Dragon’s Curse (TurboGrafx-16)

40967_frontYou would think mixing Wonder Boy and Zelda 2 would result in a fantastic game. Dragon’s Curse attempts to do this and it doesn’t fail, it just crashes about halfway through. What was once fun and entertaining soon became a test of nerves. Sad to say the game won. It beat me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun before tossing in the old white towel.

Dragon’s Curse is an action platformer with light RPG elements. In short you get cursed by Dragons and you must find the Salamander Cross which is a “powerful antidote” as the game puts it. Your main weapon is a sword but there are sub weapons such as fire balls, boomerangs, and arrows to name a few. Along the way you’ll come across shops that sell new swords, armor, and shields. Be sure to collect every piece of gold you come across. You’ll need it. Other than that it controls like a Wonder Boy game. Nothing bad here.

Main Menu. You select sub weapons here as well.

Main Menu. You select sub weapons here as well.

After a boss fight you get turned into something different. Of course you start as a Dragon who can shoot fireballs. The second thing you get turned to is Mouse-Man who can cling to and climb walls. Third is the Piranha-Man who can swim and last was the Tiger-Man who can swing his sword up and down rather than just jabbing. After awhile you’ll find a platform (usually hidden) that allows you to switch between any form. It would have been better if a button allowed for this as going back to one of these platforms is tedious. Sometimes they are far away. The game lacks any form of fast travel so you’ll be trekking through the same areas often.

Creatures you get turned into.

Creatures you get turned into.

Shortly after becoming the Piranha-Man Dragon’s Curse started to show its true form. I got lost. There isn’t any story other than at the very beginning. I actually had to look up a FAQ to figure out what to do and what you have to do is so darn cryptic. I’m talking Castlevania 2’s “Stand next to a wall with a crystal” cryptic. You have to have the Dragon Armor equipped and have collected 30 stones to be able to cross lava. 30 stones that are a complete and random drop! Luckily I found an area with what seemed to be a higher drop rate. I made a video to better explain and to show the exact location.

I got as far as the Ninja Castle before giving up. The enemies just seemed over powered and death came quickly. I’m sure I played in a role in that. After all I only had four hearts total. And I know for a fact I didn’t have all the swords or different types of armor. Some of the shops are hidden. If you come to a dead end be sure to walk slowly while pressing up. I’ve found some hidden shops and I’m sure there are a lot more I missed. The game just gets so hard and cryptic I got frustrated and gave up.

Dragon's Curse (USA)-004

I know it sounds like I didn’t have much fun with Dragon’s Curse but that’s not true. The controls are simple although using sub weapons is odd. You have to be pressing down while tapping the attack button. The physics are a little slidey. Almost like you are on ice but you’ll soon adapt. The graphics are nice and like most games on the TG-16 they are colorful. I’ve also caught myself humming the music long after I’ve stopped playing. It’s just that huge spike in difficulty that killed the fun I was having with the game. Perhaps I’ll return someday to remove the Dragon’s Curse.

Final Verdict:

  • Nice colorful graphics
  • Catchy tunes
  • Back-tracking gets old fast, no fast travel
  • Big difficulty spike halfway through
  • Some parts are ridiculously cryptic

Score: 3/5

 

 

 

 

The Legendary Axe (TurboGrafx-16)

????????????????????????Launch games are basically laughed at now before they are even released. As soon as a launch game is announced prior to a consoles release the internet is already buzzing with “LOL Launch game” and other snark. Usually these games get ignored and ripped apart in reviews. Luckily, back when I was a kid in the 80’s launch games were celebrated. The 80’s and 90’s had some of the best launch games in my opinion. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most revolutionary games ever created and it was a launch game for the NES. Sonic the Hedgehog blew everyone’s minds with its “Blast processing’ and colorful graphics. Well it just so happens the next game I chose to review was one of the TurboGrafx-16’s launch titles, The Legendary Axe.

You play as Gogan who sets out to rescue his friend Flare. She was selected by the Cult of Jagu to use her as a sacrifice to the almighty Jagu. Gogan was out studying warfare and once he learns of Flares kidnapping he of course must rescue her. Now that we have the ever important set up, we can play the game! The Legendary Axe is an action-adventure platformer with simple controls. You have a jump and attack button. It controls pretty good… .well platforming can be tricky, but once you adjust to the physics you’ll soon have it down. Gogan, for some odd reason reminds me of Brandon Fraser in Encino Man only Gogan is rockin’ red dread locks.

