Plz point me towards PCE enlightenment

Hearing @exodus ‘s enthusiasm in the ranking episode, I’m interested to learn more and try out some PC Engine stuff. Literally my only exposure has been Dungeon Explorer purchased off the Wii vc.

I’m sure people have lots of good resources for what’s best to try for PC Engine stuff, so if you’re a PCE pusher, toss it up here! (And may this then become a helpful gateway for others). I kind of liked the idea of a “what x games are worth playing in 2022” format, but also if you have a reference that’s already a recommended start point, lay it on me! I’m also curious about these “we just took the mechanics of ___ and made our version of it” games that were mentioned.

I’ll likely be just PC emulating, but may also see what is out in the wild here in Japan once I have some toes in the water.

Thanks in advance!

@“MDS-02”#p54615 As a PCE newbie prior to getting the PCE Mini, I would recommend picking up a Mini if that's your bag - there are a lot of games on that thing and I love it.

This is a small selection of HuCard games I had prepared when I was doing the same research for the system, I hope it's fine if I share it here, otherwise @“Syzygy”#279 can blow this message to oblivion.

Could serve like a quick way to start digging on the game library but it's not comprehensive by any means (I missed some important games like Nectaris/Military ~~Command~~ Madness, for example). It does include most of the hucard games available in the PCE mini plus a bunch of recommendations I saw here in the forums and other places. I didn't do the same for CD games for size reasons, but I could try to take a couple of screenshots of the stuff that was most interesting to me.

As @"LeFish"#591 is saying, the mini is the play to go if you want to have something that somehow imitates the feeling of the original hardware, being able to place the games with the controllers they were designed for it's always a cool thing to do. The interface and presentation is lovely as well, M2 did a great job in that regard even if the emulation and customization options available are mostly just serviceable.

There is of course also this thread, [Favorite PC Engine games not on PC Engine Mini](, which was of great help when I started investigating the system.

I've been doing the same and here is a dirty unordered list with a variety of genres:

  • - Gomola Speed (action puzzle)
  • - Devils Crush + Alien Crush (pinball)
  • - Liquid Kids (aka Mizubaku Daibouken) (platformer)
  • - Bomberman '94 (action puzzle)
  • - Neutopia 2 (zelda like)
  • - Ninja Spirit (action platformer)
  • - Blazing Lazers, Soldier Blade, Magical Chase, Parodius Da (shmups)
  • - Military Madness (strategy)
  • - Bonk's Revenge (of course)
  • - Bloody Wolf (run n gun)
  • - Metal Stoker (top down tanks)
  • - New Adventure Island (nice remake and easier)
  • - Legendary Axe (the dark souls of...)
  • - Dragon's Curse (if you don't want to play the SMS version or 2017 remake)
  • I‘ve also been digging into the PC Engine. I had my first exposure through the Mini, and it’s become my most played core on the mister. It‘s been exciting. I couldn’t tell you if this list captures the spirit of the PCE, but here are my favorites so far as someone that can't read Japanese experiencing it for the first time in the 2020s.

    Soldier Blade- Hudson shooter. Smooth and polished experience. It's got a neat powerup system in which you can store up to 3. Each one of those can be used as a bomb attack which is different depending on the powerup spent.

    Gain Ground SX- arcade action puzzler. I had first played the arcade port on the Switch. The enemy rate of fire there is frustratingly fast. The PCE version is a lot more playable. Rate of fire is slowed down and the sprites are larger. The squad system is what makes it stand out. You start off with a small team. You only control one at a time and you can lose and gain party members along the way. Each one has a unique shot type and pattern, movement speed, etc. Needs a modern day option to mute music because it can get repetitive.

