In the previous installment of this series, I was able to play a very good mixture of different genres. I found some shooting games I liked, one of my all time favorite adventure games, and even the one sports game I liked on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) ported with better graphics than the TurboGrafx-16 (PCE). Overall it was quite mixed, with lots of good and ok games, but also with a few that I did not particularly like. Let’s see what the next games will be like, as we approach the end of this series.
Games I liked
This game is very similar to the Bubble Bobble series with a similar gameplay. You catch enemies by shooting at them, and after that, they are trapped in a colored bubble/energy ball. You can pick the bubble up and throw it at other bubbles to destroy them, which will cause it to drop a lot of bonus items as well as power ups for you, such as stronger weapons and faster walking. For this, you have to throw it onto a bubble with a different color. Throwing it at a bubble with the same color will set the enemy free again. Instead of throwing the bubbles at each other, you can also shoot the bubbles and destroy them that way as well, but it will give you less points or power ups. The game is very casual, with a nice CD soundtrack as well as anime cut-scenes between worlds (all Japanese though). At the end of each world, you will fight a boss, which are quite hard to beat, but will reward you with several life ups through the points you collect.
R-Type Complete CD
I recently played this game through for the C64 on the ODROID Go which is a somewhat harder than this version, but this version is also no cakewalk. This version has improved graphics, comes with an intro and cut-scenes every couple missions. The soundtrack got beefed up and now is CD-audio, so higher quality but you still recognize the original tunes. Overall I enjoy this game a lot, although there’s also a HuCard version of this game. Actually there are several of them, Japan got R-Type I and R-Type II which is the same game but split over two game cards, not a sequel. North America got an HuCard (TurboChip) port that had both games combined on one card, and when the CD came out Japan finally got a full game as well, including an extra boss fight in level 6. Overall the game is very good and worth playing.
Another specialty is the widescreen graphics for the game. Most games are actually rendered in 256x243, but R-Type runs in 352x243 which only a few games did.
Rainbow Island is another of the Amiga classics that I played as a child. In this cute game, you literally climb the rainbow. In fact, you can shoot rainbows and walk over them to get on higher platforms or to kill enemies. At the end of each island, you have a boss fight. The entire game is very child friendly and has colorful comic-styled graphics. Music now plays as CD audio, but it’s still the original tunes.
The fact that I finished the game in one sitting should already be reason enough to put it on this list, and I also guess that’s the main reason why it’s here, as the game is in no way “spectacular”. The graphics are mediocre at best, with no parallax scrolling, and cut scenes are just standing pictures with voice acting all over it, which I ended up skipping altogether. This is a fighting game similar to Double Dragon or Streets of Rage. You can choose between two players, and both have completely different fighting styles. One is a martial arts champion and fights with fists and feet, the other is some kind of mystic and fights with magic powers. I personally found kicking and boxing to be far more effective that shooting tiny rays of energy, especially since the latter can’t be done in mid-air, which makes jump attacks impossible.
You also have a charged attack which can be charged up to three stages, and causes three different attacks, all of which I found are rather weak, but sometimes helpful in certain situations. During the levels you find text scrolls, and these scrolls activate new abilities which can then be chosen from before starting a new stage. Although neither the graphics nor sound/music is very impressive, the gameplay is rather nice and you can finish the game in merely half an hour.
This is another game like Double Dragon or Streets of Rage and it’s a damn good one. Graphics are great, with some parallax scrolling for the backgrounds. Controls are rather good, and pulling off jump attacks is easy. You can select from two different fighters and then just give them the beating they deserve. I had a lot of fun playing this game and highly recommend it.
Seirei Senshi Spriggan
This is one of the games I had a hard time turning away from, as it kept me busy and interested in it for so long. This is one of the many shooters for the system, and once you get the hang of it, it’s quite a good one.
The graphics are rather good, although I didn’t see much parallax scrolling, you still have a constant change of scenery. You also have pulsing lava or waterfalls in the background, which makes up for the lack of parallax scrolling. You can’t upgrade your attack, but you can collect different colored energy bubbles, such as green, blue, yellow and red, which you can combine up to three for different outcomes. Sometimes you simply have all three weapon types firing at the same time, and sometimes you create entirely new attacks. Some attacks are homing and find their targets on their own, while others scatter over the entire screen. It’s very fun to try out different combinations.
This action platformer is completely in English. Even the cheesy voice acting is in English, and actually plays as a soundtrack, which this game has nearly 100. Even the shop owners talk to you, which is played from the CD. The game itself is quite fun, although some monsters can be very annoying, especially flying monsters which will fly into you where you can’t hit them, but if you can look past this, the game is quite fun to play.
