Holy hell these past 2 months have been heavy on the Turbografx/PC Engine. I got a PC Engine Duo-R in Japan a few months ago and i have been extremely happy with that purchase. Being from Europe i had barely heard of the system a year ago, but now i have seen how much of a waste that it for us because this system is packed with great titles and may be the most underrated, unappreciated video game console of all time.
EDIT: Legendary Axe II is better than Legendary Axe 1, just took me a while to figure it out… AMENDED!
This system was the first to release a CD add-on peripheral and those CD games are the main reason i find this system so special. Those CD games start coming out in 1989 and all have presentation that are far ahead of their time since the CD’s could hold up to 650mb of storage and these games benefited heavily from that compared to games coming out at the same time for other systems.
Now before i tell you my top 10 for the system there are a few rules that apply to the list.
- It includes both turbochip/Hu cards and CD based games
- Imports are allowed if little or non-Japanese knowledge is required
- I try to have the list diverse by putting games of the same series/genre a bit lower on the list in favor of a genre that i may feel is underrepresented in the list but in some cases i feel a game needs to be on the list despite all that.
Also… I have not played ALL the games on the system but i have played a lot and have done my research. Who knows maybe some game will surprise me and make the list in the future 🙂
With that out of the way, without further ado….Here comes the list!
10. Horror Story (Super CD Japanese version but requires no Japanese skills)
Horror Story is a fantastic arcade style, co-op run and gun game developed by Toaplan (Batsugun, Zero Wing). The game is clearly inspired by Ghostbusters in many ways but here we get the Japanese take on ghostbusting as most of the enemies in the early stages are spirits from Japanese folklore. After that you ghostbust in a Wild West setting and a medieval setting.
Horror Story plays a lot like Contra games, you have to stay on your toes, shoot incoming enemies and do some platforming but it has a few features that really make the game unique. The characters can double jump and you can kill enemies by jumping on them. These are key elements that make Horror Story a completely unique game even though it can easily be compared to Contra. At first I was a bit sceptical about the game because you can only shoot forward and backwards but the stages and level design are developed around that and overall the game is a really fun run and gun co-op option that is plenty challenging also.
If you like this one: Double Dragon II (PCE CD), Contra games, Gunstar Heroes
9. Cadash (Turbochip/HU card)
Cadash is an arcade port of the action rpg adventure game by Taito and it manages to grab the nr.10 spot on out list.
Cadash might seem a bit overwhelming at first but you just have to grind a bit and dedicate yourself to finish the game no matter what. It is fun, especially with a friend so you will not regret it.
Cadash has great hack and slash gameplay tied with dungeon exploring and fun rpg elements. In addition, Cadash’s good looking graphics, fun music and overall good presentation makes Cadash an excellent choice for a co-op(or even just single player) Turbografx/PC Engine experience.The game is also available on the Mega Drive/Genesis but that version only has the fighter and mage as playable characters which just automatically disqualifies that version from the Turbografx vs. Sega version comparison.
If you like this one: King of Dragons maybe, Dungeon Explorer
8. Bomberman 94′ (Turbochip/HU card)
Another somewhat mascot of the system, and perhaps Hudson Soft’s most famous franchise, Bomberman manages to break his way into 9th place of the list for being pure fun! The story mode is fun and much improved from the earlier titles but when it comes to Bomberman it is of course the multiplayer battles that count.
Bomberman 94′ introduces the awesome colored kangaroos that give you an extra hit point and a special ability such as jumping or dashing. What is special about the Turbografx versions of bomberman is that the multiplayer has space for 5 simultaneous human players making this the ultimate party game and ultimately the definite Bomberman game to have.
Mega Bomberman for the Sega Mega/Genesis is a port of this game but the Turbografx version beats it easily.
If you like this game try: I dno…Mario Party?
7. Soldier Blade (Turbochip/HU card)
Possibly the best presentation on the system in terms of sound and visual quality seen in a HU card/Turbochip game. Soldier Blade is a shoot ’em up(shmup) game that has many predecessors such as Blazing Lasers, Super Star Soldier and Final Soldier, but Soldier Blade is the best one by far. By this time Hudson had become masters in the shmup art.
If you like this game try: The “predecessors“
6.Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire (Arcade CD Import)
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire or just “Sapphire” is another pretty exhilarating shmup experience. The shoot ’em up gameplay is is nothing new but it is very well polished and fluid. The presentation is stellar, and the anime girl space cop thing works for me, plus the futuristic style atmosphere looks great.
The graphics are great and perhaps the best the PC Engine/Turbografx ever saw, perhaps because the game requires extra RAM from the Arcade Card RAM add-on. To top it off the music is amazing CD quality epicness. Epic riffs and amazing guitar solos that you will want to put on your mp3. With all that, plus all the difficulty settings and co-op option, this is a game you will come back to and replay, making it last quite a bit.
The problem with Sapphire is availability. After some research i have found your options being: 1. Get a PC Engine Duo and an Arcade Card and a true copy of the game for like a 1000$ 2. Get a PC Engine Duo and an Arcade Card and a fake copy/burn your own copy of the game to CD-R and play like i did 3. Get a fake copy/burn your own copy of the game to CD-R and play on Magic Engine(PC Engine/Turbografx16 emulator, just google it and find a non-trial version of it even if you have to pay for it) 4. Get(or download for a hacked PSP) the PSP version and just play it solo.
Anyway you choose to do it you are going to have a great time
If you like this game try: Radiant Silvergun, Dodonpachi
5. Lords of Thunder (Turbo CD)
Another shmup! But unlike the other in the list this one is a horizontal shmup with a crazy futuristic fantasy setting with music that will absolutely blow your tits off. I just completely fell in love with this game, everything about it is so nicely done and the theme of the game is mesmerizing.
