Duo, PC-Engine and TurboGrafx-16 Reviews

Edition: 950131-pm/CD

This list contains ratings for CD/SCD games only. Please check the corresponding file "reviews.hu" from the turbo-list server for a the HuCard review list.

The Rating System:

The rating system is based upon "grades" (and I know that scares most of you, however...). An A receives 4 points, a B gets 3, a C gets 2, a D gets 1 and anything less (F) gets a 0. You can also append a plus ("+") to a score and add 0.3, and likewise a minus ("-") which will deduct 0.3. One exception is the A which can have up to two pluses ("++") following it, resulting in a score of 4.6. The five catagories are then summed up (with longevity counted twice) and then the result is divided by 6 to get the "Overall" score.

If you would like to add to a review or possibly change a rating, please send me mail (bt@cpac.washington.edu) and your comments will be taken into account! Thanks!

The Addams' Family (CD-ROM)

Review by Bryan Duvan and TurboKid.

Wander around the Addams' family house searching for the Addams' money vault all the while battling the Addams' family members.

GRAPHICS : A- (Game is cartoon-like.  Characters are a little too blocky and
SOUND    : A  (Excellent... this game uses the CD technology wisely)
MUSIC    : A  (Addams' theme at the start of the game... nice!)
GAMEPLAY : B  (Even with a joystick, you'll need to get the hang of
               jumping over obstacles)
LONGEVITY: B- (Frustrating... no save feature!)

OVERALL  : 3.34
This game needs some serious fixes in gameplay mechanics.
This game really needs a save feature because you die too easily. "Am I the only one who thinks this game is a waste?" - Ed.

Aim For The Top! GunBuster, Volume 1 (JSCD)

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

Top o Nerae! GunBuster is a game that is very similar in concept to Sherlock Holmes and Murder Club - it is basically a board game where you are presented with a situation and have to pick out a correct action to progress further. It is based on a very popular 6-part OVA (Original Video Animation) of the same title (recently released in the US with subtitles). The game is based on the first two parts of the series.

The storyline in the game is the same as in the video. Noriko Takaya is a student at Okinawa Space High School for girls where combat pilots are being trained. Rather unsure of herself, she also has to carry on the legacy of her late father, Admiral Takaya who was killed in a space battle with the aliens. In the first part of the game, the goal is to survive the tribulations of high school (self-doubt, sibling rivalry) and to get assigned to the new battleship, Exelion. In the second part there are more obstacles to overcome, including a terrifying ghost from the past.

The gameplay is very simple. After the opening intro (accompanied by a short version of "Fly High"), you see the options screen (looks exactly like the screen in Science Lessons) where the super-deformed Noriko and Kazumi tell you about the options. You can then start a new game, continue a saved one, go to a sound test mode or hear the background info on the three main characters. If you choose to do so, a super-deformed Coach Ohta will tell you about this option and then proceed to introduce the character that you've selected. After that, the character will introduce herself. You'll also see such vital statistics as birthdate, height and blood type displayed (turns out that Noriko is 0, Jung-Freud is AB and I forgot about Kazumi).

When you select a new game or continue, you then get to a main screen where all action takes place. There is a display, about 1/4 of the screen where the action takes place, two windows where the commands are displaced and a Stress Meter. When you make the wrong decision, the Stress Meter goes up. When it is full, the game is OVER!!!

You see a short animated sequence (the closest to full-motion animation that I've seen on the Turbo/PC Engine) and then you have to make a choice. If you make the wrong choice, you see the often hilarious results (for example when Jung-Freud is introduced to Noriko and Kazumi, one of the wrong responses is to "take a look at Jung's, er, bosom", also some wrong responses can get you slapped by Kazumi - OUCH!), your Stress Meter goes up and you have to make another choice. When you make the right choice, the story continues.

At some point you'll be allowed to save your game and continue. You can also save the game at the end to have access to endgame options that include a command that replays the game automatically from the beginning to the end and a short comedy routine by Noriko, Kazumi and Jung-Freud.

Also, when you put a regular system card instead of a Super System card, the results are absolutely hilarious. You see a parody of a Science Lesson where Kazumi asks Noriko questions about the PC Engine (no, the Coach doesn't show up at the end, too bad).

GRAPHICS : A- (Unfortunately PC Engine/Turbo shows its limitations)
SOUND    : A+ (It's all speech)
MUSIC    : A+ (Two songs from the OVA!!!)
GAMEPLAY : A+ (Lots of fun - if you like the show)
LONGEVITY: A+ (You'll want to play it again, just to see the often hilarious
               results of incorrect responses)

OVERALL  : 4.20
If you liked GunBuster and have a Turbo/PC Engine, you'll most probably love this game. On the other hand, if you do not know the story beforehand and/or do not speak/read Japanese, this game will not be much fun. Even though it is fairly easy to get through by the trial and error method, the story wouldn't make much sense.

A bit on the negative side: unfortunately the PC Engine/Turbo hardware shows its limitations. The animation is still jerky and it is only in 1/4 of the screen (just like in Sherlock Holmes). Still, it is a very nice game and I enjoyed it a lot.

Alzadick - Summer Carnival '92 (JCD) [NXCD2012]

Review by Bt Garner.

A vertical shooter from the same folks who brought you the Spriggan series. There are lots of similarities between this, Spriggan (the first), and even Blazing Lazers. You control a ship over various objects (in space) and shoot *everything*. Both enemy ships, and the "ground" (ie, space stations?) when available. Four different powerups are available (labeled as A, B, C and D). Get several of the same kind for stronger weapons.

The graphics are great, the sounds and soundtrack are equally as impressive. However, there is a problem. A game can only last 5 minutes. See, like Spriggan, the included a "beat the clock/score" option on this game, and then left out the story mode. Well, there is a story mode (2 of them actually), but they too are very short (under 5 minutes, sigh).

GRAPHICS : A  (Beautiful - no flickering, well detailed)
SOUND    : A- (Appropriate -- what more can one say?)
MUSIC    : A- (Good musical selection)
GAMEPLAY : A  (no problems here - everything works as indicated)
LONGEVITY: C  (Problems here - way too short)

OVERALL  : 3.23
Give me a "good" story mode to play, one a little longer than the 5 minute ones, please?
This is the Summer Carnival Selection from '92 - perhaps when looking for a winner, the judges only had 5 minutes to look at each title...

Art of Fighting (JACCD)

Review by Kenneth C.Y. Hui.

Art of Fighting is the first game in the Neo Geo 100 Mega Shock game series. Now, it is ported to the PCE as the second game utilizing the Arcade Card upgrade (Fatal Fury II is the first one).

If you try to run the game without an arcade card, then you will see a little television on which a super defromed (SD) Yuri will appear, asking for help. Then a SD Ryo holding a fan will come out and say something like Yuri you can count on me. SD Robert will appear after Ryo, saying Yuri. Then, Yuri will appear again, this time with a flower on her head, her eyes well with tears, saying, sorry, you cannot save me because you need the Arcade Card.

Okay, when you start the game using the Arcade Card, you will see the intro to Art of Fighting, same as the Neo Geo one. The dragon and tiger will zooms out to you, which is absent in the US Geo version of AoF. You can choose vs mode or story mode to play. In option manual, you can choose between four difficulty levels: easy, normal, hard and arcade. There is a langauge selection in which you can choose between Japanese, English and Spanish. If you choose Japanese, all the dialogue between stages will be in Japanese, John Cra(o)wly will speak in Japanese when taunting or after defeating the player. If you choose English or Spanish, John will speak in English.

When you start the game, you will have to wait for 10 to 20 seconds to load the data into the ram. During loading time, you will either see the dark shadow of the next opponent (in the story mode) or a SD Ryo/Robert walking around (vs mode). There is a bar showing how much is left to load.

The characters are drawn with detail and many colors. When zoomed in, the characters are almost as big as the Neo Geo version. The contrast in zooming is very big. Even at the zoomed out state, the characters are still very detail.

Some of the backgrounds are very close to the Neo Geo version. For example, the background of Mr Karate have the big knife in the center and dragons drawn on the columns which are absent in the SFC version. The fire in the four fireplaces are fluidly animated animated. However, some of the background looks a little bit cheesy. For example, Lee's background looks pretty bad.

The zooming in the background is achieved by having a letter box on top of the screen. The size of the letter box is as big as the SFC version of AoF. The play area will shrinks a little bit when zoom out (two little black lines on both side approximately 1 cm wide on my 14 inch monitor). This is due to the fact that they are using the high resolution mode in the zoom out state. When zoomed in, the play area is as big as the SFC version.

The ending of the game is the same as the Neo Geo version. On the other hand, the SFC version has a much longer ending. The voice sampling for Ryo and Robert in between stages and at the ending are good. However, the sampling for Yuri is horrible. Don't ask me why. The sound effect in the game is okay. They are very clear but the first will be cancelled by the second sound effect.

Since it is a CD, the background music is good (but I like the music on Fatal Fury II better).

GRAPHICS:  B+  (A for character B for background)
SOUND:     B
MUSIC:     B+

PLAYERS: 1 or 2

Avenger (JCD) [TJCD0011] LaserSoft, 1990

Review by Robert Kemmetmueller.

An overhead vertical-scrolling helicopter shooter. The sprites are all realistic military-style; metallic or camo painted planes, tanks, choppers, boats, etc. The intro cinema depicts some kind of global conflict involving SDI satellites, and somehow a high-tech helicopter piloted by you has to win the war.

The difficulty level is high, and not adjustable. You get one helicopter, which can take (initially) three bullet hits. Crashing into a canyon wall (on the canyon level) is instant destruction (pretty much like a real helicopter :-). Dying puts you back to the beginning of the level, and you have unlimited continues.

What keeps it from becoming boring or frustrating is the novel control scheme. As you move left or right, your 'copter rotates that direction (so you can fire at diagonal angles). While firing, holding down button 1 will "hold" you at that angle so you can strafe targets in the opposite corner. Pressing button 1 when not firing activates your special weapon.

At the beginning of each level, you choose a primary gun, secondary weapon, and special weapon from a set of three each (not all choices become available until later levels). These can be powered up by capturing icons.

SOUND    : C- (think "cats" and "hairballs")
MUSIC    : C  (relative to other CDs. often-cheesy violin-type music)
GAMEPLAY : A  (good controls, difficult but not overly frustrating)

OVERALL  : 3.00
Selectable difficulty levels, and music worthy of being put on a shooter CD game.
Having only one 'copter seems evil at first, but the levels are just the right length so that you probably won't make it on your first try, but you know you CAN make it.

Baby Jo (JSCD) [MWCD2004]

Review by Jeff Coleburn

Just the cover artwork on this one should be enough to either sell you on this title or drive you away screaming. A much-too-cute cartoon baby mugs at you while a grinning sun and an angry bumblebee and thundercloud pose menacingly. This should be enough to let the buyer know that they're not exactly holding a dark and gritty epic.

As you might expect, this is a runny-jumpy platform scroller with the aforementioned toddler as your hero, diapers and all. A goofy-looking duck pops in at intervals to offer hints, but other than that it's you alone against bizarre obstacles and perils in your quest to arrive home safely. The theme reminds me of an old Apple IIgs game called "Senseless Violence: Survival of the Fetus," but this isn't nearly as graphic.

Baby Jo travels through at least four levels, perhaps more. (The fourth is titled "Home?" and I haven't cleared it yet to find out.) Food can be collected for bonus points, rattles can be tossed at enemies, presents produce random items to help or hurt, and his super-cape provides temporary invulnerability. You must keep your milk supply up by finding extra bottles, your mobility up by finding replacement diapers (the super-diaper gives extra speed and jumping power temporarily), and your health up via medical kits and extra-life hearts.

The obstacles range from the mundane (fire, bees, worms, angry flowers) to the outrageous (certain areas drop saws, anvils, refrigerators and barbells on Jo's head, for instance). Each level has its own cast of characters; "In the Caves" features spiders, evil gnomes and minecarts, the picnic-themed level has nasty ants that fling debris, and "Home?" has patrolling lawn mowers, dogs, cars and small aircraft to dodge. Babies are pretty much indestructible, however -- falling refrigerators merely bounce off his head, though they do reduce his health. Too much damage costs Jo a life and makes him bawl like, well, a baby.

(Falling into fire, on the other hand, is quite amusing.)

The gameplay is slow-paced and should be good for kids, though it is growing on me. There are lots of hidden areas and a fair amount of vertical movement in some levels, and you can go back to areas you've already passed (though the bottle serves as a timer of sorts).

GRAPHICS:  B  (very simple backgrounds, but the cartoony characters are
               nice; Jo could use a few more frames of animation, though)

SOUND:     B  (little "Yeah!" and "Yippie!" noises, plus the howl when
               Jo gets fried)
MUSIC:     B- (gets on your nerves; despite what the demos show, each level
               has its own chirpy little tune.  A bit monotonous.)
GAMEPLAY:  B+ (Jo is easy to control, but some things are strange... like
               how Jo can't climb ladders [he jumps from rung to rung] or
               duck.  Whoever heard of a baby that can't crawl?)
LONGEVITY: B  (the levels are pretty long, but don't vary between games; it'll
               take a while to figure out each one, though)

OVERALL:   3.00
Much like some other Micro World titles, it's hard to tell why this is a SuperCD; apart from the BGM, this could probably be a HuCard. If you can stomach the characters and theme, though, it grows on you.

Beyond Shadowgate (SCD) [TGXCD1048]

Review by Greg Nelson.

Beyond Shadowgate is a fun adventure/RPG game by ICOM Simulations, makers of Deja Vu I & II, Uninvited, and Shadowgate in the computer gaming world. It has the typical prince-trying-to-regain-his-rightful-throne storyline, but the excellent graphics and the game's sense of humor make it quite refreshing.

This game is one of the very few games for the Duo that were produced in the U.S., and it shows. The game does not suffer from the vague "Japanese" feel that many of the Duo RPGs have. Especially nice is the fact that the player does not "earn levels" like in most games. Also, monsters do not appear randomly, but only as part of the adventure.

One facet that people might not like is that most of the game consists of getting killed, then picking up your game where you left off and trying to avoid that particular pitfall next time. If you don't save often, this game will become annoying.

To succeed in this game, one has to both use items and do some hitting. Figuring out what to do where is part of the fun. The interface for using items is quite simmple and works well.

This game has a lot of areas and quite a bit to accomplish before the final showdown. An entire section of the game is irrelevant to the final quest, which I think is a nice touch.

GRAPHICS : A++ (Fantastic backgrounds and player animations!)
SOUND    : A+  (A large variety of sound effects and digitized speech,
                very nicely done.)
MUSIC    : A   (A wide selection of background music, with the option
                to turn off the music.)
GAMEPLAY : B+  (I found some of the game a little too difficult, but
                with the help of the Turbo Tips hotline, I was
                able to finish it.)
LONGEVITY: A  (Once you're done, you're done, but it will keep you
               occupied for several evenings at a minumum.)

For an extra challenge, set aside the instruction booklet and complete the quest without referring to the list of items inside. Unfortunately, they are listed in chronological order, so the list tells you if you're missing anything, which is too much help, IMHO.

Bomberman (HuCard) or (SCD) [TGXCD1027]

This is the very same Bomberman as the HuCard.
This surprise game comes on the 3-in-1 SCD disc that comes with the Duo. At the title screen, press up, right, down, left, and II to get a chime. Press RUN for the game.

Bonk's Adventure (HuCard) [TGX030028] or (SCD) [TGXCD1027]

This is the HuCard game on the 3-in-1 SCD.

Bonk's Revenge (HuCard) [TGX040058] or (SCD) [TGXCD1027]

This is the HuCard game on the 3-in-1 SCD.

Browning (JSCD) [TJCD1020, Telenet]

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

Best described by the text on the box...

"SEA SQUARE", a gigantic man-made island on the Atlantic Ocean, an armed fortress controlled by a mysterious army. It is evident that they are developing the most evil weapon for slaughter to maintain and grasp its superiority of military power in the world. Joint forces have taken the motion for a special action (irregular combat) and have prepared a mobile weapon "BROWNING" to destroy the ultimate weapon.
In short, a very disappointing side-scroller. The game graphics are very impressive with several layers of parallax scrolling. Your mecha (robotic weapon) is large and very well animated (when you turn it actually turns, also its left and right sides are different). The music is good, the intro is impressive (in English, too, in fact, the whole game plays in English), too bad there aren't any real intermissions, just shorts between the rounds. The sound effects are one of the best I've heard on any system - the booming steps of your robot are especially impressive...All of this is laid to waste by the very bad gameplay.

For starters, the game is too short - only five levels, the last two being simply fights with one boss after another. To compensate for that, it is made to be difficult and it is, to the point of being frustrating. The gameplay is extremely linear - just walk, run or hover (interesting but practically wasted options) to the right until you meet the boss which you have to take out with your pea-shooter before the timer runs out. Continues are unlimited and you'll most definitely need them.

SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A

OVERALL  : 3.00
Let's hope that they do a sequel and do it right.
If you are a mecha fanatic and can get it cheap, go for it. Otherwise, save your money and get something else.

Buster Brothers (CD) [TGXCD1031]

See Pomping World.

Cardangels [FCCD4002] (JSCD)

Review by Bt Garner.

Cardangels is a 1 or 2 player card playing game with 4 different "games," Poker, Black Jack, Speed and Babanuki (Old Maid). However, there is a small twist, the games are of the "strip" variety (but only down to underware, there is no nudity in the game). Unlike the "regular" card games, here the goal is to win enough money (althoguh the game does not have any monetary units it in, it's kind of assumed that it's money), or have more money than your opponent after the specified number of rounds (both the number of rounds and the amount needed to win are user adjustable).

The game consists of 15 "Volumes," and each volume has 3 dealers (most of the stages have a certain theme, one has a "hospital" theme, one has a "police" theme to it, one is even a "leather" theme, but I digress). At the start of each round, you move to a "slot machine" type of screen where you play the odds to figure out which games you will need to play in order to advance to the next stage.

