The expanded version of Games Around the World in this issue is truly, truly phenomenal. Mr. Ireland outdoes himself, stuffing lots of useful information and insightful observations into each of his condensed commentaries. Many neat-looking games were examined. Unfortunately, after all these years, I have yet to play Hana Taka Daka and Mizubaku Dai Bouken—two HuCARDs that I still find quite intriguing. I have always wondered whether Mizubaku Dai Bouken—billed as Liquid Kids: Bubble Bobble 4 in the column—is a true installment in the Bubble Bobble series, a spin-off, or something else entirely. Either way, both games certainly look like promising games from Taito.
But there's more! In addition to the usual games, we learn of oddities such as Ultrabox, a series of six quarterly PC-Engine "magazines" on CD-ROM with interactive media, game demos, and a PCE software database. The concept of a software database, regularly updated, and with coverart accompanying every game's profile, was simply brilliant—I have yet to see a similar product offered for any other console, past or present.
Table of Contents for TurboPlay #10▲
- 01 Cover: Darkwing Duck (1991, HuCARD). Artist: The Walt Disney Company.
- A review of Darkwing Duck is featured in this issue, so naturally the Disney character of the same name graces the cover.
- 02 Advertisement: Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble III (1991, HuCARD).
- "Get ready for some finger-searing action as Bubby and Bobby blast their way onto the TurboGrafx-16!"
- 03 Table of Contents for issue #10.
- "Happy holidays to you, one and all. Come with us as we take the wrappings off another installment of TG-16 happenings."
- 04 TurboMail: Letters from our loyal readers. 04 30
- "Letters, letters and more letters. Take a look at what your fellow TG-16 owners curious about." Topics include:
- 05 TurboPlay Contest: New Contest & Previous Winners.
- "Our TurboPlay Contest Search is history. Did your contest idea make the cut? Check out the winners and play along in the first of 3 winning contests!"
- 06 Advertisement: Addams Family (1991, CD). 06 07
- "You're Tully. You're a lawyer. And a goofball. At least that's what the normal, all-American family, the Addams family, thinks."
- 08 TurboNews: New DUO console, L.A. Kings play TG-16. 08 09 28
- "Get the lowdown on new CD+G developments, TG-16 rumors, info on the new DUO console and how some L.A. Kings entertain themselves when they aren't on the ice."
- 10 Closer Look: TurboChip & TG-CD Game Reviews. 10 11 12 13 14 15 29
- "Our crew of reviewers takes a look at the latest and greatest TG-16 games on the store shelves. This issue, we look at Darkwing Duck, It Came From The Desert, Valis III, Turrican, Andre Panza Kick Boxing and Raiden."
- 16 Advertisement: TV SPORTS Series: Hockey, Football and Basketball. 16 17
- "It's so real, it's unreal. TurboGrafx-16 introduces the three most realistic games you can play outside of the pro leagues."
- 18 Games Around the World. 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
- "Hot from the Japanese game developers comes extended coverage of PC-Engine titles that may soon appear in your neighborhood stores. Victor Ireland runs down the hottest games from overseas." Burai, Cobra Legend II, Cosmic Fantasy 2, Exile (originally known as "XZR" on the MSX), F1 Circus, Hana Taka Daka (Long-nosed Gremlin), Kaizou Ningen Shubibinman 2 (Shockman 2, Overhauled Man 2), L-Dis, Liquid Kids: Bubble Bobble IV (Mizubaku Dai Bouken), Power Drift, Sol Bianca, Ten No Koe Bank, Ultrabox (Volumes 1-5) and Xevious."
- 26 TurboTips: Codes, Tips and Tricks.
- "Sneaky programmers pop wild codes in games, and TurboPlay uncovers them for you. This time, you'll get TurboTips for Bonk's Revenge, Cadash and Parasol Stars."
- 27 Coming Soon: Game Previews.
- "A quick look at what's next up for TG-16 fans: Ballistix, Gunboat, Night Creatures and TV SPORTS Baseball."
- 31 Advertisement: Totally Turbo Mailorder.
- "Billed as "The Total Source for TurboGrafx-16", Totally Turbo was a mail order outfit selling TG-16 hardware and software at steep prices."
- 32 Advertisement: Cadash (1991, HuCARD).
- "The hit Taito arcade game is now available exclusively for the TurboGrafx-16! 1 or 2 player action! Choose from 4 different characters!"
VOICES FROM HEAVEN & ROMRAM HuCARDS…▲
Ten No Koe Bank was another "oddity" profiled by Mr. Ireland in this issue. In modern parlance, Ten No Koe Bank is an 8K RAM "memory card" for backing up save files from the console's internal memory. The PCE CD-ROM peripheral contained 2K RAM internally (as did the later DUO console). Believe it or not, prior to the Ten No Koe Bank, players had no means of backing-up their save files. Once the 2K of RAM was filled, folks were forced to permanently delete existing files in order to make room for newer games. While the thought of deleting your high scores for Wonderboy III: Monster Lair might not have been too upsetting, the prospect of erasing your save files for Ys Book I & II would have been downright heart-wrenching. Now you could avoid the heartache:
"Ten No Koe means "voice from heaven," and this card is truly heaven-sent for PC-Engine CD owners…This battery-backed HuCARD (the first) contains 8K of RAM, allowing the user to store the entire 2K of backup RAM in one of four "boxes" on the card. The card allows you to store, retrieve or swap data between the CD unit and the card. This is also an excellent way to transport saved game locations to a friend's CD unit without bringing over your whole system."
