In our latest feature we will be taking a retrospective look back at some of The Engines best years and what they had to offer.
1991 was a good time to be a PC Engine owner especially if you were a shooter fan. Many classic games were released this year on both HuCARD and CD-Rom with the end of the year seeing a few hardware upgrades in the form of the Super Rom² attachment and LT peripheral.
Q1 HIIGHLIGHTS: JANUARY – MARCH
The first quarter of the year started off strongly with a number of great titles. Shmup fans were well served with the release of cult classic OverRide in January followed by the fantastic Dead Moon the month after. February also saw a welcome addition to the Supergrafx library with what would turn out to be the penultimate release on the platform, Aldynes. To round off the quarter two more excellent shooters hit the shelves, NEC Avenue’s CD-rom sequel Download 2 and Naxat Soft’s well received remix of the Capcom arcade hit 1943 Kai.
As well as some great shooters the first quarter gave us a handful of action RPG’s including a home port of Cadash, the fan favourite Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, and the first game in the Exile series.
Other highlights worth a mention were Parasol Stars, Legend of Hero Tonma, Jackie Chan’s Action Kung-Fu and Silent Debuggers.
Q2 HIIGHLIGHTS: APRIL – JUNE
After a promising start to the year the second quarter hit a bit of a lull, kicking things off in April was a port of Toaplan’s arcade shooter Hellfire, published under the slightly different name of Hellfire S. Another conversion to be released that month was Adventure Island, ported from Sega’s popular platformer Wonder Boy III, it too received a name change for the system. Wrapping up the rather quiet month was the solid platformer, Kaizou Chōjin Shubibinman 2.
With May providing nothing of real quality fans had to wait until June 7th to get their hands on Rayxanber II. The insanely difficult shooter was followed up by the cute puzzle game Splash Lake some 21 days later bringing the month to a somber end in terms of software releases. However, sandwiched in-between the two releases was the launch of the Core Grafx II console, retailing for the cheaper price of ¥19,800 it went on to sell 7.5 million total units.
As well as some awesome games we also got some amazing cover art too, here are a selection of our favourites from the year:
Q3 HIGHLIGHTS: JULY – SEPTEMBER
With the Summer came the annual Hudson Soft caravan and Final Soldier was released on July 5th to prepare fans for the tournament. A number of other great shooters also graced the Engine during this period with Seirei Senshi Spriggan coming out a week later and Hanataa ka daka!? the following month. The last shmup of the quarter and final game for the ill fated Supergrafx was 1941: Counter Attack.
Platforming fans were also treated to some serious titles during this period. Firstly July saw the return of our lovable mascot Bonk in PC Genjin 2 and secondly August delivered a new exclusive Valis game for the system, Valis IV.
Launching the month after was NEC’s next piece of hardware, the PC Engine Duo. The console was the first to feature an integrated CD Rom² drive and offered complete compatibility with all CD and HuCARD games of the time. On the software front September ended strongly with the cute and colourful platformer Dragon Egg! and the action adventure game Neutopia II, both released in the same week.
A SPORTING CHANCE!
Despite all the quality releases, 1991 was the year of the Sports game. With no less than six titles making PC Gekkan’s top ten games of the year as voted for by fans.
Racing games proved quite popular with F1 Circus ’91 taking top spot and the previous years edition coming in fourth, the drag-race style action game Zero 4 Champ finished in last place. It’s no surprise that Baseball also featured on the list with Pro Yakyuu World Stadium ’91 and Power League IV ranking second and seventh respectively. More strangely was the inclusion of Namcot’s World Jockey in eighth place, we are still scratching our heads over that one!
Q4 HIGHLIGHTS: OCTOBER – DECEMBER
In the run up to Christmas there was once again a big emphasis on shooters with all major releases coming from the genre. The only other game of note outside of this was the RPG Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes as it was the first game to be released on the new Super CD-Rom media. Along with the game a new Super System Card was also released which added the extra RAM needed to play such games.
Konami launched their first titles for the system during this quarter and began what would become a steady stream of quality releases. The first of which came in October and was a port of the companies infamous Gradius. Wasting no time they quickly followed it up with another port, releasing the exceptional Salamander in early December.
Looking back now November was a huge month, offering us another three classic HuCARD shooters with Magical Chase, Raiden, and Coryoon all coming out within a week of each other.
Early December saw the last hardware release of the year with the Super CD Rom² and PC Engine LT both launching on December 13th, just in time for Christmas. The Super CD ROM² featured an updated BIOS and increased data storage from 64 KiB to 256 KiB. The attachment was compatible with the original PC Engine, Core Grafx (Core Grafx II), and Supergrafx consoles. The LT was a laptop version of the PC Engine featuring an integrated joypad and hinged LCD screen, it could also be paired to a CD Rom² or Super CD Rom² unit allowing it to play CD games too.
The year climaxed with a CD based re-issue of Irem’s seminal R-Type, simply named: R-Type Complete followed up by Namcot’s fantasy themed shooter Dragon Saber.