At the dawn of the 16-bit era, the best PC Engine games heralded a gaming revolution for players over the globe.
Well, in France and Japan, at least.
The PC Engine goes by another name, a little like Clark Kent and Superman. The French and the Japanese had the PC Engine, but the rest of the world had the Turbografx-16. It’s a much cooler name, but don’t forget that these consoles are essentially the same.
The marketing for the PC Engine in France and Japan was strong. You might not believe it, but the console quickly became the Super Famicom’s main rival!
In North America, however, the Turbografx 16 (same console, remember?) didn’t get the marketing support it deserved. It launched at the same time as the Sega Genesis and the rebranded Super Nintendo Entertainment System or SNES to you and me.
Sadly, the Turbografx-16 could have had a better life if people had figured out how good it was early on. Still, the PC Engine certainly got a lot of attention from French and Japanese gamers, stopping their version of the console from joining the ‘could have been great’ pile.
So, if you’ve ever delved into the PC Engine section on one of your best retro handhelds and enjoyed playing some classic titles, then we recommend buying a PC Engine and grabbing some of the best PC Engine games from this list!
Check them out below, and get your game on!
I was confused when I first read the blurb for Neutopia II as a kid. Defeat dirt? What was all that about? Kids don’t want to clean, they want to play!.
It’s a direct sequel to the first Neutopia game and sees Jazetta’s son from the first game on a mission to save his father and defeat ‘Dirth’.
Dirt and Dirth are pretty similar when you’re a kid; can you blame me for making that mistake?
Now, I know what’s going through your heads as I’ve been thinking the same thing. No, this was never planned as a new Zelda game.
Neutopia II looks very similar to the Legend of Zelda titles of the era, of that there is no doubt. The enemies, the scenery, the top-down view; it’s almost like a carbon copy.
Hudson soft are clever people, and I imagine that they might have purposely borrowed a few of Link’s traits to help sell this game.
Explore this top-down, open-world game while slaying monsters with a flashing sword. Some tasks are linear and some can be tackled in any order. It’s a genuine Zelda-style action game that fans of Link’s Awakening will love!
How many space-age warriors do you know named ‘Keith’?.
Samus, Fox, Astro Boy – yes, but certainly not Keith.
I have an uncle called Keith, but he’s a Milkman and not a futuristic fighter who travels through Alpha Zones…
… not that he’s told me about, at any rate!
Keith remains a legendary figure in North America (the guy above, not my uncle) thanks to ‘Keith Courage in Alpha Zones’ coming pre-packaged with the PC Engine itself.
Keith makes our list of the best PC Engine games of all time thanks to his adventures stoping invaders from the planet B.A.D entering earth.
B.A.D honestly stands for ‘Beastly Alien Dudes’; that’s no joke.
Wearing his powerful Nova suit, Keith morphs into a half-robot/half-man crusader. He must protect N.I.C.E (Nations of International Citizens for Earth – I’m not making this up) while bashing back bad-guys in underworld caverns and standing off against alien attacks in the world above.
I was wrong to say Keith wasn’t a worthy name for a warrior; he’s a bonafide legend!
Bonk and his bald bonce take the 14th spot in this list of the best PC Engine games ever made!
Some readers may well have come across Bonk back when Retro Dodo curated a list of the best rare NES games ever made.
Unfortunately for Bonk, he hasn’t become as big a hit for collectors in his PC Engine line, but Bonk 3: Bonk’s Big Adventure is a great little game that everyone should add to their gaming catalogue.
With a rock-hard cranium capable of crushing diamonds as your main weapon, players navigate a dinosaur-infested land, head-butting ass and drawing out symbols for names. (I’m guessing Bonk can’t write, but I might be wrong!)
Bonk must use his tough brains to defeat the evil King Drool and a host of other dino-enemies. I can only wonder where his parents are and what kind of people they must be to let their son go romping around the wilderness like this. Did prehistoric people not have child care services?
The great thing about Bonk 3 is that you can invite your crush over and play two-player for twice the bonking action…
… yes, that did sound as bad as I though it would when I read it out loud. Let’s continue… quickly!
Next up in our list of the best PC Engine games of all time and looking very much like a prog-rock album cover is YS I & II.
This is the first action/role-playing game in our list, and the PC Engine had some gnarly RPGs tucked away up its sleeve. This PC Engine game is a remake of the original YS series for the Japanese PC-8801 console, and it proved incredibly popular with players all over the globe.