You can buy a couple of different weapons, an even enhance them with a magic spell. Later on, when you fight some bosses, you will free 5 mages, who grant you the power to transform into other things, like a panther for example, which gives you greater speed and strength but is limited in time. In the top middle of the screen, you can see a sun and a planet, where the planet is circling the sun. Each time the planet is in front of the sun, a lightning strike will come from the sky and hit you, which in return will replenish all of your health. So sometimes it is advantageous to just sit and wait to get healed. Overall this game is very fun, but it needs time to get used to the fighting, as some enemies keep spawning unless you destroy certain objects, and some of them can be hard to kill or reach.
Spriggan Mark II – Re-Terraform
Although completely Japanese and I can’t understand a single word that’s spoken this game, has an amazing introduction and cut-scenes between each level.
The graphics are overall rather good, with each level having a little bit of parallax scrolling going on in the background. Lots of different objects and enemies are thrown at you all the time. The first button attacks, and the second turns your mecha around so you can shoot in the other direction. With SELECT, you can cycle through different weapons. There are no power ups or things like that, but when you progress in the game, you get new mechas, and later on you can choose your different side-arms. Speaking of side-arms, one is, for example, a sword which can be really nice for close combat, and if you hold the button you can use it to just fly into enemies and hold it there to do constant damage. I really like this game as one of the many good shooters for the console.
This is one of these so called cute ‘em ups, and is a really good one, with tons of colorful graphics, good music and sound effects. There are three different characters to choose from, one being Bomberman and one being the PC Engine itself. This game has everything. Power up your weapon by collecting the items representing the weapon that you currently have. Pick up a different weapon to switch to another attack style. It has bombs for large attacks, it has power ups like, shields, and extra bombs. The games comes with good parallax scrolling in some levels, lots of monsters, and boss fights.
It scrolls fast but never slows down. It’s nice for people not so good at shooters, as the difficulty level is not that high. Get hit and you don’t instantly die, but lose a weapon level. Only when you are at the minimum and get hit again do you lose a life. You get plenty of these while fighting from collection points or by collecting 1ups. Overall, this game is very fun to play and I highly recommend it.
Syd Mead's Terra Forming
This shoot ‘em up is quite nice, with lots of parallax scrolling both in the foreground and background. It’s very beautiful to look at. The action is fast but manageable. Bosses require some tactics as they often can only be attacked from a certain side.
This is one of those games that you pick up just to try it and end up playing it for hours. You have a main weapon which can be upgraded by collecting blue rectangles with a line in the middle. You can also have one of three different support spheres that have different attacks. These are activated by collecting either yellow, red, or blue bubbles. Yellow is a spread attack which will fire in a straight line in all major directions and allows you to attack enemies from the back and front at the same time. Red is a powerful weapon that only goes straight forward. The blue one is easily my favorite, and is a number of homing bullets. Each bullet goes automatically to every enemy on the screen. The first level can be beaten just by sitting in the middle of the screen and holding the fire button as the bullets aim and destroy everything that is being thrown at you. All weapons can be upgraded a few times to get stronger. If you get hit, you lose a level of your weapon power, and in the end will die.
Games I found ok
Prince of Persia
This version of Prince of Persia is a decent port with improved graphics, slightly updated intro, and a CD soundtrack. The controls are ok for the most part, and you can use either a dedicated jump button or the up button on your controller. The latter can cause some issues if you just try to run straight and suddenly your character jumps, so make sure you have a gamepad with a good d-pad. Overall, the controls could be better, especially in fights, where the controls are sometimes a little sluggish, and I wished they would react faster. Still, the game is great and a nice turn on the story and gameplay from the original, and definitely worth trying out.
This shoot ‘em up is somewhat odd. It’s fun for a little while, with 4 different characters and ships to choose from, and different weapon and transformations, where all of them are very different from each other. Still, the game is mediocre at best in all sound, graphics and gameplay. You fight your alien spaceships and monsters with good enough variety, and at the end of each stage there’s a boss that needs some killing.
Your ship can transform into a giant insect-like space craft with quite a bit of firepower for a while, and you can collect energy for that craft which is dropped by different enemies, but they are not dropped often enough to keep this form for long. If you’re in normal form and get hit too often (health nearly empty) you automatically transform to the strong form, to prevent destruction. Which is fine, if you wouldn’t be back to zero health the moment this transformation ends, and the next hit transforms you right back again. After three transformation (either willingly or by near death) it’s over and you can’t use it anymore, which also means instant death after transformation is finished and you are hit once again. You can upgrade your main weapon when you collect blue power ups, and some health by collecting red/blue pills. Both are rare and to increase your weapon power. You have to collect around 5 weapon ups in total, which keeps your weapons rather weak.