Legendary Axe, The (USA)-004

Stoney?

You attack with an axe of course. There is no fancy axe swinging here, just one short, forward swing. You can’t aim up but you can duck down and swing. This comes in handy when you fight bigger creatures like the golems. There are power ups to make your attack stronger. The long bar at the top of the screen represents your axe’s power. At first the bar is empty but as you collect power ups, it will grow. When you attack the meter drops but will refill if you’re not attacking. The higher the meter the stronger your attack is.

The item in the middle raises the power meter.

The item in the middle raises the power meter.

There are only six zones in the game and each zone has two acts. The levels are your typical platformer levels. Caves, jungles, and ice levels etc. The enemies are even more generic. Giant spiders and bugs. Oh and you can’t forget such classics as bats!! Members of the Jagu cult will appear throughout levels and are basically mutated caveman-pumpkin heads. They are quickly disposed of as are most enemies in Legendary Axe.

The boss fights are humorous in the “I’m a big bad man fighting nature” way. Not only do you fight two, I repeat, two grizzly bears at once but one boss encounter is actually two big boulders! I was actually laughing that the creators thought two boulders simply rolling back and forth would make a great boss fight. The giant, fuzzy, floating- purple eyes boss fight in Zone 3B gave me trouble and sadly I could not continue on with the game.

Taking down grizzlies and balls!!

Taking down grizzlies and balls!!

For a launch title The Legendary Axe delivers. Sure it’s no Sonic or Mario but the cheesy action will make you feel manly. Like a man of the land taking on nature. The graphics are nice but nothing special. Same with the music. The controls are easy to learn thus resulting in a nice experience. With some patience you’ll soon master the levels. If I stuck with it more I’m sure I could take down the boss on 3B but I’ll be honest, I rage quit. Perhaps you have the skills and patience to take down the Jagu Cult and rescue Flare!

Final Verdict:

  • easy to learn controls
  • nice graphics and some interesting boss fights
  • epic grizzly fights
  • limited attack

Score: 3/5

Goodnight sweet Stoney. (I couldn't beat these guys)

Goodnight sweet Stoney. (I couldn’t beat these guys)

 

 

 

Aero Blasters (TurboGrafx 16)

Aero Blasters

 

It’s that time again! Time to compare a TurboGrafx-16 game to a port on a different console. Aero Blasters is actually a game I’m familiar with. As soon as I started playing I knew I was playing a early version of Air Buster. Air Buster was the second game I got on the Sega Genesis and one of the few shmups I’ve managed to complete. This review will be like my Ninja Ryukenden review complete with screen shots to compare!

There is no story, it’s just straight into action. You take control of a jet that is equipped with a single gun. Holding down button one allows for a steady stream of bullets while holding down button two releases a blast that kills all enemies on the screen. You will have to wait for the bar at the top of the screen to refill before you can use the blast again. The controls are exactly the same on the Sega Genesis and the graphics really aren’t that much different. Just some very minor differences. In most cases the Genesis version had more background detail.

WM Boss 1 Compare

It didn’t take me long to notice that the TurboGrafx-16 version is the more difficult version. In the Genesis port there is an options menu that lets you raise your lives and continues. I maxed these out every time I played Air Buster. But on the TG16 there is no option to do this. All you get is two lives and five continues and believe me these will go fast! By the time I reached level two I had used two continues! Compared to the Genesis version I wouldn’t have even used one and only died once on the first level. They definitely made the game easier on the Genesis.

WM Level 3 Compare

Some parts of Aero Blasters are just plain unfair. I’m assuming that is because this version is more based on the arcade original and as we all know, most arcade games were designed to eat our quarters. On level two Mechanized Cave for example, there’s a high speed area in which you zoom down tunnels. This part is doable on the Genesis, but on the TG16, I couldn’t pass it! Luckily there are some cheat codes for the Tg16 for more lives and a level skip. I’ll share those at the bottom of this review. It’s obvious they knew the Tg16 was too hard and made it much more easier on the Genesis. I’m not saying the Genesis version is simple, it’s still fairly tough but with enough practice you’ll be able to beat it. Unlike the unfair Tg16 version.

