Publisher: NEC (1989)
Our high score: 95600
1 or 2 players
Fighting Street (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Believe 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 the 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.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Wow - 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.
Publisher: Telenet (1990)
Forgotten Worlds (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1992)
Our high score: 115000
Formation Armed F (Japan)
Publisher: Big Don (1990)
This 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 in to 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.
Our high score: 81,800
Publisher: NEC (1990)
?! Has the Video Game Critic finally lost his mind?? No, Galaga '90 is so extraordinary
that it pretty much justifies buying a whole Turbografx 16 system. I'm a huge Galaga fan (who isn't?), but I didn't think any
sequel could match the brilliant gameplay of the original. But not only does Galaga '90 push the series to new heights, it does so while preserving the classic look, sound, and control that made the original such a winner. Like the old Galaga, levels consist of space bugs flying around in patterns before settling into formation. There are a wide variety of enemies here, including some fat turtle-looking things that burst into nice explosions. Some enemies drop exploding bombs, and others merge to form larger foes. In a nod to its predecessor, you can double your firepower by "sacrificing" a ship and later rescuing it. Been there done that, right? Well, what would you say about tripling
your firepower?! Yes, this game is out of control. In addition to the normal and "challenge" stages, there are even a few "boss" stages that add some extra spice. The background music mimics the style of the original game, but expands upon it. Galaga 90's graphics are smooth, colorful, and vibrant. There are even some non-intrusive, nicely-drawn background graphics. And don't be afraid to use the turbo feature on your controller; this game was tailor-made for that thing. Galaga '90 is a top-notch shooter, and an absolute must-have
for every Turbografx owner. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SW 426,900
Gate of Thunder (CD)
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Our high score: 156600
Genji Tsushin Agedama (Japan)
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Genji Tsushin Agedama is a colorful side-scroller with whimsical characters, odd predicaments, wacky humor, and flamboyant graphics. It embodies the spirit of Japanese gaming! You control a kid running across a constantly-scrolling screen while blasting a parade of animals and random animated objects. It's possible to mow them down with rapid-fire shots but then you'd be missing the point of the game! Charge attacks are what this game is all about, so lay off that turbo (for once!). Holding in the fire button fills a meter across the top of the screen. Icons at various intervals allow you to determine both the strength and nature of your attack. You might release an intense energy beam, a flood of water spouts, or a set of genies. There are many possibilities and experimenting is half the fun. The opening stage takes place on a sunny city street, and the eye candy is off-the-charts with layers of shops in the foreground and pagodas looming in the distance. Stage two features island scenery and shimmering blue water. The platform action is forgiving, and that's good because the game contains an excessively long waterfall jumping sequence. You never know what the end-of-stage boss encounter will have it store, whether it's a minotaur, a flying pirate, or spear-toting banana. Charming and playable, Genji Tsushin Agedama reminds you that video games don't need to make sense to be fun. Note: PC Engine games like this do not run natively on the Turbografx-16. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SDZ 919,500
Publisher: Turbo Tech (1992)
I tend to gravitate towards platformers with spooky themes, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not
bring myself to like Ghost Manor. The background story is conveyed through about 20 screens of text, and paging through it wouldn't be so bad if they showed more than five words at a time! The game stars a dorky kid with a large head. In the first stage you'll jump between ledges in an underground cavern before making your way up a mountainside. There are a few creepy ghouls in this game and the catchy music is done in the same style as Zombies Ate My Neighbors
(SNES, 1993). In order to make any progress in Ghost Manor you'll need to locate a key which is tucked away in a really
unlikely place. I had to watch a freakin' video
on the Internet to find it! I hate it when I have to do stuff like that. The platform jumping is atrocious. Slides give the game a "Chutes and Ladders" feel, but most of the time you're trying to painstakingly move upward
on the screen. The ledges are widely spaced and less-than-responsive controls make it hard to judge your leaps. There are slanted
platforms you'll slide off if you don't immediately start jumping around like a flea. Even if you do, you'll sometimes fall right through them anyway. Often the only way to ascend is to catch a ride on a rising spirit or elevator, but waiting for them to come around takes forever!