During game play, you are presented with the fully clothed (although in some cases, saying "fully clothed," isn't much different than the "mostly naked," version) competator. Once you have an adequate amount of money (generally 1000 to 1500 more than you opponent), her clothes start to flash. By the end of the round, if her clothes are not totally flashing, they will briefly before she is nudified (so long as you've won, of course). You are then presented with a full screen picture of the "dealer" whom you have just beat. You then proceed to the next game.

Although most of the games are straight forward, there are a few differences. In poker, you are given an amount of money of winning with a certain hand (One Pair == 200; Two Pair == 500; Full House == 5000, etc), the game is not one where you place bets. The same is true of Black Jack (win a hand, get 500, get a Black Jack, you win 2500, get a "Stright Flush" and win 20000 [I'd never heard of it either until I cleared a stage real quick with that]).

Babanuki is similar to old maid (this is the same card game that is in Ranma 1/2 - Part 3, where you play against the King). You take turns choosing a card from the other person's hand, hoping to not get the Joker. Whoever is left with the Joker at the end of the hand looses. The money for this game starts of at 100, and everytime the Joker changes hands, that value doubles. Also, be sure to watch your opponent's eyes for some hints. They are not very good bluffers.

Speed is about the only game where luck doesn't play the major role, here both you and your opponent have 3 cards visible, and then 2 are displayed. Your goal is to play your cards (all 26 of them) before she plays hers. For instance, if an 8 is showing, you can play either a 7 or a 9, this goes on until no more plays can be made, then 2 new cards are laid down. You win 100 times the face value of each card that your opponent has left at the end of the hand.

GRAPHICS:  B  (Some of the cards are very hard to read, and some of the girls
               are strangely disproportionate [very small feet, very large..])
SOUNDS:    A- (nice digitized voices, etc).
MUSIC:     A- (well programmed background music)
GAMEPLAY:  A- (Speed is a little hard to play, since you have to use the
               Run button along with I and II)
LONGEVITY: B- (once you've beatne the story mode, there's not much else, you
               can always play "FREEPLAY" mode, and there is a 2P mode, which
               is no different from 1P mode, except someone else controls your

PLAYERS: 1 or 2 (although 2P mode looks like more of an afterthought).
Why is the savefile called "HARDANGELS"?

Conan the Future Boy (JSCD) [TJCD2022]

Review by Majors

Based on the anime by Hayao Miyazaki(Kiki's, Totoro) with the similar name, you control Conan as he runs, kicks, and sometimes spears (yes, a platformer). The game consistes of 6 levels, each of which are saved after completion so you can replay them.

GRAPHICS : B  (Very Miyazaki-istic
SOUND    : C
MUSIC    : B  (Has opening and closing from anime)
GAMEPLAY : C- (Run and jump, jump and run)
LONGEVITY: D  (Buy-beat-sell)

OVERALL  : 2.2
No replay value kills it. If you a fan of Conan or Miyazaki, it's a collectable.

Cosmic Fantasy 2 (CD)

Review by Pete Ikusz.

If you are a Y's 1 & 2 fan (or addict), CF2 is a must for your TG CD library.

After a small introduction screen, you begin your adventure in the Y's 1&2 style. (3-D type of movement rather than side scrolling.) Fighting scenes are quite different from Ys though, you are able to select from a variety of options ranging from using weapons or magic to fleeing the encounter. When an encounter occurs the monsters are displayed on the screen, and the players in your group are listed. You are given the option of which player to control, and/or which monster to attack.

I will not bother going over the story line. It is very well done, the actors voices are done superbly, and there are some excellent graphic intermissions.

GRAPHICS : A+ (Wow!)
SOUND    : A  (A few more weapons sounds would have been neat, but not important.)
MUSIC    : A+ (Great musical scores.)
GAMEPLAY : A+ (Easy to understand and get used to.)
LONGEVITY: A+ (It makes you want to play more and more.)

OVERALL  : 4.25
You are only allowed 2 saved games. A few more would have been nice. There is a slight load/track switch delay when going into combat. This is quite often, and becomes a slight pain.
It really doesn't get any better than this.

Cotton (SCD) [TGXCD1038]

Review by Bt Garner.

A cute shooter - you control Willow, a young witch who has volunteered (ahem) to help the fairies (no, I'm not making this up!) return order to their world. Of course, that's not the real reason that she's helping, she just wants to get her hands on Willows (a candy). Seven interesting stages.

GRAPHICS : A  (Top Notch)
SOUND    : A  (Very good)
MUSIC    : A  (Fantastic music, puts you in the mood)
GAMEPLAY : A- (using the magic can, at times be difficult - for instance
               to use the shield, you need to press both I and II at the
               same time)
LONGEVITY: A- (Not an easy game, and can be frustrating, but a game that
               definitely makes you want to see the next level)

OVERALL  : 3.87
Fix the "continue scheme." I don't want to have to start at the beginning of the level for the second continue.

Crest of Wolf (JSCD)

See Riot Zone.

Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (JSCD) [NXCD2010] NaxatSoft, 1993

Review by Robert Kemmetmueller.

The mediocre sequel to the classic arcade game actually makes a darn fine PCEngine game. The two-button controls of the arcade (which I detested, compared to those of the first game), are well-suited to home play.

Cinematic intermissions are good, although very... Japanese (two brothers crash through brick walls(!) and disarm a half-dozen punks harassing a couple).

GRAPHICS : A  (scenery isn't spectacular but characters look very nice)
SOUND    : C  (your basic slaps and groans)
MUSIC    : A+ (this is the Gate of Thunder of beat'em'up games!)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (it has enough techniques for fans of this genre)

OVERALL  : 3.27
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2 (damage-each-other is optional)
The desired 3-D effect of the scenery is marred by plainish, flattish graphics.
Fans of the arcade should be quite pleased. Anyone who enjoys "Final Fight"-style (wait, that was a Double Dragon ripoff! :-) games should get this.

Download 2 (JCD) [NAPR-1018]

Review by Jeffrey Naiman. (Comments by Bt Garner.)

A side-scrolling shooter with lots of variation.

SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A

OVERALL  : 3.56
This is one of the best Japanese shooters. Period. You control a ship with four different weapons (and yes, you'll need them all). One of the appealing things for me, is that the game is heavily influenced by ancient mythology, including (but not limited to), the stage bosses, the backgrounds, and even the music reflects this. This is a wonderful game, and very tough. Beg. steal or borrow this one!

Dracula X (Castlevania) (JSCD) [KMCD3005]

Review by Bt Garner.

All the rage for 1993/94 - the ultimate in Run, Jump and Slash 'em up games. A must have for thse SCD lover in you. No fewer than 8 stages (not including a prologue, Stage 0), and many of the paths cross (for instance you can go to "2" through 1 or 1', 1 will take you to 2 and 1' will take you to 2'. And not all of the paths are outlined in the manual.

GRAPHICS:  A  (beautiful graphics, rich detail, and very fluent motion)
SOUNDS:    A  (chop, chop.. the windows breaking noise is very well done too)
MUSIC:     A  (some is annoying, but for the most part the tunes reeled off of
               the CD compliment the gameplay very well.  Roland Surround
               Sound is used, to further enhance the BGM)
GAMEPLAY:  B+ (some moves are hard to make, but other than that, the controls
               are very good.)
LONGEVITY: A- (There are several "paths" that you can take to get to the final
               destination [note that 1' is MUCH harder than 1, that is, if
               you can find 1'], and you'll of course want time to explore
               every nook and cranny, looking for hidden passage ways)

OVERALL:  3.78
This game is not easy, you have been warned. Also, people with a system 2.0 card, should load the SCD to get the humorous "game/warning message" that loads instead.

Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes (SCD) [TGXCD1029]

Review by Tin Yau Fung. Additional notes by TurboKid.

A young prince by the name of Serios, age 16, was to inherit the throne in two months. When he was 6, his father and his kingdom were invaded by monsters. For 10 yrs, Serios was in the custody of one of the King's courtmen. One night, herds of monsters attack and destroy Serios' castle. Later, Serios finds out that his guardian, who is taking the power until his inheritance, is rebelling. Thus, left alone, Serios sets on a new adventure to reclaim the throne and defeat Akubamu.

GRAPHICS : B  (Although the graphics are much better than the PC version,
               the graphics still look very fuzzy.  It was especially
               annoying that the screen was very small and difficult to
               look at)
SOUND    : A- (The game gives the option of choosing between PGM and CD.
               While the CD sound is apparently more pleasing, PGM is not
               really bad and it lessens the tremendous reading the CD
               has to do.  "This is a NEAT concept and should be
               incorporated into all future CD games!" - Ed.)
MUSIC    : A-
GAMEPLAY : B  (Actually, it is okay.  There is even an option in which the
               computer do the fighting for you.  All I have to do is
               walk around and bump into enemies.  But, even so, the
               gameplay is somewhat boring)
LONGEVITY: C  (I don't think I will want to play it again)

OVERALL  : 2.90
This game is made by the same company (Falcom) that created the Ys series. This is one reason I choose to play it. However, I find the game does not live up to my expectations. I would not recommend this game. Too much is lost when they ported this to the CD. This game is just as bad as Ys III on the CD. But I would definitely would wait for Ys IV.

Dungeon Explorer II (SCD) [TGXCD1034]

Review by Bt Garner.

50 years have passed since the ORA stone was taken from Natas and prosperity returned to the land of Oddesia. Now the minions of Natas have again over-run Oddesia and recaptured the ORA stone, as well as Miriam, the King's daughter. You and up to 4 of your friends must wade your way through the many levels and recapture the ORA stone...

GRAPHICS : A- (about the same as it's precursor, little improvement for
               backgrounds, characters seem more detailed)
SOUND    : B+ (Appropriate sound effects)
MUSIC    : A- (most of the songs will be strangely familiar, only
               spruced up a bit and read off of the CD ... )
GAMEPLAY : B+ (character handling seems to have been improved)
LONGEVITY: A- (ditto here, as above, the improvements shine through)

OVERALL  : 3.57
PLAYERS  : 1 to 5
The quest is too short (although better than a game such as Exile), and the final bosses are easily defeated. Upping the difficulty at the end could help.

Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest (SCD) [TGXCD1041]

Review by Bt Garner.

The Harvest Festival in Bibogu Village is a time when young men get their chance to enter adulthood - however, the shepherd Theron has missed the celebration to drag a lamb out of the swamp into which it had fallen. Thus missing perhaps his only opportunity to be admitted into the village as a man (sorry ladies). However, that night the Grey Lord descended into the village seeking one would could return the Seven Symbols of the Brave. In order to prove his worthiness, Theron has voluneteered himself (I mean, it wouldn't be much of a game had he not) for the chore.

This game places you in the role of Theron, and along with up to 3 other fighters must manage your way through 7 different dungeons and return the Seven Symbols in order to become a man. The dungeon is always viewed in a first person perspective. And you can control which of the members in your party will attack at which times. Rather than just a simple kill everything fest, there are also several puzzles which must be solved in each labyrinth.

GRAPHICS : B+  (Okay, the scenery is pretty boring, but the monsters and
                other items make up for it).
SOUND    : B+  (Ok, but nothing great).
MUSIC    : B   (even though it's CD, I think that some better tunes would
                help, although since this isn't a run and slash type of
                game, it may not add that much)
GAMEPLAY : A- (at first it is very cumbersome, but in time, it gets better).
LONGEVITY: A  (I'm looking forward to moving on to the later quests)

OVERALL:  3.55
This is a much better title then the other first-person perspective games (Double Dungeons, Silent Debuggers), but if you're looking for a hack everything in sight game, you'd do best to avoid this title.

The Dynastic Hero (SCD) [TGXCD1053]

Review by Bt Garner.

This is the Duo/PCE version of the Genesis game, "Wonderboy V." Here's the story line: you play the role of Dyna, the only person (*) in the land of the Insektors who can save the land of Tarron from the (evil) supreme warlord of the Reptile Realm -- Mandra. First, you must rescue Brenna the Fairy Maiden (worry not, after saving her the first time, she'll again be kidnapped toward the end of the game so that you have to rescue her again).

If all of that sounds complex (and it is), then maybe this will help. This game is your basic run/jump/slash type of game. However, it is much more complex than that, there are puzzles to solve, key items to find, and hidden doors (rooms) peppered throughout the landscape. Speaking of the landscape, it is HUGE -- I think that (short of some more recent RPGs) this is the largest world yet in an action game for the Duo.

Along the way, your journey will permit you to befriend several other people (**) who will help you, as the story unfolds and you rescue Brenna (twice) and save Tarron from those evil reptiles.

(*) term used loosely.
(**) term used *very* loosely.

GRAPHICS:  A   (Very good, virtually no flicker or slowdown, lots of detail)
SOUND:     A-  (pretty good.  ..)
MUSIC:     A+  (top notch, excellent background music that is both
                appropriate and inspiring
GAMEPLAY:  A+  (again, well very done - no joystick needed)
LONGEVITY: B+  (parts are tough, but with persistance, you will get through,
                although not in one night.. . should last you a while)

Although billed as an "action" game, there are certain parts that have more of an RPG feel to them (you must complete this task, before you get an item that will enable to you to this task...etc). This is definitly a *must* have for any Duo owner who enjoys Action/RPG games. Highly recommended.
The tiniest bit of flickering that occurs in the outer space level should be fixed (or something). Also, the end bosses are way too easy. Of course, you can artificially make them more challenging by using weaker swords.

Efera and Jiliora - The Emblem From Darkness (JCD)

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

Efera and Jiliora is a role-playing fantasy game based on a Japanese animated movie "Gu-De-Crest: Women Warriors Efera and Jiliora".

This game is very similar to Y's Book 1 & 2. The only differences are better graphics and that your character can move diagonally, plus a slightly different method of attack.

When you start the game, you can pick either Efera or Jiliora. There is a two-player mode which allows two people to play at the same time, something that is unusual in RPG's. Jiliora is a strong fighter, but she cannot use magic. She obtains magic rings as her level goes up which enable her to power-up her sword for a short time, recover lost HP and to become invincible for a short time. Efera is a weaker fighter, but she can use magic spells which are very effective against boss enemies. She does not possess a healing ring and depends on medicine and healing magic which uses a lot of MP. MP can be restored only by magic herbs that she has to carry with her and there is a limit to how many items your character can carry. Thus, it is easier to explore with Jiliora since she can restore her HP anywhere, but fighting the bosses is much easier with Efera. For example, it takes a lot of time and effort to kill the final enemy with Jiliora, but it is extremely easy with Efera, granted that you use the right spell. (Also, Efera is cuter, IMHO).

An interesting detail is that, unlike other RPG's, you can swing your sword in the towns as well. However, if you kill one of the townspeople by accident, the others will come and strike you down in a moment - game over. Since you use the same button for closing the conversation window and for striking with your sword, make sure your turbo-fire switches are off when you enter the towns, or else you might kill the person you've been talking to with dire consequences.

GRAPHICS : A  (Even though this is an RPG, some of the levels are very
               graphically impressive)
SOUND    : B  (What sound?)
MUSIC    : A+ (Exceptional high-quality soundtrack)
GAMEPLAY : A  (Better than Y's!)
LONGEVITY: A- (This is an RPG, so once you finish it, it is over.  The quest
               is fairly long, though)

OVERALL  : 3.78
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2
If you liked Y's I&II, you'll enjoy this game.

Exile (CD) [WTG990101]

Review by Brad Hamlett, comments by TurboKid.

Exile is an action/RPG very similiar in gameplay to Y's Book III. While in a town, the perspective is from a 3/4ths top-down view. Playing the alter ego of Sadler, you walk around gathering clues and buying weapons/armor/etc. In the 'wilderness' perspective shifts to a multi-scrolling side view. All combat takes place on the side view screens. Like in most RPGs, in Exile, you gain experience which nets you more hit points/magic points and combat power. The magic system in Exile is very limited. There are only three types of magic -- a fire-slash, ice-bomb, and restoration. The first two are simply a way to fire ranged attacks at oppenents instead of hitting them with your weapon. Both fire-slash and ice-bomb have three power levels. Restoration simply drains your magic points to restore your hit points.

You will gather NPCs along the way. They simply offer advice or important items, but do not participate in fights. The storyline seems to be based on the Crusades of Medieval Europe...in fact, most of the story is based in the Middle East.

The intermissions are interesting and the voice acting is decent, about as good as that in Cosmic Fantasy 2. The music is excellent and sets the mood perfectly. The biggest flaw with the game is that it is far too easy. It took me all of two nights to complete. There are no really difficult puzzles and only the last fight is truly challenging. Besides being easy, the game is just way too short, shorter than Y's III by half.

One last side note. You may have seen the ads for Exile advertising the 'uncut' version. This probably amounts to the pool of blood seen when you die and the Festival of Bakus (their spelling, not mine) in one of the cities. Save your money, rent this one over a weekend.

SOUND    : A+
MUSIC    : A+
LONGEVITY: D  (it's too easy)

OVERALL  : 2.93
This game lost lots of points in the longevity section. I, myself, had the Genesis version of Exile for 2 days, got bored with it, and traded it for Alisia Dragoon! - Ed.

Exile: Wicked Phenomenon (SCD) [WTG990102]

Review by Bt Garner.

What do you get if you crossed the RPG of Ys and the Action of Valis? Well, it certainly wouldn't be "Exile: Wicked Phenomenon" (hereforth known as E2), the latest in the Exile series from Wrecking Designs (oops, I meant *Working* Designs, of course).

After you (as Sadler) defeated Jimboffa [?] in the first Exile, and placed the Holimax in its eternal resting spot, peace came to the land. But had peace remained, E2 would be the most boring game around, so it didn't.

You assume the role of Sadler -- again fighting your way through cities of the middle east (Bahgdad, Dehli), with each town played in Ys fashion (top down 3/4 perspective), and the paths between the towns being of the side scrolling run and slash variety. Oh yeah -- and there's a plot too! Unlike its predecessor, after people join your party, you can use them in the "action" scenes (for instance "Rumi" [and you thought she had died in the first one -- ha!] has better jumping ability, throws swords [so that you can attack from a distance], but has lousy defense).

