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X-List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games – 2D

pc engine X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

The Turbo Grafx-16 may have belly-flopped onto American shores and died a swift death, but it found smash success overseas under the name PC Engine. A quirky name for sure–it was from the era of video game consoles that masqueraded as 8-bit home computers—but its library is one that is remarkably strong and patently Japanese. It excelled at the 2D shooter; only the SEGA Saturn managed to host shmups of such quality and number. In fact, shmups could have very easily been the hear of this X-List.

Instead, I decided to pluck representatives from different genres to showcases what this lil’ semi-16-bit system can do. From hop-and-bop mascot action to hardcore one-on-one brawling, here are the five best PC Engine games that serve as a marvelous introduction to the system’s varied, and quirky, video game catalog.

What are yours?

 Devils Crash X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

Devil’s Crash
Video games and pinball co-existed in arcades throughout the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s, but combining the two interactive electronic entertainment genres had always been more than a little challenging (see Baby Pac-Man). Naxat’s Alien Crash changed that with it’s tight gameplay and Alien-inspired aesthetic. The sequel Devil’s Crash (known in the U.S. as Devil’s Crush) built upon Alien Crash‘s foundation with a three-level high table, three flipper sets, and a hellish atmosphere. There are tons of demonic entities to dispatch with your balls in this hybrid pinball-shooter that’s one of the most addictive titles on the platform.

 

pc genjin X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

PC Genjin 2/Bonk’s Revenge
Half-baked company mascots sullied the 16-bit era in an attempt to cash in on Mario and Sonic’s popularity, but none garnered respect from press and gamers like Red and Hudson’s PC Genjin (aka Bonk’s Adventure). The sequel, PC Genjin 2, added more prehistoric enemies, a wider variety of powerups, and tighter controls. The lil caveman’s near-gamebreaking spinning headbash was removed to the chagrin of many, but PC Genjin 2 delivered delightful (if quite easy) Jurassic-era gameplay, memorable tunes, and some of the 16-bit era’s most charming and memorable worlds.

 

Street Fighter II X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

Street Fighter II’
When people mention Street Fighter on the TG-16 they are referencing Fighting Street, the CD version of the original Street Fighter. The PC Engine, however, hosted a massive 20 MB HuCard port of Street Fighter II that, despite some minor visual tweaks, ranked right up there with Capcom SNES and Genesis home ports. The PC Engine’s single controller port and default two-button game pad didn’t do the game justice, but if you scored a sweet six-buttoner and a multi-tap you could hadouken, sonic boom, and hurricane kick to your heart’s content.

 

Winds of Thunder X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

Winds of Thunder/Lords of Thunder
Developer Red and publisher Hudson collaborated on many great PC Engine games, but Winds of Thunder (known as Lords of Thunder stateside) was one of the duo’s finest. This 2D shmup sees gamers controlling an armored warrior who blasts his way through highly-detailed, beautifully designed element-based stages. A rare feature in a 2D shooter is the ability to upgrade your “ship” by visiting a shop to increase offensive and defensive capabilties. The tight gameplay is supplemented by an absolutely rocking heavy metal score that adds the perfect soundscape for obliterating all manner of beasties throughout the fantasy world.

 

rondo of blood X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood
Konami’s Dracula X: Rondo of Blood is the pinnacle of the old-school, stair-climbing Castlevania gameplay that ruled the 8- and 16-bit eras and, miraculously, also laid the foundation for what would become the open-castle adventures that would become popularized with by Symphony of the Night and its sons. Rondo features your standard old school gameplay featuring whips, knives, holy water, and other series staples, but ups with it incredibly detailed environments, multiple pathways and secret areas, and one of the greatest soundtracks to grace videogamedom.

pixel X List: The 5 Best PC Engine Games

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