the pc-engine is god’s favorite console: part 4, anniversary edition

Today is the 34th anniversary of God’s favorite video game system, the PC-Engine. Seeing as how I’m kinda sorta known for my love of the console, I figured I’d do a write-up about it.

I should start this out with a confession: I’ve never owned an actual PC-Engine. Hell, I don’t even have a PC-Engine Mini. Nope, my entire experience of playing games on the system has been through emulation. I started with the shitty emulators with bad sound, before getting hooked up with a cracked version of Magic Engine. I still have that version around here; it was on my previous laptop, in fact. It’s also the only emulator that can run Wonder Momo without graphical issues, something that modern ones cannot do. It may be sacrilegious to some, but all I’ve ever known is pirating these old games and playing them with cheap USB pads, before making the switch to a six-button Sega Saturn controller when I was around 19 years old. As such, I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on a CD-ROM add-on so much as installing DAEMON Tools and mounting ISO images. Someday, I would like to actually own one of these things, but they are hard to find, or at least hard to find at a price that I don’t have to knock over a bank to afford.

All that being said, the PC-Engine is still a wonderful gaming console, even if my experience with it is only at a software level. Over here in The States, we regard the system as an absolute failure. Sitting down, thinking about the list of games that stayed in Japan, and I can’t help but liken the PC-Engine to the Saturn. Both were awesome systems that did really well in Japan, and got absolutely cut off at the knees by bad management everywhere else. While we did end up getting stuff like an exceptional port of R-Type, we got Bomberman, we got Blazing Lasers, we got Valis somehow. But what didn’t we get? Gradius, for one. We didn’t get those great ports of Gradius 1 or 2. Fire Pro Wrestling was bafflingly left in Japan up until the release of the Game Boy Advance. A whole host of RPGs were left untouched, giving the PC-Engine a reputation of only being a home for shooters and high-octane action games. Not that that’s a bad thing, but having a bit of variety is good. Just because the genre wasn’t doing Final Fantasy VII numbers in the early 90s doesn’t mean that Far East of Eden or Jaseiken Necromancer couldn’t have moved some units.

Worst of all, there were two very specific games that didn’t come out over here that 100% should have. Games that I think would have at least kept the PC-Engine as a contender, if not outright successful for at least a little while longer. I’m talking about a surprisingly great port of Street Fighter II Champion Edition.

And I’m also talking about the biggest fuck-up of all: not bringing over Akumajou Dracula Chi no Rondo.

This is another one of those times where I get frustrated at the continued ineptitude of corporate suits. Did we need a stellar port of the hottest fighting game of the era? No, we needed Yo, Bro. Did we need what is arguably the greatest Castlevania? No, we needed Darkwing fucking Duck. What about Final Soldier? The New Zealand Story? Rainbow Islands? Metal Stoker? Lode Runner? The Tower of Druaga? Linda Cubed?

No. We got none of those. Instead, we got Johnny Turbo.

You want cool games? Fuck you! Have a shitty series of anti-Sega ads that suddenly pivoted into an overly long series of gay jokes aimed at a Turbo Technologies brand manager who sounds like an absolute nightmare to work with. Great.

I know I’m being negative here. But fuck me, it’s fucked to think about what could have been. Suit mismanagement aside, the PC-Engine was an awesome system. This cute little modular box loaded with some of the greatest games of the era. Thankfully, emulation and compilations allow us to sidestep the mistakes of the past, and enjoy the PC-Engine closer to how we should have in the first place. That’s what this all about, and what it has always been about: the games.

Getting back to my teenage days in Hu-Go! and Magic Engine. In addition to slowly and blindly leeching the contents of PlanetEmu’s Mega Drive collection, I would spend so many weekends going through the PC-Engine catalogue. All those shooters. A pretty good version of Space Harrier. Getting into Fire Pro for the first time. Enjoying the uniqueness of Photograph Boy, a game that can never be re-released due to its large amounts of gross racism. Falling in love with all those Namco games. Trying, and failing, to get into The Legendary Axe and Splatterhouse (sorry). It was a great time to be discovering and experiencing new games.

