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Even though it was not very successful in the West, the TurboGrafx-16 (or the PC Engine) was very popular in Japan. It had many variations and add-ons, most notably the TurboGrafx CD. HuCard converters are somewhat hard to come by and can be expensive, so you'll definitely want to region mod so you can enjoy all of the many, many, different versions of games via region and region exclusive titles. Also this system is home to many, many beautiful games with beautiful soundtracks and very impressive specs for its time! If you like shoot 'em ups this is the system for you.
The TurboGrafx was succeeded by the SuperGrafx... well, at least that was the idea, but it was such a flop that it died out before the TurboGrafx.
If you want to play CD games, the TurboDuo is the system to get; it is the console, the CD drive, and the Super System BIOS, as a single device. Of course, if you have the regular TurboGrafx, you can get the other parts separately. Now, if you want a badass handheld, the TurboExpress is a nice choice.
An asterisk * indicates the game is also available on the Turbo CD.
The HuCard ListEdit
|1943 Kai||Shoot 'em Up||Actually came out before 1941. It's a bit more hectic and has slightly different gameplay, but still good.|
|Air Zonk||Shoot 'em Up||Air Zonk came out after Bonk had started his mascot-dom on NEC's console. Air Zonk was an attempt to take Bonk, make him futuristic (rename him Zonk?), and make him have more of an 'attitude' (again to compete with Sonic). Then they took this character and threw him into a shooting game. And it was a triumph. This game is fast paced and fun, old school shmup action. Definitely one of the better HuCard games. Zonk went on to become the mascot for the Turbo-Duo! Has a sequel on the Turbo-CD but it's made by a different team, is one of the rarest (if not the rarest) and most expensive Turbo-CD games and really can't compare to this game. Both are on the Virtual Console.|
|Alien Crush||Pinball / Action||A pinball game on the TG16? It's actually a lot of fun! Creepy atmospheres and fast-paced action keep you hooked onto this one for quite some time. There's also some mini-tables where you "battle" hideous mutants for bonus points. This started the Crush Pinball series, with sequel Devil's Crush also on here. Jaki Crush is Japanese-myth themed, but is only on the SNES. Alien Crush had a spiritual remix as Alien Crush Returns on Wiiware. It's pretty faithful, despite being made by another team.|
|Aoi Blink||Platformer||A platformer that puts you in random teams of three throughout stages. Each ally will have different attributes of speed and jump height, but most notably, weapon attacks. Many stages revolve around these attributes and enemies formations are placed regarding weapons, which makes you take advantage of each ally. Somewhat non-linear in a SMB3 kinda way. There's also an English translation patch if you really want to read what the villagers say. Couldn't hurt, I guess.|
|Atomic Robo-Kid Special||Shoot 'em Up||A stylish and unique shmup about a robot kid that kicks ass. Better than the Genesis version.|
|Battle Lode Runner||Puzzle||Lode Runner involves making pitfalls in-front or behind you to trap your enemies. Single player is standard fare, involving golds and escaping. The multiplayer takes some getting used to, but it's a rather unique and fun experience. Also, if you love level editors, you'll have time to spend with this game.|
|Blazing Lazers / Gunhed||Shoot 'em Up||It's no secret that the TG16 was a system to own if you were fond of shmups. And with games like Blazing Lazer, there's no question as to why. A great shmup with good visuals and stellar gameplay.|
|Bloody Wolf||Run 'n Gun||Data East's answer to Contra, Commando, and Ikari all in one. Run around gunning up enemy soldiers and enter buildings to rescue hostages and find extra gear. You can even ride a motorcycle to tear through enemy lines! Lacks the arcade 2-player but has notable enhancements to make it better if you're going to solo.|
|Bomberman||Puzzle / Action||Despite the name, this isn't a port of the NES title. However, gameplay is the classic Bomberman gameplay you'd expect. Always a good time, especially in multiplayer, as all of the TG16 Bomberman games let you have 5 players. There's a story in single player that no one gives a shit about. Whatever lets you fight bosses is okay with me.|
|Bomberman '93||Puzzle / Action||Another classic Bomberman game, although this one is vastly improved in the basic mechanics of gameplay and visuals. This one has a cult classic status for some reason I can't explain. It also has both passwords and saving+loading to continue in the single player adventure.|
|Bomberman '94 *||Puzzle / Action||Hudson Soft improves Bomberman yet again. This one improves well over 93', and well past the first on the system. This game is Japanese Only though. If you prefer, you can find it on Genesis/MegaDrive as Mega Bomberman here in the West, although, some people say they prefer the TG-16 version. It's also one of the first Bomberman games to feature "Rooeys", those kangaroo-rabbit things with special abilities and they also let you take an extra hit.|