And when you finally reach the upper platforms, trolls and demons appear out of nowhere and send your ass plummeting back to the bottom. With bad controls and poorly designed stages, Ghost Manor is just one big ole bucket of misery. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 8600
Ghouls 'N Ghosts
Publisher: Capcom (1990)
Our high score: 16,900
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Our high score: 255500
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Taito (1992)
Hit the Ice is a three-on-three arcade hockey game, which sounds promising until you hear that zany carnival music playing over the title screen. Yikes!
You assemble your team from a collection of maniacal brutes, including goalies that resemble Jason from Friday the 13th. I like the look of the wacky characters but the gameplay is a little slow. Gamers used to the frenetic mayhem of NBA Jam
(SNES, 1994) will find themselves desperately searching for a turbo button - in vain I'm afraid. The CPU controls your teammate but you can make him pass or shoot. The key to success is to constantly harass your opponent. Smack him with your stick, kick him in the crotch, or sending him flying head over heels. Unlike other versions of this game the oversized puck moves smoothly and is easy to follow. You can wind up and aim your shot, and when you go top-shelf it's satisfying to watch the net fling back. If you can hold in the shoot button for five seconds it's possible to unleash a "super shot". After scoring a goal it looks like your players are punching themselves in the face. Huh? Fights let you punch your opponent in the face, but they are infrequent. Fans in the seats hold signs that say "GO!" The audio effects leave much to be desired, especially those scratchy voices. Hit the Ice is mildly entertaining but the periods run too long. Considering the constant back-and-forth, one five-minute period is more than enough. I love its concept but Hit the Ice feels more like a novelty item than a game. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Our high score: 21,000
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Aetherbyte (2009)
One of my favorite classic games is Berzerk
(Atari 2600, 1982), so I was excited to see Insanity adopt the same run-and-gun formula. You control a spaceman navigating a series of screens with electrified walls and deadly robots. It can be intimidating to find yourself in a room with ten robots between you and the exit, but don't panic. If you just wait a few seconds half of those dumb robots will walk into walls and fry themselves. Your character is pudgy so squeezing through narrow passages is part of the challenge. You can fire in eight directions, but don't try to clear the room. If you take too long an invincible "robot master" (round face) will suddenly appear, smashing any robots in his path. Despite what its name would imply Insanity is remarkably slow and mundane. It doesn't get remotely challenging until about the 10-minute
mark, and by then a lot of gamers will have lost interest. The best thing about Insanity is its audio. The electronic music is mesmerizing and robots utter lines like "block all exits", "you will die soon", and "fight like a robot sissy". Wait - did he just call me a p***y
?! The words are hard to make out, but in fairness those metallic voices are exactly how you would expect human-killing machines to sound. Less impressive is the game's artwork which looks like something doodled by a third-grader in the margin of his notebook. Insanity is not bad, but the slow-ramping difficulty will require some patience on your part. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 18,570
It Came From The Desert (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1992)
It Came From The Desert pays homage to the low-budget monster films of the 1950s, and in that respect it hits the nail right on the head. Based on a true story, a small desert town has been invaded by giant mind-controlling ants, which are turning its residents into bloodthirsty "ant zombies". You play the hero trying to stop the chaos, but of course nobody wants to believe your story until it's too late. The game is mainly a series of full motion video clips containing some rather decent tongue-in-cheek acting. The video is grainy but entertaining enough to draw you into the storyline. It Came From the Desert has a style of its own, making good use of dramatic music and sound effects. Occasionally you're challenged to mini arcade-style games in the form of side scrolling, overhead, or target shooting stages. These are generally fun, especially the gory stages that require you to save people being eaten alive by ants! The controls in the side-scrolling levels are pretty lousy, but even when the ants prevail, you never actually "die" - you just find yourself back where you started. You can save your game at any time, but after a while the action gets tiresome. Most people probably won't make it to the end, but fans of old monster movies will appreciate the work that went into this unique title. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hudsoft Soft (1990)
