For $6.95 USD (plus $2.00 postage), you could purchase a reproduction of Alan Hunter's artwork that graced the cover of this issue. This would be the first, and last, time such an offer was made. I would love to see one of these posters today, but I fear that few of them survived over the years:
EXHIBIT A: Alan Hunter's painting for TurboPlay #4. EXHIBIT B: Original PCE Japanese cover for Super Star Soldier.
Mr. Hunter based his painting on the Japanese cover art for Super Star Soldier (1990, HuCARD). The original Japanese artwork featured a wireframe rendition of "Neo Caesar", the spacecraft one pilots throughout the game. Mr. Hunter took this wireframe as a skeleton and then proceeded to paint a metallic "skin" upon it. As was often the case, however, Mr. Hunter took additional liberties with the subject matter and added a pilot—"Starbuck"—to his composition as well. While unorthodox (the North American manual refers to the pilot by name only), Starbuck's presence in the painting helps soften and humanize an otherwise sterile scene of a lifeless ship adrift in deep, black space. Ultimately, I think Starbuck makes the composition much more interesting and compelling, although purists might decry Hunter's tampering with the subject matter.
EXHIBIT A: North American TG-16 cover for Super Star Soldier.
EXHIBIT B: Limited Edition TurboPlay poster.
If only Alan Hunter's talents had been used in the official package art and instructional manual for the North American release of Super Star Soldier. Instead, we were left with the goofier artwork above.
Table of Contents for TurboPlay #4▲
- 01 Cover: Super Star Soldier (1990, HuCARD). Artist: Alan Hunter (credited).
- A review of Super Star Soldier is in this issue, as well as a strategy guide for obtaining a high-score in the 2-minute and 5-minute Caravan modes.
- 02 Contest: Win a TurboExpress!
- "Here is your chance to win a free TurboExpress portable TG-16 game system! Be sure to enter this exciting contest!"
- 03 Table of Contents for issue #4.
- "We're also planning to increase the size of TurboPlay in the near future…" - Editors' optimistic outlook.
- 04 TurboMail: Letters from our loyal readers.
- Topics include: Licensing video games to multiple platforms, TG-16 Christmas shopping list, Dragon's Lair for TG-CD?, TG-16 cleaning kit?
- 05 Closer Look: TurboChip Game Reviews. 05 06 07
- "Reviews of Super Star Soldier, Aero Blasters, Battle Royale, and Sinistron."
- 08 Advertisement: Bonk's Adventure (1990, HuCARD). 08 09
- "King Drool has kidnapped Princess Za (a most excellent-looking babe). As Bonk, the heroic young Neanderthal head-banger, you will now embark on an epic quest through five levels of monstrous foes to rescue your princess."
- 10 Games Around the World. 10 11
- "What's new in Japan: Some of these games from the Japanese TG-16 (PC-Engine) may find their way into the US and Canada soon." Games include Batman, Cadash, Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SuperGrafx), Granzort (SuperGrafx), Rabio Lepus, Rastan Saga II, Valis III, W-Ring and Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.
- 12 Strategy Guide: Tiger Road (1990, HuCARD). 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
- "Here are tips and maps to help you get through this challenging game!"
- 22 Strategy Guide: Super Star Soldier's Caravan Stages. 22 23 24 25
- "Here are tips and maps to help you get through this challenging game!"
- 26 TurboTips: Codes, Tips and Tricks. 26 27 28
- "Winning tips for Bravoman, Devil's Crush, Klax, Super Star Soldier and Veigues Tactical Gladiator.
- 28 Special Offer: Super Star Soldier Poster.
- "A high quality reproduction of the cover of TurboPlay is available as a limited edition for only $6.95! This 20" by 24" full color artwork by Alan Hunter is the same as the cover of this issue of TurboPlay. Suitable for framing, this exciting poster will look fantastic on your wall! …Make checks payable to Alan Hunter Illustrations. Posters are shipped rolled in sturdy mailing tubes. Please allow up to three weeks for delivery."
- 29 Advertisement: TurboGrafx-16, TurboExpress, TurboVision (TV Tuner). 29 30 31
- "If you can play it here, you can play it anywhere!"
- 32 Advertisement: Tricky Kick, Sinistron (1991, HuCARD).
- "Coming soon in January 1991."
BIG IN JAPAN: PC-ENGINE GAMES…▲
A new column called Games Around the World debuts in this issue, penned by Victor Ireland (of Working Designs fame). Initially, Mr. Ireland wrote short blurbs for the PC-Engine games covered in his column, but over time he began to expand his scope and write more substantial mini-reviews that were genuinely helpful to readers who were trying to decide which PCE games were worth importing (consult the last few issues of TurboPlay for comparison).
Three of the nine Japanese PC-Engine games featured in this issue were eventually released in North America: Cadash (1991, HuCARD), Valis III (1991, CD) and Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (1991, CD). As for the other games…well, upon seeing screenshots for Batman (1990, HuCARD), I am sure many readers were surprised to learn that Sunsoft (a popular NES publisher at the time) had been developing games for the PC-Engine in Japan.
