• Top 10 PC Engine games (Top Ten)

    NEC's diminutive white console was an icon of 80's gaming cool. Playing host to a plethora of stunning shooters & arcade conversions (and never being officially released outside Japan in its original form), it was the machine that kick started the import market as we know it today. Ludicrously expensive to obtain and viewed by the domestic gamer with an almost godlike reverence, its cult status was assured right from the beginning.
    Today, the PC Engine still retains its position as one of gaming's most sought after prizes. Ahead of it's time and living way beyond its natural life, the machine & its games can still impress even today. If you own one, and have the time & money to invest, then untold gaming pleasures from days past can be yours.
    Presented here then, are the top ten titles for the PC Engine as I see it. Some are here because they pushed the system to (and in some cases seemingly beyond) its limits. Others, because of their importance in the PC Engine legend. It is important to note that no definitive list could ever be produced. Towards the end of its life, some truly excellent games were produced. Sadly, the odds of finding some of these today (or being able to afford them if you do) are slim. Games like "Sapphire" or "Darius Alpha" may well deserve a place here, but I've yet to taste the delights of such scarce fruit.

    What are your favourites? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.

    10. Gradius (Konami)

    Cited by many as the "father of the modern shoot-em 'up" I'm not about to disagree here. Gradius was one of the earliest shooters to sport a multiple power-up system. Gameplay was unforgiving, one shot and your dead & kiss goodbye to all those power-ups you had accrued. Dying in latter levels often spelled certain doom as trying to build up your ships weapons again was nigh on impossible.
    The PC Engine version shipped on HuCard, and was a very competent conversion let down only by some significant slowdown in places. Graphically faithful to the arcade it did little to show the full abilities of the PC Engine. However, Gradius is/was/and ever shall be a fine (if sometimes infuriating) shoot-em 'up.

    9. Outrun (Sega)

    Arcade perfect? Well no, not really. Graphically amazing then? Hardly. So why pick it for the top ten? Well, Outrun is fun basically. Pick-up and play, a simple challenge, and some great '80s synth music! More a reminder of Sega's ability to successfully port their games to others systems than anything else I guess. It played well then, and does today. A testament to Sega's arcade genius, and the style of gaming so prevalent in the late eighties/early nineties.

    8. GunHed (Compile)

    Now we get to the really good stuff! GunHed is what the PC Engine did best. Japanese designed 2D Shoot-em 'ups. A highly sought after HuCard, and seen be many as one of the best shooters on the PC Engine. Graphically, Hudson's Star Soldier series was better, but GunHed just plays so well. Great boss encounters, long levels, and a real challenge for any fan of the genre.

    7. Dracula X (Konami) (a.k.a: Castlevania X)

    Released on the CD format for PC Engine, this is yet another example of why the Castlevania series should stay firmly in the 2D realm. Expensive & hard to find these days. A highly desirable game, not least because of its graphical impressiveness. Some truly gruesome creatures punctuate this game, showing just what can be achieved in 2D with a limited colour palette. Those with the cash would do well to buy this if ever they find a copy!

    6. Bomberman (Hudson)

    The most fun five players could have back in the early nineties. Several versions made it on to the tiny oriental console. Graphically it held up to the 16bit versions, and played just as well. A five player multi-tap & 4 extra joypads where essentials.
    Along with the games in positions 3 & 4 in this chart, it showed that the 8bit PC Engine could more than hold it's own in the 16bit era.

    5. Strider (Capcom)

    One of my personal favourites this. Strider had an expert conversion to the PC Engine thanks to the Arcade CD format. With the extra memory the Arcade Card afforded the programmers, this game was nothing short of stunning. Graphically true to the original, and playing every bit as well as its arcade parent, Strider was a convincing argument for PC Engine owners to shell out for the CD add-on if they had not already done so.
    Again, this is a hard game to find today and fetches an appropriately high price tag.