    Download- cyberpunk shooter. From what I understand, the PCE can't do true parallax? This one's got layers of what looks like it. The look and setting are fantastic. I even like the cutscenes. The weirdly motivational game over screens are great. It's got a password system which I'd never seen before in a shooter. Probably an edgy title at the time, but it was difficult to search up "download pc engine game". [HG101 has an informative article on it.](

    Human Sports Festival- clicked it because I love the title. This festival's got 3 sports games in 1. My favorite is Fine Shot Golf. I'm a big fan of the shot system. Rather than hook or slice on misses, you either hit more of the top or bottom of the ball. Fits the vertical shot meter. Just wish it had more courses. I believe the other 2 games on the disc have standalone versions, but not fine shot golf.

    Splatterhouse- arcade port of a slasher beat em up. It's a bit simple, but the sound and setting are great. The game has a dumb but powerful slide attack that you perform by jumping and pushing down forward and attack right as you land. I found out by accident. [Digital foundry just did a retrospective on the series](

    Parasol Stars- Bubble Bobble game designed for the PCE. My partner was able to quickly get into it. Fun arcade co-op.

    Also really enjoyed the longer running series entries like Rondo of Blood, Bonk's Revenge, Bomberman 94.

    Oooooooh, you are in for such a treat. Everyone on IC is rightly going to make sure you put that Ys and that Bonk on your plate, and that does seem like the foundation of a balanced PC Engine meal. You're gonna get so many good recs, so here are some that are just personal favorites:

    **Wonder Momo** is a simple, early HuCard but it's just full of charm (especially if you have any affinity for super sentai/tokusatsu stuff) if you're in the mood for a lovely two-button arcade high-score chaser that doesn't hate you
    **Lords of Thunder** because Gate of Thunder seems to be a community favorite and while this followup is way too dang hard, you gotta get a taste of CD-quality butt-rock metal, it's extremley cool
    **Dragon Spirit** is on the simpler side of the PC Engine shmup library and I'm putting a few on here because they're such a part of the system's identity. It's a solid arcade port (that gets totally f'd at the end) with PC Engine-assed chiptunes and Xevious-style gameplay, but on a dragon. I'm also throwing **Magical Chase** in as an STG bonus, because it's a delight
    **Valkyrie No Densetsu** is so charming but often neglected, like an arcadey version of a Link to the Past, but extra-adorable with very bopping music. It's a bopping game overall
    **The Legendary Axe** for your side-scroller content. It just feels good, and is one of those games whose DNA seems connected to a surprising amount of stuff
    **Neutopia** is often regarded as mediocre, but speaking of Zelda, this is from the time when everyone was trying to do a Zelda. It looks surprisingly like a Link to the Past, even though it predates it, and the English dialogue is a cut above what you'd normally find at the time, I think -- parts of it could be mistaken for a cheap indie game from today. It's breezy if you're in the mood for something more substantial on the PCE (and already played Ys/can't read enough Japanese to play Far East of Eden II)

    EDIT: I just realized most of these are on the PC Engine Mini, which I can reiterate is a great option (eBay prices seem to have cooled down a bit). But PCE emulation is pretty easy (and pretty free), too.

    First, a few disclaimers:

  • - I‘m doing this entirely by browsing a (possibly incomplete) ROM set I have and picking out games that either have a certain amount of historical/critical significance or which I happen to find interesting, considering the audience. I don’t think the latter will stand out that much unless I draw attention to it.
  • - Seeing as there are so many shmups on the TurboGrafx that you could pick any TurboGrafx game at random and probably come away with a shmup, I'm gonna try and focus on non-shmups as much as possible. Sadly, this does mean I have to exclude *[Syd Mead's Terraforming](* from the list, which I otherwise would have included on the basis of it being called *Syd Mead's Terraforming*.
  • - I haven't looked at any other posts before making this list, so there's a strong chance somebody else has listed off these games.
  • And with that out of the way, onto my choices:

