Turbografx-16 Reviews E-F

Fantasy Zone
Grade: B
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Reviewed: 2004/4/21

screenshotI've never been a huge fan of Fantasy Zone, but this version is the best I've seen. This is not your typical shooter. The stages are awash with pastel colors, looking like something from a fairy tale or a really bad acid trip. You control a small pod-shaped ship as the screen scrolls slowly to the left or right. You can pick up the pace by pressing against the sides of the screen, but that's risky, so it's best to sit back and proceed at a more leisurely pace.

Fantasy Zone is ideal for young kids, with its cute enemies and unhurried gameplay. Your goal is to clear out all of the large, stationary enemies in each stage, whose locations are indicated on a scanner at the bottom of the screen. Smaller creatures approach in waves, but your rapid-fire shooting can handle them with no problem. Some creatures drop coins, and you can periodically shop for weapons, bombs, and other goodies. Be sure to purchase the 7-way shot - the best weapon in the game by far. Not only does it spray half the screen with projectiles, but it single-handedly bumped up this game's grade by a letter.

The bombs don't tend to be especially useful, except for the "smart" bombs, which obliterate everything on the screen. Each time you purchase a weapon its price goes up, which encourages you to try others. Every stage ends with a boss encounter, but these bosses are not particularly interesting or hard to defeat. I do like how they break apart when destroyed, and be sure to scarf up all the coins they leave behind - that's where you earn the big bucks! Fantasy Zone's graphics are whimsical and fun, but you'll hardly even notice them once the action heats up. The music and sound effects are thoroughly forgettable, but overall I found Fantasy Zone to be a pleasant change of pace. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 95600
1 or 2 players 

Fighting Street (CD)
Grade: D+
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Reviewed: 2002/5/3

screenshotBelieve it or not, this game is actually Street Fighter One. Yes, this is a genuine artifact of video game history. Its sequel, the phenomenal Street Fighter II (SF2), completely revolutionized fighting video games. While Fighting Street is much less impressive, you can still see the writing on the wall in terms of gameplay potential. Capcom originally released this one-on-one fighter in 1987, and considering the time period, the graphics aren't too shabby. The characters are smaller and more pixelated than those in SF2, but still relatively large compared to other fighting games of the time.

Only Ken and Ryu are selectable, and they look similar to their later incarnations, except Ryu has red hair and ugly red shoes. In the one-player mode, you face off against ten other combatants. Of these, only Sagat made it to SF2, although the black dude named Mike looks a lot like Balrog. A blue ninja named Geki looks like Sub-Zero with Vega's iron claw. Three of the other characters (Gen, Birdie, and Adon) resurfaced later in some of the many SF2 sequels. The background graphics are dull and static, and the muffled voice samples are hard to stomach. When the losing fighter collapses to the ground in defeat it sounds like someone dumping Jello into a bowl!

The gameplay itself is similar to Street Fighter 2, but much slower and less refined. Two buttons are used for kick and punch, and jumping and blocking (both high and low) are executed using the directional pad. The three special moves include the fireball, dragon punch, and a turn kick. Other similarities to SF2 include the look of the title screen and the world map screen with the tiny airplane. Fighting Street isn't very good, but it laid the groundwork for better things to come. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Final Lap Twin
Grade: C-
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Reviewed: 2007/5/16

screenshotWow - could NEC come up with a more awkward-sounding title?? This racer is basically Pole Position on a split-screen. I thought that sounded like a good idea, but after playing Final Lap Twin, I'm not so sure. The graphics are exactly like Pole Position, but the gameplay is far more forgiving. Instead of crashing into other cars, you just bump against them. The only thing you need to really worry about is hitting signs on the side of the road.

While certainly easy to play, Final Lap Twin lacks tension and drama, especially when it comes to "threading the needle" between cars. Racing against a friend is mildly amusing, but playing solo isn't much fun at all. The AI absolutely stinks, with your opponent constantly hounding you no matter how well you race.

I wouldn't normally hold graphics against a game of this nature, but I couldn't help but notice how dull and unimaginative the backgrounds look. Even the original Pole Position had better scenery! The one highlight of the game is its RPG-style "quest mode", where you gradually earn money to upgrade your car while racing challengers in various towns. Although kind of bizarre, I found it somewhat addictive. Final Lap Twin is not a total loss, but it's still weak by racing standards. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Final Zone II
Grade: D+
Publisher: Telenet (1990)
Reviewed: 2014/12/4

screenshotYou can tell this one is going to be ridiculous from the title alone, which makes no sense at all. During the intro (which features surprising gore) a spaceship is blown up and several survivors in mech suits escape to a nearby planet. If CDs can hold so much data, why are these cut-scenes displayed in such small windows? The character voices sound way too young and missing audio effects cause action scenes to be strangely quiet.

