Monday, March 20, 2017

Five more overlooked PC Engine games you need to play as soon as possible

First, my apologies for pretty much only including HuCards rather than CDs in my two "overlooked PC Engine games" posts. (Here's the first one, in case you missed it earlier.)

The fact is, these days I have far more experience with PC Engine HuCards than I do with CDs--especially when it comes to ones the masses have largely ignored. (This is quite the turnaround from when I was a teen and owned a TurboGrafx-16. At that point in my life, I much preferred the system's disc-based games to its cards.)

With that out of the way, here are five additional PC Engine games I think deserve a lot more attention than they currently receive.

Dragon Egg!--Before I get to why you should play this NCS-published HuCard, please understand it's probably the "worst" of the five games discussed in this post. It's also likely to provide the most limited thrills--thanks to the fact it can be breezed through in an hour or less if you're properly skilled. Still, I've had a soft spot for it ever since I first played it a few years ago. Why? Its female protagonist and her dragon companion (who doubles as both a weapon and a form of transportation, depending on how much he's powered up) are the main reasons, although its "early Mega Drive" graphics and gameplay aren't far behind.

Final Match Tennis--It probably seems strange that I would include a tennis game here. And, really, if you loathe the sport this HuCard depicts (in an arcade-y way), you're unlikely to get much enjoyment from it. Everyone else, though, should give Final Match Tennis a chance. It's easily one of the most accessible--not to mention fun--tennis games around, in my opinion, with only Super Tennis for the SNES (Super Tennis World Circuit for the Super Famicom) topping it. One area where this Human Entertainment-made card bests that TOSE-made cart: its snappier gameplay, which helps keep points, games and matches from becoming boring.

Genji Tsushin Agedama--At first glance, Genji Tsushin Agedama appears to be your standard 16-bit side-scroller. That assessment goes out the window as soon as you advance past the game's title screen. To begin with, almost all of its stages are of the auto-scrolling sort. Also, its power-up system is more like something you'd experience in a shoot 'em up (think Gradius or R-Type). Add to this backdrops that are as bright and colorful as can be plus some nicely drawn and animated enemy sprites, and you've got a PC Engine title that should have a far higher profile than does right now.

Makai Prince Dorabocchan--I turned up my nose for a long time at this platformer because I assumed it was nothing more than a poor man's version of Konami's Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun. And, in a way, that's basically what it is. That doesn't mean it's a stinker that should be avoided like rabid skunk, though. It's not as graphically appealing as the aforementioned Famicom (and GameBoy) title, but it makes up for its comparably basic visuals with stages that provide players with an ample number of surprises and boss battles that are fun as they are thrilling.

Mesopotamia--Of all the PC Engine games highlighted here, Mesopotamia likely is the least ignored of the bunch. That's because Atlus both developed and published it (in North America, it's name was changed to Somer Assault). Also, this HuCard is as wacky as any to be made for NEC's Japan-conquering console thanks to its odd protagonist (if it can be called such a thing), which looks like a pink Slinky that can shoot bullets. To make your way through its many maze-like environments, you crawl end-over-end along their walls, floors and ceilings. One bummer: enjoying the scenery isn't an option due to the unfriendly (meaning tight) time limit that's imposed on each and every stage.

See also: previous posts about overlooked Famicom, PlayStation, Game Gear, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance and DS games

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