  • - Alien Crush/Devil's Crush. I feel like I have to include these lest all the pinball fans eat me alive, but from what I understand, these two games represent the best that console pinball games of the early 90s had to offer.
  • - ***Aoi Blink***. It's been a while since I've played this one, but I remember it as a simplistic yet serviceable platformer for the era - which I could say about a lot of TurboGrafx platformers, come to think of it.
  • - ***Bazaru de Gozaru no Game de Gozaru***. In case you don't already know this from the recent fan translation, it's a puzzle game courtesy of a Game Freak hot off their success with *Pokémon*. Think of it like a character-centric version of *The Incredible Machine*, in that you give your monkey protagonist a set of instructions on how to navigate the level and see whether they work out. Hilarity will almost certainly ensue.
  • - ***Benkei Gaiden***, because what list of 80s video games would be complete without at least one based on 12th century Japan?
  • - The ***Bonk*** franchise. What more do I have to say?
  • - ***Cadash***. Again, it feels cliché to mention, but it's a decent port of the arcade game on a system known for such ports.
  • - ***Dungeon Explorer***. It's been many years since I've played this, so I honestly don't remember too much about this one other than it being alright.
  • - ***Fausseté Amour***. Between the anime girl in fantasy armor, the high resolution CGs, and the middling action gameplay, this game *screams* "I was watching OVAs on VHS back in the day."
  • - ***Gekisha Boy***. I don't have any personal experience with this one, but I've heard that it's an interesting game, and considering the "shooter/adventure game hybrid grafted onto a photography motif" experience, I see no reason to doubt that reputation. Also got [a PS2 sequel, complete with canceled English localization](!
  • - ***Genji Tsuushin Agedama***. Honestly, including this one kind of feels like cheating, but whatever. I'm interested in the contrast between *Gekisha Boy* above this and a game as conventional (albeit well developed) as this.
  • - ***Gomola Speed***. If you're going to play any game on this list, play this one. I know at least two people (probably more) have already recommended this game. You have every reason to trust them. >!If you want an actual explanation, imagine the mechanics of *Snake* reinterpreted and grafted onto *Gauntlet*. Collect orbs to extend your body, stun enemies with your shit, encircle your enemies to eat them. Trust me: it's a really rewarding game.!<
  • - ***Hani on the Road***. (Note that it's Hani, not Honey. I've seen quite a few sources erroneously list it as Honey.) What we've got here is a fairly simple, pretty arcade-y multi-track runner/platformer that's pretty good for what it is. Nice comical energy and everything. Speaking of comical energy, though...
  • - ***JJ and Jeff*/*Kato Chan & Ken Chan***. Another obligatory one, yes - I've gotta represent that celebrity game trend somehow - but never before was there a more Bubble era game than this.
  • - ***Ninja Spirit***. Yet another obligatory and conventional inclusion, but a serviceable one nonetheless.
  • - ***Rondo of Blood***. As the culmination of pre-SOTN *Castlevania* design, this one's an exceedingly obvious pick. I'm still including it; just thought I should be upfront about it.
  • - ***Silent Debuggers***. Finally, we're back to trends that are meaningful more to me than to other people. This time, I'm representing the proto-FPS trend that was going on in Japan around this time: games where you were shooting enemies, but in a strictly grid-based system reminiscent of contemporary dungeon crawlers (thus evincing the genre's oft looked over dungeon crawling roots). Anyway, this one's got more of a sci-fi horror motif going, if I remember correctly. It's probably not the best game of its kind, but it gets the job done.
  • - ***Somer Assault***. This one's broadly similar to *Gomola Speed*, in that it grafts interesting movement mechanics onto an otherwise conventional genre (in this case, maze games...kind of?) and completely transforms it in the process. Unlike *Gomola Speed*, though, I don't think this one gets talked about as much in retro game circles.
  • - ***Time Cruise***. Is there a reason people don't talk about this one as much as *Devil's Crush*? Is it too abstract for the pinball crowd? Cowards; the whole lot of you!
  • - ***Wonder Momo***. Ever wonder what an explicitly theatrical beat-em-up would look like? *Wonder Momo*'s here, not only to answer that question, but to polarize retro game circles in doing so!
  • - ***Youkai Douchuuuki***. Hey, I've gotta fit those arcade conversions in somehow, and I'll be damned if **Son Son II** beats out this far more interesting representation of Buddhist ethics in video game form!
  • Hope I‘m not derailing the (great) game conversation so far but thought I could ask a quick question as I’m in the market for my first PC Engine. Does anyone have any recommendations for what I'll need besides the original hardware (will be hooking it up to a Retrotink 5x)? I see some devices/mods that allow you to output RGB, but wondering which is the best at present (and possibly cost-friendly).