Once the game begins you guide an armored soldier upward through a sparse jungle while unleashing rapid-fire bullets at enemy soldiers that pour out of the woodwork. Your shots have good range and enemies will walk right into your line of fire if you wait long enough. Enemies fire three bullets at a time and each one removes another chunk of your life. It doesn't help that you begin with half a life bar. To maintain your health it's best to wait for power-up icons to turn into an "H" before collecting them.

Following the first stage is an unintentionally hilarious cut-scene in which a soldier dies in our hero's arms. The stunted voice acting and homo-erotic dialogue are so precious, they almost make this game worth owning. Stage two is similar to the first but takes place on a barren landscape strewn with dead trees and wreckage. What's notable about this stage is its easy-listening jazz music. It seems entirely inappropriate but it is awesome! I'd love to burn it to CD.

The third stage shifts gears, offering vertical shooting action along the lines of Tiger-Heli (NES, 1986) or Twin Eagle (Nes, 1989). I wish Final Zone II had a score or save feature, but all you get is endless continues. The game has "bad" written all over it, but after a few plays you start to appreciate the absurdity of it all. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Forgotten Worlds (CD)
Grade: B
Publisher: NEC (1992)
Reviewed: 2004/4/3

screenshotLoaded with innovative elements, this side-scrolling shooter is a heck of a lot of fun. You control a muscleman in a jet pack, flying over city ruins while blasting flying lizardmen and alien spacecraft. The control scheme in Forgotten Worlds is particularly unique. Two buttons used to rotate him left and right, providing a 360-degree shooting range. Although this rotation is somewhat slow, it gives you the ability to "spray" your shots as well as concentrate on enemies below or behind.

The problem is, the Turbo Duo controller only has two "normal" buttons, so you'll need to use the "Run" button to rotate counter clockwise, which is very awkward. There's a handy auto-fire feature on the options menu, but no way to reconfigure the buttons, which is a shame. Once you get a handle on the control scheme however, the game is a blast.

Your weapons are quite powerful, and the action can get pretty crazy. The first boss looks like a giant anus, but the rest of them look awesome, including a golden dragon and a war god that's several screens in height. Defeated enemies leave blue "money" discs for you to snatch up, and at the beginning of each stage you can buy new weapons, health, and other helpful items. Although the high-octane music is generally good, the "shop" screen has a really weird, almost childish tune. At first I couldn't stand it, but then it started to grow on me, and now I kind of like it.

Forgotten Worlds is fun, but there are a few issues. When you guy dies, he falls flat on thin air, which looks bad and seems like a programming oversight. Slow-down can get pretty rampant during certain stages. Finally, much of the dialogue will leave you scratching your head, like "You cannot stop me with paramecium alone!" Huh? Aren't paramecium microscopic organisms? Despite its rough edges however, Forgotten Worlds is still an engaging shooter you'll find yourself playing over and over again. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 115000
1 player 

Formation Armed F (Japan)
Grade: C+
Publisher: Big Don (1990)
Reviewed: 2013/5/12

screenshotThis vertical shooter will coax you into playing over and over again, if only because it's so deceptively simple. Formation Armed F looks like a generic shooter from the outset, and for the most part, it is. As you fly through caverns you'll encounter ships flying in patterns and weird insect-like creatures. One button is used to fire, and you'll want to crank up the turbo. Games like this are the reason God created turbo in the first place.

There is no shortage of power-ups, and before long you acquire a pair of "options" that shoot by your side (and also serve as shields). The second button is used to deploy these options in various formations (on a limited basis). You can take advantage of this ability to place them far ahead of you, effecting eliminating enemies as they are entering the screen. Placing them behind you seems handy, since a lot of enemies emerge from below. Just keep your ship away from the top edge of the screen, because that area is fraught with danger. A lot of power-ups will appear up there, and while you'll be tempted to snag them, don't do it! Wait until they gradually drift down instead.

The enemies in this game are tricky. You might think you've let one pass, only to have it turn around and ram you from behind. My friend Chris said they anticipate your movements, but I think he's giving the game too much credit. The collision detection is a little fishy at times, but in general the game is fun. The difficulty would be pretty easy if the game wasn't always forcing you into tight places with its winding caverns and dense asteroid belts. Also, enemy missiles sometimes blend into their surroundings. Formation Armed F is not exceptional, but if you enjoy vertical shooters this game may put you into a hypnotic trance. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 81,800
1 player 


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