The PC Engine

 (Image taken from Wikimedia Commons)

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, since I have yet to get my Metal Max 2 package yet, I’m playing Tengai Makyo Ziria for the PC Engine this week. Playing PC Engine games is actually a natural outgrowth of what I wanted to do with this blog, despite the name. The reason I chose the Super Famicom is that it’s a nostalgic console for me that has a lot of RPGs never localized in the US that I wanted to play.

This is actually true of the PC Engine as well. I had a friend in middle school who was in one of those unfortunate situations with a rich stepdad trying to buy his affection. He had every video game console possible with tons of games for each one. At one point he lent me his Turbo Grafx CD with all his games, so I was able to play Ys 1-3, Exile, Valis, and a few other games. I’ve rarely been so blown away by a console. This was before the release of the Super Nintendo, and these games had voice acting, music played directly off the CD, and graphics that were somewhat better than the NES.

Alas, the Turbo Grafx failed in the US. In Japan it was a very popular console that rivaled Sega and Nintendo, and there were a lot of RPGs for it. Some of these I’ve always wanted to play (like the Tengai Makyo series and Ys IV).

I did not start this blog from the earliest Famicom games because I wanted to avoid that era of RPGs. I can play some old games, but there’s a limit to how far I can go back. The old graphics don’t bother me, but there are a number of gameplay and interface problems that were fine when I was a kid, but I find hard to deal with now. Some of these are:

  • A lack of strategic options in battle, so that grinding is often necessary
  • Slow walking
  • You can’t see the stats of equipment when buying it in stores (or when equipping)
  • Magic users that can’t use their magic freely because every point has to be saved for boss battles
  • Severely limited inventories
  • Cumbersome interfaces for equipping, viewing status screens, healing, etc.
  • Very high random encounter rate
  • Places with heavy dependence on luck — e.g. monsters that can cast instant death spells when there’s no revive spell or item

I’m finding far too many of these in early SFC games as well but I think by the end of the console’s life it improved overall. Unfortunately the PC Engine library is closer to the Famicom than the Super Famicom in gaming style. That’s why when I do one of these PCE games I’m only going to play it for a week, unless I actually think the game is good enough to keep playing.

Anyway it may seem odd to start doing PCE games here but the blog will still be primarily Super Famicom.

4 thoughts on “The PC Engine

  1. Raifield

    I had a similar experience going to Breath of Fire I on the SNES. Is it a bad game? Not at all. But it is far more bland, grindy, and linear than I remember it being. I've never beaten it, though I've gone "back" to the game via emulation many times. It just doesn't hold interest very well.

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  2. cccmar

    Ah, VA… the bane of life for all fan translators out there. I guess that's why barely any PCE-CD games got fan-translated at all, not just RPGs.
    There are some HuCard RPGs left out there too, but there aren't too many of them. In fact, from what I've researched so far, the RPG number for PCE/Genesis is rather similar all things considered.

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  3. Kurisu

    It seems like they could just leave the Japanese voice acting in place. Even people who generally prefer dubbing must realize that professional-quality dubbing is beyond the ability of fan translators.

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  4. cccmar

    Since I have a bit of experience with PCE hacking, I can say this much: with PCE-CD games, you either dub them, or just write the script down in a text file and call it a day. It's usually impossible to cram it into the game proper with the technical limitations of the system. I fully agree that dubbing will most likely not work out particularly well, though.
    There are exceptions though, like the Dragon Knight games (where all the dialogues are subbed, nicely enough), and there's no need to program subs from scratch. It's mostly just an issue with Mega CD/PCE-CD though, newer consoles aren't as fussy in this regard.

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