|Bonk's Adventure*||Platformer||Fuckwin platformer game that arguably out-shined its main competition (Alex Kidd/Sonic), but was doomed to obscurity because of poor TG16 sales. Your main attack is your head. The level design in this game is fantastic. The enemies are pretty amusing too. Their names? Eh, not so much. Had a remix port on Game Boy that takes elements of this and revenge to prevent it from being a lazy port. Give it a shot if your Turbo Express runs out of batteries.|
|Bonk's Revenge*||Platformer||This game is absolutely everything a sequel should be, god damnit. It takes everything that was right about the first, and improves it. The stages are bigger, the abilities are more varied, the colors are more crisp, and it's just overall better. Which is a great thing, since the original was a fantastic game to begin with. The Game Boy game is also a remix, this time adding some levels and new abilities. It's also worth playing if you're a Bonk fan.|
|Bonk 3: Bonk's Big Adventure*||Platformer||Bonk, but with multiplayer features. Most people can't put their finger on it, but this game is actually not as good as the first two. Kind of a disappointment. It's mostly due to the weaker level designs and uninspired new abilities. However, don't get me wrong, it's still a fun game, but go for the original two before shelling out for this one. The CD variant is the one to look out for, thanks to the arranged music and sound effects which heighten the experience a decent bit.|
|Cadash||Platformer / RPG||Platformer combined with an RPG. 4 different classes with different specialties. Best played co-op, especially due to the scarcity of extra lives. The Priest(ess) has some very co-op friendly spells as well. According to fans, it's an "Excellent port of the arcade game" (no timer anymore, either) and "Blows the shitty Genesis port away" (the genesis version's not THAT bad, but it really does pale compared to this and the original, so don't bother with it). If you ever play the arcade version, be aware that there's some differences from this.|
|Coryoon||Cute em' Up||8 stages of creative, colorful, and cutesy hell. This game can be pretty intense at times but since the game gives you plenty of power ups, respawn where you die, warnings about speeding enemies, and no slowdown despite the polluted screen, it's probably your fault you died. Somewhat similair to Air Zonk in style and wackyness.|
|Chew Man Fu||Arcade / Puzzle||550 levels of puzzle action and fighting against an evil wizard with your balls. Put your balls into the appropriate slots. You can also kill enemies with your balls. There's also a mini-game to get the hang of handling your balls by kicking them. Now that we've met our ball-joke quota, I don't know why they just didn't stick with the cover seen here instead.|
|Columns||Puzzle||It's fucking Columns. If you didn't have a Sega system to play it on, here's your chance. Match and chain falling gems for a high score.|
|Detana! Twinbee||Cute 'em Up||Has a unique and cool bell-power up system that changes what you get when you shoot a bell X-number of times, team-up attacks in two-player, gorgeous stages, great soundtrack, and despite being cute as a button, this game gets as hard as big bronze bells.|
|Devil's Crush||Pinball / Action||The successor to Alien Crush, Devil's Crush is another creepy, fast paced pinball romp that will definitely get you addicted. This one is a medieval/occult theme where you "fight" against devils and sorcerers. It was ported to the Genesis/Mega Drive as Dragon's Fury/Devil Crash MD. That one even has a final boss oddly enough. Pick whichever one you want, though to "beat" this version, you'll need to MAX OUT the score to see the ending (or just enter the password "DAVIDWHITE" and hit any target). Oh, and if you find the Arranged soundtrack CD, BUY IT.|
|Dungeon Explorer||Action-Adventure / RPG||This is like somebody wanted to mix Gauntlet with an RPG game, so they did. Very, very fun, and even more fun with friends. The variety of characters comes from different stats and spell types per class; therefore, some fare better with buds versus solo-play. The sequel improved SO MUCH, but can be a lot harder to find, as it's not available on stuff like Wii's Virtual Console or PSN like this one is, and you better believe it sells for a pretty penny (still worth it!).|
|Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon||RPG||Made by Westwood Studios (R.I.P.), this earlier entry into D&D RPGs may not be Planescape Torment quality, but it's still solid and a bit unique as far as D&D games go. Using aspects from earlier games, you select 4 pre-made characters from 7 class sets of 3, then journey through 1st-person mazes and 3rd-person overhead maps. Each unit starts with different gear and stats, and has different growths. Fights are turn-based and tactical, as units have different ranges for movements, attacks, and spells. All of these can be affected by terrain, providing cover and ways to surround foes.|
While a bit daunting for RPG beginners early on, it's a fairly smooth experience and a moderately easy for seasoned players (especially with an FAQ). There aren't too many weapons or spells compared to some games, but what there is works well. You do need to have a balance of good equipment and combat experience though, since enemies scale to your party's level, but you'll still want to afford the good gear and spells.