WM Level 2 Compare

Both Aero Blasters and Air Buster only have six levels. They have the same power ups as well. Random big yellow containers float by. Once shot power ups fly everywhere. They are your typical shmup weapons. Some are heat seeking missiles or two guns that float beside you adding to your firepower. Be sure to collect the orange P’s as they add another bullet stream to your jet. These are probably they most important power up to get. You’ll be mowing down big bosses in no time!

I’m more partial to the Genesis music. Only because I’m more familiar with it. The TG16 music isn’t bad, but I personally prefer the Genesis. Some of the later levels have some of the greatest music on the Genesis in my opinion. The arcade music of course is the better out of all the versions but again I still prefer the good old grungy sound of the Genesis. Seriously, listen to some of the music on YouTube. I promise it will not disappoint!

WM Boss 2 Compare

Overall, I’d say stick with the Genesis version here. It’s still challenging but not cheap. I still can’t believe I couldn’t beat level two on the TG16. Of the two levels I got to play, the level designs were slightly different than on the Genesis. One sweet thing the Genesis had over the TG16 was a glove. Yes an actual glove that you could send off for. It helped you “because the action is fast and furious. And the game is hot.” I actually owned this back then and wish I still had it. It did nothing more but to make you feel cool. But yes, if you want a darn near impossible experience play Aero Blasters on the TG16. If you want a better more enjoyable experience with rocking tunes, play Air Buster on the Sega Genesis.

I wish I still had my glove.

I wish I still had my glove.

Final Verdict:

  • A hard as nails schmup
  • Genesis version is more fair than the TG16 and has better music
  • No glove offer on the TG16
  • Other than the difficulty and minor graphical differences, they are identical

Score: TG16: 2/5 Genesis: 4/5

Cheats:

Extra Lives: Right-Right-Right-Select on the title screen

Level Select: Enter the extra lives code first, then hit button one 10 times to start at level 2. To start at higher levels, Press button I once more for each level above 2. (i.e., 11 times to start on level 3, 12 times for level 4, etc.) To complete the code, press Select, Select, Run.

 

 

Yo Bro (TurboGrafx 16)

Yo Bro

The 90’s was a a fun time to experience. Looking back on it now we all have a good laugh but we retro gamers still love our games from then. No I’m not one those “90’s kids” who go on and on about the 90’s and was more than likely born in 99. I was born in 83 so I just have fond memories of the decade. From the goofy hair, bad hip hop, colorful clothes and the lingo, it was good times. Now you might be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, I believe I just played the most 90’s game ever and that game was Yo Bro.

Take a minute and look at that box art above. It just reeks of the 1990’s! You got your bright pink, green and blue colors. Not to mention the skateboard and the “hip” looking bear with a slingshot. If that’s not 90’s enough for you just wait until you start playing the game. You play as a skateboarding rad bear whos mission is to save the kids from various disasters. You do this armed with a slingshot and of course your bodacious board dude! As you play there’s a box at the bottom of the screen that displays various text. I’ll share some of these radical phrases with you!

  • “It pays to thrash”
  • “Later days dork”
  • “King road rash”
  • “Crash and burn”
  • “Eat this nasty”
  • “Most victorious”
  • “Bad bail bro”
Save the kids!!

Save the kids!!

As you can probably tell, this gnarly text shows up after bailing and attacking enemies. The first level has you saving kids from giant plants with mouths. Think Little Shop of Horrors. Your basic weapon is the slingshot but you can find different weapons scattered about. My favorite was the seeking missile that killed enemies in one hit. Other weapons include a stronger slingshot, a slingshot that shoots three balls, and grenades to name a few. There really isn’t a point to saving the kids that I can tell. They are basically just bonus points after you beat a stage.

Yo, Bro (USA)-007

The controls is what makes Yo Bro frustrating. You can move in eight directions but it seems this wasn’t a good feature here. You turn very slow and turning around takes too long. If you are going fast and turn, your turn is pretty wide. This makes for killing some of the enemies a pain. Some levels just have a set number of enemies to kill. You can locate them by following the arrow at the bottom of the screen. Other levels have different things that respawn enemies for example, level two has killer bees. Not only do you have to kill the bees but you have to kill the hives as well or bees will keep spawning. In every level there is some creeper dog in tight jeans trying to get you. He respawns no matter what it seems.