Puyo Puyo CD / Puyo Puyo CD Tsuu
Both games are not bad, are nice and colorful, fun to play and overall have good presentation. I just don’t see why they are on a CD: one has nearly 40 audio tracks, and the other has over 80. These tracks are apparently not for music, but contain just for the speech in the game every now and then. Honestly, I don’t see this making it worth the CD format. These games would have been better placed on a HuCard instead. The music doesn’t even seem to be from CD, and the quality is not that good. Both games are nice, and if you are a fan of the Puyo Puyo series, you should definitely try this out.
This is basically a port of the arcade classic Pang, where you shoot bubbles which split in two smaller bubbles until the most tiny bubbles finally disappear. Clear all of the bubbles and you win; get hit and you die and have to start over again. It is not a bad game and pretty much arcade-perfect.
Populous - The Promised Lands
I first played this strategy game on the Amiga, and surprisingly the graphics for the PCEngine are quite good, and maybe even superior to the original Amiga graphics, but it probably looks different due to the comic-styled graphics. Still, the game is the same as on the Amiga, although the controls are much harder due to the fact the game is best played with a mouse, whereas the controller is slow and clunky instead. It works ok, even if it’s a little bit slow. The game is also contains a mixture of English and Japanese.
Ranma Ni Bun no Ichi
The first of a trio of Ranma games that I tried. It follows the story of the early episodes of the game, and is an action platformer with fighting and jumping. The game has very good graphics, and the cut-scenes are actually quite impressive, with lots of details and animation as well as voice acting (using the original cast, I believe). Even with the game being fully in Japanese, that’s not really an issue. What’s an issue are the bad controls which are sadly present throughout the entire game. In some scenes, your punches are not completed and the action just stops in mid punch or kick. The same goes for jumping, which makes the game unnecessarily harder than it should be.
Ranma Ni Bun no Ichi - Datou Ganso Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu!
This is the second game in the series of the Ranma games that I tried. The graphics, cut-scenes music and everything is still as good as in the first game, but the gameplay has changed a lot. Now, it’s more like a beat ‘em up, and you fight one and one with your enemies. This actually worked out a lot better than the first game and it was actually quite fun beating the first enemies. But soon after, I found that the enemies get rather hard and are in fact quite unfair.
When you get hit, you blink and you are invincible for a short moment. That’s allfine, as this is the case in many games, but in this game the time you are invincible is so short that you get instantly hit with the next attack again. The enemy also attacks you most of the time with ranged attacks, which often fan out as well, so it’s really hard to avoid, while most of the time you have to get in really close. Overall, it gets unfair and hard really quickly, which I did not enjoy, but aside from that, this game is fantastic.
Ranma Ni Bun no Ichi - Toraware no Hanayome
This is the last game in this series of Ranma games that I tried. This one changed a lot. The music is bad as compared to the other two. It’s not bad as in, it doesn’t fit or sounds terrible, but where the first two came with CD audio, this one seems to contain chiptunes only. The game has no “action” at all this time and is in fact a Visual Novel where you simply have to choose what you want to do next. Even if you don’t understand the language (like me), you can still play the game. Just choose every option available multiple times, and in time you will proceed. This also makes the game very long especially if you don’t understand what’s being said. There’s a lot of voice acting throughout the game, with a good amount of animation and character design, but barely any backgrounds. I liked it the least of the three.
Rayxanber II + III
These two shooters are very generic. The graphics are ok, but not very good, with, for example, no parallax scrolling, and without the turbo switch, this game is way too painful to play, as you need that fast shooting power and you can manage that for long by smashing the button.
There is no power up system I’m aware of, and just a couple different weapons you can collect. Depending on the direction of the weapon icon when you collect it, it will shoot in different directions, although front facing turned out for me to be the best, as you need the extra firepower since your ship is quite weak. As said before, you can’t power up the weapon, so collecting multiple times the same icon does nothing for you except allowing you to change the firing direction.
Road Spirits is a old school racing game similar to the Lotus series on the Amiga or OutRun in the arcades. You always drive straight forward, and can only shift left and right to follow the road and avoid other cars. In this game, you have two shifts Low (up button) and High (down button); the first goes to 170 km/h, and the other goes to 290 km/h. The game has a little bit of parallax scrolling going on in the background, but overall the graphics are not very impressive. The game is also rather easy, unlike OutRun, for example. You don’t have much of a choice where to go and what to do either. Only the music can be chosen before start. There are 10 soundtracks in total to choose from and that’s about it. It’s not bad as a game, but not very good either.
