Victor Ireland, of Working Designs fame, penned a few feature articles for TurboPlay (in addition to his regular Games Around the World column). Usually Ireland covered trade shows and reported on TG-16 hardware and software developments, but in "The Sound and Vision of CD+G" he introduced readers to the CD+G format (compact disc + graphics, a kool concept that never really took off, except as format for karaoke). While the TurboGrafx-CD (and the later TurboDuo and Sega CD) could play CD+G discs, few people actually knew the format existed. Even fewer CD+G discs were actually made, and even these titles were produced in limited quantity.
Table of Contents for TurboPlay #6▲
- 01 Cover: CD+G: The TurboGrafx-CD Isn't Just for Games. Photo: Gary Brod.
- An atypical cover for the magazine, since it screams "stock photo". That said, the cover photography wasn't chosen arbitrarily—it was meant to complement Victor Ireland's excellent article on the short-lived CD+G format.
- 02 TurboMail: Letters from our loyal readers.
- "Once again, the inquisitive readers of TurboPlay write in their TurboGrafx-16 questions, and the editors respond with all the answers." Topics include: Will Keith Courage have a sequel? Will Ghouls 'n' Ghosts / SuperGrafx make it to North America? Why does the localization of PCE games take so long? Is there a TG-16 to PCE HuCARD converter?
- 03 Table of Contents for issue #6.
- "Welcome back! There's no doubt about it—this issue of TurboPlay could be our hottest yet."
- 04 Advertisement: FMV on the TurboGrafx-CD. 04 05
- "Announcing something never seen in a video game. Video. And remember, if you're not playing real live action video, you're just playing games." Featured titles: It Came From the Desert, J.B. Harold's Murder Club, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective."
- 06 Feature: The Sound and Vision of CD+G. 06 07 08 09
- "Though the TurboGrafx-CD Player is great for heavy-duty gamers, it is also one of the few ways to play specially coded music CDs. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about CD+G (compact disc plus graphics)—and more."
- 10 Closer Look: TurboChip & TG-CD Game Reviews. 10 11
- "This month, we give you complete reviews of TV SPORTS Basketball and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective."
- 12 Strategy Guide: Last Alert (1991, CD). 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
- "It's battle time and you've got your hands full of terrorists who are bent on putting Dr. Garcia in power and controlling the world."
- 22 Games Around the World. 22 23 24 25 26
- "Previews of some hot PC-Engine titles that are currently hitting the shelves in Japan, and may end up in America soon, and an extended peek at Vasteel, an amazing strategy game." Also: Astralius, Avenger, Burning Angels, Golden Axe, J.B. Harold Murder Club, Running Selfisher (Dekoboko Densetsu Hashiru Wagamanma), Super Big Strategy (Super Daisenryaku) and Thunder Blade.
- 27 TurboPlay Contest: New Contest & Previous Winners.
- "The December / January (1991) issue of TurboPlay had an essay contest. We had lots of great entries, but only one lucky winner. Could it be you?" New Contest: Get the high-score in 5-minute Caravan mode in Super Star Soldier!
- 28 TurboTips: Codes, Tips and Tricks. 28 29
- "Ever get thrown out of the ring in Battle Royale and wonder how to get back in? How about receiving the colored balls in Devil's Crush? Get these tips and more in another great installment of TurboTips." Includes: Aero Blasters, Battle Royale, Devil's Crush, Super Volleyball, Tiger Road and TV SPORTS Football.
- 30 Advertisement: Here's what the critics are saying about TurboGrafx-16 games... 30 31
- Note: There are some real nuggets in here. Check it out.
- 32 Advertisement: Tricky Kick, Sinistron (1991, HuCARD).
- "From IGS, creators of CyberCore."
I WANT MY CD+G…▲
It's been over 15 years and I still haven't held a genuine CD+G music album in my hands, let alone play one on my TG-CD. Sure, I have CD+G promotional items (such as the Rock Paintings CD+G Music Sampler that was provided to Sega-CD owners), but that's it. I don't have any proper albums. Back in the day, I eagerly placed the Naked album by the Talking Heads into my TG-CD with the hopes of seeing some CD+G tomfoolery. Alas, only a limited number of the Naked albums included the additional CD+G data tracks, and my copy was not one of them. Oh well. At least Ireland addressed this in his article:
"For those who own a CD+G player, tracking down a compact disc containing graphics can be quite an ordeal. Most record-store employees will return a blank stare when asked for assistance in locating CD+G equipped discs, and even high-level employees of major record labels don't yet know what CD+G is."