|Dragon's Curse||Platforming / Action RPG||You play as a mighty, but cursed hero who got turned into a dragon. By beating down other giant dragons, you can get "cursed" with new forms such a merman, a mouse-man, etc. Each form has situational advantages which the game is designed for masterfully. Comparable to other such games like Zelda 2 and Faxanadu. Just as good as the Master System original, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, but they didn't really take advantage of the TurboGrafx superior specs outside of slightly different physics and brighter colors.|
The altered sequel, The Dynastic Hero, is only on Turbo CD.
|Fantasy Zone||Shoot 'em Up||One of the Cute 'em up pioneers. This has you playing as a sentient futuristic winged ship that shoots down various critters in a looping plane then taking on the stage boss when they've had enough. Before that happens, be sure to upgrade by spending money at the shop ships in stages. Other versions are arguably better, but this one's a'ight.|
|Final Soldier||Shoot 'em Up||Another shmup in Hudson's "Soldier" series. This one lets you choose which weapons power-ups will grant before the game starts. (Amusingly, it was only the third Soldier game of eight.)|
|Gekisha Boy||Platformer||A funny sort of game where you are a photographer and your mission is to photograph interesting things as you walk down the street; but, all sorts of crazy shit is going on the streets of this game. While you have a "target subject" per stage, you'll also be able to snapshot UFOs, flashers, planes crashing, The Terminator shooting people, Michael Jackson dancing with zombies, ghosts, girls undressing, people getting mugged, Spider-Man climbing walls and so forth. You have to do this while trying to avoid obstacles and stuff people throw at you. Had a sequel on PS2, Polaroid Pete, and a sort of spiritual successor on GBA, Nicktoons Freeze Frame; though the Nicktoons one is considered less enjoyable than the others.|
|Genji Tsushin Agedama||Platformer / Shoot 'em Up||One of the best games you've never heard of. A platforming shmup ala Monster Lair, but without the hunger bar. Notable for it's power-up boosted charge-shot system which launches SIXTEEN different attacks depending on your level of charge. Japanese only, but you never need to read anything. Gets fuckhard later on, so master that roll and high jump early, because you WILL need them in the final stages.|
Amazing hidden gem that never left Japan (the game is in English though). Nothing else plays quite like it but think of it as an evolution of the old game Snake . Each level starts you off as the head of a cybernetic worm like creature, collect orbs scattered around the level to add them to the characters body length. A long body is necessary to reach the exit of each level by encircling "food" scattered around the levels with your characters body. If enemies in the levels collide with your characters body parts of it will be knocked loose and have to be recollected, but if they collide with the head you lose a life. Enemies can be stunned by dropping bombs but to destroy them you need to encircle them while stunned. Besides bombs you also get a projectile powerup in some levels. The game has some suprisingly decent music too. Because of how different it is it may take some getting used to, but it's a genuine classic well worth the investment.
|Gradius||Shoot 'em Up||Japan-only PC-Engine port of the classic arcade shmup. Closer to arcade-perfect than the NES version, and even contains an exclusive stage not found anywhere else.|
|J.J. & Jeff||Platformer||Gets some flak by some, but is better than one might think. Plays like a strange hybrid between Adventure Island and Super Mario Bros. Using similar aspects from each. But! Instead of one-hit kills/depower, you have a multi-hit vitality bar. Instead of fire flowers/axes you shoot foes with a spray can. You can also kick: foes, birds, your buddy, bathroom doors, and everything else. And you often get rewarded for it. In fact, this game is all about finding secrets, so kick everything you can, especially since you can find hints, bonuses, and helpful slot machines. The only downsides are "key" levels, which require you to find a sometimes hard-to-find key to move on.|
You may also know this from the original JP version: Kato-chan and Ken-chan, which has more toilet humor.
