Chew-Man-Fu

Chew Man Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.

Chew Man Fu

 

In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console.

Magical Dinosaur Tour

magical_dinosaur_tour

Pretty much whenever you see the words Magical and tour in something it means educational which for many means boring. This game was released in 1990 so it was before the whole Dinosaur craze, but it would have fit right in if you had a child that really liked learning about Dinosaurs and whom you wanted to punish by giving them this instead of say Ninja Spirit.

magical_dinosaur_tour

So you get to explore a magic area and watch and learn about Dino’s but that is pretty much it. You can watch them living and searching for food and the coolest part is when they roar. The game did not look bad, but it took forever to load and honestly it was one of those games that seems cool when you buy it until it is loaded up and you realize you are in school.

J.B. Harold Murder Club

J.B. Harold Murder Club

The name could almost be on a rap label or like those teenage books I used to read in school. However, J.B. Harold Murder Club is a murder mystery game developed by River Hill Soft and published by Hudson Soft for the PC Engine, aka the Turbo Grafx-16 in 1991.

J.B. Harold Murder Club

In the game a wealthy womanizer named Bill Robbins has been murdered and you as J.B. Harold has to find out who did it. There is a list of suspects and you must travel around talking to people and searching for clues. For the most part you travel using a grid map and view pictures. For many of today’s gamers it would not be that interesting, but for those who like reading and solving mysteries and puzzles it was an interesting game.

Monster Lair

Monster Lair

Monster Lair is a side-scrolling action game originally released to the arcades by Sega in 1988. A year later the game was adapted for the Turbo Grafx-16 by Hudson Soft. One of the cool things about Monster Lair is how the game starts out as a normal platformer where you control a boy or girl hero trying to stop the enemy from destroying your land and later on in the game, it turns into a shoot em up.

Monster Lair

Bloody Wolf

bloodywolftg16

Ah the lone wolf run and gun game. You have become such a great solider that your reward is to be sent up against an army and destroy something that should have been taken out by long range missiles. In this game you are not only a lone wolf, but a bloody one at that.

bloodywolftg16

Bloody Wolf is a pretty standard run and gun in the vein of Ikari Warriors, Merc and Heavy Barrel. Developed by Data East in 1988 this arcade game featured Snake and eagle, two commandos against an army of bad guys, but luckily for you, you had a ton of weapons at your disposal.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective

You don’t have to be a real detective to guess what you do in Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. The game is a hybrid of an adventure and simulated game where you play the famous doctor Holmes as you and your friend Watson solve a series of crimes.

Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective

The game takes you around London where you will, interrogating suspects, gathering clues, checking out the newspapers, and eventually presenting all the evidence to the judge. If you did your work correctly the judge will accept your results and the case will be solved.

Victory Run

victoryrun

Racing fans always wanted to get their hands on a game that allowed them to challenge themselves on real life racing tracks. As games began to come out featuring them, fans wanted more and more. Enter, Victory Run for the Turbo Grafx-16. It was released in 1989 by Hudson Soft and was one of the first racing games to depict the Paris-Dakar Rally.

victoryrun

Victory run also featured degradable parts that you had to replace if you had spare parts which you acquired before the start of a race. You can find rereleases of Victory run for the Wii Virtual Console and the Playstation Network.

TV Sports Basketball

TV Sports Basketball

In honor of the All-Star Game we bring you this video review of 1990 TurboGrafx-16 game, TV Sports Basketball. Developed by Cinemaware and published by Mirrorsoft the game featured five-on-five gameplay, but no NBA licenses. This meant you got the city names and perhaps some colors that might match, but no team names like the Miami Heat and no famous names like Michael Jordan.

The game allowed you to play against the computer as either a player or a coach and against other players in versus mode. One of the strange things about the game was that it was a full court basketball game with a vertical view. However, when you crossed half-court there would be a short cut scene showing all your players running to the other side as a sort of loading screen.