Much later in life, in my 20s, I actually pretty popular on Tumblr by playing and screenshotting and giffing various PC-Engine games. The “Good Old Days” of drinking loads of iced tea, eating lots of Asian cuisine, popping a Vicodin, and binging a bunch of ROMs while Friday Night Smackdown played on my TV a couple feet away, after spending the rest of the week drinking myself stupid every night at a whole host of terrible local concerts. It was a fun time, but I don’t necessarily miss it. That little white box seems to be a constant at various points of my life.

There’s something I’ve been dancing around for the last 800 words. I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning as a teen and decide to start playing the PC-Engine and its games. Rather, I had been introduced to it through a, I would say, relatively popular web site. Not a major one, but popular enough. It was one of those humor-based gaming web sites that were all the rage in the late 90s until the late-2000s. I’m taking great pains not to name the site, or the guy who ran it, for reasons that will be made clear soon enough.

When you’re about 16-17, and you come across something where the quality of writing is far beyond the usual “Menace Beach on NES is gay faggy shit for retards” fare, that kind of sticks with you. I read and reread and reread again every gaming article. When he put up his original fiction, I loved that shit too, because it was once again something that I wasn’t used to seeing at that age. The way that this guy would tell a story, or make you laugh, or would find a way to appeal to your nostalgia as he tore into things made from a distinct lack of effort. I don’t want to say that I idolized the guy, but I would be lying if I said that he wasn’t influential in the way I’ve written over the last fifteen years. That the way I consumed media hadn’t been influenced. The way that I appreciated and created art hadn’t been influenced. I very distinctly remember him messaging me on AIM back in 2007 to tell me how much he enjoyed something I wrote, which stuck with me for a long time.

Then the site vanished, along with the owner. Eventually, the mirror hosting his archives was deleted, too. Every so often, I would wonder what exactly the fuck happened. I wasn’t fretting over it every day like it was a missing person, but late at night, when I was bored and looking for something to do, I would think about that.

Anyways, I found out last year that the reason why he’s gone and any trace of his presence has been scrubbed from the internet is because he turned out to be an abusive piece of shit. Been over a year now, and I still haven’t truly gotten over that. I get that this is a tangential aside for a post about a retro video game system, but I feel like it’s important to bring up when talking about my memories and my experience with it. My introduction to something that, while it hasn’t been the most important thing in my life, is still something I really enjoy, was very nearly tainted. A console that I most associate with my beginnings as a writer and artist could have been fucking ruined forever by the delivery of some bad news. Cringe though it may sound, all these PC-Engine posts (among a few other write ups) I’ve made over the last year have been done as a way of reclaiming games and my nostalgia for my own peace of mind.

This long, rambling screed of bull shit that got very personal is my tribute to the PC-Engine. Any artist worth their salt (and I count game developers as artists), even if its only done secretly and quietly, loves to hear that their work has impacted someone in a positive way. I can’t imagine that any of the people who worked their asses off on these great games thought that in about 10-15 years, some lonely white kid half a world away was going to feel things¬†and somehow grow as a person while playing them. But it fucking happened: I Felt Things. And while recently, my feelings that I feel are a bit complicated, at the end of the day, the PC-Engine is still God’s Favorite Console.

Star Breaker- Embracing A Shining Dream

10/23/2021

I’ve been away from home for the last two weeks for work reasons. I have another half a week to go. At this point, I’m clawing at the walls and losing my mind. While I have consumed a lot of media to try and pass the time, and getting pissed that time isn’t going fast enough, my brain is so fucking drained that honestly, I have no fucking clue what to write this week. But I’m still dedicated to making my one post per week.

posting random images because i can

I am dying to get back home. You see, because at least when I’m cooped up in my house due to a number of different reasons, mostly a shitty immune system and a never ending plague outside, I have all my stuff. My high-end PC, my art making tools, my game collection, my movie collection, an external hard drive with 15 years worth of old memories and programs, comfortable furniture that doesn’t make my back hurt, and so on. I won’t be bored and sore. I can sleep, cook, and straight up live. Here, all I have is a decent at best laptop and an inability to sit still without needing to get up and take a pain reliever. It sucks.