In the excerpt above, Mr. Ireland states that Ten No Koe Bank (released on 09.06.1991) was the first HuCARD to feature battery back-up (Hudson referred to this as a "ROMRAM HuCARD"). He was correct: Populous—which appeared five months earlier on 04.05.1991—was intended to be the first ROMRAM HuCARD, but something went awry. Upon examining Populous, we can plainly see it was designed to contain a lithium battery for storing files directly on the HuCARD itself. However, for unknown reasons, Hudson dropped this feature. Instead, Hudson decided that files would be stored the traditional way—via the console's 2K internal RAM—if it was available.
As it turns out, Ten No Koe Bank was the first—and ultimately the final—ROMRAM HuCARD ever to be released. It is not known how long the lithium batteries used in the ROMRAM HuCARDs will remain viable, but here we are, 15 years later, and they seem to be functioning as well as ever. When these batteries do fail, it will be interesting to see if they can be replaced without damaging the HuCARD itself.
TRIVIA: Since Ten No Koe Bank is a file management utility, Populous bears the unique distinction of being the only HuCARD game with package art mentioning ROMRAM. Also, on 10.25.1991 Hudson released Populous: The Promised Lands (CD)—an expanded follow-up to the Populous HuCARD which offered five new worlds to conquer.
ABOUT POPULOUS: Originally an Amiga game (though soon released on Atari ST and IBM PC platforms), Populous (1989) was a huge commercial success and prompted Bullfrog (developer) and Electronic Arts (distributor) to release two expansion disks (also known as "data disks") with additional worlds to conquer. The first expansion disk—The Promised Lands—offered five new worlds: Silly World (populated by slimy green blobs), Blockland (any resemblance to Lego Land is purely coincidental), Wild West (yes, the American west theme, replete with "cowboys and indians"), Revolution Francaise (think "Versailles"), and finally the Bit Plains (a computer nerd's wasteland of coffee cups, cigarette butts and computer hardware). I am assuming that the PCE CD version of Populous includes these five additional worlds. The second expansion disk—The Final Frontier—offered only one new world (Crystal Land).
SAVE FILES & TURBOBOOSTERS…▲
Now, PCE consoles, by themselves, did not have internal RAM for storing files, but this feature could be added by attaching optional hardware to PCE's rear expansion port. Essentially, this mimicked the 2K of internal RAM that owners of the CD-ROM unit enjoyed. You see, although save files were initially designed for CD format games, software developers soon began creating HuCARD format games that supported save files. For folks who were unable (or unwilling) to splurge on a pricey PCE CD-ROM system, NEC's Booster and Hudson's Ten No Koe Bank 2 attached to the back of the of a PCE console to provide backup RAM for HuCARD save files.
NEC's Booster came in two models: BB1 and BB2. BB1 included composite A/V output and was designed for owners of the original white PC-Engine (to upgrade the RF output). BB2 omitted this A/V output, since it was designed for owners of the later CoreGrafx I / II models (which already had A/V output). Like NEC's BB2 model, Hudson's Ten No Koe Bank 2 also lacked A/V jacks.
Although it wasn't mentioned in the article, Ten No Koe Bank could be used with all of the aforementioned devices. This meant that, theoretically, you could transfer save files from CD games onto a basic PCE console. There would be no reason for doing this, of course, but it illustrates the breadth and flexibility of the file management system. In short, Ten No Koe Bank was compatible with a wide range of products, and not simply the CD•ROM2 (and the later Super CD•ROM2) hardware.
The only products to make it to North America were revised versions of NEC's BB1 hardware. The TurboBooster attached to TG-16's expansion port and provided composite A/V output. The more expensive TurboBooster Plus also included 2K of internal RAM for HuCARD save files. At the time, there weren't many HuCARD games that supported save files, so when NEC marketed these products, the emphasis was on upgrading TG-16's RF output to composite A/V jacks.
EVER ELUSIVE: THE SAMPLE CD+G DISC…▲
Since we're on the subject of oddities, I should point out that North America had some curiosities of its own. TurboBooster and TurboBooster Plus were not the biggest sellers for NEC, but the following promo item had very limited availability in North America. And, to make it even more obscure, the only reference to it is buried at the bottom of an advertisement for The Addams Family (CD):
"FREE CD+G DISC: Free music CD + Graphics sample disc inside specially marked TurboGrafx-CD players."
I felt cheated when I originally read this. My brothers and I had purchased a TurboGrafx-CD a year prior and we couldn't find a CD+G disc anywhere. As loyal customers, where was our free CD+G disc? In retrospect, I should have simply written a letter to NEC and asked for the demo disc, but I didn't. Thus, many questions surround this enigmatic CD+G: Was it produced exclusively for NEC? Or was it a generic promotional item that was available elsewhere? What content was on the demo CD+G? Was any of the content exclusive, or was it recycled from existing CD+G titles? What was the packaging like? Finally, what was the total number of sample discs involved in the TG-CD promotion?
My best guess is that this CD+G promotion was small in scope and scale. It was never mentioned outside of the Addams Family TG-CD print ad (which only appeared briefly in a few magazines). Also, if you examine the content of the Addams Family print ad itself, it is immediately apparent how little priority the CD+G promotion was given: the CD+G offer is buried in the the footer on the second page of a two-page ad. Blink and you will miss it.
STILL TILTING AT WINDMILLS…▲
In a previous commentary, I stated how badly I have wanted to get ahold of bonafide CD+G music albums (especially those by Alphaville, Talking Heads and Information Society). I remain loyal to this quest, but I have since expanded my scope: now I also lust for the sample CD+G disc that was included with specially marked TurboGrafx-CD players. Does anybody out there have this demo disc? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
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