GRAPHICS:  B  (about the same as the first fare, unimpressive)
SOUND:     B  (unimpressive as well, why so few "voices?")
MUSIC:     B  (boring.  unimaginitive.  mundane.)
GAMEPLAY:  B- (enemy can hit you when you've ducked beneath their fire,
               even when you deliver the finishing blow, some may still
               do damage to you -- gets frustrating)
LONGEVITY: B- (see comments)

OVERALL:  2.85
WD obviously took our advice from the first Exile, and did in fact make this one *much* tougher. So tough, in fact that you may not be able to get past the second level (God Crully). In order for me to defeat him, I had to work Sadler up -- up so high that he was only 2 levels away from being maxed out. Even then, it took about 8 tries. I can't wait to see what insurmountable foes await me next (Lawrence, oh Lawrence!)

One thing I do like (although it *can* be annoying) is the results when you mix the tonics -- random things can happen (for instance, if you mix a tonic to increase your Offense, and then another one to increase your Defense, you may be surprised to find that the second one actually decreases both your offense and defense -- unfortunately, experimentation with this doesn't always work, since there seems to be a randomness to it).

The exact opposite of the previous, make it a little easier. Also, it seems that WD didn't take advantage of the CD technology, when you meet main characters, they don't speak (it's just text that you read), the only time that speech is used, is during the intermissions -- and Ys 3 taught us that that wasn't necessary. Particularly for a SuperCD.

Far East of Eden II, Manji Maru (JSCD)

Review by Tin Yau Fung.

This is a sequel to Far East of Eden, Ziria. The player assumes the role of Manji Maru. The game stands apart from other ordinary RPGs in that it has the most animation and voice-acting among all RPG games. Playing the game is like watching a drama.

GRAPHICS : A  (The overworld map and the dungeon parts were superb.
               However, when characters enter places like villages, they
               suddenly look very blocky)
SOUND    : A++ (Excellent!  There is a section in the instruction manual
               which explains how tough it is to make good traditional
               Japanese music.)
MUSIC    : A++
GAMEPLAY : B  (The game is not action-oriented.  Characters fight by
               choosing commands from a list of options)
LONGEVITY: A  (Just the animation will blow you away.  You definitely want
               to see it again)

OVERALL  : 4.03
The game is far too easy. I think it would be great if they could do a decent translation in the US version.
This is *THE* RPG game to play if you just got a Super System Card 3.0 upgrade. Actually, this game is what NEC Japan uses in their ads for their promotions of the new PC Engine Duo. Let me quote the ad info here...

                Total Characters : 3000
                Enemy Characters : 400
                             Map : approx 20000 screens
               Villages/Dungeons : about 250
                           Magic : about 100 different types
                           Items : approx 500
                       Narration : about 3 hours, 10000 messages
                       Animation : about 30 minutes
                             BGM : 80 entries
Expected time to finish the game : 70 to 80 hours
                           Staff : 150 people
(A working knowledge of Japanese is needed for this title)

Fighting Street (CD) [TGXCD1001]

Review by Laly Thao. Additional notes by TurboKid.

Someone should have reviewed this a while ago, but since no one has, here is my opinion/observation. This is Street Fighter I for those who haven't already realized it. You are Ken (Ken and Ryu in two player) and you go to five countries to test your skills. You can choose to start in Japan, England, USA, or China. After selecting a starting country, the remaining countries are randomly selected. After defeating the two fighters from each country, you head to Thailand to fight two Thai kickboxers.

If you don't have a joystick, you will develop a cyst-infested thumb trying to do the special moves (fireball, thunder (?) kick, and dragon punch). After a couple of minutes, you won't even notice your thumb.

The intensity of the moves (kick/punch) are controlled by how long you hold the kick/punch buttons.

GRAPHICS : B  (Not too great but you get used to it after a while.)
SOUND    : C+ (The voices associated with the fireball, thunder kick and
               dragon punch are all there.  The groans when getting hit are
               also present.  Biggest gripe here are the voices of the
               opponents.  The voices were written into the program rather
               than recorded on the CD.  The dialog spoken by the opponents
               is unintelligible.  Good thing they printed the dialog, too.)
MUSIC    : A  (The only thing making this a CD game is the CD quality music.)
GAMEPLAY : B  (Better played with a joystick.  The only move I did consis-
               tently was the thunder kick (and that was with the kick button
               set to mid-turbo).  I was successful 80% of the time I tried
               it.  I accidentally did a dragon punch but that never happened
               again.  I threw a couple of fireballs in the midst of getting
               clobbered.  Without the special moves mastered, once I got to
               Thailand, the kickboxer promptly splattered me over the ruins.
               Response to moves was also very slow.  It is supposed to be a
               fast paced game but it leaves a lot to be desired.)
LONGEVITY: B  (Good for times when you want to beat up people :-)  Also good
               for two player action to find out who's going to pay for the

OVERALL  : 3.05
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2
A very poorly designed game. The voices should have been digitized onto the CD, rather than stuffed in the program itself. Very poor voice quality. Additionally, the CD was accessed every time a match was to be fought. It would have been better if the CD were accessed only if something different were needed, so if you died in that level, you don't need to access anything new, hence the CD would not be accessed except for music.

Especially frustrating if you were beaten up by a character and wanted immediate revenge. You'd have to wait for the program to load again... *SIGH*.

This game could've been placed on a HuCard!

Final Zone II (CD) [TGXCD1008]

Review by Pete Ikusz.

The look and feel of this game is quite similar to that of the arcade game, Commando. It is a vertical scroller where you play one of 5 characters, each different at different levels, each having different weapons. In levels 4-7 you are allowed to choose which you would like to play. There are only 4 different power ups, one to restore partial strength, one to increase ammo, one to increase strength meter, and one to restore all of your strength. This game is very straightforward, but definitely not easy.

The introductory story line was okay at best, along with the graphics. Nothing special. There are a few intermediate screenplays, but they are of the intro quality.

GRAPHICS : B+ (A little better than Bloody Wolf, but not as good as
               Last Alert)
SOUND    : B+ (Your standard sound effects for a game of this type... voice
               makes it a bit better than Bloody Wolf)
MUSIC    : A- (Decent CD music)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (You need a joystick for this game)
LONGEVITY: A- (It gets you aggravated enough to MAKE you play again!)

OVERALL  : 3.50
When your character is killed (if you continue), you begin at the beginning of that level. (Arghh!!! to say the least)
There is no save game feature. "Very disappointing to say the least. What the hell did I buy my CD unit with !@&$% memory backup for?" - Ed. Now this would be a great 2 player game...
I found this game to be very similar to Last Alert, except for small play mechanics and graphics. I found the graphics to be only a little better than Bloody Wolf's. Also, Last Alert has your character confined to a smaller moveable area, whereas the other two games allow you to move around the immediate vicinity better. I prefer the maneuverability (or lack of maneuverability?) of Last Alert over this game, though, and your tastes may be very different from mine when comparing games of this sort. The lower price tag of Last Alert definitely helps sway my decision to go with Last Alert over Final Zone II.

Flash Hiders (JSCD) by Right Stuff

Review by Noah Mittman Zis.

This is a one-on-one fighting game not unlike Street Fighter II. There is a greater amount of depth to the fighting, however. The setting is a fantasy/sci-fi cross, and you have 9 characters to choose from, averaging four special moves each, with our hero Bang having 5 and Seena with 3. Before fighting, you will come across the tune-up screen, where you can adjust points to offense, defense, and speed. Offense gives you stronger attacks, and is worn down by taking hits; Defense lets you take less damage, and gets worn down by taking hits, both blocked and unblocked (and falls faster than offense). Speed follows the same idea, but won't regenerate like the others unless you stop moving.

The other interesting point is that there is no point system. Instead, when you win a fight, you are awarded with experience points in the form of time bonuses, skill bonuses, and health bonuses. Enough XP and you move up a level along with your O,D,and S ratings and the number of points you can add to them.

There are three modes of play. Scenario mode gives you the full-screen art and a plot only someone who knows japanese could follow. You can only play Bang, and you'll fight 8 characters, including the bosses Graneel and Moonrize. (Tiria, Seena, and Bang you will not fight). Advance mode lets you choose from any of the standard 9 and fight for money, which lets you buy O,D, and S strengtheners, plus an item that will boost one of your special moves. You can save your character to back-up ram or to password. The harder the difficulty, the more XP and money each round will give you. By the 25th round, you will again fight Graneel and then Moonrize. Finally, the normal Versus mode lets you pit a 2p battle, a 1p battle, or a comp-on-comp. You, as elsewhere in the game, have 6 levels of difficulty ranging from Easy to Death. You can ALSO load in characters built up from the Advance mode, for the occasional "my-character's-better-than-yours" 2p fight.

Uses the 6-button pad with 2 strengths of kicks and punches. Otherwise works like World Heroes/Fighting Street where tap and hold differentiates on the 2 button pad.

GRAPHICS : A++ (battles are GREAT, animation is top-notch with some moving
               backgrounds, but some of the scenario graphics are weak)
SOUND    : A+  (samples are clear and well recorded. even the compressed
               audio is great. not too limited although some may grow tired)
MUSIC    : A+  (some of the fight music is simply wonderful, and fit this
               genre of games - of course, it IS a CD)
GAMEPLAY : A+  (three modes, adjustable skills, auto/manual control - this
               puppy's got the options that it needs for a good fighter
               and ALMOST a good simulator! [auto control's purpose])
LONGEVITY: A   (My personal view on fighting games, plus the Advance mode.
               I've now used all 9 set at Metal, can I do the same at

PLAYERS: 1 or 2
Nothing bad here! In fact, only the credits, item names, and story/endings are in Japanese! What luck for a gaijin like me! >:) Data loads in very quickly! A must for any fighting game fan!

Forgotten Worlds (SCD) [TGXCD1030]

Review by Bt Garner.

The two-person shooter, direct from the arcades. Well, almost direct...

GRAPHICS : B  (Not bad, although there is an occasional flicker)
SOUND    : C+ (Boring, but just barely covers all the bases, and the
               voices sound like they were recorded in an NYC sewer pipe)
MUSIC    : B  (adequate, but not great)
GAMEPLAY : B  (OK, a Stick would probably make life real easy...easier...)
LONGEVITY: B- (doesn't overly hold your attention)

OVERALL  : 2.78
PLAYERS  : 1 (2, see Improvements).
Bring back the two player option (like the arcade). There is a 2-player version (through a debug code), but in that case, 1 player controls the "man" and the other controls the "satelite"

Gate of Thunder (SCD) [TGXCD1027]

You control an awesome spacejet flying over beautiful terrain and meticulously detailed enemy strongholds. Three shooting weapons and homing missiles add to the fun. Better than Gradius, Darius, R-Type, and all shooters before it!

GRAPHICS : A++ (some of the fastest, flicker-free images on ANY game
                system... animation sequences and parallax will thrill you...
                check out levels 4 and 5... damn good graphics!)
SOUND    : A+  (killer explosions and shooting sounds)
MUSIC    : A++ (in a word, pulse-pounding... the music fits perfectly in with
                the graphics)
GAMEPLAY : B+  (one of those games which would benefit greatly with a joystick)
LONGEVITY: A++ (for shooters, there is no substitute!  Packaged with every
                TurboDuo.  Will definitely win a place in the Turbo Hall of

OVERALL  : 4.33
This game comes on a 4-game CD including Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge. Before the title screen, Bonk does a little narration. The viewer is thrilled with a 3D rotation and scaling demo (and Sega people said it *couldn't* be done!).

Genocide (JSCD) [BRCD2003]

Review by Bt Garner.

You're a Mech - and you have to, well, kill things (as if that's a foreign concept to most video games). You have a sword; you can run (left or right); you can jump. That's about it. Every level has a boss, that you must destroy before you can open the gate to get to the next level.

GRAPHICS : B  (nice, but nothing fantastic)
SOUND    : B  (uninspired, at best)
MUSIC    : C  (there's a problem here - the soundtrack itself is wonderful,
               but it sounds like it was recorded outside in the midst of
               an electrical storm [the term "telephone quality" comes to
GAMEPLAY : B+  (easy enough to figure out)
LONGEVITY: C+  (very difficult, perhaps too difficult).

OVERALL  : 2.65
Fix the soundtrack, please. Some power-ups for your weapon would be nice (there are none!)

Golden Axe (CD)

Review by Jeffrey Naiman.

SOUND    : B+
MUSIC    : B+


OVERALL  : 2.78

GotzenDiener [HECD4014] (JSCD)

Review by Bt Garner.

GotzenDiener is a unique title in the ever growing field of fighters and Tetris spin-off games. Calling it an RPG isn't quite correct, nor would calling it a "puzzle" game do it justice (ala Beyond Shadowgate). Instead you have a hybrid game, so we'll call it RPG/Puzzle and leave it at that.

Story premise is this, you have been taken captive and held hostage at GotzenDiener, a huge castle which sits atop a mountain. As your rescuer deals the fatal blow to your captor, he too dies (what he dies from is not important, just think how boring of a game this would be if he didn't perish). At your captor's death, your chains are broken, and now you must find your way out of the castle. To start, you can take the sword which you rescuer was using ...

Gameplay is rather simple, you move your character via the control pad (the game works on diagonals only, so there is not up or down, instead it is Up-Left and Down-Right). Button I picks up an item (or draws your sword if there is not item nearby), button II drops the item (or places your sword back in its sheath). The Select button is used for several different things, if you are holding (or pushing) and object, Select will "throw" the object. If you are not holding an object, and there is a "Spell Item" available, the screen will darken, and you then face your character in the direction that you want the spell cast, pressing I "casts" the spell. If more than one "Spell Item" is on the screen, repeatedly pressing select will cycle through them.

There are 6 "phases" of this game. The first 3 take place in the castle, the 4th takes place in the caverns below the castle, the 5th takes place on the outside of the castle (conveyer belts), and the final phase in back in the castle again. The game is "saved" anytime that you enter a new part of the phase (for instance, if you just climbed a ladder, the game will be saved at that point), you can also resume the game from the beginning of any of the 6 phases, in case you fear that you have screwed something up which will prevent you from getting past that part of the scene (although I cannot think of any situation that this would occur, although you could do a few things that would take you a long time to get through if you screwed them up, then figured out the secret of getting through the level in question).

That's the basics, now what do we have. .well, for one, the game is one of the most visually pleasing games that I have seen in a long time, most of the graphics are beautiful. And some of the stages are challenging (I spend hours on the 4th phase before I figured out the key), however, overall the game is very short. My total playing time was well under 10 hours, and after beating it, a replay was done in about 30 minutes. Secondly, the controls really stink. It is very hard to control your character only on the diagonals, I frequently found myself heading 90 degrees of where I had intended her to go. Finally, the game is very buggy -- I don't mean the occasional flicker, or even the occasionally wall/object flickering that can occur (and does) when you move an object along side a wall that hides it -- this game crashed my system so many times that I almost gave up playing it (because it was so frustrating). In fact, I could often replicate the lockup, but about half the time, it would just freeze for no apparent reason. There are also a few problems with some of the spell items, in one case, I had cast the spell on an enemy corpse, and when it awoken, it was supposed to be under my control (I move UR, it moves UR; I attack, it attacks), but I attacked and the thing just stayed there in perma-attack mode. This error was also replicated.

GRAPHICS : B+ (Nice, with the exception of the occasional wall-object flicker)
SOUND    : B- (What's there is nice, but there's not much there)
MUSIC    : C+ (for a CD games, why are all the songs program generated?)
GAMEPLAY : C  (once you get used to it, it's ok, but precision moves are
               still out of the question)
LONGEVITY: C- (once you know the solutions.. .and with all the bugs.. .)

OVERALL  : 2.28
Fix the bugs, get some decent BGM, and make the game longer
Overall, the game had some great potential, and an element of it still exists, but the game is not worth the $60 that you'll need to pay to get it new. Instead, I would highly recommend that you borrow/rent a copy, or if you can find it used, go for it. Throughout the entire game, there isn't a word of Japanese (only in the cinemas, and that's easy enough to figure out what is going on).

Gradius II (JSCD) [KMCD2003]

Review by Bt Garner.

A side scrolling shooter from Konami. You control a ship, and can collect power ups of 2 different kinds, blue (which destroy all minor enemies on screen) and red, which can be used to enhance the capabilities of your ship (for instance after one red power up you can select to "speed up" your ship, or after collecting 2, you can add "missiles," etc.

GRAPHICS:  B+  (well detailed, but there is an occasional slowdown)
SOUNDS:    B+  (adequate - the voices are very well done, however)
MUSIC:     A   (good tunes to kill by ..)
GAMEPLAY:  B   (it works, some areas are real tight, and there's nothing
                worse than experiencing a slowdown)
LONGEVITY: B+  (has that "I know I can do it this time" feel to it)

Will Konami ever release any of their games in the US? Well, I can dream, can't I?

Hellfire (JCD)

Side-scrolling shooter with plenty of power-ups, big bosses, and enemies to fight! Anime sequences are a feast to watch.

GRAPHICS : A++ (Large animated enemies and bosses.  Excellent detail in
                anime sequences)
SOUND    : A+  (Lots of voice-acting and sound effects)
MUSIC    : A+
GAMEPLAY : B+  (You'll need a joystick to get in between tight places, like
                the moving walls in level 2)
LONGEVITY: A-  (Fun to play again and again)

OVERALL  : 3.98

PLAYERS  : 1 or 2 (simu)
Some parallax scrolling would have been nice.
If you like shooters and anime, I would recommend this title, especially since this is an old game and you can probably get it cheap.

Hot Blood High School Soccer (JSCD) [NXCD1005]

Review by Bt Garner.

