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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Turbografx-16 Reviews G-H

Galaga '90
Grade: A+
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Posted: 2001/4/25

screenshotAn A+?! 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
1 player 

Gate of Thunder (CD)
Grade: A+
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Posted: 2006/6/1

screenshotAfter playing a mediocre shooter like Psychosis, I need to kick back with Gate of Thunder to remind myself what a great shooter is really like. Play this game for five minutes and you'll understand why shooter fans flock to the Turbografx and Turbo Duo. Gate of Thunder is fantastic - a prime example of everything a shooter should be. At first glance it may look like a standard side-scroller, but few other shooters are even in the same ballpark as this.

Stage locations like space stations, asteroid belts, and mine tunnels may sound boring and typical, but Gate of Thunder's fantastic, dynamic environments make each feel like an intense thrill ride. Some even boast 3D effects that affect the field of play. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the game is its awesome weapon system.

Unlike most shooters, good power-ups are supplied early and often. Once you equip the side cannons, "chasers" (homing missiles), and a shield, you're ready to wreak tremendous havoc. Acquiring a new weapon doesn't replace your old one - it's just another addition to your arsenal, and you can switch between weapons at any time.

To deal with enemies sneaking up from behind, simply double-tap the fire button to aim backwards. And when your weapons reach maximum power, it's possible to unleash a screen-wiping "energy blast". You'll face an army of interesting metallic beasts, many of which sport moving limbs. Gate of Thunder's explosion effects are satisfying, and the game never displays any hint of slowdown.

In terms of audio, Gate of Thunder features clear voice synthesis and a driving guitar soundtrack. While the music may not be particularly catchy or memorable, it certainly manages to get the adrenaline pumping. If that wasn't enough, the game features several levels of difficulty (including "devil"), and a high score that's displayed at the top of the screen at all times. Gate of Thunder is instantly engrossing and insanely fun. All shooters should be this good. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 156600
1 player 

Genji Tsushin Agedama (Japan)
Grade: B+
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Posted: 2016/9/16

screenshotGenji 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.

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Our high score: SDZ 919,500
1 player 

Ghost Manor
Grade: F
Publisher: Turbo Tech (1992)
Posted: 2013/3/20

screenshotI 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
1 player 

Ghouls 'N Ghosts
Grade: A-
Publisher: Capcom (1990)
Posted: 2017/10/13

screenshotI purchased this game on Ebay last year thinking it would run on my Turbografx. Sadly, this pricey version of Ghouls 'N Ghosts only runs on the obscure, failed follow-up to the Turbografx called the Supergrafx. I'm lucky my Retro Freak system has the ability to play Supergrafx games! It took me a year to play the game but I think it was worth the wait. Ghouls 'N Ghosts is among the most celebrated and difficult games of all time. It inspired this site's difficulty icon for crying out loud!

This premium edition kicks off with a brief intro showing your sweetheart being carried off by a flying demon. Your knight's quest begins in a spooky graveyard as you hurl swords at ghouls and vultures. Later you'll trek through burned-out villages, over perilous cliffs, and up haunted towers. At a glance the graphics aren't substantially improved over the Genesis, but upon closer inspection you begin to notice subtle details. Check out the texture of the stone ruins and the additional layers of scenery. When you shoot a plant monster, his tentacles sometimes will actually break off!

The frenetic action is super fun and a haunting organ refrain adds to the playfully macabre atmosphere. The collision detection is forgiving, which is fortunate considering the brutal difficulty. Ghouls 'N Ghosts is probably too difficult for its own good, and having to restart at the windy forest area after dying at the first boss is painful. And why do these chests always open to reveal that bastard magician guy?

If it's any consolation, any weapon you acquire is not only retained for subsequent lives but subsequent continues as well. There are only three continues however, so good luck finishing this game. Still, it's fun to make a little more progress each time. The more I played this Supergrafx Ghouls 'N Ghosts, the more I realized it's probably the definitive home version. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 16,900
1 or 2 players 

Godzilla (CD)
Grade: B-
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Posted: 2007/3/4

screenshotI've always been a big Godzilla fan, and as a kid I even had that 2-foot tall Godzilla Shogun Warrior. Up until the release of Godzilla Destroy All Monsters (GameCube 2002), this Turbo Duo CD was probably the premiere Godzilla game. It's a one-on-one, Street Fighter 2-style brawler starring all of your favorite creatures from the old Japanese monster flicks. The 16-beast line-up includes Rodan, Gigan, Ghidorah, Megalon, Hedorah the smog monster, and Mecha-Godzilla.