Needless to say, after all these years, I still want to play a proper CD+G disc on my TG-CD. Information Society! Alphaville! Talking Heads! Back in the day, I scoured stores trying to find the CD+G albums by these artists. What's funny is that, at the time, I didn't realize that the actual players were even more scarce than the albums themselves!
"Part of the problem has been a lack of support from the manufacturers of CD players. Prior to 1991, there were only two machines commercially available in the United States that were equipped to play CD+G discs. One was from JVC (model XLG-512NBK, $599 list price) and the other was the TurboGrafx-CD unit ($399 list price) available for the TG-16 system. This year, however, two more CD+G compatible units will be released: Commodore's CDTV (Commodore Dynamic Total Vision) multimedia system ($899) and a portable CD+G compatible player from JVC (projected list $599). It seems that 1991 may be the year that CD+G finally takes off. Of all the CD+G compatible players listed, the TurboGrafx-CD unit is the least expensive entry point to the world of CD+G."
The CD+G standard was adopted in 1983, yet by 1991, there were less than 50 CD+G music albums and only two players available on the market? Even the Sega-CD (released in 1992) failed to popularize the CD+G format. And then, for reasons that I will never understand, Fate smiled upon the beleaguered format and decreed, "From this day forth, CD+G will be the format of choice for low-budget Karaoke systems."
EPILOGUE: Today inexpensive CD+G players and karaoke discs are ubiquitous (they are sold at Kay Bee Toy Stores, for example). I can't tell you how difficult this makes it for anyone who is looking for non-karaoke CD+G discs. No, I have not abandoned my quest…but the obstacles I face today are just as daunting, if not more so, than those I faced 15 years ago.
EPILOGUE TO EPILOGUE: Nearly all of the content here at the Archives was written in 2003-2005, and I am happy to report that a fellow PCE enthusiast (quoth9) was gracious enough to help me find several bonafide CD+G albums since I originally wrote this article. Not surprisingly, the technology-loving nerds in Information Society fully embraced the CD+G format and used the technology creatively. For example, as individual tracks play, various trivia about the song itself (and the band in general) pop-up in a series of text boxes (a forerunner, perhaps, of the format implemented many years later in VH1's popular series Pop-Up Video television series). Sadly, I have yet to acquire the CD+G albums by Alphaville and Talking Heads (bands that, along with Information Society, I actually like).
VIC IRELAND & WORKING DESIGNS…▲
In this issue of TurboPlay, Mr. Ireland did something unusual in his Games Around the World column. Amidst the many PC-Engine games covered, one game in particular—Vasteel—was given the spotlight and received in-depth coverage. Evidently, Mr. Ireland fell in love with Vasteel and decided to go the extra mile by writing a thorough, insightful article about it. He wasn't alone. At the time of its release on December 12, 1990, Vasteel was one of the all-time best sellers for a new release in Japan (amongst PC-Engine titles).
For the first time in the history of TurboPlay, readers were given a proper review of a Japanese import. Up until this point, no more than two or three paragraphs had ever been devoted to a single Japanese title. Yet for Vasteel, an entire paragraph is dedicated to discussing the soundtrack alone:
"…the game sports some of the best music ever created for a video game. Human Creative Group, Vasteel's developers, used a live band to compose the jazz music that you hear throughout the game. (There's even a picture of the band members in the manual.) You can, however, change the music to a rocklike beat created by the system itself, but that would be like listening to AM radio all day. Yuck! Lastly, the game also makes use of the CD-ROM capabilities by allowing you to save up to four separate locations as well as a password feature."
Now, the Red Book soundtrack might not be everyone's cup of tea, but we'll leave that discussion for another day. To close his Vasteel
article, Ireland penned a prophetic passage:
"…The unfortunate side of this is that Vasteel isn't scheduled for release in America, though the success of Military Madness may lead the way for Vasteel to make an appearance sometime in the future. It would be a shame if strategy video gamers, a growing breed to say the least, didn't have a chance to tackle this immensely engrossing title."
