The Games of the Turbo Grafx-16 Mini: Part 5

One final part of my blog series on the TG-16 Mini!  Last time we looked at some of the games on the Japanese PC Engine side, and now we’ll look at the rest of them.  The games in this batch I’m more familiar with, because they were released in the US in some form or fashion either on this console, other consoles, or in the arcade.  And they’re also made by well-known companies like Namco, Capcom, SEGA, Taito, and Konami.  OK let’s finish this off!

The Legend of Valkyrie

We’ll start off with the Namco games, since I certainly know a lot about that company.  The Legend of Valkyrie was originally a Famicom game, and it played like The Legend of Zelda except not near as good.  The sequel was in the arcade in Japan (usually it’s the other way around).  The TG-16 game is based on the arcade game.  It plays kind of like Ikari Warriors except with a fantasy setting and RPG elements.  Player one is Valkyrie, a pretty lady with a winged helmet and a sword.  Player two is Xandros, a green Gumby guy who uses a pitchfork.  When you use your weapons, beams of light shoot out of it to attack bad guys.  You can collect coins to buy power-ups in shops along the way.  Even though this game was Japan only, you can play the arcade version on Namco Museum Vol. 5 on the PSOne.  There is some Japanese text, but you don’t need to know it just to play.  The TG-16 version is pretty close to the arcade, but I still like the arcade version more.  I wish the TG-16 Mini also had Ordyne.  It was a Namco arcade game made around the same time as Valkyrie, and it’s a fun cutesy shoot ‘em up.  It also got a version on the TG-16 Mini, although like Valkyrie, the arcade version is still better.  Ordyne on the TG-16 actually DID come to the US, though.  Anyway, Valkyrie is one of Namco’s more famous classic characters and makes cameos in games such as the Tales of series and Soul Calibur fighters.

The Genji and the Heike Clans

This horizontally scrolling ninja action game from Namco features a lot of Japanese legends and folklore.  It’s based on the arcade game and the TG-16 version is pretty close to it.  Neither came to the US but you can play the arcade version on Namco Museum vol. 4 on PSOne.  There are three main modes in the game.  Regular sized horizontally scrolling, another where the sprites are HUGE, and a top down view.  Also, there is a song on the Taiko Drum Master games based on this title and it’s VERY hard!

Galaga ‘88

I loved the arcade version of this.  Such a great update to the classic game.  I saw it in lots of arcades.  It actually came to the US on the TG-16, but I think they called it Galaga ’89, even though it was the same game.  The arcade version is a LITTLE better, but not by much.  I like the slightly cutesy take of this game, and there wouldn’t be another good Galaga remake until Galaga Arrangement in the mid 90’s.

Dragon Spirit

This vertically scrolling shooter is like Xevious, except with dragons and monsters instead of spaceships.  It was fairly popular in arcades, even though I didn’t see it as much back then.  I think the TG-16 version was released in the US as well.  I really want to like this game, but it’s so gosh darn hard, even with the turbo buttons.  I can do better in Xevious and that game’s hard as well!  Dragon Spirit eventually came to the NES.  If you’re wondering why some of Namco’s arcade games were on the TG-16 and not the NES, it’s because for a while, Namco had a bit of a falling out with Nintendo over their strict policies on how many games a third party can release on the NES.

Fantasy Zone

This cutesy side scrolling shooter features colorful graphics and catchy music, and stars one of SEGA’s pre-Sonic mascots: Opa-Opa.  Like Dragon Spirit, even with the turbo buttons it’s super hard.  But I still like this one.

Super Darius

Darius is one of my favorite shooter series.  The original arcade game was three screens long, and the stage 1 theme: “Captain NEO” is one of my top favorite pieces of video game music ever.  This version is based on the arcade, and except for it being only one screen, it’s a pixel and audio perfect version of the arcade game.  I only wish it wasn’t as hard!


This is just the Japanese version of Ghouls N Ghosts.  It seems pretty close to the arcade version, but I’m more impressed with the Genesis one.  I want to like these games more, but they are just way too gosh darn hard!

Ninja Ryukenden

You know what this is?  It’s a TG-16 verison of Ninja Gaiden on the NES!  The graphics are a little clearer, but the music isn’t as good.  I think it’s a little harder on the TG-16 as well, but that could just be me.


I don’t think I have to describe this one too much, do I?  This is probably the closest to the arcade for a home console at the time.  I imagine we didn’t get this game in the US because back then, releasing five year old arcade games wasn’t as common of a practice here.  Of course this and other Konami games are on the Mini since Konami owns Hudson now.  While Gradius was popular back then, I didn’t see it in arcades much.  In fact, I only first saw the arcade version of Gradius AFTER I had played Gradius 3 on the SNES!  And I only saw Life Force in an arcade ONCE!  Luckily I did see the super rare 3-D Gradius game Solar Assault at an arcade one time, too.  I like Gradius games even though they’re also stupid hard.  But they have that ‘just one more try’ aspect to them that makes them good.  I just wish that, when you die, you wouldn’t lose all your power ups because then you’re screwed!


This is kind of a spin off Gradius game with a more bio alien theme.  It was called Life Force in the US.  I have a lot of good memories playing the NES version.  This one is pretty close to the arcade except without the voices.  The power-up system is a little different, too.  Even though it has beginner and advanced modes on the TG-16, it’s super hard either way.  Maybe even harder than the arcade one!  Also when you die you start back at the beginning or a checkpoint, and I think in the arcade and NES, you started right back where you left off.

Gradius 2

I remember reading about this game in magazines and thinking it looked so cool.  Unfortunately we never got this game in the US either.  Like the others, it seems pretty close to the arcade game.

Akumajo Dracula X Chi no Rondo

And last, this is just Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood.  I think there was a SNES version of this, too.  Some say the TG-16 version is better, but I think they have their own strengths and weaknesses.  This version uses the CD add on so it sounds nice at least.  The beginning cutscene has Japanese subtitles, but the voice over is in German!  I could actually understand a lot of what they were saying because I took German in high school and college!  Anyway, I didn’t get too far in this one because I’m not a very big Castlevania fan.  I don’t like how the enemies can just dance around you, while your guy just plods along like he ate a big breakfast that morning before deciding he was going to beat up Dracula.  And isn’t this game supposed to be a prequel to Symphony of the Night or something?  I heard that somewhere, maybe one of you Castlevania fans can confirm that.

And that’s all of the games on the TG-16 Mini!  Let me know what you think and if you have any questions in the comments section.  Do you have any favorite TG-16 games?  Any you’d like to have seen on the Mini?  I would’ve liked to have seen Bonk 3, Final Lap Twin, and Ordyne, and maybe more weird Japanese games like Photography Boy.  OK later!  –Cary

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