A great combination of great gameplay, epic style, insane music and a great challenge that I am sure every gamer will love. It might be very challenging for some, but there is a cheat so all casuals can love it too. Go to configuration, set music to 2, sound to 2, hold in select and press 1 (A on the virtual console).
If you like this game try: Gate of Thunder
4. The Legendary Axe II (Turbochip/HU card)
The Legendary Axe II is a simple action platformer, but it has it all and scores high in all categories. You play a defeated prince in a very dark setting from a culture I don’t recognize and you have to retake your throne from your evil brother. The aesthetic style of the game is very unique and the music is dark and ominous. Real fantastic stuff.
Gamplay wise, you have to hack and slash your way through tough enemies, collect power-ups and hope you have enough health to survive the bosses also. You can get a sword, a chain whip and and an axe that one shots enemies and has a fantastic “OOMPH!” sound effect to it. Love it… but if you get in real trouble you also have a finite number of screen clearing bombs.
This game will is tough and might kick your ass but it is not as unforgiving and ruthless as the first Legendary Axe game, and even though I love that game, Legendary Axe II is clearly the superior game and the absence of death pits and instant death situations is extremely refreshing and this is coming from a die hard Castlevania fan.
The only sad thing is that the game is kind of hard to reach if you don’t have a Turbografx/PCEngine. It was never released on the Virtual Console so if you get desperate you might have to emulate it although i would never recommend it unless you don’t want to deal with the high difficulty of the game.
But whatever you do and however you play it should not matter that much though and I’m sure you would enjoy the game regardless of how you play it
If you like this game try: Castlevania, Splatterhouse, Legendary Axe
3. Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (Turbo CD fan translated Import)
Oh my god, Ys!!! in 3rd comes Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys which is the 3rd release in the series on the Turbografx/PC Engine CD. This title never made it to the West due to the Turbografx’s unpopularity in the US which really is a shame. Ys IV is an action-RPG so you won’t be able to clear it if you are not fluent in Japanese, but worry not! The game has been English dubbed and fan translated for your gaming pleasure (just google it).
The Ys games are actually action-RPGs with a weird bump attack style system that you will get used to eventually. They have presentation that was years ahead of its time and will blow your tits off. They sport full motion movie sequences, voice acting and CD quality music. The story in Ys IV is fantastic and the music is insane.
Ys IV is better than Ys III which is kinda known for being the “black sheep” of the series since it changed the style of gameplay from the original(like Adventure of Link). Ys IV however , much like “A Link to the Past” returns to its series’ roots in terms of gameplay.
Anyway, the Ys series is so great that they should be mentioned side by side with all time great games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. Among them all Ys IV is the second best Ys game ever made in my opinion.
If you like this game try: Ys series (Ys VIII maybe), Phantasy Star IV
2. Castlevania. Rondo of Blood (Turbo CD Import)
Holy crap here comes Rondo of Blood! Hands down the best 16-bit era Castlevania game with gameplay and presentation that will make your eyes and ears melt off. It is the perfect compromise between the “stiff” controls of the NES games and the broken 8 directional whip of Super Castlevania IV and its presentation easily exceeds all of them. Rondo of Blood benefits heavily from being on the CD format and it is especially well designed making it superior to both Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania: Bloodlines/New Generation for the Sega Mega/Genesis.
Richter Belmont, perhaps the coolest of all the Belmonts can go through the game through multiple paths, and has to save girls kidnapped by Dracula which inspires exploration and making a 100% complete run. This is the first Castlevania that lets you save your game! And also the first to add a 2nd playable character. Rondo of Blood is just such a cool game that is easily deserves this 2nd place spot on the list.
The game is an import, and an expensive one at that… If you want to play it i recommend the PSP version (Dracula X chronicles unlockable) or just get it on the Wii’s Virtual Console.
If you like this game try: Legendary Axe II, Splatterhouse
1. Ys: Book 1 & 2 (Turbo CD)
Yep, its Ys again… and it takes 1st place! Ys: Book 1 & 2 on the TurboCD is an amazing action-rpg masterpiece that really leaves you as a more complete person than you were before you played the game. I have just completely fallen in love with the series.
This game might be the best Ys game ever and is definitely the game to start with if you are new to the series.
It will really stick with you… The cinematics, music, the story and the mystery and story surrounding ancient Ys really ramps up the game to an A+ level which like i said should be mentioned side by side with all time great games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy . I mean it even inspired an anime series based on it.
Like the name implies this game is a compilation of 2 games originally made for the NEC PC-88 so it is long and in addition to that you will want to play it again for its sheer epicness. The CD format takes those 2 games and show them in a light that was absolutely groundbreaking at the time(1989).
Ys: Book 1 & 2 i available for the Wii virtual console as well as Playstation Network in Japan. The remake of this game Ys called Ys Chronicles and is available on multiple platforms but this TurboCD version is definitely the way to go!
If you like this game try: Ys III
My top 10 PC Engine/Turbografx games.
- Double Dragon II
- Dungeon Explorer
- Parasol Stars
- Bonk’s Revenge
- Ys III: The Wanderers From Ys
- Devil’s Crush
- Millitary Madness
- Gate of Thunder
- and more…
This is one heck of a system!
Is is better than the NES and the SNES? No, probably not but it might edge out the Mega Drive/Genesis in a list of my favorite consoles!
What games are your favorite? Please voice your opinions in the comments and take part in the readers poll below
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