Watching some an*mes and playing the same games I’ve written about before is only fun for so long. This is one of those times where I’m really missing the days of the old internet. The days when you could lose hours reading other people’s web sites, or even find a forum full of discussion. But because everything is fucking Twitter and Wikia, that shit stops being fun real quick. Like, I don’t want to read Twitter! Fuck Twitter! Fuck the endless discourse and “hot takes” designed for clicks and the intentionally designed doomscrolling. Why yes, I would like to read about some washed-up celebrity talking shit about minorities! I would like to also read the thoughts of that celebrities idiot fans. Let me hear about some con artist fuckhead who nearly hurt a bunch of my friends doing really well in life! Awesome! Cool! How about a fucking personal web page by someone who really wanted to talk about a TV show they liked?

Anyways. I’m bored. I’m grumpy. My back hurts. I don’t really feel like doing any reviews or essays right now. Not sure when I went into that sort of mode, when this was meant to be me just posting shit for the sake of it to begin with. But nothing interesting is happening other than me being miserable, so you know, hey. Well, see you. Here’s a screenshot of a gay porno from like 2013 that I thought was really funny, because it involved a femboy named Kevin Nash.

don’t turn your back on the wolfpack

post-famicom famicom

Controversial statement: the Nintendo Famicom was a really good system. It had a lot of great games, and it really did a fantastic job of elevating the medium. All that being said, fuck the corporate suits, and their draconian bull shit that gave a lot of developers headaches, as well as depriving us of a potential early arms race between them and Sega during the Master System days.

But I’m not here to wax nostalgic about the old days. Rather, I’m here to talk about some games that came out decades after Nintendo had stopped supporting the system. There’s some weird thing that appeals to me about developers continuing to release games on consoles long abandoned; like the PC-Engine still getting games all the way up until 1999. It’s like the gaming equivalent of breaking curfew, only significantly less lame than I’m making it sound. I’ll be taking a look at some of these games here.

Pac-Man Championship Edition

This is exactly what you think it is: Pac-Man Championship Edition, but on a Nintendo. It was included as part of the Namco Museum Archive Volume 1 for Switch and PC. Cool thing is, the game itself is a ROM, and said ROM has been extracted and dumped onto the internet. So, this is not a game made to look like an NES game, but a full-fledged game that can be played both in emulators and on original hardware.

Pac-Man CE pretty much plays exactly as the original XBox 360 game: you run around, picking up dots and avoiding ghosts, getting as many points as you can before five minutes has passed. A simple concept that is also the most addicting fucking thing in the world. You don’t do a couple playthroughs of this. No, you fucking spend like an hour, trying to set a new high score until your eyes bleed. It’s a miracle I was able to put the game down long enough to write this post. I love it. Download that shit and watch your own productivity go to waste.

Despite the official branding and publication, Namco themselves have admitted that this is actually an enhanced and fixed version of a fan-made project. They do claim that they compensated the original creator for their work. Hopefully with money. Shout out to Coke774.

Touhou Rououmu

Touhou Rououmu is an 8-bit demake of Touhou 7- Perfect Cherry Blossom. For the zero of you out there wondering, Touhou 7 is my favorite entry in the series. As such, I’m loving this game, too.

Now, the idea of a bullet-hell STG on an 8-bit system sounds like an absolute nightmare. You would assume that having that many objects on screen would bring the system to its knees. If it isn’t the massive slowdown that would kill it, it would have to be the sprite flicker that makes things invisible on-screen, right?