You and up to 3 of you closest friends (or worst enemies), can battle it out on the soccer field. You are offered a variety of play options, 1P, 1,2P, 1P vs 2P, 1,2P vs 3P and 1,2P vs 3,4P. All of the menus (well, *most* of the menus) are in Japanese, but don't let that deter you. The game can be easily played without any Japanese knowledge. When you play in 1P (and presumably 1,2P) mode, you go through a circuit, battling tougher and tougher soccer teams. After every match, you can get a password to continue later on.

GRAPHICS:  B+  (Good background, but not too varying.  Animation is well done)
SOUND:     A-  (Soccer sounds, complete with grunts!)
MUSIC:     A   (different bgm depending on what team you're playing)
GAMEPLAY:  B   (a little difficult to figure out, and your thumb will hate
               hate you when you've played 5+ matches non-stop)
LONGEVITY: B   (The 1P and 1,2P modes won't last long once you go through
               the entire circuit of teams, but that's what the Vs modes
               are for, aren't they?)

PLAYERS: 1 through 4
A good soccer game, complete with intermissions, however, do not buy this game if you're looking for a *true* soccer simulation.

(* this may also be known as "Kunio's Soccer" - unsure of title *)

Image Fight 2 (JSCD)

Image Fight was a best-selling PC Engine Hu-card. Unfortunately, this Super CD sequel does not break any new ground as far as shooters are concerned. The graphics look uninspired and the music is unremarkable. Also, this is one of the few cases where intermissions do not add anything to the game - they are small, saw-edged and use about five colors max. The only thing that sets this game apart from the similar titles is its very high level of difficulty, even in the "easy" mode.

SOUND    : B
MUSIC    : B- (gets annoying after a while)
LONGEVITY: A (hard as hell)

OVERALL  : 3.28
some parallax would have been nice...
This one you definitely won't finish overnight. If you are a fan of very hard shooters, get it. Otherwise, go for Spriggan, it is a much better game.

It Came From the Desert (CD) [TGXCD1010]

Weird story background with a '50's B-movie feel to it.

GRAPHICS : A  (digitized moving actors move in perfect sync with their
               voices... while many of the scenes are more or less full-
               screen, the actors only move in a small area of the screen)
SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A
GAMEPLAY : A  (good use of the TurboPad)
LONGEVITY: B  (while there is enough stuff on this CD to keep you occupied,
               I'm not sure it will hold your attention after you solve the

OVERALL  : 3.67
Maybe a few more colors in the digitized images? Ack! The CD load times are S-L-O-W even on my Duo!
The high score that this game gets is a little misleading. While the game exhibits excellence in each individual category, the overall game is not excellent. Don't get me wrong. It's very good for an interactive video. The story is good and the acting is very good. I'm just not the type to sit and watch a lot of video without participating in it. However, I feel it is an excellent way to show off the capabilities of your CD-ROM drive or Duo.

The Kick Boxing (JSCD) [MWCD2001] MicroWorld, 19??

Review by Robert Kemmetmueller.

"Hey you.. c'mon, ret's fight!" So says the intro cinema for "The Kick Boxing". It's Andre Panza Kickboxing, only it's on a CD. There's no music during the actual fight, and less than 1/4 of the CD's capacity is even used. So basically what we're talking about here is a big waste of plastic.

See "Andre Panza Kickboxing" review for grades, although they're overly generous when you compare it to the newer titles available today (just got my copy of SF2CE... whoah!)

Lady Phantom (JSCD)

Review by Brad Hamlett.

Lady Phantom is a strategy game whose theme is borrowed heavily from Japanese animation (such as GunBuster or Bubblegum Crisis). You control a team of 5 women in battlesuits. Each battlesuit is unique in its own set of weapons and armor characteristcs. There are 25-30 different weapons in the game, each rated for range, damage, rate of fire, and hit probability. Your team of five will fight other enemy battlesuits, gun emplacements, and various spacecraft. As your team completes a mission, they will recieve experience based on how many kills were scored and on how well the mission was completed. Gain enough experience and team members will improve piloting and gunnery skills and gain rank.

Gameplay is a turn-based strategy type game... no reflexes needed here. Every unit (friend and foe) executes their action before the next unit. (i.e. one of your team will get to move and fire and then another unit... not necessarily one of your own... will move). The 'board' is hex-based and the facing of your people matter, as the game takes into account front/side/rear armor and evasion. If one of your battlesuits is destroyed in the battle, the pilot will not receive any experience for the mission, but will be available for the next one. There are 10 missions, ranging from straight-out fights to escort missions to sabotage. A number of options allow you turn animations on/off, set movement options, turn the hex-grid on/off, etc.

Lady Phantom has to be one of my favorite PCE games because of the complexity of the units involved. Each of the women in your team has a speciality. Jennifer likes up-close combat, whereas Cindy prefers long range missle fire. The animation and sound effects for battles are top-notch and simply add to the effect. In between missions, animated intermissions tell the story.

The only downside to the game is that it is one player. Once you have played through the 10 missions, the game is done. The missions kept me busy for awhile, though, and the various objectives are fun to achieve. A top-notch game.

SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A

OVERALL  : 3.45
Decrease CD lag time when loading scenes.
A very good game overall. The amount of Japanese text in the game could be a stumbling block... it took me awhile to figure out what everything was, but it's definitely worthwhile if you like strategy games.

Last Alert (CD) [TGXCD1007]

This is how Bloody Wolf was supposed to look, sound, and play. You assume the role of Guy Kazama (no, I am not making that name up) and you must fight your way through various "enemy" strongholds in order to accomplish a variety of tasks. As your points increase, you get stronger weaponry, so that you can kill even more enemies.

GRAPHICS : A  (Fast, flicker-free animation... nice, full screen "still"
SOUND    : A  (Voices and cinematic effects are crisp)
MUSIC    : A  (Very, very good soundtrack)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (This one definitely requires a joystick)
LONGEVITY: A- (Frustrating, but fun... easy when you know what weapon to
               use against which bosses)

OVERALL  : 3.78
Decrease CD lag time when loading scenes.

L-Dis (JCD) [NSCD 0005]

Review by Bt Garner.

A cute side scrolling shooter, along the same lines as Air Zonk and Parodius. Oh yeah - and there is also a plot, somewhere...

You begin each game by selecting what "set" of arms theat you want (A, B or C), each set has different weapons for the various satellites that you can (and will) collect along the way (there are four different satellites, Red, Blue, Green and Black - the black ones act as a bomb, and are dropped by hitting the I button). After that it's on to the first stage. Every stage (that I've made it to so far) has two bosses, and are relatively easy to defeat once you figure out their pattern.

GRAPHICS:  A- (very cute "cartoon" type graphics, and very little flickering)
SOUND:     A  (the Japanese voice that says "Continue!" and "Game Over" is
               hilarious, though I somehow doubt that it was supposed to be)
MUSIC:     B+ (Ok, but for a CD shooter we expect more)
GAMEPLAY:  B- (Game looses points for 2 reasons, even on easy mode, this game
               gets tough, very quickly; and also there is a fair amount of
               slowdown when too many things are on the screen at one time,
               although this doesn't happen too much)
LONGEVITY: B+ (fun to play, but not a serious shooter like Gate of Thunder)

Highly recommended if you can get it for a good price.

Legend of Dekoboko (JCD) [TJCD0013] Renovation, 1990

Review by Robert Kemmetmueller.

A kooky goofball 3/4 perspective driving game for up to 5 players. You can jump over things, damage other cars by ramming them, and use your winnings to repair damage and buy weapons like spikes, oil, missiles, and boxing-glove launchers(!).

This is one you either love or hate. Seems as though when a group of people get together, whoever was doing poorly at the other 5p games, kicks everyone else's butt playing this one. Scrolling is always top-to-bottom, with 45-degree diagonals through some parts of the course.

The race leaders always work their way to the top of the screen where they get about 1/2" warning of where obstacles are (ouch!), and inept drivers get bounced forward by the bottom of the screen, and randomly spun around to reduce their odds of ever recovering (double ouch!). Car speed exceeds scrolling speed, so you can easily catch up once you get your bearings.

Kooky enemies impede your progress, everything from cows and sharks (yes, you must drive through water in some places) to arrow-shooting samurai... it's like "MotoRoader meets Toobin'".

GRAPHICS : B+ (dinky little cars, but highly varied scenery and obstacles)
SOUND    : B
MUSIC    : A  (a different goofy tune to match every goofy level)
GAMEPLAY : C- (the place to be is the middle of the screen, but you can't
               WIN from there!)
LONGEVITY: B  (if you don't throw it away after one try, there's plenty of
               game here; it's fun to see each new level, if nothing else)

OVERALL  : 3.00
PLAYERS  : 1 to 5
Increase the margin at the top of the screen to a full inch, or increase scrolling speed to accomodate leaders, or _something_.

Legion (JCD) [TJCD0010]

Review by Bt Garner.

A strange Japanese shooter with only two redeeming features: 1) it allows 2 people to play simultaneously, and 2) there is a goofy English narration (so absolutely no knowledge of Japanese is needed, unless you feel that you must read the instruction booklet) that is hilarious (to listen to, not in content).

GRAPHICS : B  (adequate, nothing spectacular, though)
SOUND    : B- (the narration is humorous the first time, subsequently
MUSIC    : B  (nothing to get your heart pounding.  Shooters should
                have a minimum BPM of 150...)
GAMEPLAY : C  (very difficult, the enemy moves and shoots quicker than
                you move, often giving you no time for avoiding fire)
LONGEVITY: C+ (only high, due to the 2-player mode)

OVERALL:   2.55
PLAYERS:   1 or 2
This is one tough game. As indicated in the Gameplay section, perhaps it is too tough. Although, I guess that makes it more realistic [sic] than some other shooters where the enemy beckons you to kill them...

Loom (SCD) [TGXCD1017]

Additional comments by Bt Garner.

As one of the magical "weavers" (akin to a musical magician), you embark on a quest to rescue the other weavers. There are no hack and slash elements in this game. Most of it is explore and cast magic. It's a complete story on a disc and very close to the 256-color CD version of the IBM game of the same name.

GRAPHICS : A  (everything is very cinematic in nature and you get to skip
               some of the more annoying animations if you wish)
SOUND    : A  (many of the sounds are played off the CD)
MUSIC    : A+ (top notch)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (moving the cursor takes a little getting used to... you
               must aim the cursor at a location and press a button to
               allow your weaver to move toward it)
LONGEVITY: A  (guaranteed to last a long time... it's a long adventure
               and you could play it again and again to learn different

OVERALL  : 3.93
I felt some of the scenes were too limited in color. I counted no more than 8 colors in those scenes and felt the technology could handle much more. (bt: despite the high score that this game has, I found it to be way too short. Yes, there are a few things to experiment with, but overall, once you figure out a few basics, the games loses any appeal for repeat playing - also the way they do the sounds is irritating - all the spell casting noises are CD tracks, rather than sound effects, thus when you cast a spell, rather than silencing the music and playing a few short notes, the CD has to change tracks [SLOW!], and once you are done the music may or may not resume!)

Lords of the Rising Sun (CD) [TGXCD1014]

Review by Brad Hamlett.

Lords of the Rising Sun is the long awaited strategy game based in feudal Japan. This title appeared on both the Amiga and the IBM. Little has changed. You assume the role of one of three Japanese warlords. Your objective is to secure and consolidate your power as a Samurai. The game difficulty and objectives vary depending on which of the warlords you choose to play.

You and each warlord you command is rated on archery, siege, and swordsmanship. Archery determines how well you can protect a fortification. Siege is how well you can attack a fortification. Swordsmanship is how well you command an army in the field.

Each warlord commands a number of troops from 0-100. The longer a warlord remains in a city, the more troops will join. In cities, warlords replenish men and rest. In villages, warlords can only rest. Marching drains stamina from your troops and affects their combat abilities.

Each type of combat is represented by a action or strategy sequence. When defending a fort, you must shoot enemy soldiers that are scaling the walls. In a siege, you must kill enemy soldiers standing in your way while navigating a maze of buildings trying to find the main temple. Only the field battles require no arcade skills. You set troop orders and then watch them fight it out. You can sound retreat or change orders during the fight. If you are victorious, the scene changes and you try to chase down the enemy warlord on horseback. If you fail, the leader gets away. Succeed and there's one less enemy commander to deal with.

Other options include sending ninja assassins to kill enemy warlords and bribing other leaders to join your cause. The game ends when you meet your victory conditions.

I'm not going to lie to you... this game sucks. The action sequences are out of place and the "chase down the enemy warlord on horseback" sequence is just too damn hard. The actions sequences are fun a time or two, but the 100th time you siege a city, you don't want to have to run around finding the main temple again. The voice actors make me cringe... no emotion and some blatantly fake Japanese accents (makes me cringe about as much as when Hollywood portrays Southerners).

The music and background effects are nicely done, but don't make up for a truly bad game. Avoid this one... MAYBE rent it.

SOUND    : A-
MUSIC    : A-

OVERALL  : 2.38

Lords of Thunder (SCD) [TGXCD1033]

Review by Bt Garner.

Sequel to the ever-popular Gate Of Thunder, although the two aren't really related ('cept in title)... You have 8 levels to shoot your way through. Before every level you choose an appropriate armor (earth, air, water or fire), and then proceed to the store to purchase power ups (money is collected when you destroy enemies in previous rounds).

GRAPHICS : A   (very nicely done!)
SOUND    : A   (almost as good as Gate...)
MUSIC    : A++ (fantastic - this will become an Audio CD for you after you've
                beaten the game enough times!)
GAMEPLAY : B   (a little too difficult for my tastes)
LONGEVITY: A   (you'll want to play it again, trust me .. )

OVERALL:   3.93

Macross 2036 (JCD or JSCD)

High-speed, side-scrolling shooter based on the popular Japanese Macross (Robotech) series. Unique method of fighting against bosses. Lots of hidden surprises. When playing on a standard CD, CD access time is more frequent.

GRAPHICS : A+  (You won't believe your eyes!  The animation is so smooth and
                fast and some enemies and bosses are HUGE.  The opening anime
                scenes are INCREDIBLE.  When fighting bosses, you aim your
                robot by ROTATING it!  WOW!!!)
SOUND    : A++ (Even though the speech is in Japanese, I still got into
                it.  Superb voice-acting)
MUSIC    : A+  (These designers did an excellent job on music.  I'm sure
                if I were a fan of the TV series, I would probably give
                the music more praise.  It's very catchy)
GAMEPLAY : A   (This is one of those games where the actual side-scrolling
                sequences would fair better with a joystick, but the
                Turbopad would be better during the boss-fight)
LONGEVITY: B   (There are a large number of power-up items to use.  I
                finished the game the night I got it, but I'm still very
                curious to discover the effectiveness of other power-up
                items.  You would probably want to play it again just for
                that.  The continue feature really helped me get through
                all the levels.  Otherwise, it's just too easy!)

OVERALL  : 3.87
More power-up items? There's already about 16 of them in the power-up items shop and many hidden power-ups during the game. Add more levels!!!
My only gripe is that it was too easy. I'm not THAT good at videogames and I beat it in one night!

Macross 2 Love Song (JSCD) [NSCD2014]

Review by Jeff Hildebrand.

Macross 2 Love Song (hereafter M2LS) is a military/strategy simulation, much like Military Madness or Vasteel. M2LS is based on (unsurprisingly) the very popular anime "Superdimensional Fortress Macross" and fans will immediately recognize many of the units, but none of the characters, who seem to have been created expressly for the game. There are extensive animations throughout this game (ie. before every map) detailing some "behind the scenes" action and developing a story. Since my understanding of Japanese is poor in the extreme, this review will only cover the "game" aspect at this time.

M2LS follows a couple of characters as they fight battles and rise through the ranks. As the game progresses, more and more characters (and hence, units) come under your command. On most maps there are other units which you can not control - these are controlled by the computer. Your enemies, the Zentradi and Meltrandi are also run by the computer. Alas, there is no two- player option in this game. As the pilots under your control make more kills they will gain experience and "levels" (like in D&D). At certain levels your characters will be allowed to pilot more powerful fighters, like the Armoured Valkyrie and the VT4.

The screen is divided into two main areas: the top half shows an overhead view of the map, and the bottom half gives detailed information on terrain and any unit you place the cursor on. Some of this information is in kanji (eg. terrain type) and katakana (eg. unit name).

About the units: the main offensive unit used in this game is the Valkyrie fighter. This unit has three configurations:

The Valkyrie is the only highly maneuverable offensive unit. Your battle- carrier has truly awesome attack power, but its movement is generally limited. There are several different defensive units which have poor move- ment but good defense and attack power.

About attacking: all units have at least one weapon which is powered by EP (energy points). The basic gun can only fire at adjacent units and consumes little energy. Later, as you acquire Armoured Valkyries and the defensive units, you will be able to attack from a distance with missiles (0 EP) and beam/laser weapons (more EP, but they have better range too). Missiles can only be used a finite number of times (often only once). Some units can attack multiple targets with missiles. For every attack, there is a short battle scene showing the units (beautifully detailed) attacking each other. The map window is replaced with a scrolling side-view of the "battle sequence." The units involved are large - about 1/2 screen high, and the weapons are well detailed (guns or lasers firing, missiles launching). As the target is hit, the damage is shown in the status window so you know how much you have hurt your enemy and how badly he has hurt you. Each unit will flash white when hit, and flash rapidly when destroyed (HP:00). Upon returning to the map screen, a destroyed unit will blow up. Enemy commanders will shout something before giving up the ghost.

Finally, playing the game: M2LS is turn-based, ie. you get to move your units (and maybe attack), then the computer gets to move his. When you select a unit you are presented with a menu (in kanji). If you select movement or attack, the parts of the map within range remain in colour while the rest of the map turns black & white. Here is a really nice touch that has endeared this game to me: if you move a unit, then select attack, and you are out of range, pressing button II a couple of times will allow you to "undo" your move and move the unit to a different location. Since some weapons have very narrow ranges, this is invaluable when a unit must be placed precisely. Moving units is a little unusual - the map is divided into squares rather than hexes, and only the four cardinal directions are considered adjacent.