    4. Twin Bee (Konami)

    One of Konami's finest cute'em-ups, Twin Bee was nothing short of perfect on NEC's console. Released in 1992 on HuCard, it again showed the PC Engine holding it's own in the early 16bit era. With a palette of primary & pastel hues, the game was a joy to look at, and really showed off what the ageing 8bit wonder could do. It was easy to complete however, and the bell power-up system was often more frustrating than it was helpful.
    A highly recommended title, though a bit of a short-lived experience.

    3. Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition (Capcom)

    Released on HuCard, for Capcom to have crammed a near flawless version of SF2: Champion Edition in to something not much bigger than a credit card is astounding. It's all here too. Nothing is missed out in this conversion. Graphically on a par with the mighty SNES version (and playing every bit as good), the only failing is with the substandard sonics. Capcom really pushed the standard PC Engine far beyond what anyone thought possible, and it truly is a landmark in the latter part of the systems lifespan.

    Sadly, whilst highlighting the best of the system, it also showed up its flaws. The solitary joypad port that the system sported seemed sad, almost laughable now. The need to shell out not only for a multi-tap, but also for two 6-button joypads, served to show up the age of the system in the most unflattering way possible. When pushed, the little 8bit box could work magic; but there was no denying it was living beyond its days.


    2. Air Zonk (Hudson/Red)

    Another shoot-em 'up? Hell yeah! It's what the machine did best. Staring Zonk, the futuristic cousin to Bonk (who featured in a number of platformers for the PCE), this has to be one of the finest games for the system. Crammed into the tiny HuCard format, you had a healthy choice of characters to partner you along the way, some jaw droppingly brilliant cartoon styled graphics, large boss characters, and a great challenge to boot.

    The game is never too frustrating, and completing the game always feels achievable without feeling too easy. Hard to find and damnably expensive, Air Zonk is nevertheless a highly recommended purchase, and one you will enjoy playing (as well as showing off).


    1. R-Type (Irem)

    A cliched choice it may well be, but there is no ignoring the importance of R-Type with regards the PC Engine. Originally released in the summer of 88 across two HuCards (four levels of the game on each card), it is the game that sold the system to the masses. Arcade perfect was a phrase invented to describe this game, as aside from some minor flicker on the larger end of level bosses, that's exactly what it is: perfect.

    Every element from the arcade is here. Graphically & sonically faithful to the original, you can't help but wonder why this style of game has died off in recent years. Unforgiving it may be, but the dogged determination this game draws out of players means that you WILL finish it, even if it kills you & ruins your life in the process.

    R-Type was the defining game of the mid to late eighties arcade scene. The PC Engine was, and always will be, the perfect platform from which to drink of this pinnacle of gaming excellence.

    Article by Rob Cook - maybe your list looks different? Please post in the comments!
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      My shock at seeing strider at number 5 in any PC-Engine top ten made me read the paragraph on it. I can only assume they had never played the arcade or MD versions, as PCE strider is garbage. And that's coming from an utter PCE fanboy. After that I just couldn't face reading the rest.............
    1. J0e Musashi's Avatar
      J0e Musashi -
      They aren't Strider pics either...
    1. noobish hat's Avatar
      noobish hat -
      Woah! What's going on here? The screenshots for Strider are actually from Rondo of Blood (so good it deserved more shots?). Sad to see no mention of Gekisha Boy, but I'm happy Air Zonk is in there cos it's a favourite of mine.

      Edit: Beaten to it by J0e
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      It's an article from the dawn of NTSC-uk. I don't even remember the person that wrote it. I'm guessing you guys could come up with some alternative lists. (fixed the pics).
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      Don't get me wrong, some good choices in there, but not the top ten i'd go for. (Though some match) It would be a nice thing to see some up to date retro reviews and opinions in the articles section as well as new stuff.
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      Yeah, Noobish is working on that.
    1. Baseley09's Avatar
      Baseley09 -
      Someone needs have a stab at a new list, there's a few errors, Outrun & SF2' were programmed by NEC Avenue not Sega & Capcom respectively...and Strider....rly 0_o.
    1. Skull Commander's Avatar
      Skull Commander -
      I did a PC Engine HU Card top 10 in the "retro top 10" thread. This is based on what I have personally so wouldn't be definitive.

