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?
While reading two reviews (one at thebrothersduomazov.com and another at unlimitedzigworks.com) of the much-maligned Astralius over the weekend, I remembered that, once upon a time, the game was supposed to see a North American release.
In fact, the title was shown off at both the winter and summer Consumer Electronics Shows that were held in 1991.
Following the former, the editors of TurboPlay magazine waxed poetic (in their February/March 1991 issue, see below) about Astralius, writing that it would “give both Y’s games a serious run for the top honor” and “should prove to be one of the toughest games made as well.”
Following the latter, TurboPlay‘s editors promised (in their August/September 1991 issue) that the title would hit the streets stateside “by Christmas.” Of course, a few sentences later they shared that developer IGS was “working the bugs out of its attempts to translate this RPG to the TurboGrafx-16.” (Click on the two scans below to read the rest of what they had to say about the title.)
I’m guessing the folks at IGS never quite eradicated said bugs–or, by the time they did, releasing the game no longer made sense economically (or otherwise)?
The following ad–for Working Designs’ Exile: Wicked Phenomenon–appeared in a number of issues of TurboPlay magazine in the early 1990s.
Turbo fans whose memories have yet to fail them will recall that the image also appeared on the cover of said game, which was released in North America 1993.
Anyway, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it piece of art among gamers–a fact not lost on Working Designs’ Victor Ireland, who at some point told the folks at Hardcare Gaming 101:
“The Exile 2 cover is polarizing. People love it or hate it. It’s basically aping a style of diorama that was really popular to advertise games in Japan. NCS/MASAYA did quite a bit of it, and I wanted to bring that to the US as well. So, I chose Exile 2 as the game to try this on.
“When we ran the ad, EGM or Gamepro (I can’t remember) sent us a survey they did months later with their readers that had that ad listed as the ‘most remembered’ ad from the whole magazine, which, I think, justified the experiment. We tried it again for Vasteel, but the results weren’t that great, so we only used part of one of the space scenes on the back cover of the jewel case.”
Personally, I think the image is pretty cool. It’s certainly more interesting than most of the dreck that was passed off as TurboGrafx-16 cover “art” back in the day.
At least, that’s what the editors of TurboPlay magazine suggested all the way back in 1992–just before Taito’s Mizubaku Diabouken (aka Liquid Kids) hit the streets in Japan.
My initial reaction to that suggestion was something along the lines of “nuh uh!”–but after giving it some consideration my reaction has softened a bit.
After all, the series’ other (actual) entries–Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars–don’t share enemies, protagonists, settings or weapons, so why would part four–with its waterbomb-wielding platypus–be any different?
All that said, Mizubaku Daibouken isn’t, as far as I can tell, officially called chapter four of the Bubble Bobble saga–although I suppose that may have been something the game’s creators considered early on.
The folks at the long-defunct Working Designs made a lot of great decisions during the 16-bit era. Among them: Their decision to localize (for North American TurboGrafx-16 owners) Telenet’s PC Engine RPG, Cosmic Fantasy 2.
One of their not-so-great decisions: Using the following piece of art to promote said RPG.
The ad above appeared in the April/May 1992 issue of TurboPlay magazine. Unfortunately, the art featured in the ad also appeared on the game’s cover.
Is it any wonder the game wasn’t able to achieve the sales or status of, say, Lunar: The Silver Star, another of Working Design’s 16-bit-era releases?