    Yo, Bro isn‘t a good game, but I thought it was a good time. It’s got Beach Boys soundtrack and this crazy box art.

    It's well worth 25 minutes on your emulator.

    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    @“baktegon”#p54729 Somehow not the only Beach Boys-themed game for the TurboGrafx.

    @“Sredna14”#p54720 Really depends on what formats you plan on playing.

    [This is the hefty flash cart solution]( This can plug in through the expansion port. It supports HuCard roms as well as CD rips through FPGA. It even does Arcade card stuff. It outputs HDMI and RGB out of the box.

    If you want to play physical CDs, you'll need to get RGB support modded in. Duos don't have the expansion port.

    HuCard only, you can get away with this [GrafxBooster](


    Same developer!

    I‘ve played one new PC Engine or Genesis game every weekend during this whole pandemic so I am ready for this question. I’ve looked especially for multiplayer experiences, but in general I've tried anything and found many of the more well known games to be overrated and some completely obscure ones to be a blast. If you tried and failed to enjoy Legendary Axe or Keith Courage and thought the whole system is garbage, I am here to say look again at some of these.

    **Puzzle Boy** (1-player campaign, 2-player rush mode). This game is addictive as heck, give it a try, I couldn't put it down until I finished it but beware there are two bugged stages near the end and one doesn't even have a solution so you literally have to enter a password for the following stage and just bypass it.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Gekisha Boy (Photo Boy)** I feel like this one has had a second life over the last few years, with various people recommending it to me and I saw it on an episode of Game Center CX. It's a game you should play once, because it is goofy and silly and you can experience more of the same on the PS2 if you want to look for the sequel. Japanese skills not required, if you understand the premise.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Gain Ground SX** Sorry I don't have the art for the NEC version of this but this is the definitive version of this game _except_ it is single player only. I still prefer it to any other version including the arcade one that was recently re-released on modern systems.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Splash Lake** (2-player co-op) You and a friend are two swans (?) that have to hop around an iceberg before it falls into the water while you are chased by various enemies. It's puzzle action, it is frantic and you will have a good time.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Devil's Crush** It's heavy metal pinball, and it's one of the best fantasy video pinball table games of, I dunno, all time. Alien Crush did not age as well, but this still rules. This cover art does not, it is awful.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Jackie Chan's Action Kung-Fu** More fun than you'd expect based on a screenshot. It's just a very competently done light-hearted platformer that represents its era really well, and just hits all the beats. It's above average, and a bit better than other versions of this game on competing platforms.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Military Madness** (Nectaris). If you're familiar with Advance Wars, it's like that. Like a table-top turn-based strategy combat game. It ramps up to some tough missions that require actual tactics and it's a fun mental challenge.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Ninja Spirit** It's wild how good and under-talked-about this game is. If it had a memorable name like Shinobi maybe we would still be talking about it today. If the NES had Ninja Gaiden, Genesis had Shinobi, then PCE had Ninja Spirit.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **The Manhole** If you've heard of a little indie game called Myst, well, this is what really started it all. Sunsoft approached those same devs and gave them $100k to make a storybook video game where you just followed doors to see where they would go. It's a little piece of history, it's weird and interesting. You should play it. Tell me that walrus isn't grooming those kids.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Bloody Wolf** If I had to explain to a young person today what fun video games were like in 1990, this would be one of my exhibits. Just one man with a big knife and a bandana who is definitely not Arnold Stallone against an army of soldiers, a rushing soundtrack and a rollicking time.