Keith Courage in Alpha Zones

keith-courage-in-alpha-zone

Our video review of the week features the 1988 Adventure game, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones. Created by Hudson Soft, you take on the role of Keith Courage who has to take back the earth from evil aliens that attacked it after earth was struck by a meteor. When fighting underground you gain access to the powerful Nova Suit left behind by your father which gives you additional abilities to succeed in your mission tor reaching the Robo Zone, the 7th Alpha Zone and defeating the Beastly Alien Dudes.

Buster Bros

buster bros

This week’s Turbo Views video features the 1989 game Buster Bros. In this game two brothers must go around the world destroying balloons that are terrorizing cities and landmarks (I never heard of balloon terrorists).  There are 17 locations in the game from Mt. Fuji to New York and over 50 stages of gameplay. The game was originally released to the arcades and then ported to several consoles systems and you can play one and two player games.

Cadash

Cadash-turbografx-16-box-art

Cadash

This week’s video review features the 1991 platform game, Cadash. Developed and published by Tatio, the gameplay combines the elements of the traditional role-playing game with that of a platformer. The game features sword and sorcery and is set in a medieval fantasy world where powerful demons and abominations who at one time walked among humans, were banished to the underworld below Cadash. A powerful wizard named Balrog has arisen to take revenge on the humans and return to the overworld.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ydps5ZaOyy0[/youtube]

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!

Yo’ Bro

Yo' Bro

Yo’ Bro

This week we bring you the video review of Yo’ Bro for the Turbo Grafx-16. Release in 1991 by Camp California, The city of Los Angeles is being invaded! Only Lil Bro’, Camp California’s rad skateboarding dude, can save it. The evil Ratz gang is unleashing a barrage of killer creatures and devices. Find incredibly cool weapons to fight back. Wipe out their earthquake machines and nasty man-eating plants with rocket grenades. Fight off wicked space aliens and launch your bonus attacks. It’ll take everything you’ve got to send the Ratz packing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqrv5u-YvQg[/youtube]

Pac-Land

pac-land

While considered part of the Pac-Man series Pac-Land was a completely different style of game that brought us an early look at a gameplay style that would later become common place. Developed by Namco and released in 1984 Pac-Land showed us a completely new world we had never seen before.

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

Turbo Views, originally premiering on YouTube in December 2008, covers games for the TurboGrafx-16 and Turbo Duo video game system from 1989 – 1993.

The goal of the series is to eventually review EVERY American released TG-16 game as well as numerous on-camera “extras,” home-brew, prototypes and PC-Engine games that never made it overseas.

 

Devil’s Crush

Devil’s Crush (a.k.a. Devil Crash) (1990)

By: NAXAT Soft Genre: Pinball Players: 1-2 (alternate) Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 18,756,300
Also Available For: MegaDrive / Genesis
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot

If you cast your mind back to the first time you noticed pinball videogames, there’s a good chance you’d think of this game. Digital Illusions had some success in the early 90’s with the reaslitic but playable Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies, and sure, Alien Crush was popular, but it was this sequel, which arrived approximately two years later, which really got the genre noticed among the console gaming fraternity. Brought to us by Naxat again, the basic premise is obviously very similar to before. Instead of the evil aliens from the first game, however, this game is based, perhaps somewhat controversially, on the occult! The main table, for there is only one again, is three screens high this time, medieval themed, and is crawling with hordes of satanic demons, dragons, and monsters beyond description!
Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot
As before, each section of the main table has its own flippers and is home to its own features. The bottom section, for example, is home to a large skull (who mocks you by laughing every time you lose a ball!), a fire-breathing dragon, a tower, which gives you a blocker if you get the ball through its gate, and several other features. The middle section is dominated by a woman’s face, which the ball can enter for bonus points, and it also gradually mutates into a dragon every time the ball enters a pocket! The top section features a rotating pentagram with eight sorcerers standing around it, and looming over them is the Dragon’s Gate (a large skeletal demon thingy). All sections of the table are also populated by various bugs, soldiers, and scary creatures who wander around helping your score multiplier increase as you destroy them with the ball.

Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot

Devil’s Crush, like its prequel, again features bonus tables too – six this time – and the main table is festooned with pockets through which you can enter them (when the pocket is open). On each of the bonus tables, the object is to take out the evil creatures that dwell within. These range from large dragons, skeletal heads, undead knights, and all manner of smaller, but equally malevolent foes. The only way to end this game it to max out the score counter, which, if you can manage it, would be 999,999,990! It’s not as impossible to achieve as you might initially think though, for if you thought there was a lot to do in Alien Crush, then you’ve not seen anything yet! There are even more ways to increase your score here, including various tricks, secrets, and all sorts of ways of increasing your multiplier. Not only that, but there’s now a password option to resume play later too, so I think it’s safe to say there’s plenty to keep you occupied!

Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot
Graphically, the game is even more impressive than its predecessor. The dark, gothic, demonic theme is superbly presented here, with excellent definition of the sprites and backgrounds and great use of colours, which are nicely contrasted. The table and monsters are mostly dull greys and browns compared with bright reds and greens for the explosions and various flashing lights. There’s far more happening at once than there was in Alien Crush, too. There’s a near-constant stream of evil beasts of some sort wandering around and they look suitably demonic, though their animation still isn’t particularly impressive. The table itself appears to be based around an ancient castle of some sort, compared to the sci-fi inspired, organic appearance of Alien Crush’s, and looks very much like the kind of place evil is likely to dwell. All this is supplemented by a fantastic soundtrack featuring a mixture of fast, rock tracks and moody, mysterious sounding tunes. Add to this the great, loud, arcadey sound effects, and your ears will thank you for playing this!

Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot

Gameplay-wise, like Alien Crush, not everyone will enjoy playing this, simply because it’s pinball, but those who do play it will discover one of the most immediately entertaining games ever! This is without doubt the best pinball game I’ve ever played on a console or computer and even puts many actual pintables to shame, too! There is again an option to choose between fast and slow ball speeds and on fast, which should be everyone’s choice really, the ball can sometimes rocket around the table at awesome speeds – reactions are everything here. The ‘tilt’ option is also present once more, and ball physics and play mechanics are flawless too – this is a game that takes genuine skill and lots of practise to be proficient at. There’s a hell of lot of demons to keep you occupied (a near infinite number, in fact) and a great many targets to hit and objectives to meet, and the length of time you play for is more or less entirely dependent on your competence rather than your luck.

Devils Crush - Gameplay Screenshot Most pinball videogames have tried to be authentic pintables rather than taking advantage of the limitless creative potential that computers and consoles offer. Alien Crush was the first to try something different, and Devil’s Crush upped the ante ten-fold! Naxat have produced a frankly remarkable game here, and one that remains the definitive example of its genre, as well as one of RKS’s all-time favourite games. It’s as simple as pinball should be, but at the same time has so much more to it. This game should, theoretically, last you forever.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axe0DKqdtZc[/youtube]

Ads of the Past: Funco Land

Oh Funco Land you evil child pawnshop. You took advantage of me by surrounding me with games I could not afford and made my adolescent brain made deals like trading Megaman 2, which my mother paid over $40 for, and selling it for less than $10.

Funco Land

Funco Land

Most of the time your demo stations did not work and sometimes you only showed the opening video of a game (dick). The man behind the counter was mean and creepy and smell of failure. Oh Funco Land, I got you back one day when I sold my copy of Double Dragon to a lady about to buy it from you for half price of what you were selling it for and triple what you would have paid me for it. Alas, it was my only victory against you as most battles and the war belonged to you. Rest in peace my old nemesis I have a new abusive soul in my life named Gamestop.

Thanks to FamicomFreak from Retro Gaming Life for the scans!

