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.
Opinions vary greatly as to which PC Engine shoot ’em up is the best — largely because there are so many of the damn things. I most certainly am not complaining.
Most people can agree that Hudson Soft’s excellent Soldier Blade is near the top of the rankings, though, thanks to its high-speed action, its satisfying power-up systems and its excellent music. It’s also highly accessible to shoot ’em up newcomers, so if you suck at the more intense titles — like I do — then this is a great title to cut your teeth on.
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.
If you love a good shoot ’em up, you should find yourself some means of playing games for the PC Engine/Turbografx-16 (just “PC Engine” hereafter for simplicity’s sake). Konami’s PC Engine Mini is a great choice, as you’ll know if you’ve enjoyed our podcast episode on the subject.
Core to the PC Engine’s library of smashing shooters is Compile’s lineup of excellent blastathons, including three installments in the Star Soldier series, as well as spin-off title Blazing Lazers. It’s the latter we’ll be taking a look at today.
First released in 1989, Blazing Lazers remains one of the most popular, well-regarded games on the platform even today. So strap yourself in, grab that joypad and rev up your itchy trigger finger — we’re going in.
At the time of writing, the world is gearing up for a fourth official installment in the Bubble Bobble series.
Wait a minute, I hear you ask, fourth? What happened to the third? I don’t judge you too harshly for asking this question; I know some people who weren’t even aware that Rainbow Islands was the second Bubble Bobble game, so for you to be unaware that there had already been a third one is entirely understandable.
It doesn’t stop it being a huge shame, however, because 1991’s Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble III is a wonderful game; one of my all-time favourite single-screen “kill ’em all” platformers, in fact, beaten only by Rod-Land. And yet, for various reasons, very few people either know it exists or remember it.