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Last Alert (Red Alert)** Anyway like I said I have this nostalgia spot for top-down Vietnam War commando video games, and this one adds a ridiculous plot and some hilariously bad voice acting in the dub. It's Bloody Wolf with an extra helping of cheese and I loved it. War games today take themselves too seriously, they don't make them like this anymore.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Buster Bros.** (2 player co-op) There are many other versions of this game, but this is as good as any and it's the most fun with a friend. You launch a harpoon upward to bust colorful balls into smaller balls until they all pop.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Splatterhouse** This is like a 1978 slasher film in that it is very pared down, very straightforward. Walk to the right and whack things. It's unfairly difficult and the jumping is not great but, the bosses and the music and mood are all done well, that's why it still gets recommended. Part 2 lost the magic, but this one has it.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Chew Man Fu / Be-Ball** (2-player co-op) This is another frantic co-op single-screen puzzle game, like Splash Lake, but this time you're two girls pushing balls onto buttons. It has far too many stages but it's fun for at least the first uh, fifty of them.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Dungeon Explorer II** (up to five player co-op!) Despite its name, this is a top-down Zelda-style action RPG. While I love turn-based JRPGs, I don't really want to go back and play many of the old ones at this point. On the other hand, Dungeon Explorer II is closer to Gauntlet with its constant action. It's like if Gauntlet IV had a plot and a CD soundtrack. Definitely play this if you have a few friends.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Lords of Thunder** It's a heavy metal shooter, on a system with a lot of shooters, and this is still the top one I would recommend. A showcase for redbook CD audio in a 16-bit game.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Super Star Soldier** Another shooter I would still play today. It has that drum machine, that butter smooth action. Tons of sprites on the screen. Difficult, but without being that baroque masochist experience that the genre later became.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Momotarou Katsugeki** There's a sort of blue-sky period-piece super-Asian platformer genre from the 16-bit era and this is a great one of those, I'd say it's like a cousin to Goemon. It's actually a spinoff game from the Momotarou Densetsu RPG series. If [this music makes you happy](, you should play it.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    **Son Son II** Same points as Momotarou above, but this is Capcom's take on whatever you call this genre. It's a marshmallow pastel Journey to the West pastiche that represents the optimism and lightheartedness of its time.
    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    For years I bounced off HU Card games. They often felt like the least of what I like about NES games. But playing CD games via the Mister last year I found some real bright spots.

    **Gate of Thunder** is one of the best shoot 'em ups I have ever played. Learnable, a thrill ride, and great music

    **Asuka 120%** is a fast and frantic 2 button fighter, its not much to look at, but in the hands it is super snappy

    **Strider** An interesting port of the game, not arcade accurate, but the remixed music and flow helped the game finally click for me

    **Bloody Wolf** Hu Card, but feels like the best NES games. Basically the PCEs version of Contra. Only held back by being single player. Video game the video game.

    @“MDS-02”#632 How do you feel about playing text-heavy games in Japanese? There are a lot of cool RPGs and adventure games to be recommended on the hardware, obviously, but very few translation patches sadly. My understanding is you live in Japan so it might not be a problem?

    I already shared these meager 514 minutes of film on a different topic a few weeks ago but the video below is an impressively dedicated overview of _ALL_ shoot’em ups released on the PC Engine. I do not necessarily agree with the finer details of which game belongs in the absolute top tier but, broadly speaking, all the good-to-great shooting games of the PC Engine are properly highlighted and should be given a go [size=9](so it’s also a good reference for @"whatsarobot"#243 ’s recent question in the STG thread)[/size] and more importantly this video should help you figure out some weird and interesting PC Engine titles that you might want to try out even if they are not shining beacons of Game Design Enlightenment.

