Author Topic: Best of the Wii U eShop (Bonus Round C: TG-16 VC)  (Read 1676 times)

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Offline Bungle4

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Best of the Wii U eShop (Bonus Round C: TG-16 VC)
« on: February 07, 2021, 02:37:17 PM »
The Wii U eShop will only be open for a limited time so it is worth looking at the games there while there is still time to buy them. In the past few months we looked at all the available eShop games, but we omitted the Virtual Console releases, until now! Nintendo introduced the Virtual Console (VC) with Wii as a way to sell games from previous systems a la carte. That same service continued with Wii U and 3DS before being replaced with a Netflix style service bundled with the Nintendo Switch's Online membership.

The TurboGrafx-16
Released in 1989 in North America, the TurboGrafx-16 (TG-16) ushered in the 4th generation of home consoles. While it never took off in the U.S., it did quite well in Japan where it was known as the PC Engine. The console used HuCard cartridges initially and later had add-on and native compatibility with CD based games (TubroGrafx-CD/CD-ROM2. By 1994 the console was discontinued and the failure of the successor, the PC Engine SuperGrafx, led to the manufacturer (NEC Home Electronics) getting out of the console making business.

The TurboGrafx-16 Virtual Console
In 2006, Nintendo started adding TG-16 games to the Wii Virtual Console (Link to NWR article). It was not until 2016, when most of the same titles came over to Wii U (Link to NWR article). The games were priced at $5.99/$7.99 in the U.S. by 2018 40 titles had been made available. Of those, 29 are still on the Wii U eShop for purchase.

Other Availability
The 3DS eShop had four TG-16 titles at one point: R-Type, Gradius, Alien Crush, and China Warrior, but all appear to be delisted (note: you can still get the NES version of Gradius). More recently, Konami - who now owns Hudson Soft and much of the TG-16 back catalog - threw their hat in the mini-console ring and released the TurboGrafx-16 Mini. This plug and play console includes 57 games, about 20 of which are also on the Wii U VC (See full list). The overlap is well documented by Discord.RSS in the following thread (Link to NWR forum topic).
Unlike the Sony and Sega mini-consoles, the TurboGrafx-16 Mini did not stick around long enough to get a price drop and is only available from re-sellers for about $150. Finally, if you still have an active PS3 or Vita, some titles were released in the Playstation Store, though most were Japan only (See full list). Of those released in North America, World Sports Competition is the only one not also found on the TG-16 mini.

Since there are only 29 titles we will run the gamut with information in the following order
Game Title (Release year, current US card or disc cost*, NWR review, Availability)
* Loose HuCard or CD only, source:

The Highlights
While most of the games listed are $5.99 U.S., there are two premium titles: Bomberman Panic Bomber and Lords of Thunder that go for $7.99. Ostensibly, this is because they were CD-Rom games. Both are available on the TG-16 Mini but Lords of Thunder is the only one to get a review by NWR.

With limited success in North America it is not too surprising to see the appreciated values on the original HuCards. Many of these titles are over $100 just for the loose card, with the most valuable being Bonk 3. The third Bonk game was actually released for both TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx-CD and will run you $304 or $325 respectively.

If we filter out just the Wii U VC exclusives that were recommended by NWR we get Mr. Bungle's Final Four:
Battle Lode Runner

Bonk 3

Devil's Crush


I welcome any corrections to the information I found when compiling the list. The information here is for the US so let me know about differences in other regions. Not sure what to comment, consider questions like:
  • Did you own a TurboGrafx-16 in the 1990's
  • Did you pick up the TurboGrafx-16 mini?
  • Why did the TurboGrafx-16 fail in North America?

Next Round
Join me next week as we Advance to the first hand-held console in our exhaustive review of the Wii U Virtual Console.