At the start of each map, a block of kanji and katakana text scrolls by explaining (presumably) the situation and your objectives for winning. If you don't know Japanese you'll have to use trial and error, or recall your objectives during the game and translate them. The conditions for winning a map are not that complex however, and generally you can win by destroying an attacking battleship, but occasionally it is something else, like the Meltrandi ace, or fleeing ships. You lose if your ship is destroyed or, say, the fleeing ships all get away.

You can reconfigure your Valkyries at any time and as often as your like *before* firing. However, if you move and then try to reconfigure, your choices are limited by the distance you have moved. For example, if you move a fighter as far as possible, you can not reconfigure it at all. If you had moved a little less you could still change to a guardian, and if you had only moved a little you would be able to switch to battloid mode as well. Basically, if you move and then change modes, you can only switch to a unit that could have moved to that location if you had changed modes and then moved.

When one of your units is destroyed, it is out of the game for that map only. You will get the character back for the next map, with a new ship. However, if the character is not fighting he/she is not gaining experience (which, in turn, leads to better units). If a unit becomes damaged, you can return it to your battleship where it will be repaired and you can pull it back out on the next turn. During protracted battles some of your units may run out of energy, or at least too low to use their more powerful weapons. A unit's EP can be restored by returning to the battleship. Missiles are *not* reloaded when you return to the battleship. Occasionally you will also find bases on the map (labelled "BASE") where you can return units for repair. When I say repair here, I mean "restore their HP." When you pull a Valkyrie out of your ship or a base after repairs, it is always in plane mode.

Now for the bad stuff (I'm sorry to say it, but there are a couple of things). I really only have two problems with this game. The first is that the computer does not make the best use of its units. It never trans- forms its Valkyries, which means that when they start out as planes they get blown away in about two turns. Also, the computer will not fire the beam weapon in its ship every turn, even though there are targets in range. My second complaint is that all computer-controlled units start out on the map but your own units are *all* loaded up into your carrier. The computer gets to move and attack with its units, but you can only unload and place yours. When you unload a Valkyrie, it is always in the plane configuration, so you have to place it well back from the action or it will get blown away before you even get a chance to use it. Computer controlled units often start out in battloid or guardian configuration. I like being able to place my units myself, but they are out for that turn, and probably the next as well (to transform them and move them closer to the front line).

GRAPHICS : A+ (Lots of detail, objects are small, but still easily
               identified, even Valkyrie configuration)
SOUND    : B  (Not a lot of sound effects, mostly shooting and explosions)
MUSIC    : A+ (Lots of tunes, perhaps from the anime (which I have not seen),
               but perhaps just image music, very appropriate though)
GAMEPLAY : A  (Pretty easy to figure out, and the game is very forgiving
               of mistakes)
LONGEVITY: B  (See comments below)

OVERALL  : 3.6
The number of units per side is usually fairly balanced, so why isn't there a two-player mode? Fix my two gripes - the computer plays quickly and well, but doesn't take advantage of the real power of the Valkyries.
Chances are that if you like simulation games, you will like this one as well. It is a solid sim. I especially like the power and flexibility of the Valkyrie fighters.

I have been told that this game has in excess of 27 levels, so it should take a while to complete. Like any other game, once you've won, you've won. *But* with M2LS the game can get much harder, or easier, depending on how quickly your characters gain levels. Just how badly *can* you kick the Zentradi and Meltrandi? Can you get an Armoured Valkyrie before map 9?

John Madden DUO CD Football (SCD)

Review by Mike & Joshua Ostrouch. Additional comments by Bt Garner.

What do you expect, It's Madden football, it doesnt' have passing windows like SNES, & Sega, but it doesn't seem to affect the gamplay.

GRAPHICS : A  (The pop up full motion video scenes add an extra affect.
               Making it more realistic for a sports fan.)
SOUND    : A  (Gameplay noises sound realistic.  Good use of CD capabilities.)
MUSIC    : A  (No Music during game play, but some music is played at various
               points [menus] in the game.  During the game, the background
               music is a track off of the CD containing, crowd noises.  It's
               a sports game, though... ).
GAMEPLAY : A  (Excellent gameplay, moving the players around the field is easy
               although they could speed up the player movements.)
LONGEVITY: A  (You can select your opponents, so picking a team with a poor
               record makes it easy.  Also using backup ram you can have a
               playoff series, just like the real thing.  5,10,15, or 20 min
               quarters are avail.  So it's your choice.)

PLAYERS: 1 or 2 (or 0 - demo mode)
Speed up player movements, in both offence & defence. And stop showing the dancing Madden so much! I almost passed out when I saw him dancing. It scared the bageeber's out of me, to quote a pal. (bt: Also, an option to choose between the live action video and computer generated "referees" would have been nice since the load time is slow, and the cinemas are unvarying.)
Why such a high rating? - well because sports fans will love it. It keeps you coming back for more, Especially the 2 player mode against your buddies. After seeing That the Duo can produce a good CD sports game like this we need some more sports games!!!! There aren't many for the Duo/TG16.

Martial Champions (JSCD) by Konami

Review by Noah Mittman Zis.

First off, fans of the arcade machine with like this, while others will probably not think much of it at all. The first thing you'll notice is the small characters and the slow loading time. (Of course, one of the great things about MC was the huge characters) The game includes 5 levels of difficulty - where 3 is rather easy and 4 is a little too hard and 5 is damn near impossible... the tournament mode, where like the arcade you fight an elimination style game leading to Salamander, the boss... the championship mode, which only appears after you win tournament mode and makes you fight all the characters (some would get eliminated in tourny mode)... a usual vs. mode with choice of background and handicaps... and a group battle mode, where you select five characters vs five and dish it out. Battles are won after one round, and life levels carry on into the next battle. First to beat all five of the opponent's characters wins (either player or computer).

The only other note is the addition (it seems) of low energy comeback moves. When the health meter flashes (a la Fatal Fury 2), you can pull one off. These are undocumented.

The game uses the 6 or 3 button pad for the best control (the game works on the idea of high attack/middle attack/low attack), and makes you use the run button on the 2 button pad otherwise. Subsequently, I haven't found a way to pause the game with a 2 button pad.

GRAPHICS : B  (characters are really small and lost a lot of detail. while
              the backgrounds are nice, they have no interaction. the line
              scrolls are nice on the floor and the bouncing will still make
              you nauseous. also the alternative colors are hideous)
SOUND    : D  (sound effects whether set to stereo or monaural still will
              make you grit your teeth in annoyance)
MUSIC    : B  (strictly BG music, nothing special. the "win" music gets
              old quickly)
GAMEPLAY : A  (It's all there from the arcade, and the best thing about this
LONGEVITY: B- (needing to win tourney to get championship mode was a bad
              idea. plus turning up difficuly often leads to more
              frustration than challenge. finding the low energy moves
              makes you wanna try one more time)

PLAYERS: 1 or 2
All options and controls on screen in English, minus the endings and the "win" quotes. Sometimes it seems like it takes ages to load the fighting scenes up. Does have different endings depending on what level you set it at (a la home SF2). I did like the addition of the comeback moves. Watching Jin grab someone, pound them in the dragon punch style, and then, on the way down, pound them again on the head is a blast.

Monster Lair (CD) [TGXCD1003]

Review by Bt Garner.

A side scrolling shooter where you also have to watch your life meter. There are 14 (?) different stages, each stage has 3 sections, a regular platform area where you run, jump and shoot everything. The next area is inside of a monster lair - here you ride a small dinosaur (wipe that smirk off of your face, of course I'm being serious!) and shoot more things until you get to the boss (the last part). Several different power ups along the way (though they are all temporary). To replenish your life meter, you eat fruit (and other things, cake, veggies) that are scattered along the way. If you have time, you may want to repeatedly shoot them in order to increase the effect that they have.

GRAPHICS : A  (beautiful - very detailed)
SOUND    : A- (could use a little improvement, but still very good)
MUSIC    : B+ (CD music, but some of it does get old after a while)
GAMEPLAY : A- (good control with or without a joystick)
LONGEVITY: A  (there are plenty of levels, and each one requires a different

OVERALL  : 3.78
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2
Despite the fact that this game seems to incorporate all the aspects of a shooter (you shoot), a platform game (you run and pick paths) and RPG (what that life meter), it is a wonderful title. Some parts are very difficult, but why would you want to finish it in one night?

Monster Maker (JSCD)

Review by Kenneth C.Y. Hui.

Here is a brief review of the game. Since I don't understand Japanese, I can only guess the storyline. In the begining, your village was attacked by some thugs. The villagers kicked you out of your village because you are the same race as the thugs. Now, you started to search for your real parents. In your journey, you met many new friends who will help you in your quest.

This game gives a new twist to RPGs, by allowing you to charm monsters to help you and you can combine two different monsters to a bigger, meaner monster with the help of a magician. Usually, I need the help of some powerful monsters to kill the boss. The fighting scene in this game is superb. All monsters are fluidly animated. There are different backgrounds. All magics are animated. All the attacks by monsters are animated. In short, every thing except the background is animated.

The background music is top notch. Different villages have different BGM. Many of them are worth listening on their own. There are a number of vehicles that you can use to travel around. For instance, a ship, a balloon, a flying dragon, a kite and a runing lizard. When you stay in a same inn for a number of times, the inn keeper will give you some goodies such as money, weapons or even magic!

The ending animation is very good, makes me think of a scene in Laputa. A lot of flying fortress is approaching the final tower. You and your friends are on top of the tower. Then, they point the cannons towards you.... By the way, this animation is full screen.

After saying all the good things about MM, now it's time for some complains. When you successfully charm the monsters, the BGM will stop and you are forced to finish the remainin battle without BGM. Occasionally, the sound effects in the battle scene will be gone. All your items and weapons of different players are listed in one table (similar to Final Fantasy series) which make it hard to read. There are too little intermissions.

GRAPHICS:  B+ (A for battle scene, B+ for animation, B for Map scene)
MUSIC:     A  (I love the music played by piano in the magician's palace)
SOUND:     B  (average sound effects.  Voice sampling is good, but may hang the
              duo occasionally for no reason)
LONGEVITY: B+ (Some of the maze are so big and the monsters are so hard that
                you don't feel like going in again.  Also, you may have to find
                hidden staircases to reach the boss.  Some of the traps in the
                maze make you crazy, cos they will either literally expel you
                out of the maze or drop you to a lower level)

There is a sequel coming out this summer for MM. You can transfer your characters from this game to the second game. When you compile your backup memory, make sure you don't erase the MMEND.END file. :)

Pomping World (JCD)

Pomping World is Buster Bros for the TG-16!!! The background graphics and music are sensational. The programmers did one excellent job in the translation process. But enough of the superlatives, the game's about this little guy on a mission to pop these large alien bubbles which bounce all over the place. His main weapon is a gun which shoots out a strange sort of ray which splits the bubbles into halves. The larger bubbles must be split a few times to get smaller bubbles. Only the smallest bubbles can actually be destroyed. If it sounds like a stupid concept, it is, but wait until you play it. You'll be hooked!!! Other useful weapons are a rapid-fire gun (you gotta love Turbofire), a gun which leaves a solid thin "wall," a time stop, and an invincibility shield. There are also birds and other nasties to do you in. On higher levels, you get to climb ladders and use the terrain (solid and vaporizable blocks) to your advantage (or disadvantage). With two players, the fun is doubled!!!

GRAPHICS : A+ (Cute and very much like the arcade game... you will not
               believe the detail here... Genesis owners won't believe
               the detail here!)
SOUND    : A  (Same here)
MUSIC    : A+ (This CD technology is great!)
GAMEPLAY : A- (Turbostick helpful but not necessary)
LONGEVITY: A  (You will be hooked... believe me!)

OVERALL  : 4.05
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2 (Yes, folks... TWO people can play at once!!!)
The shooting sound your initial weapon makes sounds a little different from the arcade, but I'm being VERY nitpicky here.
Definitely a must-have. This, my friends, is a much better translation of Buster Bros than Super Buster Bros on the SNES (which is only a one-player game!).

Puyo Puyo (JSCD) [NEC NAPR_1028]

Review by William Zandrew.

This is a clone or predessor of the Genesis game Dr. Robotnick's Mean Bean Machine. Instead of having Mario bad guys, they have an assortment of other dudes to taunt you.

You have what appears to be two attached jelly beans falling. Each one of the beans can have a different color and the pair can be rotated. The object is to get 4 of the same colored ones together. If this happens the four beans will explode and all non colored beans that are touching them will explode also. When the beans explode, the beans that are left will fall and if they explode it will cause non colored beans to fall on your oppenents side. If you can get this to happen two or three times, your opponents side will fill up. The person whose side fills up first loses.

GRAPHICS: B   The only real negative on this game and the only reason I'm
              complaining is because I've played the Genesis version.
              The colors seem sharper and clearer on the Genny.  Also, when
              your beans go over the halfway mark in your area, they don't
              seem to fall correctly.  It is as if they fall at a faster
              rate or something.  (in the two player mode, the colors are
              brighter and there is more detail.  Strange!)
SOUND:    B   Usual binks and bonks!  One cool thing is that it sounds
              like two people yelling at each other in Japanese while
              playing.  At the end of each level someone yells at the other
              person and it reminds me of someone yelling f___ you!  One
              reason I like this babbling is because this is typically what
              is happening at my house when I can get my daughter to play.
              We crab and yell and say things like "take that", etc.
MUSIC:    A+  (Addictive catchy tunes during the gameplay.  When your
              oppenent has you on the ropes, the beat of the music gets
              faster and higher and higher pitched till you think it can't
              go faster and higher.....  but it does.  Sometimes it makes
              you want to smash your monitor!  GREAT!
GAMEPLAY: A   Easy enough game to learn.  EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE!  DON'T load
              this if you only have a few minutes to play or before doing
              your taxes or studying for finals.

LONGEVITY:A+  This game can be played over and over again and not lose
OVERALL:  3.2 DO NOT GO BY THIS RATING!  If you like this type of game,
              this game is a keeper.  It is fun in the 1 player mode and
              incredibly good in the 2 player mode.
I hope someone that knows Japanese can add the story line here. There are animations and what looks like confrontations between the characters before starting each round. The voicing and animation is good, I have no idea what they are talking about.

From what I have discovered there is a Scenerio mode where you play against a bunch of different dudes and dudettes (or creatures). There also is a two player mode and a choice for changing the control on your pad/stick. There is another option I don't remember. It may be the "early" levels or an animation. (When I go into the second option some cartoon comes on the screen and says a bunch of Japanese to me. Could this be one of the infamous "your memory is shot" screens?

There is also three levels of easy modes.

Ranma 1/2 - (part 1) (JCD) [NCSD 0004]

Review by Bt Garner.

You are Ranma on a run and jump and attack type quest, going through 8 very different levels.

GRAPHICS : B+ (pretty good, although we have seen better)
SOUND    : A  (very good, very realistic, uh yeah ..)
MUSIC    : A  (CD, what do you expect?)
GAMEPLAY : B- (many of the moves require "patterns" [ie, II, II+down] and
               that makes things difficult, of course the other option is
               that 6-button joystick thing ...)
LONGEVITY: A- (not easy).

OVERALL  : 3.56
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2
The cinemas are wonderful - some are taken directly from the series. If you're at all familiar with the series, then you'll also notice some strangely familiar music. Yappappa, y'all.

Ranma 1/2: Part 3 (JSCD) [NCSD 2009]

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

One-on-one fighting game based on the popular manga/anime title. You are cast in the role of Ranma, a boy who is cursed and, as a result, changes into a girl when splashed with cold water. All of the major characters appear in the game, either in the fighting mode or during the intermissions.

The game starts with Ranma and Happosai in a public bath. Happosai hears the girls' voices and starts climbing the wall. Enraged Ranma throws a barrel at Happosai and knocks him down. Happosai splashes Ranma with cold water and the first round begins!

You can play in the story or the nettoh mode. In the second mode, two players can fight it out, Street Fighter-style. There are eight characters to choose from - two Ranmas, Ukyou, Moose, Konchoh, Kunou, Ryouga and Kodachi. There also is a special game where you play a game of cards with the Gambling King.

The actual game graphics are unremarkable at best - some of the characters look bad and animate choppily and there is a lot of flicker. The intermissions, especially the "eyecatch" segments, sounds, and music are great.

The gameplay is quite good, even with the average-looking graphics. Overall, the game is a lot of fun and offers many surprises. Recommended.

SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A

OVERALL  : 3.38
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2
If you are a fan of the series, you'll enjoy this game. If, however, you are looking for something with Street Fighter 2 playability and graphics, I suggest that you proceed with caution.

RayXanber II (JCD)

Review by Brad Hamlett.

RayXanber II is another side-scrolling shooter. I haven't played this one much yet, so I haven't gotten very far. This is one tough mother of a game... you thought AeroBlasters was hard!

RayXanber lacks all of the fancy voices and intermissions of Spriggan, but it's still a good shooter. Weapon choices are fewer, but "customizable." When you pick up a weapon, you can choose whether it shoots to the front, rear, top, or bottom. In addition to your regular firepower, you can hold the fire button down (ala R-Type) to power up your weapon type. If you release the fire button, a burst-effect like weapon is released. If you press the other button, however, your ship gains a significant burst of speed (useful in getting out of situations that you can't fight your way out of).

The graphics and music are nice. The weapons don't really offer too much firepower, so you are forced to rely on a little strategy (not necessarily a bad thing). A good shooter, but not great. Six-stages long, but hard.

SOUND    : B
MUSIC    : B

OVERALL  : 3.42

RayXanber III (JSCD) [DWCD 2002]

Review by Bt Garner.

Very similar to it's predecessor, and every bit as difficult, too. Another hellacious 6 levels await you (other than that, see RayXanber II).

