Game: PC Genjin
Developer: Atlus/Red Company
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release date: 1989
Most folks know this game, renamed Bonk’s Adventure before it was released in North America, for its hard-headed protagonist–who bravely served as the PC Engine’s entry in what I like to call the “Great Gaming Mascot Pageant” of the late 1980s and early 1990s. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course–that is the game’s main claim to fame, after all–but in my opinion it deserves to be known for much more than being a somewhat-competitive contemporary of Mario and Sonic. For instance, there’s the fact that PC Genjin began life as a comic (in the pages of Gekkan PC Engine magazine). I don’t know why, but I’ve always found that kind of cool. Then there’s the fact that it was developed by the abler-than-able folks at Atlus and Red Company (makers of Gate/Lords of Thunder and the Tengai Makyou titles). There’s also the fact that PC Genjin is, simply put, a fun and unique game–something that can’t be said about too many of the mascot-focused platformers released during the 16-bit era. The main reasons I find it to be fun and unique: For starters, the protagonist attacks his prehistoric foes by bashing them with his head. (He can do this while standing on the ground or while in the air, by the way; with the latter move resulting in a devilish dive-bomb.) Also, jumping and then rapidly pushing that same action button on the PC Engine’s pad causes PC Genjin to spin wildly and hover or float, if for just a second or two, above the ground. Finally, I’ve always appreciated the primitive nature of this title’s graphics. Considering most “mascot games,” including this game’s superior-in-many-ways sequel, are awfully slick in that area, PC Genjin‘s primordial departure from the norm could and should be seen by PC Engine and platformer fans as a pixelated breath of fresh air.
See also: Previous PCE Reviews
Did you know that the folks at NEC announced both the PC Engine DUO and the PC Engine LT (the laptop-esque portable mentioned in this post) at the Tokyo Game Show in 1991? Well, they did.
At the same event, NEC also displayed a four-inch, clamshell monitor that could be attached to the aforementioned DUO to turn it into what the writers at TurboPlay magazine called “the ultimate portable machine.”
In this article (from the August/September 1991 issue of TurboPlay), it’s suggested that the monitor, below, had been released two years prior with a price tag of approximately $600. That assertion seems questionable to me, as that would mean it was released in 1989–the PC Engine’s second year on the market.
So, I have a question for any fellow PC Engine fans out there who may come across this post: Was this monitor really released in Japan in 1989, or was it released alongside the DUO and the LT?
Regardless, it’s a rather fascinating peripheral–especially given its release date–isn’t it?
At least once a year, I become a wee bit obsessed with the PC Engine LT.
I’ve wanted one of these sexy, laptop-esque portables ever since I saw a photo of one in an old issue of either Diehard GameFan or Electronic Gaming Monthly (or maybe it was Super Gaming, an EGM spin-off) magazine as a youngster, but I’ve never bought one because they’re so darn expensive.
That hasn’t kept me from dreaming about the day I throw caution–and my credit card–to the wind and purchase one, though. Until that day arrives, I’ll waste my time reading blog posts about and watching YouTube videos of NEC’s little gray wonder.
Speaking of the latter, the following video–produced by YouTube user futurematt5–is helping me get through my most recent phase of PC Engine LT obsession. (I wonder if that’ll be considered a diagnosable and treatable disorder when the DSM-5 is published in 2013?)
Here‘s part two of the video, by the way, and here’s (actually, go here and here) a series of videos in which futurematt5 attaches the PC Engine LT to the Super CD-ROM2 peripheral. Oh, and here‘s a fabulously porn-ish video that features “high-quality footage and close-ups” of the system.
Anyway, here’s to hoping that next year at this time I’ll be posting my own photos and videos of the portable system that futurematt5 says is the gaming world’s equivalent of an eccentric uncle.
Game: Pro Tennis World Court
Release date: 1988
Pro Tennis World Court is widely known–to 16-bit afficionados, at least–as “the tennis RPG.” There’s a good reason for that: Along with the expected singles and doubles modes, this Namcot-published game features a “quest” mode that tasks players with wandering the Final Fantasy-esque lands of the creatively named (or not) “Tennis Kingdom” in search of the “Evil Tennis King.” (I’m not making this up–check out this blog post for more on this title’s sad excuse for a backstory.) Before you can challenge this lizard-like baddie (he’s green) to a Nadal-Federer-ish face-off, you’ll have to vanquish a number of his minions in tennis matches of varying lengths. You’ll also have to upgrade your equipment (rackets, shoes and shirts–which boost your power, foot speed and ability to refuse challenges, respectively) using the winnings you receive after beating the aforementioned, randomly-encountered foes. All in all, it’s an enjoyably unique, if slightly unpolished (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you approach your first NPC), experience. You’ll have to be patient if you want to eke every last ounce of fun out of the game, though, as it starts rather slowly. Thankfully, things speed up appreciably once you update your gear a bit. Even then, Pro Tennis World Court (World Court Tennis in the States) never feels quite as slick as another well-known PC Engine title featuring fuzzy, yellow balls–Final Match Tennis–but its quirkiness at least partially makes up for it.
See also: Previous PCE Reviews
Game: Alien Crush
Publisher: Naxat Soft
Release date: 1988
Considering the PC Engine is one of my all-time favorite consoles and Aliens is one of my all-time favorite films, is it safe to say that Alien Crush is one of my all-time favorite games? I wouldn’t go that far, but I’d definitely say that this H. R. Giger-esque title, which was developed by Compile and published by Naxat Soft, is one of the better–or at least more enjoyable–pinball games I’ve ever played. (Controversial aside: I prefer this title to its better-received sequel, Devil Crash.) Chiefly responsible for my love of this game are, of course, the aforementioned Aliens-inspired graphics. (I’m especially fond of the multi-eyed “queen” that takes up a large portion of the lower playfield.) Granted, you’ll become well acquainted with those graphics, as the play area in Alien Crush is just two screens high, but at least they’re gorgeous. (Thankfully, a bonus round helps break things up a bit.) Also adding to this game’s allure: Its throbbing, rock-ish soundtrack. Sadly, said soundtrack consists of just two tunes–a few more if you count the tracks played during the bonus rounds and on the game-over screen. So, what’s not to love about Alien Crush? Well, aside from its somewhat-repetitive graphics and music, I’d say the game’s biggest negative is one shared by most pinball games of the time: The physics are far from perfect. Oh, and the screen doesn’t scroll smoothly from one section of the playfield to the next; rather, it uses what some folks call a “flick-screen mechanism.” If you’re not anal about such things, though (I’m not), you should find a lot to like in this release.
See also: Previous PCE Reviews
If so, you should head over to wolfgames.com tout de suite (right away), as the French like to say.
This Internet-based import shop is attempting to clear its shelves–likely for good, unfortunately–and as such everything is currently 30-50 percent off, depending on how many games you buy.
Anyway, a complete, up-to-date list of the store’s stock of HuCards and CD (and Super CD) games can be found here.