.  Using your magical parasol, you’ll catch, blast, and block various bizarre bad guys and bosses as you attempt to save various planets.  The control is great, and learning how to maximize your points by mastering the parasol is crucial to setting a high score.  Best of all, if you have a Turbobooster-Plus, this game will automatically save your Top 5 high scores!

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4. Rastan Saga II

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15In other reviews I’ve read, almost no one thinks this game is any good.  It’s a port of an arcade game as well.  I think my initial reaction to it was, “Nope, too hard.” But after playing it a few times, and getting a bit further each time, I loved it.  The music isn’t great, but the spites are huge and the enemies suitably ‘evil looking.’  The game gives you 15 lives (2 continues) to beat 5 stages.  Mastering the game, which can be beaten in about 20 minutes, means finding which weapons work best (short sword & shield, claws, or broad sword), learning how and when to block, and memorizing the short stages and their hazards.  Boss fights also require several tries until you figure out how to defeat them while minimizing the energy or lives you lose.

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3. Soldier Blade

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15: Soldier Blade is one of many Shooters for the Turbografx-16 – and it’s the best one I’ve played.  Unlike others, it’s a cinch to jump right in and feel like you’re a master of the genre.  The graphics are vibrant and the control is spot on.  Best of all, the game will save your Top Five high scores in the Normal Mode, AND it will save your high scores in 2-minute and 4-minute ‘Challenge’ mode.

2. Gekisha Boy

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Players: 1

Why it’s in my Top 15There’s no other game quite like Gekisha Boy.  Essentially, your job is to take pictures of bizarre things that occur in 9 stages, or ‘Takes.’  Your character slowly strolls to the right in each stage, and you have a limited amount of film.  While you can control your character, you also control an onscreen reticule, or cursor, to snap pictures.  Snapping different pictures depends on timing, and you may be rewarded with more film, a speed increase for your reticule, or an increased size of your reticule, making it easier to snap pictures.  Each stage requires you to hit a certain score in order to advance to the next stage.  The game is amazingly addictive, and can even be a high score game once you learn to blaze through all stages after memorizing patterns.  I recommend the English translation version.  Additionally, the game does have some very inappropriate stereotypical images of people in a couple of the stages – had the game every been officially released in the U.S., these certainly would have been removed.

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  1. Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition

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Players: 2, competitive

Why it’s in my Top 15: I’ve reviewed this game previously, but this is an amazing port of the arcade game.  While there are no shortage of consoles to play this game on, I particularly like this version, if for no other reason than the challenge of playing it with the Turbografx-16 two-button controller.  While most would find this far less than ideal, I found it a fun challenge, and learned how to master the game using this unorthodox setup.  To me, this was always the best version because of it’s inclusion of the ‘boss characters’ (while still keeping a ‘small’ roster) and the absence of the turbo speed feature.

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