GRAPHICS : A- (Very nice looking, almost in line with Gate of Thunder)
SOUND    : B- (the shots from your ship are so high-pitched, my do they get
                annoying after a while)
MUSIC    : B+ (not great, but more than adequate)
GAMEPLAY : B  (the turbopad works just fine)
LONGEVITY: A+ (leaves you with that "I know I can do it *this* time" feeling)

OVERALL  : 3.55
Oh, that high pitched noise...make it more "shot" like, rather than the current sound which could wake the neighbor's dead dog.

Record Of Lodoss War (PC-Engine CD) [HCD2029]

Review by Kyuuketsuki Miyu.

[NOTE - the following review is in non-standard format, any additions, clean ups, etc are more than welcome. . .]

It was bound to happen to a poor Animaniac like me... After buying all the Laserdisks (LDs) that pertains to this OVA, and the CD soundtracks, I knew I would end up buying this game after seeing it advertised many years ago in a Japanese magazine (Newtype). I am glad that I have not gotten the novels yet to RoLW. If they get SILENT MOBIUS out for the PC-Engine, I know I would be sunk for sure. *sigh*

First off, I might as well say it now, to save you the troubles later on, if you have not figured it out yet. You must know the Japanese written language, in order to play effectively. Sorry to say this, but the text in this RPG is not all in Hiragana or Katakana -- there is a lot of Kanji in this game. The only furinga readings you will see will be in the manual. Other than that, it is time to guess. (^_^;) There is vocal dialog too , but it is easy enough to understand, at least to me it is. The NPC's dialog are written out.

You know what, I do not think I will do a very good review. Why? I do not have a really good guideline on what to grade on. Anyway, I am rambling too much. Here is what I will tell of RECORD OF LODOSS WAR; however, if you want me to give more background of RoLW, please let me know.

Much against the warning Parn gave, I still put the PC-Engine CD-ROM into my CD deck; although my Pioneer receiver did not mind, the sanity of my Sony speakers is a different matter entirely. Here is what I found out:

  1. Warning by Parn
  2. Data
  3. Adesso e Fortuna ~Honoo to Eien~ [OP]
  4. Kaze no Fantasia [ED]
  5. Lodoss Background
  6. Data

The Graphics of the game is quite good. Especially the stills, for some of them look so good, you have to wonder if some of the shots were taken from the stills of the OVA, and rendered into the game. The opening screen looks almost like the opening from the OVA; however, if you have both the OVA and the game, you can see the differences right off hand (I could probably show you by recording the Opening of the LD and the game on my Stereo VCR and you can see for yourself). The `Continue' screen, showing a picture of the lovely Deedlit is very good -- of course. (^_^;) (Hey, where's Pirotessa!?)

The rendering of the various `stopping spots' looks quite good also. You can see Parn's house, the Temple of Marfa) and see Nice, the High Priestess), and probably a few other spots from the OVA that made its way into the game. The other stopping spots (market, temple, bar, square, etc) are done quite well also.

If do you nothing at the `Start/Continue' prompt (pictured with Karla who took possession of the body of a very lovely looking lady named Leilia, the daughter of Nice), you will get some of the background information about the realm of Lodoss and the wars. The background information is good, but the graphics, even though good on some parts, is okay on others, at least in terms of colour; bad flashbacks to some scenes in the RoLW OVA.

The rendering of your characters and the enemy is quite good, except for the tiny little guys. I cannot tell if they are dogs or rats or some obscure little varmit that makes themselves pests (and I thought 20" screens would make it easier to tell... Maybe I should use my computer monitor instead of the TV). When traveling, the first player in your lineup will be pictured. Want to guess who I like the most? (^_^;)

Not sure what else to say at present about the graphics. If the PC-Engine was capable of doing Full-Motion Video, I would find myself very happy in having this game if it had actual footage from the OVA. Nevertheless, even though I dislike giving grades... I give this a B+. Just improve a bit on the colours and it would be just fine.

The sound. Welllll... For the most part, all the Seiyuu's voices are digitized into data, thus you will not find their dialog in the CD tracks... Unfortunately. (Hey, I wanna get my Pirotessa/Deedlit voices!) The only dialog you will find in the tracks will be the narrator, and that is only one track -- the background information. *sigh* Bummer.

Combat sound, is a bit silly. No really good sounds of a sword being slashed into the flesh of the enemy goblins, or the sound of the mace breaking apart the skull of the kobold. Not even the eerie screams of the victims as they die. Oookay, so we do not want to hear our Hereos dying if it comes to that. (^_^;)

I have not heard much of the magic sound in combat, then again, I rarely used Magic; although both Deedlit, Eto, Slayn are capable of magic, I am still figuring it out.

For the Seiyuu's dialog, I give it an A. Why? Because I am familiar with the Seiyuu's voices from the OVA, and they did a great job. Another reason, is that the graphics sync with the voices. Something I have not seen LoTR/CF2/Vasteel do. With Ys, I think they did well -- for English and Nihongo.

For the Combat sounds, I would give it a C-. Gomen nasai!

Ahhhh, music! As I have said before, the intro of the game almost looks like the intro from the OVA. And guess what got ported over? Hai! The Opening music from the OVA! Exact same length on both ways too! And, believe it or not, they included the Ending music as well. Although I have not finished the game to hear the Ending music, it is in there. And the best part is -- it is the full-length Ending Music. *happy sigh* Oooooh, the joy of hearing Sherry (singer of the OP/ED songs from the OVA) singing those hauntingly beautiful lyrics.

On the other hand, the music they give you for the combat, etc, could be done much better. Why could they not have just imported the BGM into this game as well!? (Oookay, lame answer in having a RoLW soundtrack, hehehe) The music is not that bad. Just could be better.

Overall, even though the bad music has to be counted as well, I would give this a B-. If you are going to have the Op/Ed songs, include the actual BGM as well. It would make for a much more enjoyable game.

Gameplay, with the pad, is quite good. No need for a joystick. This is not a shooter. Just "point" and click. Nothing more. Give it an A.

This RPG can last quite a long time if you want, especially if your Japanese is not good at all; if you do not know Japanese at all, it will seem like an eternity. (^_^;) So, if you want to live long, and play well, you had better study some. Very good game. You can save your game in progress, but I would suggest that you have enough room. Else, Deedlit will not be happy. I have not seen a cheat for RoLW -- yet. If you find some, and want me to test them, let me know. Hrmm... Slap it an A.

Naturally, this is a One-Player game. No chance for footsies with this.

The only extra they put with the game, other than the warranty card (for the Japanese ADR, in Japanese, of course, hehehe) is a small poster of Deedlit. The back of the poster has more on Lodoss Magic. Hrmm...

In terms of improvements, put the Seiyuu's dialog onto a separate track by themselves. You can put the NPC's into a digitized spam, but let the Seiyuu's voices come out nice and shiny -- so that we can listen to them on our CD players. (^_^;) Give more `realistic' combat sounds, like what they use in the OVA ("Boy, was that the sound they used when the goblin chucked his spear through that guy's face?"). For the incidental/background music, use the real BGM instead of the digitized ones. I mean, if you are going to include the Op/Ed songs, might as well stick a few BGM in. Oh, yeah. Put more pictures of Deedlit and Pirotessa in it! One last thing: Do not let anyone do a Macektomy on this game!

Now, time to see if I need to learn some more Kanji or not. And, to (im)patiently wait for SILENT MOBIUS to come out. Any SAILOR MOON for the PC-Engine? Hrmmm...

Red Alert (JCD)

See Last Alert.

Riot Zone (SCD) [TGXCD1035]

Review by Bt Garner.

From the second screen of the opening ("Whear's that...") you just *know* you're in for one heck of a treat.

In this side scrolling kick, jump and punch (can you say P-L-A-T-F-O-R-M?) game you play either Hawk or Tony (yo dude! Nice mohawk!) on a mission to penetrate (now cut that out!) the mysterious Dragon Zone in an attempt to free Hawk's girlfriend (does this qualify her as another one of those dumb princesses?), Candy Caesar (who, oddly enough happens to be the daughter of a member of the Dragon Zone Resistance - oh will the coincidences ever end?).

NOTE: This story is ficticious and it bears no relation to actual people or actual groups (hey, that's what the manual says!)

GRAPHICS:  B   (nice, but we've seen better)
SOUND:     B   (decent, I guess - for street fightin' sounds)
MUSIC:     A-  (fits the game well)
GAMEPLAY:  B-  (with relative ease, all of the moves can be done - no,
                you don't need a 6-button stick...but your thumb will know
                the meaning of "PAIN" after you beat "Tora")
LONGEVITY: C+  (not much to do once you've beaten the game using both
                of the characters)

Contrary to the literature, there are only 5 stages (not 7), there are, however 7 bosses (stage 1 and 5 both have 2)
A little more variety in enemies. A Versus mode. A little more control. (this game was called "Crest of Wolf" in Japan, once you reach the later levels, you'll see why).

Rising Sun (JCD)

See Lords Of The Rising Sun.

Road Spirits (JCD)

Review by Clarence Din and Steve Marsh.

TG-16 gamers, this is NOT Outrun!!! I don't know why some past reviewers thought so, but this game is actually based on an arcade game made by the same company that brought you Chase H.Q.; I don't quite remember the name, but I do remember the steering wheel being of the "looser" variety. Anyone recognizing the speedometer graph in the upper right-hand corner of the screen will understand what I'm blabbing about. The graphics are not great and I wasn't even sure it was worth my $40 used price (it's an import game), but playing it more and more and getting into it, I found it was quite entertaining (and relatively easy, which I like). The roads don't quite turn in a hairpin manner as in most racing games, so there is no absolute need to use a Turbostick for quick moves. Anyway, the instructions were in Japanese, so, naturally, I said "Huh?" when I tried reading them. It was all pretty easy to figure out, though. When I got bored after the fifth or sixth race, I reset the game and started over with "Continue." I was then allowed to change cars and steering. Instead of driving a Ferrari as I did in the initial games, I was allowed to drive an automatic-transmission Lamborghini (I think that's what it was). I'm still looking forward to driving the Porsche, though. Anyway again, there's lots of skidding in the game, maybe too much for it to be realistic.

GRAPHICS : B-  (Repetitive levels, road graphics are constant throughout the
               20 or so levels. Only the color schemes, distant background
               picture, and roadside sprites vary.)
SOUND    : B-  (Pretty average, simple engine and skid noises)
MUSIC    : A+  (Lots of variety here... you can choose one of ten songs from a
               "car radio" at the options screen. Some tunes are really good!)
GAMEPLAY : B  (Too easy- I carried on thoughtful conversations while playing
               and was not distracted by the game!)
LONGEVITY: D  (It's *extremely* monotonous... one of those games you'll play
               through in one sitting, and then use the CD for the music!)

Add some variety to road conditions- bumps, oil patches, anything! Add some variety to enemy cars- behavior, size, frequency, anything! Add some variety to the levels- anything besides simply changing the decorative sprites and colors! Enemy car graphics are not as good as they could be. If the movements of these cars can be improved, the game would look great!

Rom Rom Stadium (JCD)

Review by Jeffrey Naiman.

Some sort of Japanese Baseball game (?)

SOUND    : B-
MUSIC    : B-

OVERALL  : 2.70

R-Type Complete CD (JSCD) [ICCD 1001]

Review by Bt Garner.

Yet more of the classic side-scrolling shooter. This CD contains both R-type and R-type 2, with spiffy new sound effects, graphics (in the form of intermissions) and of course, background music,

GRAPHICS : B+ (about the same as the HuCard version, still too much flicker)
SOUND    : A  (Some of the best sound effects on the TG-16... the sound
               effects were duplicated EXACTLY)
MUSIC    : A+ (fantastic techno type stuff, wonderful for killing ...)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (a joystick would help ...)
LONGEVITY: A  (see review above)

OVERALL  : 3.83

Shadow of the Beast (SCD) [TGXCD1018]

Additional comments by Bt Garner.

You are one of the Devil's minions and your goal is to restore yourself to human form again. This is the SCD version of the Amiga and Genesis hit! You need to run, jump and shoot your way through a relatively large world - although there is only one level, there are several parts to that level, and each one must be done in a particular sequence.

GRAPHICS : A++ (Very, very nice parallax scrolling... tons of colors...
                the animation sequences have a digitized feel to them)
SOUND    : A++ (most pulled off of the CD... breathing sounds are incredible)
MUSIC    : A++ (excellent background music)
GAMEPLAY : B+  (a game which would play better with a joystick)
LONGEVITY: B+  (it's a tough quest and VERY frustrating at times... you'll
                have fun, I promise!)

OVERALL  : 3.95
Many Amiga and Genesis gamers dislike this game because it's too difficult! I think they toned down the game a bit for the SCD, so it's now a bit more playable. Also, the intermission animation sequences are expertly done! (bt: I didn't find the game that difficult, as a matter of fact, I was able to finish it the third time that I played it, in under an hour, at that.)

Shape Shifter (SCD) [TGXCD1021]

You are a barbarian-like figure who has the ability to metamorph into a variety of creatures with different abilities.

GRAPHICS : A++ (some of the pictures have a pastel-like quality about them...
                the bosses are huge... and the animation is fast and
SOUND    : C   (although character dialogs are loaded off the CD and very
                well-done!, there is no way to bypass them, and after you've
                heard 'em once, they're booooooring)
MUSIC    : A   (cool background music)
GAMEPLAY : D   (very difficult, too much RPG gameplay for an Action game)
LONGEVITY: B   (you will hack and slash, talk to people, and just be simply
                amazed by what can be done with CD technology... then you'll
                get bored because you cannot get past a certain level.)

OVERALL  : 2.93

Sherlock Holmes (CD) [TGXCD1011]

Review by Bryan Duvan.

You're Sherlock Holmes with your trusted pal Watson trying to solve three separate cases.

GRAPHICS : A+ (Excellent... great digitized pics)
SOUND    : A  (All the sounds are here)
MUSIC    : A+ (Nicely composed...)
GAMEPLAY : A  (Very simple to use... Turbopad is sufficient)
LONGEVITY: A  (It will take you a while to solve all three cases, but once
               they are solved, you're done with the game)

OVERALL  : 4.10
Too much lag time due to CD access.
I truly like this game and highly recommend it.

Shubibinman 3 (JCD)

Review by atam@mailbox.syr.edu. <940118>

Platform Game

GRAPHICS  : A+ (Absolutely superb, great ANIMATED cinemas)
SOUND     : A  (Great CD quality sound effects)
MUSIC     : A  (A wide variety of CD quality music)
GAMEPLAY  : A+ (Refined from the second)
LONGEVITY : A+ (Fun and original, even better with 2 players)

PLAYERS: 1 or 2
Not a very difficult game but a lot of fun to play. The graphics are some of the best I've seen on the PCE/CD. There isn't much in terms of power-ups but you can steal an armor and hitch a ride on the back of a bug. The only problem with playing simultaneously is that the two players share the health meter. The cinemas are a reason to play the game again, they look as if they've been taken from some anime. Highly recommended, very humorous.

Sidearms Special (JCD)

Review by Jeffrey Naiman.

SOUND    : A++
MUSIC    : A++

OVERALL  : 3.58

Space Cruiser Yamato (JSCD) [HMCD2004]

Review by Jeff Hildebrand.

Yamato is "sort of" a military simulation. Firstly, the game is nothing like Military Madness - it feels like real time combat. The game imposes its own timing on events; for example, once fighters are launched they will attack periodically - at times determined by the game - until they are destroyed, recalled, or retargeted. Firing guns and repairing the Yamato are handled in the same way, sometimes you have to just sit and wait until a gun becomes available again.

Every level is preceded by a (usually) long animated sequence. A lot of work was put into these, and it shows - some of the characters are unusually active. Alas, there is not much detail (but I think this is in keeping with the anime). These animations move the plot forward and also outline the objectives of the upcoming scenario. Before each mission starts your crew will also brief you. Unfortunately, *all* of this is in Japanese (spoken and written) so some mission objectives are a little tough to figure out.

The sound during the animations is top-notch (none of that Vasteel-like undersampled whining in the background), and I wish I could say the same for the sounds during the game. Unfortunately the only sounds you hear while playing are weapons firing and things exploding. The BGM is of good quality, but dammit, I'd like more variety. The volume is low on the BGM though, so it takes a lot of play time before it gets annoying.

You control the Yamato from its bridge - there are nine crewpersons you can select, each of whom perform a specific function (repair, fighter control, gunner, etc). One crewman even controls the options of the game (a nice touch, I thought). Not all of these functions are available on each level. The Yamato has 13 guns it can fire, but each one had a particular range and arc of movement. Some guns cover the aft, some the fore, some port, and some starboard. You can only fire the main gun under special conditions. Some guns are energy weapons, and some fire projectiles.

There are three squadrons of fighters that you may launch. They will attack any target you specify until they or their target are destroyed. If they destroy their target they will return to the Yamato unless you give them another target to attack. Every scenario restores your squadrons to a full complement of 10 units.

Besides the extensive animations between each scenario, various events cause short animations to run on the Yamato's scenario screen : fighter launch, attack, or return, attacks by or on the Yamato. A lot of effort was put into these animations: during a fighter attacks, for example, you will usually see a couple of your fighters shot down. The number shot down during the animation accurately reflects your losses, and the amount of time the animation runs for depends on how many fighters will be attacking. Similarly, the bridge of the Yamato has a "window" that lets you look out into space. You will often see enemy units, your fighters or celestial objects moving across this window as they pass in front of the Yamato.

One mildly annoying thing about Yamato is that while these small animations are running you can not move the cursor from person to person on the bridge of the Yamato. Sometimes, while trying to move, a couple of fighters squadrons will attack and you will have to wait until the animations finish before you can perform the function you wish. However, time does not really pass during these delays, so you don't lose anything. I am also pretty sure you can turn these animations off, but I haven't played with the bridge guy that controls options too much.

Yamato automatically saves your game after you finish each scenario, but some scenarios are divided into two parts, and if you fail to complete the second half you will have to replay the first half. This is frustrating when you are trying to beat part 2 but have to keep playing part 1 over and over to get back to where you died.