Have you noticed how vibrant and richly textured these games have been so far? It’s not hard to see how the PC Engine became a direct competitor for the Famicom in Japan with titles like like YS I & II in its back catalogue!.
In true RPG fashion, YS I & II has lots of complicated elements that are harder to understand than Einstein’s bedtime puzzle book. Expect names and places such as Zepik, Adol, and Jebah (no Keith though, surprisingly), and the storyline makes me feel a little like I’m back in a secondary school maths class trying to remember Pythagarus’ Theorum.
That’s not a character from the game…
YS I & II comes in two parts that follow on from each other. It’s like binge-watching a Netflix series; you don’t have to wait for an age after finishing the first one to carry on with the adventure!
Get ready for gargantuan plot lines, collectables hidden in every corner, and classic top-down RPG action filled with demons, magic, ghouls, and bad lads that your mother told you not to hang out with.
Speaking of magic ghouls, and bad lads, this next title in our list of the best PC Engine games has lots of them!
Gamers play as a witch named Keith Ripple…
I’m joking; she’s just called Ripple, but she certainly has a lot of courage!
Ripple is a witch’s apprentice, though her boss is a bit of a word that rhymes with ‘witch’ (it’s a family magazine, but you can put two-and-two together I’m sure). Ripple mistakenly opens a magical book lets out six bosses and lots of other hellish stuff that you have to defeat.
Ripple grabs two elf-star mates and tries to sort it all out. The alternativeis being turned into a frog, and nobody wants that!
Magical Chase is a side-scrolling shooter that is bright, colourful, and incredibly fun to play. Ok, so it’s a little kiddy, but all the best games are. I don’t here anyone complaining about Mario or Kirby games!
And unlike that annoying Flappy Bird game that almost drove me to insanity, Ripple doesn’t K.O when when she collides with the roof or the floor of a level.
I know that this game sounds like some-sort-of Liam Gallagher tribute fan page, but there certainly isn’t some blessed Oasis to encounter in this title.
Galaga 88 was the name of this game on the PC Engine. Due to the insane amount of time it took for the game to be released on the Turbografx-16, the developers renamed it Galaga 90 in the US.
So, if you’re checking out our list of the best Turbografx 16 games at the same time for continuity, then that’s why the Number 11 slot looks different to this one!
For those that haven’t played the Galaga series before, they are very similar to classic titles such as Asteroids, Space Invaders, and R-Type, arguably one of the best Gameboy Color games of all time.
Players control the Blast Fighter while battling Galaga forces in the heart of space. The mission is to obliterate them from the skies, but don’t think it’s going to be easy. Colliding with an enemy alien or their projectiles results in gamers losing a life, so keep your wits about you!
Galaga 88 is a simple game to pick up and play, and the soundtrack was phenomenal. It’s full of those kinds of songs that stick in the brain for months after completing a game!
Parasol Stars takes the Number 10 spot in this list of the best PC Engine game of all time. It’s another ‘cutesy’ platformer that feels very much like the lovechild of Mario Bros and Sonic.
Bubble Bobble crops up in every best games list in some shape or form, and this list of the best PC Engine games is no exception!
Parasol Stars joins the Bubble Bobble universe serving as the sequel to Rainbow Islands. The famous blue and green miniature dragons are back, this time in their human forms. Parasol Stars is an amalagamation of both titles/series rolled into one.
The result is a game that’s so addictive it should be listed as a Class A substance!
In true ‘The Avengers’ style (the original, not the Iron Man version) players wield a parasol as their main weapon. It acts as a shield and can stun enemies. Plus, gamers also use it to capture droplets as weapons and for throwing bad guys off the edge of the game world.
There are tonnes of vibrant levels to explore with many hidden features to uncover along the way. This title never reached arcades, though every other Bubble Bobble game made up for that fact. Still, Parasol Stars was very much a star on the home console market and received lots of brilliant reviews from critics all over the world.
Blazing Lazers takes the 9th spot on our list of the best PC Engine games ever made!
Some gamers may well know this game by its rebranded name of ‘Gunhed’. It’s a Hudson Soft title, and with its early Metroid-style graphics and exciting forward-scrolling shoot-’em-up gameplay style, remains one heck of a game even today!