Ryuuko no Ken
This surprisingly good-looking fighting game has many features to offer. Not only is it one of the few games that support the 6-button gamepad existing for the system, it also offers features such as zoom-in fights, which means when you are closer to the enemy the view gets zoomed in, if you are farther away it gets zoomed out. These are cool features, and the game looks very impressive. This Street Fighter-styled game is probably one of the best the console has to offer. I liked it, but found it a little bit too hard, but that could be just my lack of skills.
Shadow of the Beast
This is another classic Amiga game. It won some awards for its graphics and music back in its time, and hearing the music in CD quality on the PC Engine is certainly impressive. The music got remixed and is actually quite different than the original in some cases, but is still probably best of all the console ports. The graphics are rather good as long as you are outside of a dungeon, but inside a dungeon the backgrounds are missing, and you don’t have parallax scrolling which makes it probably the worst of all ports in terms of graphics (at least inside a dungeon), but the impressive music helps this fact, and the game still looks very good. It is not like the SNES version where the graphics looks nice overall but the music is just terrible, and even worse than the Genesis version. A good comparison video of the original game on the Amiga compared to the SNES, Genesis and PC Engine is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUT91K4mPlw.
Normally I’m not a big fan of these kind of puzzle games, but this one has very nice music which makes it very relaxing, and I enjoyed myself playing this for a while. It’s nothing fancy, without videos or cut-scenes, just simple gameplay, which was nice, and I enjoyed my game time.
This platformer is actually quite interesting. You run around as a guy in a suit that walks and jumps through levels of green slime, with monsters throwing slime at you and ponds of water where you can clean yourself. If you get too slime covered, you die. You can collect a bunch of different items which I wasn’t able to figure out how or if you can use them. The controls are a little bit off. Jumping is very sluggish and you stick on walls, no matter if you want to or not, which sometimes makes it hard to reach places. Graphically, the game is nice, although it bit nauseating, not because of the slime, but because the screen keeps following you every move, which means that if you turn, go up or down and such, the screen keeps scrolling. Turn left or right and the screen instantly scrolls into the other direction.
Space Fantasy Zone
This game is a Space Harrier meets Fantasy Zone game (hence the name), and it’s exactly what this suggests. Imagine Space Harrier with Fantasy Zone graphics and enemies. It’s actually quite fun, and after you finish a level, you can go to a shop to heal up, buy better weapons and some specials. It’s not the most graphically impressive game, but it’s not bad and has some nice tunes.
Space Invaders - Original Game
You should take the “Original Game” very seriously, since this is a remake of different arcade versions from 1978, and that’s also what you can expect graphics wise. The game comes with a couple of different versions and even has some competitive multiplayer versions, but overall it’s good “old” Space Invaders, and nothing too fancy.
This puzzle game is quite unique. You play as a bird, and your goal is to kill every enemy on the map, not by attacking them, but by picking the ground underneath their feet, breaking ledges and make them fall into water. For this, you have to learn the different types of tiles which you can break and which you can’t, and what will break apart and how much of it when you pick at it. The game has different stages each containing 10 levels, after which you have somewhat of a boss fight, which is an enemy that can fall into water more than once and some other enemies that spawn later on. The game is quite fun, although not very impressive. The controls are a little bit clunky, as a turn or a walk is a difference between a fraction of a second.
This puzzle game is rather simple: you have a scale with three places to put “stars” into. Each star represents a different “weight”. Stars fall at random, and your goal is to keep the scale from tipping to one side or the other, and with that stack up the stars. Each level increases the number of stars you need to stack to win the level. You can combine stars of the same color for extra points or you can gain extra stars if you collect your old stars, this can be done when you have stars of a different color between two stars of the same color, the star in the middle will disappear and you get an extra star (which you need in case you make mistakes and loose stars). It’s fun for a little while, but doesn’t have any impressive graphics or gameplay elements.
This shooter is a little bit odd for me. The graphics are nice, and the music is ok. You can collect weapon power ups and increase your weapon power nearly infinitely it seems (which is very interesting), but something seems to be missing for me. The game comes with two playable characters, but the fighting styles are completely identical. It seems the game has only two weapons: a spreading vulkan cannon and a beam laser, with the laser being the stronger weapon by far. You get a couple of bonus items, such as missiles that attack straight, or spheres that search for enemies, and shields that can protect you for a while. You rarely get something to replenish your health. Overall it’s nice, but I feel that something is missing.