Well, no. I’m not sure what technical magic (or Spell Card) was applied to this, but the usual NES technical problems are nowhere to be found here. Like, the game works! It runs pretty well, or at least as well as it can on the Famicom. Obviously, it won’t be as smooth as its original PC incarnation, but this port is perfectly fine.

It’s honestly pretty amazing how much heavy lifting this port does in bringing Touhou 7 to the Famicom. Far as I can tell, every feature is included: grazing, Supernatural Borders, all three playable characters and their alternate weapon set-ups, pre-fight dialogue with the bosses, every level, all of it. Looks fantastic, music is covered very well, plays almost as great as the original. It’s really cool.

I do have some complaints to make, though. Given that this is still an unfinished work in progress, I’m sure these will be fixed in upcoming updates. One, not being able to see your character’s hitbox while doing a Focus Shot. This is a problem for scrubs like me who still struggle to 1cc these games on Normal difficulty. Two, the first three levels are presented out of order. Not a serious problem there so much as a nitpick. Finally, I could not defeat the final boss. I ran into a bug where I deathbombed (for you non-Touhouheads, this is when you use a screen-clearing bomb right as you are about to be killed), only to respawn as an endless explosion that drained the boss’ health, but didn’t actually move on past the fight. Did get some cool glitched graphics, at least.

But hey, it’s still Touhou. It’s fun, cute as fuck, and twice as hard.

Mahou Shoujo Serena

Hachi machi, things are getting a little spicy here. So, confession time here: I actually bought a copy of this game a couple years back for 300 yen. I was intrigued by the idea of a horny Famicom game. Well, a deviant one, anyway; Bubble Bath Babes cornered the “boring, badly drawn titties” market long ago.

The thing about Mahou Shoujo Serena is that there is a lot of text. Most of this game is in fact a whole lot of text. Unfortunately, my Japanese literacy is still “fuck-all,” so all of this is lost on me.

The rest of the game is me, as this guy in the black hat, running from the witch shooting magic. One hit and it’s back to the title screen. After a few minutes of endless running, it’s back to more plot.

Except that this plot is a lot sexier.

Between running segments, you come back to this tied up girl, who I am assuming I’m whipping every so often. I’m assuming this because parts of her clothes rip off with red marks underneath them. Repeat this three times, then the game ends.

I…look, I know that there’s a lot of context that I’m missing here due to the language barrier. You’re probably thinking, “Ramona, did you seriously spend 300 yen on bondage porn that you can’t even read?” Yes, I did. This is because I make wise decisions.

Joking aside, I don’t hate this. I mean, if you’re already going behind Nintendo’s back and making unlicensed games, you might as well make ones that defy their family-friendly image, too. Quick disclaimer here: because of this language barrier, I have to only assume (and pray) that the BDSM stuff is on the up-and-up, and I hope that I didn’t just spend ten minutes tying up a 3000-year old demon or whatever.

Neo Heiankyo Alien

When I did my big Heiankyo Alien piece last year, I forgot to include this one. As America’s #1 Heiankyo Alien Expert, it’s time to make up for that.

I would say that this game is more in line with the exemplary Game Boy Heiankyo Alien. You run around Japan, digging holes and burying aliens alive in them. This time, though, you’re a spaceman, rather than a cop. That’s always a plus. The game is great, but there’s not much here for me to say that I didn’t already write a year ago.

Or stream a year ago:

What I can talk about, is all this sick music that’s in here. A whole bunch of composers known for a lot of popular games took part in this project. What’s great about this game being well past the peak of the Famicom is that developers know how that system works inside and out; the music is chunky and goes hard. Like, goddamn guys, I’m only trapping aliens here!

While I don’t have much to add, as I’ve already talked about Heiankyo Alien (twice), the game still rules. I mean, it’s Heiankyo Alien. If you don’t love Heiankyo Alien: fuck you. It’s a short, but still very fun and captivating game while it lasts.

and hey, it has the original arcade game on here, too.