GRAPHICS : A+ (very detailed, some very nice touches)
SOUND    : B  (beeps, booms, roars)
MUSIC    : B  (there seems to be only two or three BGMs)
GAMEPLAY : A- (see improvements)
LONGEVITY: C  (only six scenarios? nine levels?)

OVERALL  : 3.23
Please let me move the crew-selection cursor around while the animations are going on! Save the game after every level. This is about the closest I have seen a game come to being like playing an anime, but it is just too short. I find it hard to believe that they could not fit more scenarios on this SCD, even with the long animations. Personally, I would gladly had more levels in exchange for shorter animations.
If you are looking for another sim like Military Madess or Macross 2 Love Song, this game is not for you. This game is a lot more like playing the anime.

It really bothers me to see a great game like this one come away with a score like 3.23, but the shortness of the game really hurts it.

Splash Lake (CD) [TGXCD1025]

Review by Bt Garner.

How do I even try to explain this? You assume the role of Ozzie Ostrich (in 2 player mode is the other one called Harriot?) and you need to sink the enemy by destroying block that make up bridges. Destroy two blocks of a connecting span, and the bridge goes in the drink, taking any enemies with it.

Odd as it sounds, this is actually a pretty fun game - it's not your basic shooter, so don't get that idea. It's more like a bird-brained Bomberman. OK, I should not have said that.

GRAPHICS:  B  (plain)
SOUND:     C+ (what sound?  What's there is good, but there's so little of it)
MUSIC:     C  (annoying)  (really annoying, at times)
GAMEPLAY:  A  (challenging)
LONGEVITY: A  (there's 60 levels to try and tackle, and some are very tough,
               although the game seems to be geared toward a younger set)

PLAYERS: 1 or 2
If you can find it cheaply, go for it.

Spriggan (JCD) [NXCD 1004]

Review by Brad Hamlett.

Spriggan (aka Magic Soldier) is a shooter, much like Super Star Soldier or MUSHA. In fact, I think it's a sequel to MUSHA. There are plenty of different weapon types in Spriggan. As you destroy certain objects, various colored capsules are released. You may carry up to three of these capsules. Your weapon type depends on the number and color combination of the capsules. There are four different colors yielding 13 different weapons.

In addition to you main guns, you may also drop bombs that will clear the screen of lesser enemies and do significant damage to larger ones. The only drawback to the bombs is that each time you drop a bomb, the leftmost capsule is removed from your supply, effectively reducing your weapon strength.

The sound effects are some of the best I've ever heard coming from a shooter and the background music is stuff you can wake the neighbors with :). Definitely CD quality. The game has long intermissions with plenty of nice pictures. The voices are in Japanese of course. If you let the game sit in "Demo mode" long enough, the game will demo itself, run through the storyline and then display each of the weapon combination.

The only drawback to the game was that I found it to be too short (only 6-1/2 stages). The game is moderately difficult on "normal," but the options screen lets you set the difficulty level higher.

Spriggan also has the same features of Super Star Soldier... it allows you to play "beat the clock" and "beat the score" versions of the game which are very fun (especially after you've won the regular game). A very fun game overall.

SOUND    : A++
MUSIC    : A++


OVERALL  : 3.91

Spriggan Mark 2: Re-Terraform Project (JSCD)

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

Side-scrolling shooter, somewhat similar to the Genesis title, Target Earth, but much better. The storyline is straight out of the Gundam series. After establishing colonies in outer space and on the Moon, mankind has turned to its preferred passtime (war, that is). You are Greg, a young "Mobile Suit" pilot. On your first sortie, three of your teammates defect to the enemy, nearly bumping you off in the process! Very long and well-drawn intermissions, lots of voice/dialogue during the action scenes. There is an option that allows you to set the dialogue during the action scenes to voice and text, text only, or nothing (this last option turns off the intermissions as well).

GRAPHICS : A++ (many, many layers of parrallax scrolling)
SOUND    : A- (nothing too exceptional here)
MUSIC    : A+ (nice names for themes played throughout the game, like
GAMEPLAY : A- (quite a large number of weapons to choose from)
LONGEVITY: A  (well, it's not that hard on "normal," but there are always
               "hard" and "super hard" settings)

OVERALL  : 4.05
One of the best shooters to come around in a long time. In addition to exceptional graphics, music and gameplay, it also has a storyline of epic proportions (although defininely influenced by the Mobile Suit Gundam series). Some parts of the game are truly incredible, both story and graphics-wise. For example, in Level 3, Greg's mobile suit gets hit and he has to change suits in flight. In Level 5, the battle is in the skies above a city on Earth which is being hit by immense laser blasts from space that are eliminating your allies and enemies alike. In other levels, there are giant rocket engines installed in the Moon by the bad guys (can you say Char's Counterattack?). If you have a Super System Card, this is a definite must-have. Much better than Macross 2036, IMHO.

To set one thing straight: this is NOT a sequel to Spirit Fighter Spriggan.

Startling Odyssey I [RFCD3001] (JSCD)

Review by Jon Lane.

This is an RPG that really reminds me of the Dragon Quest series for (s)nes. Some of the background graphics are actually quite stunning, while some are simply adequate. It's extremely linnear, but still is very fun. You travel by foot, camel (yes, camel), snow-mobile, boat, submarine -- which is very cool, because when you submerge it actually brings you below the water's surface to roam around the ocean floor -- and maybe more (I have yet to complete the game).

In the beginning there are very few cinemas, but after a while you will see cinemas quite often -- some are *great*, while some are merely two frames of animation while you watch ppl talk back and forth.

This game is really good, but IMHO you get fought *way* too much. In some areas, like certain parts of the ocean, you're encountered every two steps or so (not exaggerating!).

GRAPHICS : B+ (A for some backgrounds, B for enemies, and B+ for cinemas)
SOUND    : A  (the speech is, obviously, good, and even the battle sounds
               are okay)
MUSIC    : B+ (there is a lot of CD music here, but most of it sounds
               like something from speedracer..okay if you like that sort)
GAMEPLAY : B- (decrease frequency of attacks..)
LONGEVITY: B- (it's extremely fun, but you wouldn't want to play it again
               immediately after completing it.  It'd be nice to play again
               a few months from now, tho..)

OVERALL  : 3.2
Even though it's in Japanese, it was really easy to understand the plot (which is very linnear); so even if you don't know Japanese, I would definately recommend this title.

Startling Odyssey II [RFCD4003] (JSCD)

Review by Bt Garner.

SO2 is your basic Menu based RPG (similar in gameplay to CF2, Dragon Slayer, etc). However, this is one HUGE quest... you will cover 12 different lands (continets), travel not only by foot, but also by car, boat, submarine, air-craft and even space ship [well, you don't actually have control of the space ship like you do the other vehicles], you'll meet scads of people along the way (and even a porcubunny!).

You play the role of Robin, who along with his party (Jullia, Vivian and Galious) is set on ridding the land of Babylon, the worst of the worst (well, insofar as dragons are concerned). Gameplay is the fairly standard RPG sort, you roam around the countryside, occasionally stopping at an Inn for rest (and an occasional nudey cinema!), then it's back off to the countryside to find the next cave, tower, mountain, what not to destroy more beasts.

This is not a short quest! The land is Huge, there are many areas, and you will often find yourself backtracking so that you can continue. Total playing time for myself was just shy of 52 hours. But it is worth it. The intermissions are beautiful, and plentiful. Gameplay can get a tad boring (since it does take so long), but there is always some sort of surprise not too far away.

GRAPHICS : A  (the game is adequate, but the cinemas are gorgeous!)
SOUND    : A  (good sounds for the magic spells, voice samples...etc)
MUSIC    : B- (mostly PGM, and some BGM, it's not bad, but a little
               more variety would be nice).
GAMEPLAY : A+ (great)
LONGEVITY: A  (like most RPGs, the replay value is a little low, but I
               know that there are some areas that I have yet to explore,
               even though I've finished the game...)

OVERALL  : 3.83
A little more variety in the music, please.
There is a lot of Japanese in this game (obviously), I was able to make it through the game with only a few "pieces" of advice, so don't let the fact that there is no English here detour you. This is a great game, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is RPG-starved.

Super Big Brother (JSCD) [NSCD 2013]

Review by Bt Garner.

Bizarre shooter from the land of the rising sun... The game play starts with you selecting either the male or female warrior to play. Then you enter a level, each level has (about) 4 stages, with (surprise, surprise) a boss at the end of each level. Along the way, you may pick up mostly naked rotating men (that fire) or churubs (that drop bombs) - these act as satellites for you, protecting you from certain things. When you shoot "large" items, they will generally either release a power up or an extra bomb (Button I). If you turn the turbo off for Button II, and hold it down, when you release the button you'll get a big beam burst from your satellites (and yourself, if you're playing the male character).

GRAPHICS : A  (Huge characters, beautiful backgrounds, this has it all ...)
SOUND    : A  (Good blasts and explosion sound effects)
MUSIC    : A- (the tunes are strange, but fit the game well)
GAMEPLAY : A  (the turbopad works well ...)
LONGEVITY: B+ (one of those games that is fun to play, not easy to beat,
                but once you beat it, you'll probably not play it again)

OVERALL  : 3.85
I have no idea why this game is so compelling - it's from the same folks who brought us the Ranma series, so that explains the high quality of the game itself. But it is *weird*...you have been warned. .

Super Darius (JCD)

Review by Brad Hamlett and TurboKid.

Super Darius is based on (and is almost an exact copy of) the arcade game, Darius, by Taito. In fact, the only difference in the PC-Engine version is the different end bosses for each zone.

For those who've never seen the arcade game, Super Darius is a side-scrolling shooter in the same vein as R-type. The Silver Hawk fighter is armed with a forward-firing weapon, bombs, and shields. There are six colored gels that power up the ship. Red = guns, Green = bombs, blue = shields, grey = points, yellow = destroys all enemies on screen, and clear = extra ship. As you gather weapon and shield gels, the strength of the weapon or shield increases slightly. When you gather the 8th gel of a particular color, the weapon or shield-type changes... bullets become lasers, bombs drop up as well as down, etc. When you grab the 16th gel of a particular color, the weapon changes again... lasers become waves, etc.

At the end of each stage, you have the option of choosing one of two paths. There are 28 different stages or zones to the game, but you will only fly through 7 in any given game. Each zone has different enemies and a different number of each power gels. This gives the game a high replayability factor. Also, there are five different ending sequences.

The graphics in this game are impressive. The programmers did a wonderful job of porting this game from the arcade version (and considering the original game was a three-monitor game, this is all the more impressive). Also, the sound is top-notch. The BGM for the game is some of the best that I've ever heard and it's even encoded in Dolby Surround Sound. In short, this is my favorite PC Engine game to date. No Japanese is required to play the game, unless you HAVE to read the manual. If anyone from Turbo Technologies is listening, take heed... bring this game out in the US! The only downside to the game is that there is no two player version. I can only wait to get my hands on the SCD version Super Darius 2!

GRAPHICS : A+  (This is an example of a coin-op conversion done right...
                the bosses are SO HUGE and the animation is SO SMOOTH, you'll
                be wondering if you're playing the original arcade coin-op)
SOUND    : A++ (Sound is phenomenal!  The sound cracks a bit after destroying
                a boss, but that's forgivable)
MUSIC    : A++ (Ditto to the music)
GAMEPLAY : B+  (You definitely need a joystick to get out of tight areas)
LONGEVITY: A+  (Fun!  Fun!!  Fun!!!  Don't leave home without it.  After
                playing this a few times, you won't want to leave home!)

OVERALL  : 4.23
Make it a two-player game. Add a continue feature.
"The Surround Sound is a very welcome touch to gaming. This game is a winner in every respect. End bosses are MUCH larger than Genesis Sagaia. The music is quite close to the arcade. The sound effects are a little spotty, but I'm getting picky again. Nice job!"

Super Darius II (JSCD) [NAPR-1031]

Review by Bt Garner.

NEC Avenue does the original one better, this is the sequel that truly outshines its predecessor. Once again, you control a fighter with awesome firepower; blasters, bombs and buffer (shields, but I didn't want to ruin the alliteration, ok?) - and all are powered up by capturing "icons" that appear when the last of a group on enemies are destoryed.

Unlike the previous outing, you do not need to collect 8 gels to "upgrade" your ship, every icon upgrades it, and even after you are destoyed, you retain your current level (thank you NEC avenue!). I have yet to see any flickering (like there always was at the end of level in SD1).

One again, at the end of each level you are presented with 2 possible paths which to take (although this is done more in a menu type of mode rather than going up or down in SD1). Also, the configuration menu is wonderful, whereas SD1 was too tough, this game on "normal" mode seems just about right.

GRAPHICS:   A+  (Fantasic - on par with Gate of Thunder)
SOUND:      A   (again, a wonderful job)
MUSIC:      A+  (The music off of the CD is perfect for the stages)
GAMPLAY:    A-  (see improvements)
LONGEVITY:  A   (Since there are countless different paths to take
                [26 levels], it'll take a while to go through and
                master all of them)

OVERALL:  4.05
hook the bombs and blasters up to the same button (or add that as an option in the configuration menu).
The addition of a Continue feature is also a welcome addition!

Sylphia (JSCD) [THCD3001]

Review by Bt Garner.

Cute shooter, with lots of anime-esque cinemas to boot. You control Sylphia, a fairy like creature, in this over head shooter (similar to Spriggan). You collect power ups to change or enhance your weaponry as you make your way through 8 (I think) levels.

GRAPHICS:  A  (very nice, wide variety, little flickering)
SOUND:     A+ (basic shooter noises, with some sampled voices that
               sound really neat)
MUSIC:     A- (mostly "techno" type tunes, although things do tend to
               get a little repetitive throughout the game).
GAMEPLAY:  A  (no complaints)
LONGEVITY: B  (parts of the game are hard, while overall it's pretty
               easy, I guess that's what the "Difficulty" select is for)

Since Spriggan is so difficult to track down, this may well serve as an adequate substitute.

Tenchi O Kurau (JSCD) [NAPR-1030]

Review by Bt Garner.

NEC Avenue strikes again. This time it's the PCE version of the Capcom arcade game. Basic premise is this, you are one of 4 warriers, and riding horseback must make your way through 8 levels (and at least twice as many bosses), in order to accompish some goal. I have no idea what that goal is, although I'm pretty certain that it does not involve rescuing some helpless princess. Each of the warriors that you can choose has a different health and attack (for instance one warrior has a strong attack, but can only take a limited number of hits, while on the other end of the spectrum is a warrior who is relatively weak, but can endure a lot of hits).

To save the countryside (well, what else could your goal be?), you get to ride your favorite horse (ahem!). Your I button is used to attack to the right of you, and the left button is sued to attack to the left (the screen scrolls in a left to right fashion). Holding down the attack button (turbo off) produces a super attack (ala R-Type, et al). The levels are quite varied, ranging from castles to bridges to snow covered mountains and a few other unidentifiable backgrounds.

GRAPHICS : B  (Too much flickering to get an "A")
SOUND    : A- (good use of sampled voices throughout the game)
MUSIC    : B- (uninspiring, though it could have been worse [Zamfir?])
GAMEPLAY : B+ (Ok - a joystick would probably help, and the powerup
                attack isn't worth it)
LONGEVITY: C  (just not an overly fun game)

For some reason this game just doesn't seem to hold my attention. The graphics are nice (when they aren't flickering, sigh), but the music is boring. There doesn't seem to be much strategy, just one of those "Kill everything (whether it moves or not)" type of games.
Why is it the NEC Avenue is the *only* company which hasn't figure out how to handle (and minimize) flickering? This game gets pretty bad at places (especially in the boss screens).

Terraforming (SCD) [J: RSCD-2001]

Review by Bt Garner.

A rather geriatric shooter (1991 - Japan, 1994 - US). You control a fighter in this side-scrolling shooter, your power ups (anyone remember the days when games didn't have power ups?) are limited to three different types, that can be powered up a total of four (?) times. Changing the type of power up resets it back down to the base level.

GRAPHICS:  B+ (what's there is nice, but there is too much flicker/slowdown)
SOUND:     A- (nothing spectacular)
MUSIC:     B  (average, well, maybe a little above)
GAMEPLAY:  B  (not easy, but not too bad).
LONGEVITY: B- (gets very frustrating)

Why on earth did TTI bring this game over? There as so many better Japanese games, and it seems that by translating this one, they have really wasted their efforts. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful game, but that's about where the praises end - there are points in the game (stage 2 comes to mind) where the flickering / slowdown really interfere with the game play. If you're into shooters, and have all the others, then go for it, else, you'd probably be better of with something like Gradius II.

Tornado Custom (JCD) [NAPR-1019]

Review by Bt Garner.

You control a WWII bi-plane and must shoot enemies both on the ground and off the ground. You can also call in 6 Kamikazee "friend" planes to help you (Button I), press it again, and they will crash themselves into whatever target(s) you are battling on the ground.

GRAPHICS : A- (Nice job on graphics)
SOUND    : B  (A little on the weak side)
MUSIC    : A- (it's no Gate of Thunder, but does the job)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (tough, very tough...)
LONGEVITY: B  (might be a little too hard for it's own good...)

OVERALL  : 3.33

Urusei Yatsura * Stay With You * (JCD) [HCD0012]

Review by Bt Garner.

An early venture into the anime/digital comic world. This interactive comic features every boy's favorite wacky alien, Lum. There's no way to lose, since it is a "digital comic." All you do is guide the actors around. Those who do not understand Japanese (written and spoken) will have a tough go understanding the plotline, although the on-screen action can be "entertaining" regardless of your language affiliations.

GRAPHICS:  B  (a little on the grainy side)
SOUND:     A  (scads of digitized speech, not much else)
MUSIC:     B  (for a CD game, why are most of the songs [all but 2] computer
GAMEPLAY:  A  (easy - not much to do, arcade reflexes not needed)
LONGEVITY: C  (once, maybe twice to see everything)

OVERALL:  3.00
Primarily for fans of the anime. Others will look at it and ask "why?" (or more appropriately, "what?")