Players control the awesome Gunhed Advanced Star Fighter while battling Dark Squadron across nine intense levels.
Blazing Lazers follows a similar ‘beef up your craft’ style to other games in the genre. Players start out with a weak ship and weak firepower and upgrade as they go.
Staying alive is tougher than the Bee Gees professed in their hit song too. Lives can be obtained through clever shooting, but it’s very easy to lose health in this game, so ‘keep your eyes on the skies’!
I’ve always wanted to write that line!
Ever imagined what a fusion of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and Zelda might look like? The answer is Dungeon Explorer, one of my all-time favourite RPG titles on any console.
Players control one of eight characters while fighting to banish an alien race that thought it would be a good idea to call your village ‘home’.
PC Engine games seem to have a heavy alien theme to them. Perhaps Hudson Soft know something that we don’t and were trying to prepare us for am iminent attack. Care to enlighten us, Mr or Mrs Hudson?
Dungeon Explorer allows up to five players to play simultaneously. That might not sound that impressive, but it was a pretty big deal back in the late 80s.
Dungeon Explorer still holds the title of being one of the pioneering RPG games that pushed the genre to greater heights. It’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have games like Final Fantasy or Fire Emblem without it!
Choose a class (everyone knows Wizards are the best), pick a dungeon, and kick some invading Alien ass.
Sound’s like a good days work to me!.
Watch out Keith Courage; you’re not the only half-man/half-robot in this compendium of the best PC Engine games!
Hang on; doesn’t Air Zonk look a little bit like Stone-Age Bonk?
Both games are made by the same people and this side-scrolling futuristic shooter is essentially a futuristic reimagining of Bonk and his prehistoric world.
Bonk’s gone from dino-bashing headbanger to futuristic robocop faster than you can spell Diplodocus!
Air Zonk served as a means of creating a fresh and raw punky vibe for the PC Engine. As we’ve already established, there are many similarities to the Bonk series including characters like King Drool. He must have cryogenically frozen himself in an iceberg or something to still be alive all these years later. .
Like everyone’s favourite bounty hunter Samus Aran, Zonk begins the game with limited firepower and upgrades his abilities as the game goes on.
Players must shoot and bomb anything and everything as they traverse the levels in this game, accompanied all the while by a cyber cat with funkadelic sunglasses.
Bonk fans (again, I’m talking about the game) will feel right at home with Air Zonk, and newbies to the canon will pick it up in no time.
Now, this is one entry in our list of the best PC Engine games that needs no introduction!
Castlevania titles never fail to show up in our best games articles, and the adventures of Richter Belmont are the stuff of legend.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood looks the best on the PC Engine out of all the retro consoles. There, I’ve said it, and I mean it too. It’s one of my favourite titles because of the removal of any sort of time limit and the multiple endings. Oh, and the vibrant colours that make this dark, ghoulish game a treat to play!
Players can either control Richter or his relative Maria, who uses a white tiger kitten as a weapon.
Talk about brutal!
Richter, of course, wields his iconic whip in the beginning, with daggers and other projectiles such as holy water arriving on the scene as he searches for his girlfriend and her captor, the villain Dracula
Konami owned the ‘action/horror’ market throughout the entire golden age of gaming era, and Rondo of Blood remains one of the most influential titles in the genre to this day!
PC Engine creators Hudson Soft and the makers of Bonk teamed up for the fifth title in our list of the best PC Engine games – Lords of Thunder.
This game has the best soundtrack of any title on any console – fact. Expect Hammer of the Gods style metal from start to end, with pumping tunes that never fail to fill players with adrenaline.
The Lords of Thunder sees players controlling a legendary knight named Duran (I wonder if his real name is Rio and if he dances on the sand?). He uses armour based on the four elemental powers that also affect which weapons players use as they progress.
Lords of Thunder didn’t exactly break review records as far as critics were concerned, but I still think this is an amazing game that everyone should play.
It’s definitely one of my favourites!
Dungeons and Dragons fans will be all over this next entry in our list of the best PC Engine games like a fly at a finger buffet! Cadash comes under the heading of ‘Sword and Sorcery’ games and is one of the early titles that formed the brilliant ‘action/RPG’ genre that gamers still go crazy for today.
How do I describe Cadash to gamers in 2021? Well, if you add a dash of Gauntlet and a touch of Lord of the Rings to a cauldron swimming with magical-fantasy goodness, then Cadash would be the result.