Pants tight enough?

Pants tight enough?

Some of the things you have to save the kids from are ridiculous. Sure you got zombies and aliens, but after awhile it gets weird. Toxic waste barrels that just sit there. I guess the kids can wander aimlessly into the waste. Or you have volcanoes, dinosaurs, and cute little bunny rabbits. I wasn’t aware that rabbits were so deadly. The funniest threat would have to go to level eleven. It was fires. I’m not kidding, there are big lighters sitting in the streets shooting fire balls. Yeah, really stretching it there Yo Bro.

The music is probably one of the best things about this game. Chip tune versions of classic Beach Boys songs. I’m not a fan of them really but I know of their music and can admit some of it is catchy. It didn’t take me but 5 seconds to realize the first levels song was California Girls. It actually kind of shocked me to hear as I doubt the developers had permission to use the music. The second levels music is Help me Rhonda while level 3 has I get around. Level fours track I wasn’t too sure on but it may have been The little Old Lady from Pasadena. After level four it goes back to California Girls and so on. These chip tune versions of these songs will soon be burned into your ears, which actually isn’t too bad of a thing.

Toxic waste that can be destroyed with a slingshot!

Toxic waste that can be destroyed with a slingshot!

Overall, give Yo Bro a shot if nothing more to remind you of the radical 90’s. It is a pretty bad game due to bad controls and bad enemy respawn on some of the levels. I made it to level eleven and couldn’t go on anymore but while I was playing I’ll admit I had a little bit of fun. Partly due to the soundtrack and also for reminding me of my childhood.

Final Verdict:

  • Nice soundtrack featuring chip tune versions of Beach Boys music
  • Gushing with 90’s lingo
  • Colorful, just like 90’s fashion
  • Bad controls make killing enemies tough
  • Creeper dogs wear tight jeans

Score 2/5

Victory dance after completing a level

Victory dance after completing a level

 

 

 

Legend of Hero Tonma (TurboGrafx 16)

Legend of Hero Tonma

It was bound to happen. Sure I’ve barely dipped my feet into the PCE/TG16 pool but I didn’t think I’d run into a stinker this fast. I have been pleasantly surprised so far in my journey but lets face it, they all can’t be zingers! Legend of Hero Tonma is one infuriating game! Even the name is odd. I have to stop myself every time from calling it “Legend of THE Hero Tonma”. There should be a”The” after of. It just sounds better, at least to me but that is the least of this games problems.

Right from the get go you’ll soon discover that Tonma dies only after taking one hit. Now this doesn’t always lead to a bad game. I have played many games with a one hit KO and didn’t have any issues. It boils down to difficulty. If you’re making a game that you know is going to be hard, you should NOT be able to die in one hit. Could you imagine if Ninja Gaiden took this route? I don’t even want to think about that!

All that remains after Tonma dies is his cape.

All that remains after Tonma dies is his cape.

When I first started playing I didn’t think it was that bad. It seemed like your typical action-platformer that was all the rage in the 90s. Tonma can jump on enemies but his real means of attacking is his fireballs. Sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it? Tonma can’t however kill enemies with one stomp on their head. It takes three stomps which is kind of odd. You can upgrade Tonma’s fireballs by collecting P-orbs. You start off with 2 fireballs but you’ll soon have a swarm of criss-crossing fireballs complete with homing and even a bomb that randomly plops out. That is assuming you live long enough to collect enough P-orbs.

All of this may not make the game seem that bad but mix the one hit deaths with horrible enemy respawns and you’ll soon find yourself cussing with frustration. Sure some enemies don’t respawn. Not as bad as say Ninja Gaiden but enough do to make the game bad. I guess it is forgiving in some areas. There are check points in the stages and you do have infinite continues. If you lose all of your lives but reach a checkpoint, you’ll be able to continue at the checkpoint so there’s a plus. If you stick with the game enough and learn enemy patterns you can get further but I was unable to beat the game. I let frustration get the best of me with this one.

Holy fireballs, Tonma!

Holy fireballs, Tonma!