Valis: The Legend of a Fantasm Soldier (JSCD)

Review by Brad Hamlett.

I assume most people know the story behind the Valis series, but, just in case, I'll go over it once again, since this particular Valis game is worthless without the accompanying storyline. Yuko Ahso is a Japanese high school student who also happens to be the owner of a legendary sword called Valis (Varis). As such, she often has to battle evil forces in alternate dimensions. This game is the story of her first adventure. Basically, one of her classmates, Reiko, gets bored with the everyday high school life and runs away to the alternate dimension. After she disappears, the high school and the immediate neighborhood are invaded by monsters. Just as Yuko is about to be eaten, a voice calls her name and a shining sword appears in her hand.

The game itself is of a standard side-scrolling run, jump, slash, and shoot type with animated intermissions (the only nice part about this particular game, BTW). Unfortunately, this is definitely not one of the better ones. For one thing, the game is too short. There are only seven levels and they are really short (even shorter than in the Genesis version!). No save feature as well, which is surprising in a CD game, but since this is a very short game, it is not much of a problem.

The graphics are colorful, but there is no parallax scrolling whatsoever. We've seen multi-layered backgrounds in Valis 4, and that was a regular CD game. What did they waste the 2 megabits of the Super System card on? The background graphics aren't any better than the ones in Valis 3 (a 1990 game), in fact some of the backgrounds are even worse. True, there are some nice-looking backgrounds; one segment in level 6 looks EXACTLY like the background in the Shadow of the Beast, but they don't break any new ground for the TG-16. The only indication that this game is a Super CD is the absence of interruptions during the intermissions. That's nice, but how about improving the gameplay? The main character is sluggish and takes quite some time to get used to. It takes about two seconds to recover from a jump or a slide. It is especially hard to turn around after landing or when crouching. On top of that, Yuko looks like a severe case of anorexia (peer pressure in high school?). The music is nice, but nothing special. I liked the voice actors, though.

The game is somewhat harder than the Genesis version, but gets very easy after you learn the patterns. The last boss (Rogles/Rogres) is very hard, though. To defeat him, your timing has to be perfect (somewhat difficult with the sloppy controls), plus you have to pound him for a very long time. The lifebar is much shorter than in the Genesis version, plus the hearts that partially restore your strength are few and far between. The same can be said about the stars that replenish your MP - you cannot afford to miss a single one. The whole business of trying to get enough MP and HP for the battle with the boss makes the gameplay extremely rigid.

Character moves:

Attack: Button 2
Jump  : Button 1
Magic : Up   + 2
Slide : Down + 1

The sliding is somewhat tricky. You can destroy some enemies while sliding into them, but you'll get hit when trying to slide into others. Also, you are still vulnerable to enemy attacks when beginning the slide.

There are different kinds of magic (you get a new magic after defeating a boss character); you can choose the type of magic you want to use with the Select button. So far the only magic that I found useful is a force field, which protects you against several enemy hits (no time limit, though). Your basic attack is a sword slash (like Strider). You can pick up different weapons along the way - the usual assortment with an energy wave, homing fireballs, etc.

There are several nice things about this game. The magic spells and weapons look good, the enemy characters are large and well-animated, especially the boss enemies (the two-headed dragon in level 5 looks great). The intermissions are well-drawn and there are plenty of them (I loved the intro with Yuko rushing off to school. I was also surprised as to how graphic the death of Izar was, with blood gushing out of his mouth). But no matter how I like anime intermissions, they do not make the game. If I wanted to watch anime, I would have called AnimEigo and ordered a tape of BubbleGum Crisis or Vampire Princess Miyi (would have been cheaper, too). As it stands now, Valis is a very average game which does not even compare to the previous entry in the Valis series (Valis 4).

Now my theory. I might be wrong, but I got the distinct impression that this game was programmed by different people, since the the first screen to come up says "Riot" instead of the usual "CD Laser Soft." That would explain the differences in control and character appearance. Also, this game is very different from the Genesis version ("nothing in common" would be a better description). My guess is that the Genesis version was programmed by Telenet and the PC Engine version by somebody else.

P.S. A nice touch: if you try playing the game with a standard system card, you get a picture of Yuko holding a Super System Card saying something like: "You need 2 megs of RAM to play this game!". Kind of cute.

SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A


OVERALL  : 3.17

Valis II (CD)

You are Yuko and you must fight your way through many levels to defend your honor.

GRAPHICS : A- (On upper levels, some of the backgrounds look a little
               cheesy... the sunset in Act 4, for example)
SOUND    : A  (Nice sound effects)
MUSIC    : A  (Nice soundtrack)
GAMEPLAY : B+ (Yuko just doesn't have as much mobility as in Valis III)
LONGEVITY: A  (A fun game!  A little frustrating on the torchmen and
               green jelly stage (Act 4), though)

OVERALL  : 3.83
What can I say. I'm a fan of the slide technique in Valis III. If it were included here, it would make the game a bit better.
A great game, but not as great as Valis III. The voice actress for Yuko happens to be Shimazu Saeko (Yuri from Dirty Pair anime). This tidbit was brought to you from Sergey Shimkevich!

Valis III (CD) [TGXCD1024] [J: TJCD0009]

You are Yuko again and you are on another quest.

GRAPHICS : A  (This is top-notch stuff, flicker-free, and detailed...
               I hate color interleaving and they've pretty much
               avoided it here)
SOUND    : A+ (This is CD audio and, as is expected, first-rate)
MUSIC    : A  (Theme song is cool... slightly annoying after awhile)
GAMEPLAY : A- (Normally, I'd recommend a joystick for action games,
               but this game plays almost as well without one)
LONGEVITY: A  (This game will make you want to play it again and again...
               if you have a CD ROM, you OWE it to yourself to get this

OVERALL  : 4.00
The CD-ROM is slow in loading scenes. Maybe the new Super System Card 3.0 will improve the performance, but I doubt it.
A solid top-grade for a top-notch game.

Valis IV (JCD) [TJCD1017]

Review by Sergey Shimkevich.

The last time we've left the Valis series, Ramses (or Glames) has been defeated and Yuko was carried to Heaven with a mysterious tractor beam together with the Valis sword. Those whose "great" idea it was clearly exhibited the failure to plain ahead, since villains abound in the videogame dimension.

It turns out that a long time ago a king named Asfal gave his son, Garugia, a "beast ring" which gave the wearer extraordinary powers. Garugia, being an irresponsible kind of person was quickly corrupted by the ring and set out to achieve absolute power. The gods decided that it would be best to lock Garugia and his followers in a crystal and place the crystal on the bottom of the ocean. So far, so good.

Ten or fifteen years after the events of Valis 3 (and several thousand years from the day Garugia was overpowered by the gods), the crystal rises from the bottom of the ocean, swallowing a ship in the process (nice intro!). Garugia and his followers escape and proceed to conquer the Human World and the Dream World. Queen Valna is captured.

A small band of warriors led by Cham escape from the Magenshu (Garugia's troops) and take shelter in an abandoned house for the night. One of the members of the group, a young girl named Rena (Lena) decides to go back and rescue Valna on her own, but Cham notices her and is about to deliver a stern lecture when a strangely familliar voice calls on Cham to let Rena follow her destiny. Rena and her twin sister Amu set out on their long quest.

After completing the first level, they arrive at the palace where Garugia has tied Valna to a cross and is about to kill her. Rena and Amu attack Garugia, but he easily overpowers them. Just as he is raising his axe to deliver a killing blow to both Rena and Amu, a strange light envelops their bodies and they disappear before Garugia's eyes.

Rena and Amu find themselves in an unfamiliar place and facing a strange person not unlike Garugia in appearance. He introduces himself as Asfal, Garugua's father. It was he, who has teleported them away. He says that only the sword of Valis can overcome the power of Garugia's "beast ring". The three start their journey to Heaven to get the sword of Valis.

Like the other Valis games, part four is a side-scrolling action title with animated intermissions. There are nine levels in the game with a boss character at the end of each level.

You get three characters to use in this game (Rena, Amu and Asfal), although in some places you will only be able to use one or two characters. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Rena is equipped with a sword that shoots out a power wave. She can fire it rapidly, but it has a limited range. When powered up, the range and width of the wave increases. She is also able to slide past obstacles (like all characters in Valis 3). She is invincible when sliding, but, unlike Valis 3, she cannot attack enemies by sliding.

Amu's weapon is a boomerang (of a kind). It has good range, but you cannot fire it rapidly. When powered up, the range of the weapon increases. Her special ablility is a double flip jump (as in Revenge of Shinobi or Super Ghouls and Ghosts). Thus, her jumps are longer and higher than Rena's or Asfal's.

Asfal's weapon is a staff that shoots out energy balls (in the form of wolf heads) that skim the ground. When powered up, the range increases. His armor allows him to walk on spikes and through energy barriers. He also does not slide on slippery surfaces. His large size, however, makes it difficult to duck under the enemy shots.

Each character possesses her/his own magic. You start with level 1 magic and increase the magic gauge by picking up blue spheres on the way. After you use the magic, the gauge will slowly recharge by itself, although when you use a level 3 magic, the gauge will go down to level 2 and will be recharged only back to level 2, thus you'll have to pick up another blue sphere to bring it back to level 3. Also, if you are hit by an enemy or change your character, the MP gauge will also go back to zero and you'll have to recharge it all over again.

Characters' magic:

Level 1 - A ball of lightning flies in a stright line
Level 2 - A ball of lightning circles overhead.  Very useful for defending
          from attacks from above
Level 3 - Lightning rains from the sky and destroys all enemies on the screen

Level 1 - Two fireballs fly across the screen
Level 2 - Three fireballs bounce across the screen for some time, damaging
          the enemy
Level 3 - Four fireballs circle the screen, destroying all enemies

Level 1 - Fires a spread of three "wolf heads" forward
Level 2 - Fires a spinning "wolf head" forward
Level 3 - Two flame walls go across the screen, destroying all enemies
The life bar is much shorter than in the previous Valis games. You start with meager six HP (believe me, it is so easy to use them all up in no time). When you pick up brown spheres, your weapon powers up and your life bar increases. You can fill it in by picking up small and large herbs. The life and magic bars are the same for all three characters. If you die, the life bar goes back to level 1 (the magic bar stays the same).

GRAPHICS : A  (Parallax scrolling in the first 4 levels)
               Rena in the cinema displays looks hot)
SOUND    : A
MUSIC    : A- (No Grammys, but some tunes are really nice)
GAMEPLAY : A  (One of the best run/jump/slash games I've played)
LONGEVITY: A- (Nine very long levels)

OVERALL  : 3.85
Definitely the best Valis game there is. More well-rounded than part 3 and much better than parts 2 and 1.
All in all, if you have a TG-16 CD-ROM and haven't got this game yet, I strongly recommend it. One of the few games that I haven't regretted spending my money on and one of the even fewer that I actully kept. Personally, I would rate the Valis games in the following order: 4 -> 3 -> 1 -> 2

Vasteel (CD) [WTG990801]

Review by Bt Garner. (Additional stuff from Jeff Hildebrand.)

Vasteel is an arcade action/strategy game that is unlike any other. The Emporer has died and left his older son, Falial in command. His younger son, Stefan, has started a revolt. You assume the role of either brother (or you can even let the computer slug it out) to fight for control of the system. You control armies (similar to Military Madness) across a board of hexes, and when a confrontation occurs, you enter an action-packed battle to the death.

GRAPHICS : A  (Beautiful.)
SOUND    : B  (ok, but not uplifting)
MUSIC    : B+ (for a CD game, I don't know - warring to light jazz just
               doesn't do anything for me...)
GAMEPLAY : A- (the TurboPad is adequate)
LONGEVITY: A- (if you like this sort of game, then this is for you, the
               game can literally take days to finish)

OVERALL  : 3.68
PLAYERS  : 1 or 2 (or 0)
This is an excellent game especially if you have never played a wargame simulation before. The manual is huge compared to what you see with most Turbo games and contains a lot of useful and detailed information. Also, if your reflexes are good, you can overcome strategical mistakes by kicking butt in the battles. A lot of the graphics are great, but what is with these psychedelic backgrounds when characters are talking? Also, like Dragon Slayer, the CD accessed BGM can be turned off.
Decrease the CD lag time (making this an SCD game would have helped) - also options for "shorter" conquests would have been nice.

Working Designs used a lot of digitized speech in this game, and I think it adds a lot to the "scenario" (story) mode. However, it sounds like WD digitized their voice actors and are playing it back via the program rather than straight off the CD. I don't care for this because the voices have an annoying whine in the background. Also, the voice that gives you info on your ATACs (fighting units) is too quiet. And when you turn up the volume, there's that annoying whine again. The whine almost obliterates what the guy is saying. This stuff should have been played straight off the CD.

Also, the INFO on your ATACs is almost useless. I would rather have seen the data that is in the manual presented on a full screen.

The computer player is really bad in the action sequences. If your reflexes are good you can easily defeat ATACs much superior to your own.

Y's Book I & II (CD) [TGXCD1002]

Review by Bryan Duvan and TurboKid.

You are Adol going on a dangerous quest. This is a serious RPG game!

GRAPHICS : A+ (Love the beginning sequence)
SOUND    : A+ (Great thunder and lightning sounds... eerie)
MUSIC    : A+ (AWESOME!!!  "Many !'s had to be deleted for reasons of
               space" - your friendly-neighborhood editor)
GAMEPLAY : A  (A little difficult when fighting bosses)
LONGEVITY: A+ (This is not one game, but two games on one disk... WOW!!!
               The save feature really helps in this game)

OVERALL  : 4.25
This is one intense game and the reason why I bought the CD-ROM player. Get this game if you can! "Definitely better than its successor, Y's Book III, and one of the best games for the TG-16" - Ed. Be sure to check out the ending game screens when you win. They are extremely well done!!!

Y's III: Wanderers From Y's (CD) [TGXCD1015]

You are Adol on a quest to fight and kill the evil Demanicus. Much more arcade-like than its predecessor, which suits my tastes better.

GRAPHICS : A  (Wow Wow Wow!!!  This RPG's got it all... multiplane
               scrolling, detailed characters and monsters, complexity,
               etc.  Fans of anime should check out the scenes upon
               beating the game.  Wow Wow Wow!!!)
SOUND    : A+ (Excellent sound effects and cute story)
MUSIC    : A+ (This is another top-notch effort in videogame music)
GAMEPLAY : A- (You could boost your score significantly with a joystick,
               but the Turbopad is adequate)
LONGEVITY: A  (This one grew on me after awhile... I'm usually not into
               RPG's, but there are many, many action elements in this
               game... there are ways to cheat and build up your
               character as well... I'm all for that!  The save feature
               is an excellent idea!)

OVERALL  : 4.05
My only gripe is how jerky the scrolling is... sometimes.

Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (JSCD) [HCD3051]

Review by Bt Garner & Jeff Hildebrand.

Everyone's favorite adventurer is back in the long awaited (and never to be released domestically) sequel to Ys 1 and 2 (chronologically, Ys4 takes place after Ys 2, but before Ys 3). And, unlike Ys 3, Ys 4 is *not* a side scrolling hack 'em up game with added RPG elements, it's back to the 3/4 perspective RPG. Fabulous!

If you liked Ys 1 & 2 (and who didn't?), Ys IV has everything it had and more. *Lots* more. More monsters, more bosses, more items, more people (to talk to), more animations, more lands to explore - and that's just expanding on what the original Ys was. Ys IV adds magic potions (that you have to collect the ingredients for) and "help" in the form of a messenger pigeon which will sometimes appear with a message when you call it. The message is in Japanese (of course) so most of the time they are not much help for us English-speaking types, but even the occasional green word can help you out of a jam.

The lands are incredibly detailed and varied, as are the creatures that inhabit them and the bosses that rule over them. Even better, the bosses are extensively animated. The Spider boss, which is the first boss moster you will meet, is better animated than just about any monster in Ys 1 & 2.

GRAPHICS:  A+  (some parts are familiar, others aren't, but all are beautifully
                done [and there is a bit of flickering]).
SOUND:     A+  (lots of digitize speech, great sound effects)
MUSIC:     A   (almost as good as 1 & 2, but tends to be a little repetative)
GAMEPLAY:  A   (no problems, except battling the last boss can be a thumb
LONGEVITY: A+  (there is scads of stuff yet to be examined, having gone
                through the game twice, I still know that there is plenty
                that I have missed).

OVERALL:  4.20
Not a lot of Japanese is required for this game (and with the various files from the turbo-list server, probably none at all). This title is well worth getting if you like the first (and second).
In Ys 1 & 2, you could hit the "Select" button while in the "Status Screen," and this would serve as a toggle to let you see what area you were entering before you actually entered it. I miss this feature (even though most of the Kanji would not have made any sense what so ever to me). Also, can I beg you for a feature to pause the game whiel battling a boss? I'm not asking to be able to change your armament or anything, just a way so that you can answer the phone/door, etc while playing. ..

Do You Have Reviews?

Certainly, one man's opinion is not enough to base your decision to rent or purchase a game. If you have had any experience with a certain game and would like to share your experiences with other fellow Turbografx-16 owners, please send your reviews my way. I will take all of your comments into account and adjust my grades accordingly based on their soundness and wisdom. Credit will be given to the original reviewer. Please use the review format presented below and send them to bt@cpac.washington.edu. Thanks!

Please, please, PLEASE follow the format of the reviews for everyone's sake! The idea is to give other gamers the most clear and concise information possible!

Special thanks to:

The following people were integral or most helpful in my assembling these reviews for all you TurboDuo, Turbografx-16, and PC-Engine gamers. Thank you all!

Bryan Duvan, Chris Fleming, Tin Yau Fung, Jeff Graham, Brad Hamlett, Pete Ikusz, Kevin Kramer, Jeffrey Naiman, Paul Norkus, Sergey Shimkevich, James Stepanek, Laly Thao, David London and of course a special word of thanks to Clarence Din [cd] who started this project.