Top 30 Best TurboGrafx-16 Games of All Time

It’s no easy task to write a list of the best Turbografx-16 games. General consensus is typically the console didn’t have a good software library. I see how from the outside this would be an easy conclusion to come to. It is, after all, a console that failed in the North American market. Despite this it was a big hit in Japan, and publishers brought over many of their best games. In my opinion the Turbografx-16 is one of the best consoles of all time because of it’s library, and it’s highly underrated. There’s a big lack of appreciation for it even among hardcore gamers, and so today I’ve sat down to highlight what’s worth playing here. Honestly I struggled to keep this list down to just thirty. Without any more stalling these are the best Turbografx-16 games of all time! Please note we’re sticking to just Hucard releases.

Front cover for Neutopia for the TurboGrafx-16.

#30. – Neutopia

If you’re competing against Nintendo then having a Zelda clone on your console is an absolute necessity. Hudson Soft answered the call and gave us Neutopia. The word ‘clone’ is the perfect description here because if you replaced the main character with Link this would absolutely look like a retro Zelda title. This top down 2D action adventure game has you battling enemies with your trusty sword as you explore a vast overworld containing within it various dungeons. In typical fashion you have to complete these in order, and gain an item that lets you progress. Rinse, lather, and repeat. It’s a bit generic and has little personality of it’s own, but it’s still one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time. Needless to say if you like Zelda then you’ll like Neutopia.

Front cover for Chase HQ for the Turbografx-16.

#29. – Chase H.Q.

Imagine OutRun, but with a cops and robbers theme behind it. That’s what you get with Chase HQ and it isn’t hard to see why it’s one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time. It was released on a host of other platforms but there’s something special about this port. It runs better than the 8-bit versions the vast majority are more familiar with while retaining the excellent arcade gameplay. This is a behind the vehicle racer where you aren’t so much competing to come in first place as you are driving to catch a criminal. You have to ram their vehicle multiple times to disable it, and have only a short time limit in which to do so. Things like branching paths (with one being the correct choice) really made this one ahead of it’s time.

Front cover for Parodius Da for the NEC PC-Engine.

#28. – Parodius Da!

Konami is truly the king of parody games. It was refreshing back in the day to see a developer take the time to make fun of themselves. Parodius is best described as an over-the-top and weird version of Gradius. It’s a side scrolling shooter where you blast all incoming foes as you make your way to boss encounters at the end of each level. It plays in a very similar fashion to Gradius with one hit kills, and the same power-up system. What’s different mostly is the graphics. You can choose one of four different characters to play as. The classic Vic Viper is included, but your other options are a penguin, octopus, and Twinbee (from another of Konami’s classic franchises). It’s weird, but so are the graphics, stages, and layouts. I really love the gameplay here and the nonsensical take on the genre.

Front cover for Fantasy Zone for the Turbografx-16.

#27. – Fantasy Zone

Many of Sega’s classic franchises made their way to the PC-Engine. Thankfully Fantasy Zone was included in the mix, and I’ll be darned if it isn’t one of the best Turbografx-16 ever released. It’s a whimsical shmup where you play as a cutesy ship called Opa Opa. The action moves horizontally but this is not an auto-scrolling game. Instead you can freely move throughout each stage in any direction and must do so to complete it. You can defeat enemies and gain money which is spent in shops to upgrade your ship. The boss encounters are more traditional fare. It’s nice to spend the extra time to get upgrades and the impact they make it super noticeable. Fantasy Zone is a Sega classic, and this PC-Engine port is absolutely sublime.

Front cover for Legendary Axe II for the Turbografx-16.

#26. – Legendary Axe II

While not as good as the original, Legendary Axe II still deserves a spot here. This is a side scrolling action platform game where you’re armed with a sword. You’ve got to hack and slash your way through armies of enemies and it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately the developers removed the power gauge for this sequel. It was one of the defining elements of the original so I was sad to see it gone. Also the level design, while still good, has been toned down quite a bit. Despite these caveats Legendary Axe II is still one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time. It should be noted that it’s not for everyone because the grungy graphics haven’t aged particularly well.

Front cover for Dragon Spirit for the Turbografx-16.

#25. – Dragon Spirit

What’s one thing the shooter genre needs more of? If you answered dragons then we’re on the same page here. Dragon Spirit is a really unique vertical shmup and if you haven’t already guessed is one of the best Turbografx-16 games ever released. You pilot a dragon who shoots fire breath at foes. You can upgrade your weapon at which point the beast spouts additional heads. How cool is that? The character has two different attacks; one for aerial foes and another foe enemies on the ground. You have to switch back and forth between them because you’ll be attacked from both angles. Dragon Spirit is a nice change of pace from the console’s typical offerings because of it’s fantasy setting. I really like this one, and you will too.