Heavy Unit

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

Heavy Unit (1990)
By: Kaneko / Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 6,900
Also Available For: Arcade, MegaDrive

If you were asked to think of a Taito shmup, there’s a good bet you’d immediately think of a Darius title. This is largely understandable due to the number of games in that series if nothing else, particularly on the PC Engine which was groaning under the weight of shmups of varying quality, but they did make a few other games of that type too. Among them is Heavy Unit, which is again a horizontal scroller converted from their arcade original. The story is pretty similar to that of the Darius games in that one of Mankind’s planets has come under attack and needs defending. In this case it’s our first artificial star and planet, Le Tau, which a race of genetically modified alien monsters has designs on! Naturally, it falls to you to vanquish this evil (and scary-sounding) foe by making use of the ‘Heavy Unit’, a heavily-armed transforming spaceship/mecha.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

The planet in question is apparently a rather diverse one, for the six stages that make up the game are all pretty distinctive, although that could be because the aliens have already had their way with it! Featuring a forest, gelatinous pink alien slimy stuff, and big metallic bases amongst its diverse locales makes it fairly easy on the eyes, but it’s definitely not easy on anything else – Heavy Unit is one of those ‘suicide missions’ which actually is! Each stage is filled with a wide variety of alien scum of many shapes and sizes. The small ones generally attack en masse and move quickly, and they don’t just go down after a single shot either! The larger ones are obviously less agile but make up for it with their firepower. Each stage also predictably ends with a large boss too, and some of these are pretty strange, including a dinosaur skeleton!

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Much like the recently-reviewed TransBot for the Master System, this game features a ship that can transform into a flying robot-type thing, and much like TransBot it’s a gimmick that really doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Here, that ability is one of a very small number of power-ups, and is basically a different weapon. Your ‘Heavy Unit’ ship looks fairly unspectacular and in fact is, in pretty much every way. Its default weapon is a puny pea-shooter and, unfortunately, power-ups with which to upgrade it are not frequent. When the ‘P’ icons do arrive though, they increase the power and range of its cannon and also provide weak missiles that fire above and below the ship. In order for your ship to undergo its aforementioned transformation, you need to look for a ‘T’ icon, which are even rarer. Collecting this will cause it to change into a flying robot, or mecha, which has a more powerful main gun, and homing missiles, and collecting it again will cause your craft to revert to its previous form.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Remaining power-ups include the ‘B’ icon for a shield which protects you for a few hits, ‘S’ icons for much needed speed- ups, and ‘E’ icons for extra lives. All but the latter of these are found by shooting a certain type of enemy, but the extra lives are a little harder to find. There is one per stage (as far as I can tell) and each is hidden, usually in part of the scenery. They can be found by shooting at its location but you have to find out where that it first! That’s actually quite telling about this game’s biggest fault – take one of my favourite horizontal scrollers, Thunder Force 3 for example… When I play it from beginning to end without losing a life, by the final boss I have 23 lives. When doing the same with Heavy Unit for this review, I had 3. That gives you an idea of the relative abundance of extra lives to be found, and it’s indicative of the game’s insane difficulty level generally.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Heavy Unit is a strange game. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it but it’s not a bad game – what there is of it looks and sounds decent enough – it’s just so stupidly hard! Most games ease you in with the first few screens featuring small, relatively harmless enemies that you can pick off with a single shot. Here, the first enemy is a fast skeletal snake-type thing, and it will probably kill you repeatedly. You’ll probably soon decide that avoiding it is a better idea – it is killable but it’ll be a while before you actually manage it! After this there is another, then two more at once, all of which whoosh onto the screen at high speed, and all of which take multiple hits to destroy. After that you’ll reach the point from which the first screenshot is taken, above. This features three rapid-fire, directional cannons (each of which takes a real pummelling to disable), then, after navigating around a large moving piece of scenery you’re faced with three large, metallic snakes. Getting past this point will take multiple restarts, even for a fairly proficient shmup gamer, and it’s only the first three screens or so of the game! Utter insanity.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Unsurprisingly, what with the somewhat harsh difficulty here, Taito didn’t have to make the stages very long. They do look fairly nice for the most part, and some parts of them are more than a screen high, but they scroll very slowly, and each would be over in minutes if it wasn’t for the inevitable restarts. Some parts of the later stages have moving obstacles, parts of the scenery, and barriers to further hamper your progress, but they needn’t have bothered as only a very small percentage of gamers will ever reach them. I played this game via emulation for this review. If I hadn’t, I’m confident I wouldn’t have even finished the first stage. It took me a good couple of hours to reach the final stage, and that was with saving and reloading my game about a hundred times! If Heavy Unit had a more forgiving difficulty curve, it would still be merely an average shmup, but as things stand there really is little to recommend. To make things worse, the collision detection is also pretty ropey here. Even the pause button didn’t seem to work at some points, usually the most critical of course! The PC Engine is positively swamped with shooting games. They’re not all great of course, but I haven’t yet played any less deserving of anyone’s time than this one. Unless you’re an insanely gifted gamer (or perhaps just insane), steer clear of this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQmH9h2xrpY[/youtube]