    @“chazumaru”#p55085 Yeah I‘m willing to give some more Japanese things a crack - the difficulty is that while I’m in the mode of “downloaded ROMs in a folder,” the threshold for moving on to the next thing when faced with friction (e.g. me not being able to parse a kanji and it being too low res for me to figure out the strokes to look it up), is unfortunately lowered.

    Thank you everyone who has contributed to this thread (even though I know it's somewhat a well-trodden topic for many). I went through all the posts and last night made a ['shopping' list]( (I shoulda also checked which were already in the set provided by @"JoJoestar"#p54617, but it was pretty quick to find them anyways). Spent a good three hours poking around. Some selected highlights.

    **Download** - I haven't gotten 2 yet, but boy does this tickle my mind. A nice long intro sequence and imagination-inspiring visuals with pretty alright gameplay! When I think about this game in the lens of "PCE is kinda like an NES2," I just get further stoked. Thanks @"seasons"#p54644, and I feel like some other people (maybe in other threads).

    **Yo, Bro** - @"baktegon"#p54729 's description is correct. I can imagine the condensed experience of the 4 different kids for whom this game was "the one game to play that we have" at some period in history. The openness and lack of direction is quite something.

    **Puzzle Boy** - Quite a nice recommendation @"tanuki"#p54936 . Playing the two player scramble mode with my girlfriend last night involved lots of laughter as we felt things were impossible at different points (and at least one time we are pretty sure it was). Music hovers just above the 'do I enjoy this jingle or am I actually furious' threshold, and I like the characters. Seems like we also managed to bug out one of the spinners at one point where it changed from a T to an L, and the "fast hurl" thing that can happen when you go through a flipper is a bit mechanically mysterious. A big heap of stages makes it nice.

    **Splash Lake** - Also @"tanuki"#p54936; what a concept! We were also laughing abundantly as we struggled initially to achieve what we intended at all. Definitely one to come back to.

    **Blood Wolf** - Only got a few screens in so far, but man this game sure is for cool tough guys. I feel pretty cool and tough. Stellar dialogue. Thanks @"robinhoodie"#p54961, @"copySave"#p54638, and @"tanuki"#p54936. I need to try Red Alert still.

    **Dragon's Curse** - I had always heard and seen stuff about Wonder Boy games (largely through the youtube channel GameSack), but they never appealed to me, so it was good to play it not having that initial association. The stage design and signposting is just enough to get me into the kind of mindset that made me glad to pound walls in WarioLand 2. Something about feeling like corners are worth checking in more than just a "oh there usually is a treasure chest along the dead end on the minimap." Only just got started with it, but glad to have this introduction to it. Thanks @"copySave"#p54638.

    **Wonder Momo** - Retroarch (or the core or whatever) seemed a bit displeased with it (some scrambled background stuff), but I dig it. I haven't quite figured out how to do the flying-splits kick reliably yet, and the first taste is quite pleasant. Thanks @"tokucowboy"#p54666 .

    And everyone else, thanks for humoring me and taking your time to share and for pointing me to those other threads. I've got lots to still try out, but thought I'd give at least a minor update.

    @“chazumaru”#p55085 This is a heck of a resource! Thanks!

    @“seasons”#p54644 We played Download and Human Sports Festival today, and they‘re both pretty solid. It’s unfortunate that I can't find a fan translation for Download, but then again I do get to enjoy these Game Overs.

    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    Fine Shot Golf (one of the sports for Humans) was good in 2-player, but simplified. Like I don't think there is any need to read the green when putting, you just put in a straight line. We were hitting Par pretty easily.