Overall, Legend of Hero Tonma is a bad game, but it is not the worst game out there. Judging by the world map it’s not even a long game. Six levels tops and I was only able to make it to the fourth level before I had enough. The music is easily forgettable and enemy placement is horrible. If you come across these pink things with a long tongue in a tunnel, my advice for you is to keep running or else you’ll be killed by enemies respawning behind you. Another tip: pressing up will cause Tonma to float slowly down to the ground. Use this to your advantage to float by troublesome areas.

Just keep running!!

Just keep running!!

Legend of Hero Tonma is a rare card here in the US due to it coming out near the end of the TurboGrafx’s life. Unless you’re a hardcore collector of the console, I’d say go with emulating this one. It’s not even nothing really special. The story is bad and oddly translated. All you do is find keys that open up doors in the levels to eventually meet up with a boss. Honestly, with how frustrating and forgettable it is, I’d say go ahead and skip Tonma altogether.

Final Verdict:

  • One hit deaths
  • Horrible enemy placement and almost constant enemy respawn
  • Infinite continues
  • Levels do have checkpoints
  • Odd translation

Score: 1/5

That.....kind of makes sense.

That…..kind of makes sense.

 

 

 

 

 

Cratermaze (TurboGrafx 16)

Cratermaze_Coverart

I’m a sucker for arcade games. Games like Mappy, Dig Dug and countless others always caught my attention. I guess you can say I preferred the “High Score” era of arcades rather than the super loud fighters and shooters. Don’t get me wrong, those are fun as well but the older arcade games are more for me. Home ports of these “High Score” type games usually converted pretty well. I know this blog isn’t about arcade games but Cratermaze sure felt like one to me and it’s such a fun but easy game.

The story is simple and basic which is fine for these type of games. Basically you and four friends are bored and decide to go through time in your magic carpet ship. After awhile the evil ZenZombie appears and takes your friends! Yeah you can see where this is going. Time to rescue your friends buy collecting treasure and burying baddies!

Cratermaze Screen grab

Game play takes place in a maze as if that wasn’t obvious by the name of the game. You complete a stage by collecting all 16 treasure chests, finding the green key and proceeding to the exit. Simple enough. That’s why I like these games. Easy to grasp and then shoot for that high score! You only use one button which is used for attacking and of course you control your character with the d pad. Your basic attack is digging a hole and waiting until an enemy falls in. Bury the enemy for bonus points. A buried enemy is marked by a cross on the ground and is worth 1000 bonus points after a level. Be warned: where there’s a grave you won’t be able to dig another hole there. Some levels have springs and or portals to help add to the challenge.

Of course there are other power ups but all of them are limited by a timer. You’ll want to keep an eye out for shovels, blue shoes, and roller skates. Both the shoes and skates increase your speed which is a huge advantage over your enemies. Shovels increase how many holes you can dig at a time. If you die you lose the speed and shovels which is hard to get used to if you’ve had super speed for awhile. There are numerous other power ups to help you out. A couple examples are a yoyo which insta kills enemies and a clock that freezes them. Cratermaze has 60 levels and every 15 level you rescue one of your friends. You don’t actually do anything, it just happens in a cut scene.

Reunited and it feels so good!

Reunited and it feels so good!

As I was playing I kept wondering if there was ever going to be a boss of some kind. On Round 30 I got that answer even though it wasn’t much of a boss fight. Instead of being in a maze you are in a big open area. Your goal is the same: get the 16 treasure chests and get to the exit. The boss just floats around aimlessly so you really shouldn’t have a problem avoiding him. Upon collecting the 16th chest the boss just crumbles. You fight the same type of boss on level 60 as well .Honestly the game is really easy. Granted I did play the game on normal, but it felt the normal mode could have been more difficult. I never had to use a continue, that is if continues exist. I played all 60 rounds and probably died 12 times, but that’s subjective. It all depends on personal skill!

One thing I thought was neat was the cast of odd characters that create each round. At the start of every round a group of guys run in lines across the screen leaving behind the level. Who are these folks? I couldn’t tell you. I thought after you rescued a friend maybe you could play as them. It would have been neat to be able to do this and have each friend have a different way of attacking. Sadly this isn’t the case. You’re stuck as the “Mega Man reject”.