I do not think Ireland realized how prophetic this passage would be. At the time he wrote this article, he had only just recently convinced Working Designs (his employer) to abandon the PC software market and enter the video game console software instead. As you are probably aware, Working Designs eventually released Vasteel in North America—but it would be more than three years later—in June of 1993! At the time Ireland was praising Vasteel in the pages of TurboPlay, however, Working Designs was not even an official third-party publisher for TurboGrafx-16 (indeed, it wouldn't be until June of 1991 that they secured the rights to release Taito's Cadash and Parasol Stars for TG-16). So here we are, in early 1991, with Ireland gushing over Vasteel—which would ultimately turn out to be the sixth and final game Working Designs released for the TG-16/TurboDuo. By the time Vasteel was on store shelves, Working Designs had moved on to the Sega-CD platform and never looked back.
Over the years, I have read non-flattering things about Victor Ireland and Working Designs (though they appear to stem primarily from the PlayStation era). This is unfortunate, because folks rarely, if ever, acknowledge how much Ireland has contributed to the Turbo community. All six titles (Cadash, Parasol Stars, Cosmic Fantasy 2, Exile, Exile 2: Wicked Phenomenon, Vasteel) released by Working Designs were truly wonderful and were greatly appreciated by Turbo fans.
I'll admit it—I loved Working Designs (I still do). They were the savior of TG-16: Just as I was losing faith in all things Turbo, Working Designs came along and released a bunch of gems that renewed my hope. And Mr. Ireland's articles in TurboPlay were generally of good quality, so he contributed to the Turbo community on multiple levels. His article on the CD+G format (found in this issue) is excellent and remains one of the best, if not the best, primers available on the subject. No joke! I've always suspected that this article originally appeared elsewhere (in another L.F.P. publication, for instance) and was then recycled in TurboPlay after some minor editing (i.e. adding some obligatory references to TurboGrafx-CD). Not to insult TurboPlay's readership, but Ireland's article seems to be aimed at a more sophisticated audience.
FMV ON THE TURBOGRAFX-CD…▲
CD+G wasn't the only "cutting edge" technology that readers were exposed to in this issue. The first (and last) batch of FMV titles were being advertised as well:
"Announcing something never before seen in a video game. Video. For the first time ever, CD technology is being used to create live action video in a video game. That's video that features real live actors. And you interact with them."
"In Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, you question suspects and search for clues to three bewildering mysteries. In J.B. Harold Murder Club, you try to unravel a hard-boiled murder in a world of dark secrets and deception. And in It Came from the Desert, you've got to stop giant radioactive ants from annihilating the small desert town of Lovelock."
VIEW SOURCE 1 2
This harkens back to the FMV (full-motion-video) fad of the early 1990's. The fad started with PC CD-ROM games (i.e. 7th Guest, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective) and spread to home consoles when technology caught up (i.e. TG-CD and Sega-CD hardware). ICOM's Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective was ported to many platforms, including both TG-CD and Sega-CD. TRIVIA: Sherlock Holmes was even recycled, years later, as an "Interactive DVD FMV Game" by the fine folks at Infinite Ventures).
Initially, Cinemaware's It Came from the Desert was a typical PC game (no FMV), but when it was "ported" to TG-CD, the decision was made to add FMV sequences (this is documented in the next issue of TurboPlay in a feature entitled "Behind the Scenes of It Came from the Desert"). And finally, J.B. Harold: Murder Club (originally released for the PCE in Japan in late 1990) was the first in a trilogy…but the sequels (J.B. Harold: Manhattan Requiem and J.B. Harold: Blue Chicago Blues) were released as Pioneer LaserActive laserdisc games 3-4 years later. These two J.B. Harold PC-Engine LD games are said to be excellent.
CAREFULLY SELECTED EXCERPTS…▲
One of the funniest things in the entire TG-16 universe is buried in the content of this ad. But before I get ahead of myself, let us take a look at the ad itself…
"Here's what the critics are saying about TG-16 games…" 01 02
Oh my! A two page advertisement comprised entirely of micro-text! Seriously, I have never seen a font this small used for the main content of an advertisement. You really have to squint your eyes and flatten your nose against the page to read everything they crammed into these two pages. This was the first and last time folks saw an ad comprised entirely of excerpts from TG-16 game reviews. The reviews were found in various game magazines of the day—and even a few unexpected publications (i.e. Sports Illustrated reviewed Power Golf, believe it or not)!
After reading a handful of these blurbs, you will notice that many of them are rather bland and banal. Where is all of the praise and adulation from the critics? Surely there were better passages to be found in the reviews, right? Otherwise, the critics really were not saying anything meaningful about TG-16 games.
Anyway, as I said, one of the funniest things in the entire TG-16 universe is buried in this ad. If you can't find it, don't give up! Persevere! It will be worth it, I promise.
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