My friend Scott looked at the cover of JJ & Jeff and remarked "this looks good
". What's remarkable is how he managed to keep a straight face. The cover features two dorky white guys (think Beavis and Butthead) assuming wacky poses. If it's not the most unappealing cover ever, it's up there. You only control one of these guys, which always strikes me as odd for "buddy" games. As you stroll through neighborhoods you can kick fences, lampposts, and water fountains to dislodge coins and bonus fruit. You're attacked by giant flies, groundhogs, and poop-dropping birds. Why in the world is that bird carrying a swirly pile of dog doo?! You can fend off attackers by kicking them with your puny leg, but pouncing on them (Mario style) is more effective. Expect to absorb your share of cheap/mandatory hits, and I hate that irritating buzzing noise when your life is low. The scenery looks generic and sparse, and you can expect to spend a lot of time in the sewers. The humor in this game falls into the category of "so-bad-it's-good". Once per level you'll enter a restroom where some random dude dispenses advice while recharging your health meter. Elevators transport you to bonus areas in the clouds, and slot machines earn you extra lives. It may not sound promising, but JJ & Jeff is actually a heck of a good time. It benefits from tight controls, crisp collision detection, and an easy-going style. It's satisfying to see point values appear around the screen and even the lounge music grows on you. JJ & Jeff well surpasses its low expectations. Give it a try. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 59,800
Jack Nicklaus' Turbo Golf
Publisher: Accolade (1990)
In the early 90's console technology limited golf games to perfectly flat courses. Jack Nicklaus' Turbo Golf attempted to buck the trend, incorporating hills, contours, and texture into its courses. In retrospect, the technology was not
ready! Each hole is previewed with Jack's digitized face and some words of advice. Had he been perfectly honest, he would have suggested hitting the power button immediately! Instead you're forced to wait upwards of 10 seconds for every shot view to be rendered, block by block, from left to right. Casual players need not apply - you have to be dedicated
to play this game! You'd expect to be rewarded for your patience, but the screen actually looks like a swampy mess! There's so much clutter and rough edges, you can't even tell where the fairway
is! Want to take a quick peek at the overhead view? Rookie mistake! Upon leaving and returning to the main screen, you'll have to wait for the screen to be redrawn all over again. To aim your shot you move a tiny white ball across the top of the screen, and it's not the most intuitive thing. Beware of trees, because they might as well be brick walls!
The wind gauge is incomprehensible, and I have no idea how to read the greens. Somehow I managed to get through a round, probably due to the low difficulty. It's easy to stay on the course and the ball is attracted to the hole like a freakin' magnet!
Still, most gamers will not stand for so much waiting. The Golden Bear deserved better than this, may God rest his soul. Oh wait he's not dead. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Y'all know Jackie Chan is my boy!
Back in the 90's my buddies and I would regularly go to the movies to see his latest karate flick like "Rumble in the Bronx" and "First Strike". The fight scenes were always a blast and Jackie had an appealing self-deprecating style. Action Kung Fu embodies that style with its whimsical graphics and frenetic action. Granted, the gameplay feels very standard as you jump between moving platforms, fight demented karate masters, and catch power-ups that spring forth when you punch innocent animals in the face. What sets Action Kung Fu apart is its polish. The graphics look so crisp that even Jackie's hair has an impressive sheen. The controls are outstanding
. I can't recall the last time I so effortlessly hopped between collapsing ledges while jump-kicking creatures out of the air. While the stages are vibrant and colorful, they are also repetitive and really could really use some animation. Besides punches and jump-kicks, special icons provide special moves like a devastating roundhouse. Unlike the lame NES version it's actually fun to collect the orbs. Not only are they far more ubiquitous (they literally pour out of tigers) but you get to keep half of them even after using a continue. The game offers amazing bosses and imaginative bonus stages. Even the audio shines with its rhythmic, high-energy music and Jackie's digitized spirited yells (Hoo ya!
