Turbografx-16 Reviews C

Cadash
Grade: B-
Publisher: Taito (1991)
Reviewed: 2012/1/11

screenshotCadash is a medieval side-scroller designed to be played cooperatively by two players. You select between four characters: Warrior, Mage, Priest, and... Ninja? That warrior is one sorry-looking bastard. It's bad enough he's not wearing pants, but his legs are flabby! Your journey begins in a castle with guards that offer less-than-helpful hints like "Kill monsters and take their gold to buy items!" Thanks for the advice buddy, but I've played video games before!

One thing I really love about castles in the middle ages is how they always have a monster-infested cave within convenient walking distance. It's fun to forge ahead with a friend, especially when you complement each other's abilities. You'll slash through green slime, skeletons, spiders, and pig-faced trolls. Magic users have a selection of spells but must hold in one button to cycle through them. That's really awkward in the heat of battle. What was wrong with the "select" button?

When it comes to avoiding traps, both players must carefully coordinate their movements. Each stage (or "continent") has a unique back-story and mini cut-scenes to add a little flavor. Unfortunately the first stage is so ridiculously hard it almost ruins the entire game. It features a tricky jump sequence over a pool of water. If you fall in, your character will continuously lurch backwards as you desperately try to climb out. It's obnoxious enough to set Cadash back a full letter grade.

One key to survival is to "grind" on weak enemies to get your experience level up to 2 or 3. If you manage to defeat the "black pudding" boss, the game really opens up. Not only can you resurrect your partner in the next town, you can upgrade your weapons and load up on herbs. The lack of a password option is glaring, but you can find codes on the Internet that let you skip ahead. I have a love/hate relationship with Cadash. Its design flaws infuriate me to no end, yet I can't resist the urge to give it "just one more try". © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Camp California (CD)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Icom (1993)
Reviewed: 2019/9/7

screenshotCamp California is one of those rare Turbografx-CD games that goes for several hundred bucks on eBay. I'm glad I settled on a reproduction copy because this game is not so hot. The main character is a bear who embodies 80's kitsch, decked out in sneakers, Jams shorts, and sunglasses. Okay, he's cool - we get it. A California beach is the planned location of a new nuclear power plant. To prevent this travesty you must collect random items like cans or tires or socks. The action begins on a beach where you kick crabs and punch skinny birds.

The bright scenery is attractive, and in the distance you can see a giant sandcastle foreshadowing a future stage. The controls aren't bad; you can jump, low kick, and punch. The stages however are poorly designed. Your path is littered with annoying obstacles and crabs sprout from beneath your feet ("Bogus!"). The next stage is a waterfall level, and it's miserable the way you tend to get knocked off ledges by tiny unseen projectiles. Just try to get to the end as fast as you can.

The third stage is an immense sand castle you need to traverse, but the rules in this game are wonky. You can jump on gargoyles, but only some of them. Can you jump on that catapult to get a little higher? Maybe, maybe not! It's very easy to get stuck in this game, and often you wonder if you've stumbled across a bug. Make it past the castle and the game opens up with selectable stages including a trendy mall, a military range in the desert, and a Las Vegas stage that looks more like a dungeon. Unfortunately the van that lets you explore the map is constantly running out of gas! WTF?

The game contains some Beach Boys music, but if that's supposed to be a selling point I don't think the marketing people knew their audience very well. If anything the license is underused. Why would you not have the Beach Boys playing over the title screen? The music in the mall stage sounds suspiciously like Huey Lewis and the News (Power of Love?). Camp California tries to come off as hip and environmentally friendly, but I wish they would have made good gameplay a priority instead. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (CD) (Japan)
Grade: A
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Reviewed: 2003/9/3

screenshotThis rare title, only available in America as an import, is considered by most Castlevania fans to be the best of the series, and they'll get no argument here. Rondo of Blood is visually stunning, even today. The graphics are painstakingly detailed and high resolution, and the use of color is nothing short of brilliant. The demons and creatures you encounter are highly inventive, and effective animations usher in the appearance of bosses. For example, before your encounter with the werewolf, you can see his silhouette in front of the moon in the distance before he leaps into the foreground.

