Top Ten TurboCD TurboDuo CD Games

Of all the video game consoles I’ve played, the one that holds a special place in my retrogaming heart continues to be that poor doomed also-ran in the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo Wars: the NEC TurboGrafx-16.

 TurboGrafx-16 with the TurboCD attachment

What makes the TurboGrafx so special to me? Perhaps it is because of my love for a good underdog against the favorite of the great unwashed, perhaps it was the console’s design, or perhaps it was the because of the amazing peripherals NEC offered for their system.  Regardless, it will always be my first choice when heading back to the 90s for retrogaming (yes, I realize it was released in North America in 1989…most of the games came later!) Picking up a TurboCD and a Super System Card was one of my best gaming investments back in the day.  There were some fabulous CD games that I played over the years, some of which I was not able to pick up until a decade later!  Here’s a small list of my favorite TurboCD games, some requiring the Super System Card, some not, but all worth playing!

 

Loom for the TurboGrafx-16 TurboCD

I’ve written about the wonders of Loomelsewhere, so I’ll be brief: this game is well worth playing. This is a beautiful game on the TurboCD, with enhanced music and gameplay based upon the original IBM-PC diskette version, but with the better graphic capabilities of the TurboCD.  It does not feature any voice acting, but the story and gameplay is wonderful, regardless. After all, this is a LucasArts adventure game; how can you go wrong?

Prince of Persia for the TurboCD

 

One of the finest platformers ever to grace any gaming system, Prince of Persia for the TurboCD has the same flair as the original, with the added feature of animated cutscenes with voice acting to help propel the storyline.  A little note for those who think Prince of Persia is based on Disney’s Aladdin movie: the original Prince of Persia was released in 1989, and Aladdin hit the movie theatre circuit in 1992.  Hmm…tell me again who influenced whom?

 

Ys I & II for the TurboDuo

Way back in 1987, a game called Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished was released, and the game was successful enough to not only be ported over to several game systems (including an excellent Sega Master System version), but to also spawn a sequel one year later: Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter. The TurboDuo game Ys Book I & II is a remake of these two games, with better graphics, animated cutscenes, better sound, and, of course, voice acting. Ultimately, the game was considered one of the best games of its genre, with contemporary game reviewers giving it perfect or near-perfect scores. This is another Turbo CD must-have!

 

Bonk 3 for the TurboDuo

Back in 1993, the TurboGrafx CD system was nearing the end of its product life, and one of the last games released in North America for NEC’s gaming system was Bonk 3: Bonk’s Big Adventure. The game was released in both SuperCD and HuCard format, and the game was identical on both, except the CD version had much better audio. Bonk 3 was much like the previous two games in the series, with the added element of being able to play cooperatively with another player – two Bonks for the price of one!

Gate of Thunder for the TurboDuo

 

In 1992, NEC was selling the TurboDuo system in North America, and to help show off just what it could do, Gate of Thunder was added as one of four games on a “pack-in” game CD.  This was a kind of shooter that gamers dreamed about, with incredible action, switchable and power-up weaponry, the ability to tackle enemies from both the front and the rear, interesting level design and compelling gameplay. If all TurboCD games were like this one, NEC would have won the Console Wars!

 

Lords of Thunder for TurboDuo

Billed as a sequel to the impressive shooter Gate of Thunder (albeit in a fantasy setting, not sci-fi), Lords of Thunderis a bold testament to the what a gifted programming team could do with the TurboGrafx CD technology.  Seven levels that you can select from at will (with one more final level available when you complete the others!), awesome power-ups, colorful and imaginative backgrounds and unique enemies…plus killer heavy metal guitar licks on the soundtrack all add up to making this an incredible game!

 

Might and Magic III for the TurboDuo

Once upon a time RPGs were designed so that the player could move throughout the game world at will, either following the overarching storyline or not, and generally staying off the linear express that modern RPGs have become. One such game wasMight & Magic III: Isle of Terra, which was ported to the TurboCD, losing none of its charms on the way. The game was extremely challenging, requiring time spent on outfitting your party, mapping corridors, tracking inventory, and overcoming obstacles, whether those obstacles were monster encounters or difficult riddles to solve, all of which put off the casual gamer. However, those with the gaming fortitude love of RPGs found Might & Magic III: Isle of Terra a game that they couldn’t say “NO” to.

