Turbografx-16 Reviews N-O

Neutopia
Grade: B+
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1990)
Reviewed: 2006/4/25

screenshotNeutopia is commonly described as Zelda for the Turbografx, and that description is dead-on. The most obvious difference between this and any other Zelda game is that the main character's hair is brown instead of blonde. Neutopia looks, sounds, and plays like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Super Nintendo, 1992), albeit with slightly less polish.

Even the storyline is familiar. An evil wizard has kidnapped the princess, but our hero can't save her until he obtains eight medallions spread across the land. Subtle details practically scream of Zelda, like octopuses shooting projectiles from the water, the constant beeping heard when your health runs low, and the way your character triumphantly raises a newly-acquired item.

As you wander between contiguous land areas, you encounter dungeons, merchants, and people offering advice. You'll fend off wandering monsters with your sword and shield, blow up obstacles with bombs, and consume potions to replenish your health. Each dungeon offers a variety of enemies and simple puzzles, culminating with an obligatory boss encounter.

Despite its derivative nature, Neutopia is irresistibly fun and its production qualities are impressive. The game saves your progress to memory, and even provides a password. I enjoyed Neutopia, but the stage design could have used some work. Often I couldn't figure out what to do next and ended up wandering in circles. Still, this is a quality adventure that Turbografx fans will savor. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

New Adventure Island
Grade: A
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Reviewed: 2019/9/7

screenshotIt may be pricey but New Adventure Island is a pretty fantastic game. It may resemble its SNES cousin on the surface but it's actually a lot more enjoyable. You control a chubby little guy running through side-scrolling stages while collecting shiny fruit. Along the way you toss weapons like axes, arrows, and boomerangs at spiders, pigs, and snakes in your path.

My first instinct was to set the throw button to turbo, but then I realized I couldn't run with it set like that. Using a single button to both run and throw is a little confusing at first, but soon becomes second nature. I like the way sweat flies off your brow when you sprint. The hazards are nicely spaced so you can really get into a rhythm playing this. Fruit appears as you go, which encourages non-stop running.

The graphics are cheerfully simple, and I like that Hudson Soft logo on those checkpoint flags. There's no password but the game offers unlimited continues. There's something about this game that's very pure. At times, it feels almost effortless to play. Easy, breezer, and fun, New Adventure Island is the kind of game anybody can enjoy. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 31900
1 player 

Night Creatures
Grade: D+
Publisher: NEC (1992)
Reviewed: 2002/5/3

screenshotMuch like Altered Beast on the Genesis, this side scroller allows you to transform into wild animals while battling monsters from beyond the grave. I really, really wanted to like this game. The graphics are exceptional, with spooky scenery set in graveyards, catacombs, and deserted villages. Night Creatures looks like a more serious version of Ghouls and Ghosts, and the creatures you encounter make quite an impression.

There are nearly 40 different monsters if you include the bosses, and they tend to be surprisingly creepy. The effective visuals are matched by a haunting refrain that plays in the background. Unfortunately, the gameplay does not live up to the presentation. The interface used to switch weapons and transform is awkward, requiring you to pause the game.

Your character takes a lot of cheap hits and is constantly dying. Even transforming into animals drains your life, so you can only do it sparingly. My best advice is to punch while squatting, which seems to make you much less vulnerable to attack. Night Creatures lets you save your place if you're running on a Turbo Duo, but overall this title feels like a missed opportunity. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Ninja Spirit
Grade: B
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Reviewed: 2002/2/16

screenshotThis is a fighting game for shooter fans. I say that because you control a ninja who can amass a huge degree of firepower. He begins with a simple sword, but this weapon can be powered-up multiple times and its range extended substantially. Other weapons include stars, knives, bombs, and chains. Some power-ups even create mirror images of your ninja, who mimic your actions and multiply the damage you inflict. And if you think doubling your firepower is fun, wait until you get two or three mirrors!

Enemy ninjas attack all directions (including under the floor), and they explode when you kill them. The collision detection strongly favors the player; some of my sword slashes killed guys that appeared to be far out of range. Only against the bosses do you need to be extra careful in this game. I really liked the carnage I could unleash in Ninja Spirit. There's not much technique required, but it's definitely a good twitch game. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 118600
1 or 2 players 

Ninja Warriors, The (Japan)
Grade: F
Publisher: Taito (1989)
Reviewed: 2015/11/24

screenshotHaving enjoyed Ninja Warriors (SNES, 1994) I figured I'd give the original PC Engine game a try. It seemed like a good idea at the time! So why is my ninja dressed in red and hobbling around like a girl in high heels? Under closer scrutiny I realized my ninja was a chick! I would have never suspected that from the generic cover. It turns out you can toggle between a female and male from the main menu. Regardless of your choice you're in for a level of monotony that might be described as brutal.

Instead of employing agility and stealth like any respectable ninja you stumble down the street while mindlessly slashing at everything. Soldiers approach but don't brandish their weapons until you're already in the act of stabbing them. Some can fire weapons from a distance but your throwing stars make short work of those guys. Setting your turbo switch to maximum transforms you into an unstoppable stabbing machine, and squatting makes you nearly impervious to danger. There's no point in jumping because it just exposes you to cheap hits.