|Shoot 'em Up||A somewhat obscure, but very fun and whimsical horizontal cute 'em up. Your shooting star options, along with a few other factors can be modified at balloon shops. The US version had many notable improvements, particularly in the graphics, so play that one for sure. It also had a Game Boy Color port, which is pretty good.|
|Military Madness||SRPG / Combat||A STRATEGY GAME ON THE TURBOGRAFX HOLY FUCK. This game is pretty good. Designed very solid, controls well, deep gameplay, hard as fuck. A must for strategy nuts. Had quite a few sequels, and Game Boy Wars plays very similarly, but the most recent is Military Madness: Nectaris, available on numerous current-gen platforms.|
|Mizubaku Daibouken / Liquid Kids||Platformer||A super cute platformer game where you control a cute |
|Momotaro Katsugeki||Platformer||A well done platformer by Hudson based on Peach Boy Momotaro. Kinda like a mix of Bonk and Wonderboy in visuals, but with standard platormer action only you hack 'n slash instead of just jumping on your enemies. The music is bright, cheerful, and rather Japanese as expected (well, it IS based on a Japanese fairy tale). This is one of the VERY few Momotaro games by Hudson you'll be able to play without knowing Japanese, as the others are mostly RPGs and some train-based Party game series.|
|Neutopia||Adventure||Don't let the ugly boxart fool you! This is the PC-Engine's attempt at making a Zelda game, and guess what? It's a masterpiece! The sprite-work is really something, and the music is rather nice as well! Shmup experience helps here as bosses (and some enemies) like to use some bullet patterns in addition to rushing you. The Neutopia series had a spiritual successor in the Bomberman Quest/Story series for Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and DS (although the DS entry is weaker than previous games). The Japanese and American versions have a lot of minor differences that don't effect gameplay like the room is the same but it has a different look!|
|Neutopia II||Adventure||The slightly modified engine from the first makes a world of difference here. It's a bit closer to Zelda here, but still has that unique flair the first had, plus it's even better looking with almost SNES quality sprites! If you don't play 1, definitely play this if you've wanted an old-school Zelda in the slew of new ones.|
|New Adventure Island||Platformer||Something of a remix of the first game. It has superior controls and is notably more animated. It's less brutal too, as Game Over-ing won't send you back to the very start without Hachisuke (the Hudson bee mascot).|
|Ninja Gaiden||Platformer||A slightly more colorful version of the NES classic. |
|Ninja Spirit||Arcade / Platformer||A port of a cool arcade ninja game. Tons of weapon variety, though you'll probably be abusing that sword for its projectile-canceling properties. It's pretty fun, and one cool factor is that power-ups let your shadow spirits attack alongside you in tandem. A lot of the bosses are laughably easy but its difficulty spikes around stage 4 when the purple ninjas come out of the woodwork with their lethal sickle strikes. TurboGrafx lovers always rave about this game for some reason.|
|Parasol Stars||Arcade / Puzzle / Platformer||According to Taito, Bub and Bob from Bubble Bobble were actually humans who had been turned into dragons by evil monsters. They turned back into humans in the sequel. This is the third game, where you control Bub and Bob in their human forms, going through lots of fun puzzle platforming action. Reminiscent in gameplay of the original, but not exactly like it, since you obtain droplets and form them into enemy-smashing projectiles.|
|Parodius (DA!)||Shoot 'em Up||Port of the first Konami Gradius parody series. Pretty damn close to the arcade original, as it lacks two stages, but adds a new one. Despite being weird as heck, it still manages to be hard and is full of Konami and Gradius references for the fans. Each of the characters even use similar weapon configurations to past games! You might want to try the SFC/SNES version as well, which has more intact along with a new bathhouse stage and an Omake/Lollipop stage where you respawn right after death.|
|Shoot 'em Up||This is, without a doubt, the best port of R-Type on early systems. It's not arcade perfect, it's better than the arcade version. Wow. The U.S. version managed to stick the game on one HuCard, but the Japanese version requires two, so if you're gonna get it, go with the Western port. Or the CD remix on Turbo CD for your aural pleasures.|
|Raiden||Shoot 'em Up||Yup, another TG16 shmup. A great game in its own right, a very well done arcade port with an excellent soundtrack. The CD version is superior, but this version does the job well enough if you can't find it.|
|Salamander||Shoot 'em Up||(A.K.A Life Force) A spinoff to Konami's Gradius shmup series. This has a simplified power-up system and has horizontal and vertical stages that both work remarkably well.|