Monster Lair Turbo CD

And neither should you!Some of the marketing decisions that NEC and TurboCD game developers made were considerably suspect. As an example, let me present the North American gameMonster Lair, which would have been much better known (and received) had they used its real name, Wonder Boy III. The Wonder Boy series had its own following, so what possessed NEC to drop the “Wonder Boy” part of the title is a mystery.  Regardless, this game is an excellent platformer, colorful, fast-paced, and imaginative. Another must-have for anyone’s TurboCD collection!

 

DragonSlayer for the TurboDuo

Falcom, the developers who designed the Ys series, returned to the TurboCD console to create another RPG that has made my Top Ten List: Dragonslayer: The Legend of Heroes. This is a good “pick-up” RPG, in that you can get into the game quickly, but it is also highly addictive – very much in the Final Fantasy realm of console gaming. The game plays quickly and smoothly, and has an interesting option of switching between PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) or CD music files, which can affect the game speed. The only complaint I might have with this game is the voice acting quality, but considering the general state of voice acting in games during the early 90s, it’s well within industry standards of the time!

 

Dungeon Explorer II for the TurboDuo

The first Dungeon Explorer game was an action-RPG hybrid HuCard, good enough to make the Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 HuCard Games list. Its sequel, Dungeon Explorer II, was even better, with all the gameplay of the original – a simplified combat and magic using system, outstanding inventory acquisition and deployment, as well as the ever-present theme of dungeon delving – but with the added benefit of CD quality sound.  This game was a showcase on how to use music to enhance the mood by altering to fit the location, sometimes airy and light, and sometimes dark and forbidding. The trouble with finding this game today is its rarity; the PAL version is readily available, but the NTSC version fetches hundred of dollars online.

Dracula X Rondo of Blood

 

I can hear the outcry from TurboDuo gamers: “You forgot the best game of all, Dracula X!”  Well, not really. Dracula X: Rondo of Blood was only an import in North America, and not readily available on the shelves of any retail store.  It is true that it was an amazing game – perhaps the best game of the entire TurboDuo lineup – but as an import, it’s disqualified from the list of best TurboCD games available in North America. Remember, at the time there wasn’t an eBay or Amazon (or even magisterrex.com) to turn to for your games; you either went to the video game store to buy what you wanted or you mailed away for them. My, how times have changed!

Ultimately, any of the games presented on this list are worth buying and playing, and each well-represents the long-past, but never-forgot, NEC TurboGrafx-16 CD video game system!

Spelunky

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

I don’t often do game reviews. I certainly wasn’t planning to do one when I first downloaded Spelunky for XBox Live Arcade when it came out on July 4. However, after becoming totally addicted to the game I feel compelled to do just that. This game is something special.

Spelunky, written by Derek Yu, originally appeared in 2009 as a freeware game for Microsoft Windows. The game will instantly take veteran gamers back in time with a 16-bit console feel and music soundtrack and side-view platformer style. The object of the game is to take your adventurer through four different environments full of challenging enemies, booby traps and random surprises.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

Along the way there are various treasures to tempt you. Collecting these are not required to complete a level but are required to run up the score and to ensure you can purchase items when you find a shop. The player is armed with bombs that can blow holes in the floors and walls and ropes to help reach high places.

Health is scarce in Spelunky. You begin with four hearts, all of which can be quickly lost in countless ways on each level. More hearts can be gained by rescuing “damsels” hidden in each stage, but doing so requires carrying her all the way to the exit.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

The charm of Spelunky comes with a unique combination of familiarity and surprise. It somehow borrows elements from numerous classic titles while managing to throw curveballs at almost any turn. That treasure chest or clay pot you just busted open could be full of treasure, helpful items or enemies. Picking up a valuable treasure might trigger a trap. Adding to the surprise factor are random levels. While each world has four levels to pass, the levels appear at random from a far larger pool, sometimes adding in total darkness or zombies as well.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

Spelunky is also an incredible challenge, yet somehow contains enough balance to remain charming. Personally, I am reminded of the very balance that hooked me on games like Lode Runner in the 1980s and the original Prince of Persia in the 1990s. Spelunky joins those titles on a short list of platformer games that have driven me just insane enough to demand that I have to try again, knowing that I’ll do better on my next go-around, only to dodge my previous mistake in favor of making a new one. Passing a level is extremely satisfying, even if you didn’t get any further than you have before by doing so.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

There is also an element of risk versus reward that exists in very few games of this kind. You will often find yourself at the end of the level, able to simply exit the door and move on, but tempted by trying to gain just a little more treasure stashed nearby. If you pull it off it is quite a thrill, but more often than not you’ll simply end up losing valuable health or finding sudden death, wondering afterward why you didn’t just leave while you could. Greed can also be costly due to time. Taking a page from 1980 arcade classic Berzerk, lingering too long on a stage will bring out an invincible enemy (a ghost in this case) that will end your point-pressing attempt cold if it catches you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Caj23gbl0n8[/youtube]

All told, Spelunky is easily the most addicting and charming game I’ve come across on XBLA to date. I know people often hesitate on grabbing a game for 1200 Microsoft Points, especially if it doesn’t have a household name attached to it, but in this case it is more than worth the price. Spelunky is as addictive as it is challenging and will provide hours of entertainment before you’ve even realize you’ve been playing for hours. A must-buy.