Super Air Zonk
This game is often referred as a hidden gem on the system, and while the graphics and music are good, the comic style is funny and nice to look at, and overall the game is fun to play, I don’t fully agree with that statement. It’s a nice shooter/cute ‘em up, but for me there’s too much stuff going on on the screen, and I’m never sure if what I’m running into is something I’m supposed to collect, or if it’s enemy or a “bullet”. There’s too much stuff going on, and often the bonuses you’re supposed to collect wobble just outside of your reach, and I’m talking about your standard point bonuses, not weapon powers or whatever. It’s annoying to kill 10 enemies but you’re unable to collect any of the points cause they drift instantly out of your reach. Still, the game is nice and fun to play for a while.
Super Darius I + II
Both of these titles are well known shooters from the arcade, and the overall presentation is very good. The game improved on the sound department over the arcade originals, and the CD soundtrack is simply superb. The graphics are nice, with a good amount of parallax scrolling and pulsing effects going on in the background. The game doesn’t seem to slow down no matter what’s going on on the screen.
Personally though. I don’t like these games very much. The first one is extremely hard, and I ran out of life within a couple of seconds (!) until I got the hang of it. The second game was the easier one, where I could adjust difficulty and lives that I had, which helps a lot, since every time you die, you lose all of your power ups, which makes later levels extremely hard as enemies need more hits and you’re shooting peas at them.
I really like the Raiden games, and just started to play them on the ODROID Go for Atari Lynx again. This version is of course better in everything compared to the Atari Lynx version with superior graphics, sounds, and music. The gameplay is nice, and when you get a fully powered vulkan cannon with homing missiles to support it, the game is just a walk in the breeze. It’s fun, but it’s missing the last “wow” effect to be a perfect game. Still, I highly recommend this game as it’s really nice and you can pleasantly pass some time with it.
In this shooter game, you play as a fairy and have to shoot lots of different enemies with many different weapons. You can collect different weapon ups in the color, red, green, blue and yellow, which all represent a different weapon type. Collect the same type to increase the power, or collect a different type to switch the weapon. Boss fights can be rather hard and long, and there’s normally a mid-boss as well. Overall the game is fun and nice, and has here and there some nice effects, such as an underwater level, but the graphics are not that impressive, so it’s not one of the really good shooter games available for the system.
Games I disliked
Rom Rom Stadium
This baseball game is one of a few for the system. In fact, it was the only one where I was able to hit the ball at all or score a point. I’m generally not a sports fan, and baseball games on consoles have never had much appeal for me. This one has nice comic-styled graphics, but is completely in Japanese as well, so there are many things here that give me a hard time. I imagine this game can be fun for people who like the genre, but for me it’s not all that great.
Shanghai III - Dragon's Eye
Contrary to Shanghai II, I didn’t like the third title in the series. The music and sound were extremely loud, even though I didn’t change settings. Although the game came out rather late into the console’s lifecycle (1992), the graphics are really not impressive. After I finished the board, I was greeted with a cheaply made graphic of a dragon blowing fire out of its nostrils and kept doing so no matter what button I pressed or how long I waited. I guess that was where I needed to restart the console in order to play again.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume I + II
This game started off very impressive. It comes with videos, which means there’s actually video footage of Sherlock Holmes in this game. The game also dismisses all soundtracks and has voices and music digitized as data on the disc. There are a couple things you can look at before you start the game, and get an introduction where you see the videos and hear voices, which is all very impressive, but then the game starts and the quality gets completely turned around.
You still have videos and such when you go and visit places and try to solve the game, but I didn’t even get that far. The first thing they tell you to do is to check the newspaper, but to be honest, I haven’t had the patience to read 5 different newspapers with 40~50 news entries each with a menu that always puts me back to where you choose the newspaper you want to read before you can select the next article to read. This is a game that takes a very long time, and I didn’t have the time nor the patience to get into it. However, if you like long games, you can check out a review of it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ShdmWQoLDY.
Sim Earth - The Living Planet
This is also one for patient players. Graphically, I’ve seen better versions, and this one also lags, but has some nice audio commentary here and there. Overall, it takes too long to get somewhere for me, and I don’t have time for something like this. The lags and sometimes unresponsive input is another thing that makes this game a no-go for me.
This is the PC Engine version of Strider, but it’s not a particularly good port in my opinion. It has lots of flashing and missing graphics, and the controls are also not the best, especially when you try to hit enemies that are on the ground. It’s not a terrible game, but I’m sure it could have been better.
Summer Carnival '92 – Alzadick / Summer Carnival '93 – Nexzr Special
Both games are shooters as well, but at best mediocre. The second title has better graphics overall, but the gameplay is not very fun. You die too fast, or you finish the level and the game is over and you’re just hunting for the highest score. I didn’t particularly enjoy these two games, although Summer Carnival ‘93 was overall a lot better.