Offline Order.RSS

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Re: Best of the Wii U eShop (Bonus Round C: TG-16 VC)
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2021, 01:20:53 PM »
For a while there I was pretty into these on Virtual Console; Turbo was one of those systems I never even heard of for decades, until the retro collection scene spotlighted them. They tend to sell for high prices, and there's so many different hardware SKUs and software formats it's a bit confusing... So VC was perfect for it.
That said, I think I just got lucky with my first few purchases, because there's a lot of junk on here too, so I've soured a bit on the platform since. Will spotlight the ones I tried:

(Pictured: New Adventure Island)
- Despite Bonk 3 being the most valuable of the Bonk games, and exclusive to Wii U if you don't want to fork over $300... I don't know if it's the best one really. eJamer was saying Bonk 2: Revenge is the best of the bunch, but I didn't like any of these games. The first one is just outright pretty bad; it's a platformer with almost no verticality. Bonk 2 starts out a lot better, but all these games have too much combat with not enough attack range to defend yourself.
- In fact, hot take inbound, I've yet to play a really good platformer on Turbo which can go toe-to-toe with Super Mario Bros. or the first few Sonic games. Of the ones here I'd say New Adventure Island is probably the best, just because it plays well, has bright colours and you get to do things like ride a skateboard while flinging axes at dinosaurs. But I never bothered finishing it.

(Pictured: Bomberman '94)
Puzzles & RPGs
- Of the Bomberman games, Bomberman '94 is by far the best of those three. It's identical to Mega Bomberman on the Sega Genesis though, but has 5 player support here.
- Don't get Bomberman Panic Bomber, that's a falling block puzzle game like Puyo Puyo. If you must play this, at least do so on the Virtual Boy for novelty value.
- Necromancer is an absolutely impossible horror themed RPG. It's all in Japanese, has random encounters out the wazoo, and every direction you go is just brown, grey, or dark green. It's mildly amusing your party members turn into ghosts if they die, but resurrection costs money so it's easy to get stuck in a grind-resurrect-grind loop.
- Dungeon Explorer is a hideous top down RPG meant for multiplayer, localized by Working Designs. Enemies everywhere. I think you need to approach this with a D&D weekly session mindset, because it's exhausting. No idea where you'd be able to find 4 people to come over during a pandemic to play a 32 year old RPG with when World of Warcraft exists, but if that's you, then here you go.

(Pictured: Soldier Blade)
- Lords of Thunder is the one with a lot of input lag on the Turbo Mini console, so might still be worth getting here if you're adamant about playing it. I've never played it. Very corny music.
- R-Type was sadly delisted, but it's excellent (and brutally difficult). Has a full remake on Switch called R-Type Dimensions.
- Of the other shooters listed, I think Soldier Blade is by far the best one. It's a sequel to Final Soldier and better in every way; one of those classic shooters which still play well to this day, like Thunder Force 3. Skip Gradius; it's on your NES Online app and very difficult, so at least there you have rewind. The TwinBee game here is probably good too, but there's also one which looks very similar on the SNES Online app and that has online multiplayer, rewinds, and more savestates.

(Pictured: Victory Run)
Sports & racing
- Moto Roader is utterly terrible. A top-down racer like Micro Machines, but without any of the charm, and it keeps zapping everyone back to the pack so there's barely any point in overtaking... in a racing game!
- Victory Run by contrast is decent. Plays like OutRun without the migraine framerate, but has hills, and you need to bring spare parts to drive from Paris to Dakar. Very hard though, I have trouble just making it past level 2. No automatic gear shifting either, so you can fry your engine if you don't pay attention.
- Power Golf has the same annoying swing mechanic from NES Open Golf. Don't buy this when NeoGeo Turf Masters is on Switch for almost the same price.
- I've yet to buy Break In, but it's a pool/snooker/billiards game like SidePocket with a sleazy synth soundtrack. Sat on my wishlist for a while now.

Trying these initially really felt like uncovering an alternate history for gaming. Where instead of platformers, shooters were the most important genre of the nineties, and instead of a focus on big sprites everything was sacrificed for fast framerates. It's a great system for both upbeat soundtracks and colourful games, as well as horror themed stuff (Splatterhouse, R-Type, Ghouls N Ghosts).
But a lot of the lesser known games have a bootleg rental store vibe to them. Admittedly I haven't tried some of the big hitters yet (Neutopia, Ys Book 1 & 2, Castlevania, the Alien/Devil's Crush pinball games), but I wonder if part of the Turbo's failure is due to lower quality games aimed at young audiences. I feel like I've tried a decent slice of the library, and so far only Soldier Blade, R-Type and Bomberman '94 seem like absolute classics - and only one of those was exclusive to Turbografx.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2021, 01:22:52 PM by Discord.RSS »

Offline pokepal148

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Re: Best of the Wii U eShop (Bonus Round C: TG-16 VC)
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2021, 03:40:57 PM »