But North American readers were puzzled: Sunsoft's Batman for Famicom/NES was a sleek platformer (and one of the very few movie-licensed video games that could stand on its own). For the PCE Batman, however, Sunsoft created an action-puzzle-maze game that was more akin to Cratermaze (Doraemon Meikyu Daisakusen, 1989, HuCARD) than the hack-n-slash sidescroller that appeared on the Famicom. Odd, isn't it? A wasted opportunity, perhaps? Well, according to screenshots that appeared in the September 15, 1989 issue of Famitsu Magazine, it would seem that Sunsoft originally intended PCE Batman to be an action/platformer similar to its Famicom cousin! The reasons why Sunsoft abandoned this concept in favor of an action-puzzle-maze game are unclear. Now, I actually like Cratermaze. And I like the PCE Batman Sunsoft ultimately delivered. But still…
HUDSON'S SUMMER CARAVAN TOURNAMENTS…▲
Super Star Soldier (1990, HuCARD), an installment in Hudson's venerable Star Soldier Series of vertical shooters, is reviewed in this issue of TurboPlay. Interestingly, this issue also offers a comprehensive Strategy Guide for Super Star Soldier's Caravan Mode (in addition to the normal game, Super Star Soldier offers 2-minute and 5-minute "Caravan" modes during which a player has to acquire the highest score possible). This strategy guide was intended to prepare readers for a high-score contest that would be announced in the the subsequent issue of TurboPlay! It seems as if TurboPlay was attempting to re-create the Hudson Caravan for the North American audience.
- Hudson Caravan (1985-1992):
- 1985 - Star Force (Famicom)
- 1986 - Star Soldier (Famicom)
- 1987 - Hector '87 (Famicom)
- 1988 - Power League (PCE)
- 1989 - GunHed (PCE)
- 1990 - Super Star Soldier (PCE)
- 1991 - Final Soldier (PCE)
- 1992 - Soldier Blade (PCE)
- NOTE: 1992 was the last year either a shoot-em-up or PCE title was featured in any Hudson tournament. From 1993 to 1997, the tournament was renamed "Super Caravan" and mainly involved various versions of Bomberman on the Super Famicom, Saturn and HiVision systems. Super Caravan will be the subject of a future article.
Hudson Soft began holding video game tournaments in 1985 with the release of the original Star Soldier on Nintendo's Famicom console. Every summer, for eight consecutive years, Hudson Caravan—also known as "Zenkoku Caravan" (National Caravan)—was held across Japan. Each tournament took place in major cities and was split between the North Caravan (from Hokkaido to Tokyo) and South Caravan (from Kagoshima to Osaka). The national finale opposed the two winners of each regional contest. These contests were so popular that Hudson expanded the roster to include games not directly connected to the Star Soldier series, such as GunHed (Blazing Lazers) and Power League (World Class Baseball).
The Hudson Caravan produced at least one gaming celebrity: Takahashi Meijin. According to most accounts, Takahashi-meijin was capable of hitting the buttons on a control pad 16 times per second with his thumb (a skill that proved to be incredibly useful in shooters).
NAXAT'S SUMMER CARNIVALS…▲
Hudson's Caravan Tournament enjoyed many years of success, inspiring Naxat to promote its shooters (i.e. Spriggan, Nexzr, etc.) in a similar fashion. Unlike Hudson's Caravan, Naxat's Summer Carnival focused exclusively on vertical shooters and survived for only three years (1991-1993).
- Naxat Summer Carnival (1991-1993):
- 1991 - Spriggan (PCE)
- 1992 - Summer Carnival '92: Alzadick (PCE)
- 1992 - Summer Carnival '92: Recca (Famicom)
- 1993 - Summer Carnival '93: Nexzr Special (PCE)
- NOTE: Two games were featured in the 1992 Carnival, Alzadick and Recca. Neither game was given a standard release. Nexzr Special omits the cinema scenes found on the standard PCE release, which was simply titled "Nexzr".
Often, special limited edition HuCARDs or CD's were produced specifically for Hudson's and Naxat's tournaments. These editions usually did not contain the normal game, but rather just the "Caravan" mode specifically designed for the contest. For a game's standard release, the publisher usually included both the normal game as well as the caravan mode, as one finds on the standard release of Super Star Soldier, for example. As a testament to the popularity of these national tournaments, many developers unassociated with Hudson or Naxat began including "time attack" and "score attack" modes in their shooters.
HUDSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ITS PAST…▲
Hudson recently (Summer 2005) started selling a bunch of "retro" t-shirts that pay homage to the company's history in the video game industry. In addition to classic Adventure Island and Star Soldier t-shirts, you'll find Caravan-themed t-shirts as well!
All of these t-shirt designs, and more, can be found at the Takahashi Meijin Official Shop. Takahashi-meijin became famous due to his success in the Hudson Caravan tournaments of yesteryear and, apparently, he is doing well today, with his own blog and merchandise prominently promoted at the official Hudson website. Plus, his legendary ability to hit a button sixteen times a second has been immortalized on many of the t-shirts (witness all the designs that incorporate "16 Shot" in them).
A big "THANK YOU!" goes out to Kaminari for info on the Hudson/Naxat Tournaments and Chris Covell for screenshots of Sunsoft's original Batman on PCE.▲
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