Cadash (1991 Turbografx16/PC Engine)

Cadash by Taito brought a very welcome action-rpg sword and sorcery kind of atmosphere to the arcades in 1989, and thankfully we Turbografx/PC Engine fans got a home version 2 years later. The game caught my eye because…. Yes… You guessed it…. Because it is a co-op game and well, just look at that brilliant cover art. How could I not check it out?

Co-op with four good looking characters. Not bad!

In Cadash you are released in a world where humans still co-exist with monsters and sorcery. You and hopefully a co-op friend pick a character out of the four available and are dropped in a scene where the king of the land asks you to go free his daughter, the princess from some evil dick lord who kidnapped her for use as leverage in gaining control of the kingdom. The characters available are the fighter, the mage, the priest and the ninja and they all vary in moves and strong/weak points.
You, as the good guys of course accept this mission and start to make your way through various places who are of course filled with a variety of monsters from undead skeletons and zombies to poison spewing plants and goblins.

Cadash coop pic
Let’s go!

You take control of a character of your choice and you see that the game has very basic action-adventure controls. One button is for attack and the other one for jumping. The priest and the mage can use magic but other than that this is basically it. Some characters can hit in many directions like the priest has a flail that can attack in 8 directions. These controls may be simple but they are good, everything feels very responsive and the physics are great giving Cadash have really good game feel.

Cadash co-op pic
Grind time!

The fighter is the vanilla character of the game, he hits hard, is tanky but has short range with his sword.
The mage is weak physically but can use magic by holding down the II button, picking a spell by releasing the button when your spell of choosing gets scrolled over. Waiting for the spell you want can be a pain but it is not all terrible.
Still, I don’t understand why they did not utilize the “select” button for selecting spells or to bring up a menu. The “run” button only pauses the game so you have no menu to see your exp, level, total money and stuff like that. They could have made better choices of how to use the controller. It is just a waste that the “select” button does nothing. Anyway…..  The wizard is probably the most difficult character to use in Cadash partly because of this but also because he is physically weak.
The priest has a long range flail that does fair damage, plus she can hit in multiple directions, more than the warrior for example and she can use defensive spells like healing or make you invulnerable to enemy attacks temporarily. She is not nearly as tanky as the warrior but she is fairly tough. She may be the easiest and/or best character to use in the game.
Then comes the ninja. The ninja is fairly strong in addition has the longest range in the game. The ninja is pretty easy to use but you can get into trouble if you get surrounded. In that case you are going to want to be playing the fighter because the ninja takes more damage and his attacks lack power in comparison to the fighter and priest because of its extreme range.

coop pudding
Goddamn evasive Black Pudding!

Cadash is very difficult at first, and the first boss will kick your ass if you are still level 1 or 2 at that point. I recommend grinding to at least level 3 before taking him on. Yes you may have to grind a bit in this game to be sure you won’t die because if you do, its game over and you have to start all over. In 2 player co-op mode you can resurrect a friend at inns, but if you both die its game over. This really makes the game intense at times because this means there is something at stake all the time.
This does not mean the game is super difficult. The game is most challenging at first but you can always just grind a bit in the beginning and then the first boss it becomes easier. In fact, if you grind too much the game can become very easy very fast so you have to find a good balance for yourself there which is kind of a boring stipulation to put on the player.
You get to rest in towns, get better equipment and buy healing items to make stuff easier.
It is still plenty difficult, and it might take you 4-5 tries to complete the game. In our 4th playthrough I think we cleared the game but at one point I was alive and Gunnar was dead, but I was poisoned frantically searching for the path to the next town with an inn. I made it with about 10 seconds to spare and man were we relieved.

Cadassh coop boss.png
Big bad bosses! Notice how our new armors and weapons change our appearance

After your first clear you can challenge yourself by picking a different combination of characters. The game is not that long but with the 1 life only stipulation, the intensity and  the multiple characters, Cadash brings good replay value and lasting appeal.
This is also true because the game is just very fun to play and isn’t frustrating at all maybe with the exception of the water in the beginning of the game that will fuck you up. Characters in Cadash die slowly in water and get annoyingly knocked back making it super hard to get out. But like i said there is only one such place in the game really since later you gain the ability to enter water.

The damsel in distress. Pretty well done pixel art

The game looks great. It is certainly a downgrade from the arcade version but the colors and backgrounds look good, are lively and are just diligently done. All sprites look very good; the characters, NPCs and enemies. Just a great looking game for its time and the system it is running on.

The music in Cadash is also pretty good and in touch with the fantasy theme of the game. But with the exceptions of 2 or 3 tracks, this is not an OST that you will put on your phone or mp3 for the go. Still, the music is does its job well and in combination with the excellent graphics and unique setting Cadash has great presentation.

Here is our 2nd playthrough of the game playing as the ninja and wizard. We lost the older footage of our 1st as fighter and priest:

Overall 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. Tight gameplay with fun rpg elements coupled with the great presentaion makes Cadash an excellent choice for a co-op(or even just single player) Turbografx/PC Engine experience. What could have vaulted this game over the top is a better menu system where you can see your xp, gold amount, items and item description etc. A more balanced difficulty would have been nice since a bit of grinding can make you very overpowered very fast.

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 Turbo vs. Sega version clash

Pick this one up, but don’t pay too much for it. I’m sure you know what to do.

Gameplay 8
Visuals 8,5
Music 7,5
Lasting Appeal 8.5
Is it fun? 8,5

Overall 8,5 a very good game

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