Konami’s announced the full lineup for the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, and it’s a real good news / bad news kind of deal for fans of the cult console. Let’s get into it.
The good news is there are way more games on this thing than usually found on these classic miniconsoles. The NES Classic has 30 games, the SNES Classic has 21, and the PlayStation Classic that everybody immediately forgot about has 20. The Sega Genesis Mini, which comes out next month, ups the ante a bit with 42 games, including two that were never actually released for the Genesis back in the day.
The TurboGrafx-16 Mini is going to blow even that out of the water: it’ll come with 57 different TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine games. That breaks down as 25 games that were released in North America on the TurboGrafx between 1989 and 1993, and 32 games that were released on the PC Engine, as the console was known in its native Japan. Some of those PC Engine games were localized and released in the States, including Dragon Spirit, Super Star Soldier and Galaga ‘88 (which was known as Galaga ‘90 in North America). Most of them were never actually released for the TurboGrafx-16 on this side of the world during the console’s lifetime, though, including the fantastic Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (aka Castlevania: Rondo of Blood), which was eventually released in the States in the ‘00s, after a Super Nintendo remake in 1995. There are also a few games well-known in America for their arcade and NES versions that will appear as their PC Engine versions, such as Gradius, Salamander (aka Life Force) and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. If you’re a TurboGrafx fan who’s never imported a PC Engine, or never downloaded any of the PC Engine games that were eventually ported to other North American consoles or released through the Wii Shop, the TurboGrafx-16 Mini will be your first opportunity to play games like Star Parodier, The Genji and the Heike Clans and Cho Aniki. When you bundle those alongside old TG-16 favorites like Blazing Lazers, Ninja Spirit and Ys Book I & II, you’ve got an amazing little box full of great classic games that are both beloved and brand new to the American market.
The bad news is it’s missing some of the TurboGrafx’s true classics. Obviously it doesn’t have every single TurboGrafx game released in America, as I advocated for earlier this year. It’s surprising what games didn’t make the list, though. Despite having 57 TurboGrafx or PC Engine games in the lineup, it’s missing five of our 16 favorite TurboGrafx games, including the best game on the system, the Satanic pinball oddity Devil’s Crush. Also slightly worrisome is that the 32 PC Engine games on the American TurboGrafx-16 Mini will exclusively be in Japanese. That won’t be a problem for most games, but the few PC Engine RPGs on the list will presumably be hard to play if you don’t read or understand Japanese.
Here are the five games from our list that aren’t on the Mini in any form: Legendary Axe, Dragon’s Curse, Time Cruise, Bloody Wolf and Devil’s Crush. Time Cruise isn’t a surprise—it’s a weird video pinball game that isn’t even all that popular among TurboGrafx cultists. The other four are among the most acclaimed games on the system, though. Legendary Axe was one of the TurboGrafx’s biggest games, and perhaps the closest thing it had to a “killer app” when the system launched in North America in 1989. The rights were owned by Victor Interactive Software, and if you follow the trail of mergers and acquisitions they’re probably currently held by Marvelous. I have no idea what the corporate relationship between Marvelous and Konami is like today, but I’m surprised a deal couldn’t be made to include this game that’s relatively obscure today outside of TurboGrafx fans. Dragon’s Curse was an adaptation of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, the rights to which are notoriously convoluted, and which was just remade in 2017 for every modern console; it’s no surprise that it was difficult to land the TurboGrafx version, but still disappointing. Bloody Wolf was originally owned by Data East, and is now owned by the Japanese mobile game company G-Mode; they have a spotty record of rereleasing their TurboGrafx / PC Engine back catalogue, putting them up on the Wii Shop for a few years before delisting them all in 2012. Devil’s Crush’s absence probably isn’t a rights issue, as its predecessor, Alien Crush, shared the same developer and publisher and is on the Mini. Either Konami wanted to avoid any controversy over the Satanic imagery (which should be too cartoon-ish to bother anybody, but sillier things have become controversial), or else they didn’t want to put too many video pinball games on this machine. If that’s the case, though, they definitely should’ve gone with Devil’s Crush over Alien Crush.
Um, I could keep going on, if you’d like. I am a TurboGrafx-16 fan.
There are some other odd choices—it has the Japanese version of Bonk’s Adventure instead of the North American one; it has both the English and Japanese versions of Ys, Military Madness/Nectaris, and both Neutopia games; and none of the obscure, hard-to-find, late-in-life TurboGrafx games are on here. That means no Bonk 3, despite the other Bonk games (including Air Zonk) showing up.
Still, look at that list of games below. If you’re an old TurboGrafx fan who misses sliding those HuCards into that sleek brown box back in the early ‘90s, or somebody who missed out on those days and wants to see why some people love this system, this is a great lineup to start with. It’s not perfect, but it will more than suffice.
The TurboGrafx-16 Mini will be released globally on March 19, 2020. You can find the full list of games right here, with the final trailer beneath it.
Chew Man Fu
J.J. & Jeff
Lords of Thunder
New Adventure Island
Splatterhouse (TurboGrafx-16 Version)
Ys Book I & II
PC Engine games
Akumaj? Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
Bomberman: Panic Bomber
Daimakaimura (Ghouls ‘n Ghosts)
The Genji and the Heike Clans
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
Gradius II: Gofer no Yab?
The Kung Fu (China Warrior)
Nectaris (Military Madness)
Ninja Ry?kenden (Ninja Gaiden)
PC Genjin (Bonk’s Adventure)
Seirei Senshi Spriggan
Splatterhouse (PC Engine Version)
Spriggan Mark 2: Re-Terraform Project
Super Momotar? Dentetsu II
Super Star Soldier
Tengai Maky? II: Manji Maru (Japanese exclusive)
Tokimeki Memorial (Japanese exclusive)
Valkyrie no Densetsu
Ys I & II