RKS Score: 3/10

Dragon Egg

DRAGON EGG - Title ScreenDragon Egg! (1991)

By: NCS Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16
Also Available For: Nothing

One thing I love about delving into the mysterious realms of Japanese gaming is discovering another of the many hidden gems that were, for some bizarre reason, never released outside of their native territory. It’s not without its frustrations either, though. This is mainly down to problems presented by the language barrier. Some games, RPG’s for example, are pretty much rendered totally unplayable as you might imagine, but sometimes even relatively simple platform games like Dragon Egg can’t be fully understood either. The game is perfectly playable and features little text beyond the intro sequence, and yet the premise behind the game remains a mystery. It seems some terrible creatures were summoned by a dark power and let loose upon a peaceful land but I couldn’t be certain. All I can tell you for sure is, there’s a little girl and she has a backpack, and nestling atop this backpack is an egg.

DRAGON EGG - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Standing between her and the presumed banishment of evil and the restoration of peace to the land are six side-viewed stages, each comprising of severalsections. These stages are set in a variety of locations including a forest, a castle, a desert, and even a space station of some sort (complete with teleporters of course), and they are all filled with evil monsters such as skeletons, ogres, pigs, blobs, and flying trolls and insects, as well as lots of traps and obstacles such as moving/collapsing platforms, fire, and force-fields. All of these enemies and some of the traps deplete our young heroine’s life meter (represented by hearts) but fortunately she is fairly agile and can jump around the multi-tiered stages quickly to avoid many of them, and to retrace her steps if she falls down from a high section, for example. She has a more interesting way of dealing with the many monsters though.

DRAGON EGG - Gameplay Screenshot 2It is here that we return to that egg nestled in her backpack, and indeed the egg of the title. To begin with she, perhaps rather unwisely, uses the egg itself as a weapon, bashing the enemies with it until they die, leaving behind a coin. Some random enemies, however, will leave behind a power-up instead. Once you’ve collected two of them, the egg will hatch into a baby dragon. Now when she thrusts him towards the enemies he scorches them with his fiery breath! Collect two more power-ups and he leaves her backpack altogether and becomes big enough for her to ride on his back. At this stage he can spit small fireballs which are enough to deal with most enemies but he can be powered-up even more to fire bigger, more powerful fireballs and even offers improved jumping abilities. Other power-ups can occasionally be found laying around here and there but can more reliably be purchased in mid-level shops with the coins gathered from defeated enemies. These include a ‘cure’, which replenishes her health, another heart to extend her health capacity, a shield, and several others.

DRAGON EGG - Gameplay Screenshot 3

So, I’ve no idea who this little girl is or why she’s carrying a dragon egg around, but luckily it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the game, and enjoyable itis too. The stages are nicely designed and fairly varied in their appearance and everything is fairly cutesy as you probably guessed. The music and sound effects are nice and the sprites and backgrounds are nicely drawn too – there’s even a wibbly graphics effect like a water version of Thunder Force 3’s fire stage! It’s great fun jumping around the stages and spitting fireballs at all and sundry too, the controls are tight and responsive and there’s seldom an unfair death. In fact, that’s probably the games’s biggest problem. Not that it’s fair I don’t mean, unfair games are annoying as hell, just that it’s a touch on the easy side. Neither is it a particularly big game and could be comfortably finished inside 30 minutes. It’s a lovely little adventure while it lasts though. It looks and sounds nice, and is very enjoyable to play though, but just make sure you set it on ‘hard’!

RKS Score: 7/10