    Found this hidden character select too:


    At the “Fine Shot Golf” title screen, press Select, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Down, Up, Down, II, I, Run. Then, at the main menu, select the 2nd option, then “Vs Mode” and then “1P vs COM”. If done right, there should be an 8th golfer called “God Parm”

    Rondo of Blood is indeed the obvious pick, but it bears repeating: play Rondo of Blood. It‘s a truly, truly excellent game and it’s a shame it took so long to come stateside in any form. Even if you‘re not ordinarily into Castlevania, this one is such a standout for the series that it’s absolutely a must play in my book. It‘s got so much style to it and it does so many little things to build up an atmosphere that other games at the time just weren’t doing.

    I also enjoy the Bonk series quite a bit. I'm admittedly not sure why, they're not really that exceptional of platformers or anything. They're weird though and thoroughly worth checking out.

    The PC Engine also features Bomberman 94 (imo, one of the all time best games in that series) and a phenomenal cute-em-up called Magical Chase. Lot of crap on the console but it's a very enjoyable library to explore.

    I am going to (perhaps controversially) recommend the MiSTer if you're looking for a "real hardware" experience with the PC Engine that's in any way economical. The PC Engine is on the pricier end of consoles to get into because of the variety of hardware required to play the full library, but the FPGA implementation of it in the MiSTer is excellent. I would definitely say you should at least eyeball what the MiSTer has to offer before looking at either a Super HD System 3 Pro or a modded Turbo Duo. You get a lot more value for your money that way, at least in my book.

    @“MDS-02”#p55111 Then here are three great games featured in the PC Engine Mini that are worth buying the miniconsole for, or trying on whatever you are using to play the PCE right now.

    ### Snatcher

    The enhanced remake of the cyberpunk game that put Hideo Kojima’s name on the map. It has everything we would get to love and cringe about for decades to come: memorable characters, a bonkers scenario, outside-the-box ideas of how to interact with video games, tons of pop-culture references *and* already some self-referential nods to another Kojima game (the original Metal Gear came out one year earlier), a boring tunnel of an ending that tries to explain everything, amazing production value and soundtrack, some kind of Codec, male gaze and creepy sexual jokes, potty humor... The whole blueprint. Great game and an experience that has aged surprisingly well compared to other adventure games of that era. It has specifically one puzzle involving uncommon kanji but it’s actually clearly highlighted as such and fun to figure out.

    ### Tengai Makyō II

    A serious contender for debates about the greatest RPG ever made, that would be consistently cited along contemporaries such as FF6 and Chrono Trigger had it been translated at the time. I wrote about it [here]( last year. Certainly the biggest potential language barrier in this post (and thread so far).

    ### Tokimeki Memorial

    A revolutionary high school romance simulation that is worth trying if only for its massive influence on video games. I haven’t watched the video yet but Tim Rogers of Insert Credit fame released a popular [long form video essay]( about it recently so you can catch up about the game on his channel.

    It should be noted that, unlike most critical darlings of that era, all three games were very popular in Japan and sold extremely well, which means they are all rather cheap on the used game market today.

    In addition, I can recommend three Action-RPGs for which the language barrier isn’t too high...

    ### Blood Gear

    A competent mecha action game by Hudson with some short and rather linear town sequences that should not create much friction in terms of linguistic progress. The game design is solid if not spectacular but the whole package is really in tune with the hard boiled real robot series of that decade. An excellent surprise I randomly discovered when it came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console.

    ### The Legend of Xanadu

    An Action-RPG from Falcom that mix the traditional YsI&II “run & bump” formula for field exploration and the YsIII “side-scrolling slasher” formula for dungeons. It requires a bit more knowledge of Japanese but it’s a very generic heroic fantasy set-up so nothing too obscure.

    ### The Legend of Xanadu II

    Its direct follow up and one of the most beautiful games on the hardware, released in 1995. Modernizes things up a little bit in terms of game mechanics, which you may or may not prefer over the previous game’s simplicity. I cherish them both equally. It’s surprisingly hard to find decent, non-commented videos about it but here is a weirdly stretched out sample.