The gameplay is typical Castlevania, where you use your whip and special weapons to battle monsters while collecting items hidden in candles. One aspect I especially like about Dracula X is although you can take multiple paths, the stages don't contain a myriad of confusing staircases like so many other Castlevania titles. I should warn you that this game is extremely hard and will frustrate novice gamers.

Complementing the gorgeous graphics is the best soundtrack I've ever heard in a Castlevania game, along with crisp, distinctive sound effects. You can save your game and return to any stage you've completed. Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood is a classic, and if you can get your hands on it, an excellent addition to your Turbo Duo library. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 21,270
1 player 

Chase HQ
Grade: B
Publisher: Taito (1992)
Reviewed: 2014/8/21

screenshotI just recently discovered the Chase HQ series and I'm really digging it. If you enjoy arcade racers like Outrun (Sega Master System, 1987) you'll feel right at home with the scaling cars and colorful locations. The idea is to drive an undercover police car through traffic until you catch up with a suspect's car. Then you ram him until his car catches fire and comes to a halt. Before each mission you're presented with a screen that describes a suspect like "Ralph the slasher". This screen also dispenses some truly heinous voice synthesis. This is Nasty at Chase Headquarters?! Oh wait - she said Nancy.

On the road you'll shift gears from low to high while weaving around vehicles that smoothly scale into view. A multiplier provides bonuses for avoiding consecutive cars, but it's hard to keep it going because the collision detection is so unforgiving. The road has small hills and dips, and even forks on occasion. The sense of speed is excellent, and at top speed you're barely in control. It's easy to forget you can hit the select button to activate turbos. You actually tend to hug the curves better when your turbo is engaged.

The city skylines look terrific and objects on the side of the road include colorful signs and houses that resemble vending machines. When you reach your target the ensuing chase is exciting. It's tough to catch the bad guy because there's so much traffic and your car tends to lose control after a collision. It takes over 20 hits to stop the bastard, but you can often inflict several hits in succession if you approach from the side. Once you pull him over you're treated to a scene showing two cops roughing up the criminals. For a game that looks so good the soundtrack is understated. Three continues are provided and you'll want to use them. Chase HQ is rather obscure but I love its brand of old-school racing action. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: w/ continues
Our high score: 2,340,950
1 player 

China Warrior
Grade: B-
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Reviewed: 2013/5/12

screenshotWhy did it take me so long to discover China Warrior?! This may be the best looking game I've seen on my Turbografx! The characters are absolutely gargantuan, and the attention to detail is stunning. The slow, deliberate pace reminds me of the old martial arts game Karateka (Atari XEGS, 1985). Your warrior is a Bruce Lee look-alike who walks toward the right while fighting enemies and dodging obstacles. His muscle definition is amazing, and if you look close you'll even notice that he blinks his eyes!

It's fun to control such a huge character, but your mobility is limited. You can jump, punch, and kick, but the controls are a little stiff. The action is unintentionally hilarious at times. Most enemies are peaceful-looking monks approaching with their hands in their robes! Am I really supposed to be beating up these guys?! And then there are the harmless, migrating swallows you need to punch into oblivion. My friend Scott mused that this guy seems to be on a mission to destroy everything that is good and natural.

You'll need to jump over bounders, duck under spears, and keep an eye out for the occasional sticks and stones. It's pretty ridiculous when you exhibit amazing martial arts skills through several levels, only to die when a small rock nails you in the forehead!

Each stage ends with the obligatory boss, and they look impressive. Unfortunately you end up having to face several variations of the same boss, which is disappointing. The first three bosses look like the same guy! The music is excellent, combining catchy electronic tunes with undertones of ancient China. China Warrior doesn't play as good as it looks, but it looks pretty damn good, so give it a whirl. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: CJS 174,000
1 player 

Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams (Japan) (CD)
Grade: B-
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Reviewed: 2015/11/24

screenshotThis is one of those bizarre Japanese shooters anime fans can't get enough of. There's no question that Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams exudes more personality than most side-scrolling shooters. The main character is a cute witch on a broom with an exuberant voice that makes some of the cut-scenes hard to stomach. Cotton maintains a vaguely-Halloween theme with dilapidated houses, graveyards, Frankenstein monsters, and grim reapers.