      1. Jackie Chan
      2. Ninja Spirit
      3. Street Fighter 2'
      4. Vigilante
      5. Galaga '88
      6. Image Fight
      7. Splatterhouse
      8. Kid Dracula
      9. Violent Soldier
      10. Mr Heli

      As much as I love R-Type I feel it isn't worthy of the top 10 due to being split over 2 cards. Personal favorites aside, Splatterhouse is more than worthy of a top 10 place, as is Street Fighter II' for being one of the greatest technical achievements ever. Jackie Chan is also a must for the Top 10 as it's one of the greatest games of it's type as far as I'm concerned.

      Although I like Bomberman he doesn't get into my top 10, but I do agree that if we make a Bordersdown top 10 then one of his games should feature in it.
    1. moonwhistle's Avatar
      moonwhistle -
      Quote Originally Posted by Skull Commander View Post
      I did a PC Engine HU Card top 10 in the "retro top 10" thread. This is based on what I have personally so wouldn't be definitive.

      1. Jackie Chan
      2. Ninja Spirit
      3. Street Fighter 2'
      4. Vigilante
      5. Galaga '88
      6. Image Fight
      7. Splatterhouse
      8. Kid Dracula
      9. Violent Soldier
      10. Mr Heli

      As much as I love R-Type I feel it isn't worthy of the top 10 due to being split over 2 cards. Personal favorites aside, Splatterhouse is more than worthy of a top 10 place, as is Street Fighter II' for being one of the greatest technical achievements ever. Jackie Chan is also a must for the Top 10 as it's one of the greatest games of it's type as far as I'm concerned.

      Although I like Bomberman he doesn't get into my top 10, but I do agree that if we make a Bordersdown top 10 then one of his games should feature in it.

      The us version of R-type is all on one card. I wouldn’t place it in a top ten though because it’s available on almost every console format and offers nothing over the arcade original. I think all the early R-type ports are redundant if you have the PS1 Rtypes compilation, which is arcade perfect iirc. The same goes for the street fighter series. Unless console arcade ports offer something unique, I’d restriuct top tens like this to console exclusives. Maybe that’s just me though.
    1. Ico's Avatar
      Ico -
      A PC Engine list without Ys is a sorry list indeed.
      Mine would look something like this:

      1. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
      2. Ys Books I & II
      3. Ys IV: Dawn of Ys
      4. Soldier Blade
      5. Gunhed
      6. Ys III: Wanderers of Ys
      7. Lords of Thunder
      8. Gate of Thunder
      9. Magical Chase
      10. Seirei Senshi Spriggan

      The PC Engine was a real treasure trove of awesome games and there are so many that could make it into a top 10 list with relative ease. Bonk, Galaga, Ninja Spirit, Splatterhouse, about 50 or so shmups and other various arcade ports, the list goes on.
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      That's the thing, it all comes down to opinion. I know that myself and Baseley are massive fans of the system, but I also know we have wildly diffferent taste in games for it. As long as we all agree strider shouldn't be in there though...............
    1. noobish hat's Avatar
      noobish hat -
      R-Typ came out as one CD in Japan too, but was ruined by ****ty anime bits.
    1. Skull Commander's Avatar
      Skull Commander -
      Maybe everyone could put forward a top 3 that they think should be included in a Bordersdown official top 10? Didn't you once do something like that for the GBA Noobish?
    1. noobish hat's Avatar
      noobish hat -
      Lol yeah but there wasn't a lot of agreement going on!
    1. Skull Commander's Avatar
      Skull Commander -
      That's part of the fun!
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      Seems fair. All pick three titles, and let the voting take care of the rest, I like it.
    1. noobish hat's Avatar
      noobish hat -
      A top 25 would be better I think. Or a top ten, and an 'alternative top ten'.
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      I can do a top 50 or 100 for that lovely wee system!
    1. QualityChimp's Avatar
      QualityChimp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ikobo View Post
      I can do a top 50 or 100 for that lovely wee system!
      Yeah, and then you'll get all misty-eyed and before you know it you'll be buying back all your old stuff!
    1. Colin's Avatar
      Colin -
      NEVER!




















      .....................say never.