When gamers look back at the heyday of the Genesis/NES wars, NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 is often overlooked. That’s a darn shame – as big a shame today as it was back in the 1990s, as the TurboGrafx video game system had some quality games that are still fun to play today. Just for kicks and giggles, here are what I consider the Top 10 huCard (in no particular order) games for this forgotten system. One more caveat: the CD games aren’t on this list – they’re for another day!
Bonk’s Adventure / Bonk’s Revenge / Bonk 3
What can you say about this classic game of caveman versus his world. How can you not like a character that gains enormous health and power from eating giant, meaty bones or who dispatches his enemies by smacking them with his granite-like head? I’ll always like the first game the best simply due to its original charm, but the others in the series were gold, too, so they’ve been bunched together as some of the best games ever for the T-16 system!
How about a game that filled the screen with non-stop arcade action – alien ships coming in wave after wave of attack runs, but dropping just the right kind of power-ups to keep your thumbs mashing the pad until defeating each level boss and getting a breather? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. Blazing Lazers was AWESOME.
Neutopia / Neutopia II
Wait a minute – is this game a Zelda game or not? Well, it sure played like Zelda, even if it just “borrowed” elements of the classic NES series. Jazeta strapped on his sword and shield and searched for the eight Medallions that would spell defeat for Dirth, the wizard with a bad attitude. Charge up the Fire Wand and help Link Jazeta burn his way to success!
Tell me again why we’re fighting the Axis-Xenon scum for the right to control the Moon? Who cares – this was a turn-based strategy wargame for a console system…and it didn’t suck! The game’s victory music still pops unbidden into my thoughts (at mostly appropriate times).
Alien Crush / Devil’s Crush
I never thought I’d sit in front of my television and play a pinball game for hours, but that was before Alien Crush showed me what a good pinball game looked like. And Devil’s Crush upped the ante even more. Great graphics, speed, table feel…these were some great pinball games.
Who wants to play a five-player TurboGrafx-16 game and blow up all your friends? If you had a TurboTap and enough TurboPads, this game was the ultimate multi-player game for the T-16 system. Of course, if you had NO friends, the game had a decent single-player mode, too, which, considering many gamers in the 90s didn’t see the sun until the Millennium Bug scared them into going outside to forage for supplies, was a good thing. By the way, if you had two TurboExpress handheld systems you could link them and play head-to-head.
Did you ever want to put on a hockey mask, pick up a weapon, and lay a beating down on the hapless evil denizens of a haunted house? Don’t worry about your psyche, so did everyone else. Lots of gore (not as much as the Japanese version, though) made this a controversial game and gave it a cult following even before its release.
Another super RPG for the TurboGrafx-16, Cadash gave the player the opportunity to play a fighter (heavily armoured and packing a mean damage rating), a mage (with magical firepower), a priestess (a decent fighter who can heal herself), or a ninja (a FAST little guy with the ability to reign death by shuriken from afar or use a spread fire ability to burn enemies to ash). The game had plenty of Zelda II elements (shades of Neutopia!), and remains a T16 collector favorite to this day.
Long before there were MORPGs letting gamers explore virtual fantasy worlds together, your choices for multiplayer RPG action were slim. Until Dungeon Explorer arrived, that is, with the ability to play with up to four more of your friends (using the TurboTap). You could even save your progress with a password save game feature!
The Legendary Axe
This game was hard. And I know I wasn’t alone in thinking this when it came out. It was also a visual/audio masterpiece that garnered a Video Game of the Year honor from VideoGames & Computer Entertainment. A game that redefines an entire genre (the platform sidescroller) deserves to be on any TurboGrafx-16 Top Ten list!
Honorable mention: J.J. & Jeff
OK, I played Leisure Suit Larry when it came out, and loved the infantile humor, but up to J.J. & Jeff, I never saw a steaming pile of defecation in a video game before. Although the North American version of this game was much tamer than the Japanese version (no public urination, for example), it still had some punch to shock and titillate the North American puritan audience.
Have a different Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 list? Leave a comment with your favorites – and don’t forget to say why!