). It's an action-packed journey but sadly there's no password or score, just several continues. Fortunately the game is so playable you probably won't mind starting over. Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu is very much by the book but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more polished 16-bit platformer. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 75
John Madden Duo CD Football
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Considering how bad
this is, I'm shocked that NEC made Keith Courage the "pack-in" game for the Turbografx-16 system. What a lousy first impression! Keith Courage in Alpha Zones wallows in platform game cliches and poor design. Lacking its own identity, it feels like a bastard child of every mediocre platformer I've ever played. Our hero Keith, who resembles a little kid, begins each stage in the "overworld", a non-threatening area with tiny enemies, easy-to-perform jumps, and God-awful music. The overworld's main purpose is to let you purchase weapons, restore health, or purchase advice. Once you're ready, a rainbow teleports you to the "underworld", where the real action takes place. In this cavernous alternate universe, Keith dons his powerful "Nova suit". The Underworld is loaded with monotonous platforms and a mish-mash of creatures like spiders, skulls, bouncing faces, and pistol-shaped freaks. Since enemies regenerate constantly, you're better off just avoiding them when you can. Many materialize out of nowhere, making the simplest platform jumps an exercise in frustration. Beds of red spikes line the caverns, and touching them brings your game to an abrupt conclusion. The collision detection isn't so hot, but this often works to you advantage as you can sometimes whack things with your sword that should be out of reach. The underground areas are so repetitive that I thought I was going in circles when I really wasn't. Keith Courage is awfully generic and seriously lacking in the fun department. The designers tried to piece together a lot of disjoint ideas, resulting in an awkward mess. You get unlimited continues, but it's unlikely you'll want to use them. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Our high score: 52,450
Legend of Hero Tonma
Publisher: Irem (1993)
So who was the marketing wizard who came up with the dumb name for this
one? Legend of Hero Tonma offers some fast-paced, side-scrolling action that combines rapid-fire shooting with Mario-style jumping. As you explore ruins, forests, and caves, regenerating monsters badger you constantly as you shoot and jump frantically. The graphics sparkle, and the renaissance-style background music complements the visuals quite nicely. There's mad potential here, but Tonma has issues too serious to ignore. First off, the main character looks like a little kid in a Superman outfit - not cool at all. Next, the controls let me down more than a few times. Finally, the bosses are entirely too hard to defeat. You have to hit them dozens of times, and it takes forever to bring one down. Adding insult to injury, dying at the hands of a boss takes you all the way back to the middle
of the stage! C'mon! There are a generous number of power-ups, but not enough to overcome the high difficulty and frustrating gameplay. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 17800
Publisher: NEC (1989)
A Turbografx-16 classic, Legendary Axe delivers its own unique brand of hardcore hack-n-slash action. The gameplay itself is close to what I expected, but some of the level designs leave much to be desired. My friend Scott went so far as to rename this "Legendary Disappointment", but it's really not that bad. Your character, an axe-slinging caveman, hacks monsters, swings on vines, leaps over lava pits, and collects power-ups. The graphics are superb, with large characters and detailed environments. You encounter dozens of interesting creatures, each with their own distinct style of attack. The controls are responsive enough, but the gameplay is marred by petty annoyances. For one thing, little creatures like bats never seem to leave you alone, and they serve no useful purpose at all. The cave stages have multi-layered scenery that can obstruct your view at the worst times. Most creatures require plenty of hacks to kill, leaving you exposed to a lot of cheap hits. Finally, power-ups are practically required
if you want to have a chance against any of the bosses. The background music is absolutely outstanding however, and you get three continues to keep your quest going. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 16550
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Legendary Axe II is more than just a fine sequel - it's one of the best hack-n-slash adventures I've ever played. Like the first edition, you control an axe-wielding barbarian, leaping from platforms and whacking monsters like there's no tomorrow. What's not to like? Well, our hero's outfit, for one thing. He appears to be decked out in a pair of tiny Speedos! Will somebody please slap some pants on this guy!? Otherwise this game is a real treat. The creatures you encounter are amazing, including masked acrobatic freaks, giant skeleton warriors, and relentless green zombies that keep coming even after you slice them in half! The new "sickle and chain" weapon has excellent range and is extremely satisfying when it comes to knocking down those flying freaks. There's also a supply of bombs at your disposal via the Run button. Not just a side-scrolling affair, the game's seven stages twist and turn in every direction. Some of the end-of-stage bosses are so over-the-top that they're borderline comical. My favorite is the little hunchback swinging around that huge ball and chain. The stages take you through underground temples, crypts, and watery caverns. There are plenty of surprises, like skeletal arms that burst through cave walls. There's a certain amount of platform jumping involved, but the controls are crisp and the difficulty is fair. Ominous orchestrated background music adds to the overall experience. Without a doubt, Legendary Axe II is one of the best titles for the Turbografx-16. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 136050
Lords of Thunder (CD)
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Our high score: 108000