I’ve spent much of the fall of 2018 and winter 2018/2019 collecting for and playing three of my systems; the RCA Studio II, the Turbografx-16/Turbo CD, and the Atari Jaguar/Jaguar CD. As I prepare to plug in and play a few of my other systems in the near future, I wanted to spend a little time reflecting on what games have gotten the deep dive treatment for these systems.
RCA Studio II
This is not a system that allows for deep dives or playthroughs of its games. As the Studio II is one of the earliest and thus most primitive of the late 70s and early 80s video game systems, it was never really my goal to spend hours upon hours playing Blackjack against the computer, or seeing how quickly I could recite my multiplication tables in TV Schoolhouse II – Math Fun. The goal was to complete my collection of in box Studio II games (minus the impossibly difficult to find TV Bingo), which I did. I now own a complete Studio II console in box (two of them actually) as well as all 10 retail available cartridges. Done and done. Moving on.
Turbografx-16 / Turbo CD
The Turbografx-16 was released in a transitional period when action/adventure games often didn’t have passwords or save opportunities, outside a handful of key titles for the NES and Master System. This meant that beating many games on the TG-16 required a significant amount of both time and skill. For games that included unlimited continues, but no save feature, such as the Bonk games and Bloody Wolf, you needed to set aside a chunk of your day to play through them in one sitting. I made the mistake of trying to play through Bloody Wolf while busy doing other things so I’d pause the game whenever I needed to step away and come back to it whenever I had another free moment to soldier on (pun intended). I had made it to the last level and paused to go do something and when I came back to it about an hour later, my game had frozen up. I was so dejected that I haven’t attempted to play through Bloody Wolf since and it remains on my list of games I haven’t finished.
A number of games required a significant amount of practice and skill as well, considering that even if the game had continues, some were limited in the number they allowed (e.g. Legendary Axe). This means you must be able to extend each life as long as possible in order to ensure you had enough continues to make it all the way through, especially when you reach the tougher levels later in the game. Playing early levels over and over until you mastered them, thus allowing you to get to later levels without losing any lives, was a key to success. This process also takes significant time, just not necessarily in one sitting. Unfortunately, time isn’t a luxury I have as an adult in the same way I had as a kid.
My not so sophisticated recording of the final scene in Ys Book I & II…followed by noisy Turbo CD disc reading/grinding.
Then there were the CD games that allow you to save directly to the console. Lengthy games such as Ys Books I & II that required a comfortable chair, regular fluid intake (not only to stay hydrated but to force movement in the legs through regular walks to bathroom), and a strong acceptance to remain sedentary. This style of game playing and finishing is what modern gamers are more accustomed to but back in the late 80s, that often wasn’t the case.
With that said, these are the titles for the Turbografx-16 and Turbo CD that I employed the above techniques in order to finish or beat.
- Bonk’s Adventure – The unlimited continues aided my efforts in beating the first game in the Bonk series.
- Splatterhouse – A relatively short game but with limited continues, I have played through Splatterhouse enough times that I primarily employ the skill + continues technique to finish this horror title.
- Neutopia – One of the few password Hu-card offerings, I simply just kept at it and used a walkthrough only when I truly got stuck. Not a terribly difficult game, but does require time, especially if you’re not playing with a walkthrough to help limit the amount of backtracking and aimless wandering.
- Ys Books I & II – Like Neutopia, this CD title can be defeated relatively quickly if you use a walkthrough to keep you from wasting time on dead ends. I played the first 3/4 of the game without a walkthrough, using hand-drawn maps to keep from getting lost, but the last section of the game got so confusing that I caved. I still feel pretty good about getting as far as I did without using one, however. Bonus points for not having to enter in a lengthy password and only needing to save to one of the spots available on the Turbo CD memory.
Excellent work Rick! You’ve broken free of the terrible cursed mask and set fire to the Splatterhouse mansion. As for your girlfriend Jennifer….I think it’s singles night next week at the corner bar.
A few games that I’d like to play through next time I dig the console out of storage and give it a go are:
- Bloody Wolf – I think enough time will have passed from my previous failure that I’d like to try to finish it again.
- Bonk’s Revenge – I enjoyed the first one so much that it makes sense for me to try and finish the second.
- Ys Book III – Ys Book I & II really drew me in with its story and music that I’m sure I’ll have a great time playing through the next in the series, even if it took a different gameplay approach.
- Ninja Spirit – A super fun action adventure game that I’d love to spend more time practicing on to see if I can become good enough to finish.
Atari Jaguar / Jaguar CD
The Jaguar was released a few years later than the Turbografx-16, and Atari used cartridges with EEPROMs inside, allowing a number of games to save directly to the carts. Obviously, not all games could save progress, and instead would only save high scores and maybe some game settings, but other games had this ability. Additionally, Jaguar CD game progress could be saved to a memory cart, similar to what was offered for the Sega CD and Sega Saturn consoles.
This meant that, like the Turbografx-16, some Jaguar games require a complete playthrough to be accomplished all in one sitting, while others could be played through at your own convenience. By far the deepest game I own for the Jaguar, and probably the deepest game on the Jaguar period, is Alien vs. Predator. I spent a good chunk of this winter and the Christmas holiday playing through the marine campaign and have recently started working on the alien campaign, with the predator campaign to follow. AvP can be an extremely time consuming title, so I’ve spent little time playing anything else but when I finally get a chance, I’d like to dive into Wolfenstein 3D, Iron Soldier and Zool 2 next.
I missed the Wolfenstein 3D craze when the game was brad new and still innovative but the level of enjoyment I’ve received through my AvP experience has led me to believe I’ll have an equally great time with this early 90s 3D FPS. The other two games on my “next to play” list are quite different in style from each other so I thought it would be good to add them both. Iron Solider is a 3D, polygon filled mech-mission game that is innovative and fun to play once you get a hang of the controls. Zool 2 harkens back to the more colorful 2D side scrollers such as Sonic the Hedgehog, so it gets nostalgia marks from me. Zool 2 is pretty difficult, however, and the controls are a bit slippery at times but I think with some practice, I can get pretty far. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it all the way through this one but considering there are no progress saves, I’m not going to hold my breath.