Cratermaze (USA)-003

Who are these guys?

I feel like I’ve said way too much about Cratermaze. I mean after all, it’s just a simple fun arcade game. I guess it’s because I really enjoyed it. It’s a shame this isn’t a 2 player game. Cratermaze is the perfect game to grab a friend and go at it! I say the game is worth a shot. Even if you are a little curious try it out, you might be surprised! For those who are up for a “Just for fun Challenge”, I’ll post my final high score for Cratermaze. I did complete the game and it was on normal difficulty. Post your scores and screen shots if possible in the comments!

Final Verdict:

  • Fun arcade game play
  • easy to learn
  • cute graphics and nice music
  • low difficulty-fun for all ages
  • should be a 2 player game

Score: 4/5

Cratermazr Highscore

Final High Score: 1,890.000

 

 

 

 

Magical Chase (TurboGrafx 16)

Magical Chase

To kick off my journey to review every TurboGrafx 16 and PC Engine game, I decided to go with a cute little game called Magical Chase! When I first discovered the TG16/PCE through emulation, I took to Twitter for some requests. Oddly enough no one requested this one. I discovered it on my own and it’s one I return to frequently. Because of that I decided to go with Magical Chase as it’s fun and to kick this off on a happy note.

You play as a cute little witch named Ripple on a journey to fix what she had wronged. She wasn’t supposed to open her teacher’s book: “The Forbidden Book of hidden Demons.” If she did her teacher would turn Ripple into a frog. Of course she does because the game needs some sort of setup, so you must go out and catch the six demons that escaped when she opened the book.

Magical Chase is a shmup and also could be described as a cute em up. The bright crisp graphics are what caught my attention and the fantastic game play helped make this game a favorite of mine. At least so far. I am fairly early into this! The controls are basic and responsive, hold down button 1 to shoot while button 2 orbits the little star helpers known as Topsy and Turvy around Ripple. Each press of the button moves them in a different area which is great for back attacks. You can also press in any direction and press button 2 and Topsy and Turvy will lock in place. Every stage requires a different tactic and discovering that is part of the fun!

Magical Chase (USA)-005

This isn’t the hardest shmup out there but it can be irritating at times! Dodging stuff wasn’t that bad in this game! How you succeed in the game depends on your weapons. Enemies leave behind gems that count as currency. The bigger gems of course are worth more and there are various colors as well. Occasionally you’ll come across a floating shop that has a Pumpkin Head hot air balloon. Here you can buy better weapons, more hearts that represent your health, and even a must have potion that refills all your hearts when all your hearts are depleted. I can’t stress that this potion is a must have! Buy it as soon as you see it! As the levels go on the shop’s weapons get better and of course more expensive. Be sure to upgrade your weapons and experiment with different kinds often! Some levels can be completed a lot easier by having the correct weapon equipped! Oh did I mention the shop owner is Pumpkin Head?

Luckily not the scary horror movie Pumpkin Head.

Luckily not the scary horror movie Pumpkin Head.

The music is pretty good. When I first discovered TG16 and PCE games via emulation, I was amazed at the graphics and sound quality of these games. So much more impressive than the NES that was out during the same time. The NES dominated here in the USA back then and sadly I never experienced these consoles back then. I do intend to start collecting but I’m getting off topic here. After “Seal 3” the game begins to pick up in difficulty so you’ll soon find yourself humming tunes from the level you have to play over and over. Thankfully this is one of the more forgiving shmups out there! You have infinite continues and the only penalty is that your highscore gets reset. You still get to keep the current weapon set up you had when you died!

If you keep at it you’ll eventually get through the levels. Those unlimited continues sure are a blessing! I discovered that Magical Chase is a pretty short game. It only has six levels or “Seals” as the game calls them. The last seal is basically a mini bosh rush level until you confront the end boss. (No spoilers!) I really liked Magical Chase. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it and likes shmups. It’s one game on the Turbografx 16 I can see myself returning to quite often!

Final Verdict:

  • Cute, bright graphics that are pleasant on the eyes
  • Easy to learn controls and very responsive
  • Infinite continues and you keep weapons after death
  • Great pick up and play game with high re playability
  • A good shmup for beginners of the genre

Score: 5/5

Magical Chase (USA)-001