Most adversaries however seem completely random, like fluffy pink birds, bubble-blowing lizardmen, hopping plants, clouds with faces, and flying sharks that latch onto trees. Anything goes in a game like this; you never know what's going to show up next. I appreciate the imagination but sometimes it's hard to tell what's harmful! Sure you can brush up against that jagged landscape but touching a cloud is fatal. Each stage ends with an obligatory boss encounter and some transform into several forms so never let your guard down. I'm recommended using turbo to engage rapid-fire until you reach a boss, at which time you'll want to use your charge attacks.

Cotton is a challenging game. Enemies drop crystals but they are hard to gather because when you shoot them they fire into the air like rockets. Collecting them once they settle on the ground is risky because there's often something lurking in the scenery. The upbeat musical score is a lot fun but the explosion effects have some static. The game offers three continues and saves high scores. Cotton is a thoroughly ridiculous shooter that's occasionally irritating but always entertaining. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: continues
Our high score: 56,940
1 player 

Cratermaze
Grade: B-
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Reviewed: 2018/6/12

screenshotThis game didn't do itself any favors with an uninspired title and a ludicrously easy default skill level. The cheesy intro incorporates the line "Let's take a trip through time aboard a magic carpet ship". Ugh. My initial play-through begged the question "is this all there is to it?" After ten rounds I was bored to tears! Then I tried the "difficult" setting and I was hooked!

Cratermaze bears a passing resemblance to Bomberman (NES, 1991) as you guide a pudgy dude around a scrolling maze, collecting chests while avoiding random characters. After collecting all the chests a key appears, allowing you to exit. Patrolling each maze are a motley crew of adversaries that include gangsters, policemen, hockey players, robots, horned ghosts, and hopping gremlins.

When one approaches you, just press a button to dig a hole that they will fall into, trapping them temporarily. Press the button again and you'll bury them for bonus points. But here's the thing: if you complete a stage without burying any enemies an "NEC" bonus icon appears worth a whopping 20K!

There are tons of enemies milling around so you need to choose your paths wisely. Falling into your own hole costs you a life and it's frustratingly easy to do. The maze designs aren't particularly interesting but the toe-tapping music is terrific. Trampolines, portals, and doors spice things up but can be awkward to operate. Special items allow you freeze enemies, stop time, and you guessed it - drop bombs.

When the game ends a passcode is displayed in the form of four colored heads. How am I supposed to write that down? You also have the option to continue on your last completed maze. At its best Cratermaze is a sweet combination of Bomberman, Dig Dug (Atari 5200, 1993), and Lock N Chase (Intellivision, 1982). It may not look like much but its pleasant, leisurely style is hard to dislike. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: difficult
Our high score: 113500
Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Cyber-Core
Grade: C+
Publisher: IGN Soft (1990)
Reviewed: 2005/6/26

screenshotThis insect-themed, vertical shooter won't win any awards for graphics, but its simple, twitch gameplay won me over. Instead of manning a ship, you control a half-human creature that mutates when he touches a power-up. The bug-infested stages include a crumbling city, forest, desert, and an ancient shrine. One neat feature is the ability to both shoot and drop bombs on the ground below (a la Xevious). While it's tempting to fire both weapons constantly, firing one will degrade the effectiveness of the other, so you'll want to be selective.

When collecting power-ups, it's imperative to choose one color and stick with it if you want to achieve maximum power. Cyber-Core's gameplay is satisfying as your rapid-fire cannon thins out swarms of approaching insects. Killing bugs is such a guiltless pleasure. The select button can be used to adjust your speed, but it's not really necessary.

Cyber-Core's graphics are its weakest attribute. Most enemies tend to be small, and the bosses aren't particularly imposing. Likewise the generic backgrounds are rudimentary and uninteresting. I did enjoy the electronic musical score however. Although it's repetitive, it does get under your skin after a while. Cyber-Core is nothing spectacular, but it has a certain charm and I found it appealing. If you can enjoy a straight-forward shooter, this will not disappoint. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 140200
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Racket Boy, Moby Games, The PC Engine Software Bible