After we covered the Atari ST version of After Burner a little while back, a few people reached out to me and told me to take a look at the PC Engine version. So I did.
Good Lord, that version leaves the ST version in the absolute dust. And on a platform with an 8-bit processor to boot. Turns out there was at least one platform out there of producing a thoroughly respectable version of After Burner that was almost as good as the arcade version… apart from the “canyon” level, but we can probably forgive that.
Every console platform has its mascot. Sonic has Sega, Nintendo has Mario, Sony has… sad murderous lesbians, I guess.
The PC Engine’s mascot for quite some time was Bonk, also known as PC Genjin or PC Kid. He starred in a number of different games, each of which was quite different from the last. His first adventure, seen here, was a solid and creative platformer whose slightly unsettling aesthetic has been quite influential over the years!
It’s fair to say that the PC Engine is primarily known for its huge collection of shoot ’em ups today, but that’s not all that the diminutive wonder-platform was good at.
And, pleasingly, Konami’s excellent PC Engine Mini console features a wide variety of these “other” games alongside some classic shmups, in both the localised Turbografx-16 and unlocalised Japanese PC Engine titles in its on-board collection.
One such example is Chew Man Fu, also known as Be Ball in Japan. This is a solid puzzler from 1990, developed by Now Production and published by Hudson Soft and NEC, and has been a real highlight of the platform’s library for me since I played it for the first time. So let’s take a closer look. And be warned, I’m going to use the word “balls” a lot of times in this article, so you’re just going to have to deal with it like a mature adult.