The gameplay borrows heavily from Street Fighter 2, but the action is much slower and more deliberate. That makes sense when you consider we're dealing with lumbering beasts towering over 60 meters high. Some of the more powerful attacks are tricky to execute (up, left, right, button?) but most of the basic moves are no problem. I especially enjoyed unleashing Godzilla's fire breath, which you can direct at several angles.

You'll witness a lot of unusual attacks, like Gigan's "chainsaw stomach", or Rodan's ability to generate tornados (I think I actually saw that in a movie once). The only creature I found to be particularly "cheap" was the "Biollante" water monster, whose tentacles seem impossible to defend against. Incidentally, he's not available in two-player versus mode. Health meters tend to deplete slowly, but since there's only one round, the matches are ideal in length.

The creatures look respectable enough, although I do wish they were larger. The stages are surprisingly sparse, and the one with the frozen ocean waves looks especially bad. There are a few surprises however, like when a building collapses under your weight, or seeing two other monsters fighting in the distance in the Megalon stage (just like the movie).

The audio is strong, with unique digitized sound effects for each creature. Hearing Godzilla's distinctive roar is always a treat, and the game's sweeping musical score also adds to the overall experience. Godzilla's gameplay may be too slow for most casual gamers, but fans of the big green lizard will relish every bit of this rare title. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 255500
1 or 2 players 

Heavy Unit (Japan)
Grade: F
Publisher: Taito (1989)
Posted: 2024/5/24

screenshotThe Turbografx-16 (PC Engine in Japan) was always a hotbed for quality 2D shooters. You really can't go wrong with any of these... right? Well, Heavy Unit manages to disprove that theorem. This game is junk. It looks like a typical side-scroller but is poorly-designed and looks like ass.

This may be the ugliest shooter I've ever seen. The scenery looks so bland and indistinct. The enemies you face make no sense. The first is a string of skulls slithering all over the place. First they run circles around your slow ship, then plow into you like a locomotive. Then you're thrust into this tight area with three laser-emitting sentries, a giant stomper device, and a trio of fire-breathing dragon heads. This is the start of the game!

As if the game was self-aware of its poorly-tuned difficulty, upon dying you resume in the next section. That's right - instead of forcing you to complete the tricky part cleanly, it automatically promotes you ahead. Frankly It's kind of disconcerting; I don't ever recall seeing a game behave like this before.

Both buttons appear to perform the same function at first, but I soon realized they are separate weapons equipped by collecting letter icons. You can experiment with various combinations like spraying bullets and guided missiles. There's no reason not to crank up the turbo switches and hold down both buttons the whole time, but even that feels tiresome. Occasionally you'll change from a ship to a robot, but that just makes you a bigger target.

In one area there are archers firing flaming arrows from ruins below. You'll need to keep low to hit them, but skimming the ground may or may not cause you to blow up. It's never clear what scenery you can harmlessly pass through. Case in point: in stage two you appear to be trapped in a narrow passage with spikes along the top and bottom, but they turn out to be a harmless backdrop.

Most of the larger enemies seem completely impervious to your attacks, including a scary japanese mask and spinning balls of spikes. Even at full power I seemed to do no damage to them, so what is the point? At least the bosses flicker when you hit their weak spot. That's good because they tend to be so shapeless you can't tell what you're looking at.

I'm not gonna lie; when your weapons are fully loaded up it's moderately fun to cruise through the game. But take one hit and the party's over. Heavy Unit lacks any kind of style or unifying theme. It's just a sloppy hodgepodge of random creatures in murky environments. Unlimited continues are available, but you may want to consider cutting your losses. Note: An adapter is required to play Japanese PC Engine games on American systems. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 96,500
1 player 

Hit the Ice
Grade: D+
Publisher: Taito (1992)
Posted: 2017/3/8

screenshotHit 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 send 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.

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1 to 4 players 

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 [A-B]   [C]   [D]   [E-F]  G-H  [I-K]   [L-M]   [N-O]   [P-R]   [S]   [T]   [U-Z

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