Flea Market Finds: 2

So I went to another trip to the Flea Market. This time around the weather ruined my whole sale…..it was a real sad day for me since we didn’t sell much of our junk. Well after putting all our stuff away we were tired and depressed due to our low sales….we expected to make some good money you know! Anyways, enough of that, I decided to go walk around and try to find stuff to cheer me up and did I? Yeah!!! I found my first Famicom cart in a Flea Market plus other stuff! Check it out!

Flea market classic games

On the top left you can see the pirate Famicom cart I found that comes with some good games like Super Mario Bros 3, Castlevania, Super C, Jungle Book, Toy Story, Ms.Pacman, and many more! It’s a pretty kewl cart if you ask me! Then I found some CIB NES games and Gyromite cart that hopefully has a converter inside of it. Then there is The Little Mermaid cart and Prince of Persia for the SNES. I had a good day in the end but I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep…yeah I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I ended up going to sleep around 2pm and waking up at 11pm.

GAMES COMING OUT JUNE 2010 FOR CONSOLES

I could have been lazy and copied Honorabili’s post since the list is pretty much the same but my high work ethic wouldn’t allow me to do that. However, I am willing to take this month’s breakdown of new releases in a different direction so bare with me.

Alpha Protocol – June 1st

Alpha Protocol Xbox box cover
Alpha Protocol Xbox box cover

You know this game is going to be good because of the silhouette of the man holding the gun. Not only is showing an image like this the true sign of a winner, but it’s sexy too. Check out the subliminal message of the lady holding the gun near his crotch. The question is who will fire first.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands – June 8th

Prince of Persia box
Prince of Persia box

Jake Gyllenhall is movie gold, no really he is. Alright fine, this is about the game which has 25% more sand and more time travel than a Lost episode. If you’ve played any of the modern POP games you know there will be incredible jumps, cool combat and interesting puzzles and ladies I hear you can unlock shirtless pictures of Jake.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior – June 8th

Sniper box
Sniper box

Everyone hates a sniper, so much so that many end up on Oprah wanting nothing more than a hug. Step into the shoes of this misunderstood soul as you pick people off in South America. See people believe its all “Boom head shot!”, but it’s more than that. You have to spend time (too much time) searching for that perfect spot to make your kill, but once you do it’s on. Again look at that box, this guy is deep.

Naval Assault: The Killing Tide – June 15th

Naval Assault Xbox box cover
Naval Assault Xbox box cover

The killing tide is the type of title that lets you know there will be tides. Hop inside your WWII submarine with a load of seamen and blast away. This game looks like it could be fun if you like old navel sea battles through honestly some of the water effects look kind of strange. With Naval Assault you’ll find yourself in many battles across the North Atlantic so run low and silent commander.

Transformers: War for Cybertron – June 22nd

Transformers box cover
Transformers box cover

Go back to a time when Optimus Prime was just another robot fighting for his homeland, a time before ebonic robots and Shia LaBeouf. Unfortunately it is also a time before Megan Fox, but you have the internet for that. War for Cybertron takes a step away from the movies back to when the war was brewing up and the battle lines were drawn. In the single player campaign you play both an Autobot and Decepticon story where you see each side recruit their forces and engage in skirmishes. You know what happens in the end, but like the movie Valkyrie you’ll still be interested in experiencing it right?

Singularity – June 29th

Singularity box cover
Singularity box cover

So you have a time reversing device that can do things like restore an old box of ammo to the time when it was new and full of bullets and yet when you use it on an enemy it turns to dust? Okay, I get it, if they turned to babies or even before that there would a lawsuits and Tea Party members raising kain. Overall the idea is pretty cool, traveling back to the 50’s and using time as a weapon looks like a winner. I wonder if you can target specific body parts and restore it?

Arma 2 box cover
Arma 2 box cover

It’s not Modern Warfare or Bad Company.