Return to Animal Crossing

My brain has been a bit fucked lately. I will not be going too far into it, as I’m not in the mood for KF posters or Kotaku writers (but I repeat myself) enjoying my issues. Just lots of anxiety for no reason, which has been interfering with my ability to work on cool stuff. Current events have not helped. Because of this, I’ve had to do things and try to calm myself down. Isolate myself in a low-stress environment, where I can relax and recharge my mental batteries as best I can.

One of the things I’ve been doing has been getting really into redecorating things on my Animal Crossing island. Now, I’m probably the only person on Earth still playing the game regularly; at worst, loading it up once a week. But lately, I’ve felt like changing things up in good old Jonestown. As it was, the island didn’t really have a lot of cool things to show off, and had more or less been completely overrun by flowers. On top of that, my house felt like a slapdash collection of items, and not a real home. I wanted to fix this.

I started in the basement. The Mancave. Seeing as the top and bottom floors are the biggest in the house, the plan was to turn this room into a chill lounge for all the party stuff. Enjoying some arcade games (I do plan on adding at least more fighting game cabinet), some Foosball, some Pool, or even some Pocket Racing. I will have to add a wall-mounted light so the race track is more visible.

Moving up one floor to the living room. Much more subdued than the brightly-colored vomit downstairs. The centerpiece here are two Luchadors and a model train station, because Lucha-Libre and trains rule. Got a record collection, two Switches, a big ass TV as decoration, and the cover of every Black Dresses album hanging on the wall. Need to either buy or find more DIY recipes for furniture that fits the “living room” aesthetic a little more, though.

The left wing is my Weaboo room. Shout out to Japan.

The right wing is still a mess (lol). Is it a bathroom? Is it the “Space” room? Why is there a bed chilling out by the door? This one needs a thorough redesign.

The back room is a faux-diner. I have a red and black checkerboard pattern for the floor because I don’t have a black and white one. But that’s not a big deal, since it matches the red furniture and the pink wall better, anyway. Must remember to get a second jukebox to complete the look.

The upstairs bedroom is this spacious area full of gay hearts. I will have to rearrange the couches and chairs to make more floorplan sense. Otherwise, I think this one is all set.

So that’s the house. I have also been hard at work making the outside look cool, too.

thought i would show my house exterior here, too

I’ve had a wrestling ring set up on the beach for some time now, because of course I would. Today, I decided to customize and add to that ring a little bit more.

Got a camera, a time keepers bell, and some palm tree lamps for when it gets dark. And yes, I did recreate the old WCW Bash at the Beach logo by hand. I will have to get some more steel chairs for the audience; I’m aping the style of mid to late-90s WCW, not 2001 WCW.

Moving on, I’ve spruced up the area outside the two shops in town. Aside from putting in some stone paths, I added a big fountain in the middle, and a big stone table with four stone stools for hanging around. I have some street lights coming in the mail, so I will be brightening up this area. I’ll be brightening up areas around town, as well, but definitely want to light this up more.

At the top of the island is a small outdoor cafe area. You’re probably thinking: why did I make this, when The Roost is being added to the game in November? Because shut up bitch, that’s why. Currently trying to grow some purple Hyacinths, so that they can be used to craft Hyacinth lamps, and serve as both decoration and a light source on all the tables. That would be cool.

Now, we’re going to travel back in time, to last night. Right next to this cafe is this makeshift campsite/stargazing spot. The plan is to add more space-themed items. Only problem is that I mostly play this game during the day, so I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities to get items from shooting stars. I’ll have to fix that pretty soon. Should also consider connecting these two spots with some paths.

That’s all I have to show for now. Redesigning Jonestown is still very much a work in progress. I’d like to make another post once I have more to show off. In the meantime, if you would like to visit, I did upload this town to the Dream Directory. Feel free to take a look.