|Silent Debuggers||First Person Shooter||Is similar to many First person Maze games of the time, yet seemed a little less in-your-face with the 3D surroundings (think Starfox). Was set in space station (or so it seems) that has been overrun with aliens which you had to track down and kill, despite having strange bouncy graphics and a confusing layout it doesn't kill the feeling of the game and in someways felt more atmospheric. I cant attest to the battle mechanics, not much can be expected from a 16 bit game, but the baddies are fun and the game is great with very impressive graphics for its time.|
|Soldier Blade||Shoot 'em Up||Another great shmup, this one is noticeable for probably having the best gameplay mechanics on the system. It feels much tighter than any of the other shmups mentioned in this list, which you may or may not get a kick out of. It also has one of the best soundtracks of the Soldier series.|
|Somer Assault||Action / Platformer / Shoot 'em Up||This is a real love it or hate it game. It's an early Atlus game. You're a slinky that shoots stuff and sticks to walls. It's fucking weird.|
|Son Son II||Platformer / Adventure||A pretty nifty sequel/spinoff of the Arcade game "Son Son". Instead of a scrolling shooter, this great ape uses an extending pole to strike foes and goes through more complex stages that involve jumping, climbing, and a bit of exploration. The platforming's solid and there's some adventure-ish aspects in being able to purchase items and upgrades.|
|Space Harrier||Shoot 'em Up||A notably good looking arcade port. Fly around the screen and shoot weird aliens flying at you. A bit dated, but definitely worth trying at least once. The 32X has the best port by far, but it couldn't hurt to give this a shot if you can't find get your hands on it due to a lack of 32X and or Genesis/Mega Drive.|
|Splatterhouse||Beat 'em Up||What is there to say about Splatterhouse? The series has cult classic status for its great gameplay, horrific atmosphere, and gory visuals. This is a port of the first arcade game, and the only available home-console version. The only real noticeable difference from the arcade is that the 'mask' is red instead of white... The two sequels to follow were ported to the Genesis instead.|
|Super Star Soldier||Shoot 'em Up||A Hudson shmup classic. A sequel to Star Soldier on NES, if you knew the first game, expect to be blown away by its sequel. The ante in this was shot lightyears ahead of shmups past. Still a wonderful game. And still quite hard.|
|The Legendary Axe||Platformer / Adventure||A great game, seriously. It won EGM's game of the year award in 1989, and for good reason. The Legendary Axe brings excellent gameplay to a system that was, at the time, very new. Lots of secrets to find in stages as well (you'll need 'em!). Probably one of top 5 must owns. Like Astyanax, you can time your attacks based on a power meter, in order to do maximum damage. Creator Tokuhiro Takemori was also the designer on Astynax and considers this game a spiritual sequel. Also, DAT SOUNDTRACK|
|The Legendary Axe II||Platformer / Adventure||This game bears almost NO resemblance to the first, and is weaker in gameplay and design. It's pretty ugly too. However, it's still a good game in its own right and worthy of your playtime, but takes a wee bit of time to re-adjust.|
|Tower of Druaga||Puzzle / Action RPG||The first Arcade Action RPG ever (maybe). You walk around Pac-man like levels killing slimes, wizards, demons, etc. collecting treasures, new equipment and gear, and try to open doors to higher floors via hinted tasks. It's also screen-punchingly hard. There's a translation patch for "Druaga no Tou" that clears stuff up (especially the tasks for unlocks), but it's still hard. That said, you aren't a real badass until you've cried at this game at least once.|
|Turrican||Run 'n Gun / Platformer||Turrican is a really cool game that was inspired by Metroid, but is more action-centric than exploration. It does have plenty of its own ideas, even making the "morph ball" a form of offensive defense. Apparently the TG16 is the best version. That said, the sequels are far superior, but if you want to know where it started, try this and move on to bigger and better games like Turrican 3 or Super Turrican 2. Sadly, none of them are available on the Turbo...|
|Valkyrie No Densetsu (Legend of Valkyrie)||Platformer / Adventure / Run 'n gun||A remix of the Arcade version, you may probably know this from Cassandra's alternate costume in the Soul Calibur series. It's a great action platformer that involves finding hidden secrets, helping people, exploring dungeons, and so forth. It also features platforming sections and some gigantic bosses (who look cooler on the arcade but good enough here). Has options for up to two players simultaneously and is totally fun. The arcade version can also be found on a PS1 Namco Collection, and is in ENGLISH!|
|Consoles||Philips CD-i - Commodore CDTV - Pioneer LaserActive - Sega Mega Drive - SNK Neo Geo - Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Funtech Super A'Can - NEC TurboGrafx-16|
|Handhelds||Bit Corporation Gamate - Nintendo Game Boy - Sega Game Gear - Hartung Game Master - Atari Lynx - Welback Mega Duck - Watara Supervision|
|Computers||Commodore Amiga - Atari ST - BeOS - Fujitsu FM Towns - Sharp X68000|