You'll eventually encounter creepy monkey hunchbacks that leap away whenever you attack them - so inconvenient! The backgrounds depict a war-torn city but there's nothing much to see. The second stage takes place on a military base and features a super annoying boss who disappears and reappears all over the place. Ninja Warriors is an abysmal affair and frankly I'm shocked a sequel even got the green light. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 58,290
1 player 

Order of the Griffon
Grade: B-
Publisher: TTI (1992)
Reviewed: 2016/9/16

screenshotOnce you get over its quirks Order of the Griffon is a nifty little licensed Dungeons & Dragons RPG. You'll assemble a party of four characters (fighter, mage, cleric, thief, etc) and there's not a heck of a lot of customization (none in fact). That's fine because new D&D characters don't usually live very long so no use falling in love with them. While exploring castles and dungeons you get a first-person view presented in a screen window. Expect a lot of perfectly square rooms, 90-degree turns, and repetitive scenery. What you see looks detailed, but the contents of many rooms are described via text only, and that's lame. The sound effects are sparse (when present at all) but the renaissance-style music adds ambiance.

Before heading out into the wilderness you'll want to battle-harden your crew by engaging in a few local skirmishes. Once you finally set out your party looks like a tiny icon on a world map. During encounters the view switches to a closer overhead view. I couldn't help but notice my characters on this screen look nothing like those on the inventory screens. You often have to scroll around to locate your enemies, which is kind of tedious. You take turns moving your characters a distance determined by class and attributes. Dwarves are slow as molasses but boy are they tough! Mages are pitifully weak yet can wield spells from afar.

The early battles are pretty comical since about 80% of attacks result in "miss". Things become more interesting as your characters level up. Once you get a feel for the controls the pacing is remarkably brisk, and it helps that the game isn't hampered by CD technology. My main complaint is the lack of a map while exploring dungeons, causing you to waste time moving in circles. I also dislike the frequency of unavoidable wilderness encounters. Watching your party get winnowed away is disheartening, especially when you've just completed a mission and are just trying to get home. Be sure to frequently save via memory or password. It's a rough gem, but Order of the Griffon isn't a bad little RPG to cozy up with on a rainy Saturday afternoon. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: password/memory
1 player 

Ordyne
Grade: C
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Reviewed: 2006/4/25


screenshotI remember Ordyne as a standout title on Namco Museum Volume 4 (Playstation, 1997). Yeah, I know that's not saying much considering the quality of that collection. Ordyne is a whimsical little shooter with childlike graphics that can be played by two people simultaneously. You control little kids flying miniature planes and shooting at large, colorful objects. The game's whimsical nature and pastel color schemes really bring to mind Fantasy Zone.

Your plane comes equipped with both missile and bomb weapons. Upon destroying a series of identical objects, bundles of balloons appear carrying "crystals" which can be used to upgrade weapons. Besides purchasing weapons at the floating "Space Inn", there's also a lottery ship that rewards you with random bonuses. The ability to buy and experiment with various weapons is easily the highlight of the game.

The action moves at a leisurely pace, and is definitely on the easy side. Enemy projectiles move slowly and are shaped like large, orange circles. After breezing through the initial "airship" stage, and then through caverns filled with floating orange donuts, the challenge finally kicks in with a treacherous underwater stage. My friends weren't particularly impressed, but this likeable shooter is a natural for younger gamers. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 48100
1 or 2 players 

Outrun (Japan)
Grade: A-
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Reviewed: 2016/5/5

screenshotWith its bright graphics and laid-back style, Outrun is truly a classic. This PC Engine version certainly does the game justice, but is it as good as its Genesis cousin? Keep reading to find out! The opening stage is a beautiful beach adorned with palm trees, surf shacks, and blooming cumulus clouds. One noticeable difference in this version is that the sky is actually a teal color instead of deep blue. It looks fine but feels a bit subdued. The graphics and music are actually clearer than the Genesis, yet the audio sounds less robust.

The gameplay is exciting as you weave through traffic and the tension mounts as you approach the next checkpoint as the timer ticks down. When you crash your convertible the passengers are not violently ejected from the vehicle, which is disappointing. It takes a while to get back up to speed, especially since you're forced to switch into low gear to get started. It's not easy to tell which gear you're in, and unlike the Genesis version (which dedicates a button to shifting gears) it's easy to accidentally slide back into low gear. Fortunately the collision detection is highly forgiving - perhaps to a fault.

The branching course offers excellent replay value, taking you through vineyards, ruins, deserts, and a "cloudy mountain" that looks like a tidal wave washing over you. At the conclusion of your game a map shows the route you took. The high score screen features a dramatic sunset and bittersweet music that makes you feel sad your joyride has come to an end. The Genesis version gets the nod from me, but the fun of Outrun can't be denied on any system. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3,534,000
1 player 

Override (Japan)
Grade: A
Publisher: Data East (1990)
Reviewed: 2016/3/27

screenshotJust when I thought shooting games got no better than Download (NEC, 1990), Override comes along and rocks my world! This is a shooter of the vertically-scrolling variety, but it's equally superb. Override is quite possibly the fastest shooter I've ever played! I could barely control my ship until I realized the second button adjusts your speed. You'll probably want to keep it near the lowest setting.

Your oversized ship makes for a big target but your rapid-fire cannon helps even the odds. You power it up by collecting pods and also acquire secondary weapons via floating icons. Icons rotate colors and if you select your current weapon color you'll augment it up to three levels. A high level of excitement is derived from buying yourself enough time dodging crossfire to snag an icon when it's just the right color.

When fully powered-up the gameplay is ecstasy. Getting hit reduces your power and at the lowest level you're vulnerable to death. The background graphics are pretty standard as you glide over forests, barren landscapes, and well-fortified enemy entrenchments. There's a stage that features trains and another with tanks pouring out of bunkers. The bosses are interesting in design but predictable in their movements.

I found the difficulty to be fair, at least until I hit stage four which incorporates buildings you cannot fly over. Not only does this constrict your movement, it prevents you from reaching some valuable icons. I really couldn't get enough of this game. Override is an outstanding shooter that hits the sweet spot of the 2D shooting formula. Note: This game will not run natively on a non-Japanese system. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 371,220
1 player 


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