It even has a Balrog in it!
The PC Engine version of the game differs from the arcade version by including a greater emphasis on the player taking his or her time while playing. Gamers need to concentrate on agility, defence, damage, and spell costs as opposed to running around willy-nilly.
This port was graphically-superior to the other versions too and much easier to see up on a screen. Like Rondo of Blood, make sure you get the PC Engine version over any other.
Things are starting to get a little gory as we approach the end of this best PC Engine games list.
Fans of 80s horror films will love Splatterhouse. In fact, there are lots of references in this game to the scenes that freaked us out while growing up.
It might look pretty tame compared to some of the stuff on TV these days, but this game still came with a parental guidance message on it.
It read, ‘The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children… and cowards’!
The house in Splatterhouse has a womb that gives birth to all sorts of horrible creatures. There’s also a hell mask brings the main character back to life, and multiple subtle references to western horror classics like Friday the 13th.
So… classic bedtime gaming, then?
This game is a gruesome beat ’em up that doesn’t need much concentration to play. Sure, there’s a storyline, but it doesn’t matter if you pay it any attention. It’s all about splatting bad guys and being scared outta’ your wits!
From the spawn of hell to the ruler of hell himself, Devil’s Crush takes the Number 2 slot in our list of the best PC Engine games of all time!
There’s a heavy occult vibe in this arcade port that Aleister Crowley would have been proud of.
Devil’s Crush is a pinball game that is more addictive than Tetris, and that’s saying something!
It’s so realistic that cheating is actually an option. Players can nudge and tilt the table, but tilting too much renders the flippers useless and may cost gamers valuable time while the table rights itself.
Playing ‘Shout at the Devil’ in its entirety also helps with the general occulty vibe of this game, and also drowns out my shouting at the Devil on the pinball machine every time my cheating doesn’t pay off!
Here it is, folks, the best PC Engine game of all time; Ninja Spirit!
This game is perfection from start to end. Imagine Prince of Persia mixed with Ninja fighters and mystical elements of Japanese folklore – basically, all the good stuff.
Players control a fearless warrior named Tsukikage. He’s out for revenge after a mythical beast kills his father.
Everyone loves a good revenge story!
The enemies in this game were amazing, as were the graphics for the time. Just check out the textures in that cave above and compare them to some of the best Sega Genesis games that released at the same time.
There’s no comparison!
Players wield a sword named Righteous Cloud while slashing every enemy that stands in their way, including a mighty boss at the end of each level. Shurikens and Ninja Ghosts are all available to help you in your quest too.
Yes, I just said Ninja Ghosts; this game is the coolest!
When Was The PC Engine Released?
October 30, 1987.
Hudson Soft and NEC teamed together to make the PC Engine, and it launched in Japan in 1987 to great success. The console was ported to France between 1989 – 1993.
How Many PC Engine Consoles Sold?
10 million units.
The PC Engine sits above the Sega Saturn’s 9.7 million sales and just below the Master System’s recorded 13 million sales during its official lifetime.
How Many PC Engine Games Are There?
676 games released for the PC Engine and the Turbografx-16 over a twelve-year period.
Games came on HuCards (sometimes referred to as TurboChips) and CD-ROMs.
Which Games Launched With The PC Engine?
Keith Courage in Alpha Zones was one of the first games to be released as a ‘pack in’ with the Turbografx-16 in America. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to topple the Genesis off its perch with Altered Beast, but we’ll talk more about Keith below.
Why Do The Games Below Have ‘Turbografx-16’ On Their Cases?
I’ve answered this question above, but I’ll go over it again in case anyone didn’t read the thrilling intro to this article.
The Turbografx-16 and the PC Engine are the same console. The PC Engine is smaller and less futuristic looking, but they do to the same thing.
Company bosses decided that American audiences needed something that sounded cooler than ‘PC Engine’, thus the Turbografx-16 was born.
How Do I Buy PC Engine Games?
As the PC Engine is no longer in production, the best place to look for the best PC Engine games is on second-hand sites.
Below, we’ve included links to an official buying page in each of the game sections. Click any picture, button, or hyperlinked area, and a new tab will open with the relevant information.
Be warned though; some of these PC Engine games are pretty expensive now, especially if they are imports. Get your credit card ready, and happy scrolling!
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.