Front cover for Darius Alpha for the Turbografx-16.

#24. – Darius Alpha

I never got to see this one in all of it’s arcade glory. I imagine it made quite the impression considering it had to have three side by side screens to capture all of the action! Clearly no home port could do it justice, but they sure tried here. Darius Alpha is unique in that it features mechanized fish and sea creatures for the enemies. That was always the gimmick for this franchise but I like it. Darius Alpha is a side scrolling shmup with few bells and whistles. The gameplay. I really love the stage layouts and the enemies you fight. This one feels like it’s more of a boss rush than a traditional shooter. Maybe that’s why I like it. It’s bit as good as the  arcade release but Darius Alpha is still one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time.

Front cover for OutRun for the NEC PC-Engine.

#23. – OutRun

As I’ve already touched upon the PC-Engine had more than it’s fair share of classic Sega ports. OutRun is easily one of my most favorite hits from the house of Sonic the Hedgehog, and this port is one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time. This version is superior to the Master System release in just about every way. It even compares favorably to the Genesis version if I do say so myself. OutRun is a self described ‘driving game.’ You aren’t racing per se, but competing against a clock as you try to reach your destination before it runs out. What sets OutRun apart from the pack are the multiple routes you can take. It’s amazing to take in all of the scenery, and highly replayable to experience it all. OutRun is great, and this PC-Engine port is pretty cool.

Front cover for Space Harrier for the NEC PC-Engine.

#22. – Space Harrier

Okay this is the last Sega port on this list. I promise. Normally I would place OutRun ahead of Space Harrier but between these versions this is better. Up to this point all home ports of this game were pure rubbish. Consoles just couldn’t handle the immense amount of sprite scaling that Space Harrier demands. Somehow they pulled it off for the most part here. Space Harrier runs surprisingly well on the PC-Engine. This is a 3D behind the back shooter with fantastical enemies and terrain. I can see how it would be off-putting to some because the graphics are best described as ‘weird’ but I absolutely love it. It sure looks like the artists and developers were on drugs, and I mean that in the best way possible. Space Harrier is an amazing title, and it’s one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time.

Front cover for Gradius for the NEC PC-Engine.

#21. – Gradius

The original Gradius was Konami’s first big shmup in arcades. It had a good port to the NES, but this Turbografx-16 version is even better. The scenario is pretty typical; it’s a side scrolling shmup where you play as a lone ship against a veritable fleet of enemies. What sets Gradius apart from the pack is the power-up system. You snag these from specific foes when defeated, and they light up various options at the top of the screen. Collecting another will move you to the next stage, and you can choose which upgrades you want. These include things like speed of movement, an option, missiles, etc. Though it is one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time it’s very difficult. You lose a life with just one hit, and at that point all of your power-ups are gone. You can get trapped in the later stages without these.

Front cover of Bonk's Adventure for the Turbografx-16.

#20. – Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk was never a household name. That is, unless you owned the Turbografx-16. This over-the-top caveman child became the mascot of the console and had not one but three separate outings on it. Bonk’s Adventure is the first one. The level designs are seriously on point. Bonk comes with several abilities (with his main one being to smash his head into enemies/objects) and these are put to good use in all of the stages. I especially enjoyed the meat power-up which, after you’ve collected enough of them, Bonk becomes enraged and temporarily invincible. Besides that it has all the traditional fixings of a classic platforming outing. I’d be remiss if I left Bonk’s Adventure off this list because it’s absolutely one of the best Turbografx-16 games of all time.

Front cover for World Court Tennis on the Turbografx-16.

#19. – World Court Tennis

Brace yourself. World Court Tennis is without a doubt the weirdest game on this list. You wouldn’t think a Tennis game could be so unusual, but I don’t give that warning lightly. Sure, you can play this like a typical sports games. One option from the menu let’s you compete in traditional matches and it’s quite a bit of fun. World Court Tennis is very traditional in this mode but lacks the bells and whistles so many others offer. That’s not where this story ends however. Packed into this Hucard release is a full blown quest mode which plays like an RPG. You wander an overworld map, enter towns, buy items, etc. There are even random battles, but instead of fighting, you play matches of Tennis. It sounds weird, and believe me it is, but somehow it works. World Court Tennis is definitely one of the best Turbografx-16 games.

Front cover for Galaga 90 for the Turbografx-16.

#18. – Galaga ’90

On a console overflowing with excellent shmups Galaga may seem out of place. As far back as I can remember it felt outdated, and kind of ancient if I’m being honest. Regardless you could always rely on it to have a good time if you came across a cabinet. Galaga 90 as you may have guessed is an update to the original. The graphics have been upgraded quite substantially, as has the audio. For the most part it’s good old Galaga, but there have been some upgrades made. Rather..

* This article was originally published here


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