Gaming History 101

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Video: Keith Courage in Alpha Zones Retrospective

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A look back at the origins of the PC-Engine, its Western counterpart the Turbografx-16, and the pack-in title Keith Courage in Alpha Zones.

There is also an accompanying livestream that can be viewed here or by following the link in the card at the end of the video.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Podcast: Are You One of Us?

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This week Fred flies solo to discuss the short live but highly coveted niche console the Turbografx-16.  With an 8-bit processor and a 16-bit graphics card this Japan-centric console by NEC only hung around for 4-5 years but has a cult following almost as intense as Sega.  This episode covers its release, different versions, Japanese counterpart the PC Engine, and of course the expensive CD expansion and games.


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

Buying Guide: Turbografx-16

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We all love our retro consoles, but in many cases the consoles we are buying are because they are cheap enough or we have enough money to purchase what we never were able to in our youth.  Unfortunately the business of making used retro items available to the masses can at times be a money grubbing market where consumers are deceived by people they will never meet in real life.  As an individual who has spent the last decade scouring the local area, conventions, eBay, and the internet as a whole I have learned many valuable lessons.  For that reason I present my buying guide series, which is a handy quick guide to knowing what to purchase and what will cost an arm and a leg to replace.

There was this brief period of time when the store shelves of Toys R Us had Nintendo games, Sega Genesis games, and Turbografx-16 games.  After the Super Nintendo ushered in a whole mess of games in the holiday season of 1992 (the console premiered in 1991 but it had significant presence the following year) and the Turbografx-16 consoles moved to that dreaded area in the middle of the aisle.  Before you knew it they were stacking up boxed consoles at discounted $99.99 price tags (the console originally was either $199.99 or $149.99, although I forget which) and in 1993 it was down to $49.99 with free games and all at once disappeared.  Due to the fact that NEC’s “in between” console only moved at that exremely low price point, most people that owned the console kept it, which makes for a bit of scarcity on today’s market.  Fortunately I have this buying guide here to assist you and aside from games, there really isn’t a lot to the accessories or hook-up of a TG-16.

You will want to make sure your console has:

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Magical Chase (Palsoft/Quest)

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To keep the theme of this weekend alive, I decided to go with yet another light and fluffy shmup on this Sunday afternoon.  I’ve chosen to go with one of the most expensive games in my collection, Magical Chase, one of the few Japanese-heavy shmups to find a release on the Turbografx-16 system in the US.  I always thought this game was kind of a throw away title as a child, it didn’t do anything quite as well as Fantasy Zone, Gradius or even R-Type, but of course I had to dig it out when I found out how rare and expensive it was.  I am pleased to say that when I gaze upon this title with learned eyes I am much more aware of some of the great things it does and now that I finally got my hands on an owner’s manual I can play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.  See, back then if we couldn’t understand a game we just assumed that it was too complicated or we were too stupid and just ignored it.  I had no idea how to control the stars before getting my hands on that text document.  Don’t believe I actually have the game?  Well here’s your proof below (yes, this is a cheesy excuse to show it off):

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Gaming To-Go Part 2: Gameboy and beyond

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For more than 10 years various portable games came and went, mostly focusing on a single title in custom hardware, then in 1989 it all hit at once.  With such a small gap between releases it was clear that multiple companies were developing cartridge-based portable consoles.  Most portable systems in history moving forward had one simple goal: to port home console games to handhelds as faithfully as possible.  While some gems of creativity did spawn from portables that were clearly not ports, the main goal of many developers was always about getting those console ports in the palm of your hand.

Gameboy – Launch Price: $89.99 – Released: 1989
In every way shape and form, the Nintendo Gameboy was designed to be a portable NES.  The brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi (Game & Watch series) and Nintendo Research & Development 1 (R&D1), known best for the creation of Metroid, the Gameboy was defined by one game: Tetris.  Not only was the portable 8-bit console looking as promising as the NES – complete with launch titles Super Mario Land and a handful of all-too-familiar titles that launched the NES like Baseball and Tennis – but Nintendo picked the ultimate pack-in.  With the Gameboy, Nintendo linked to a more casual market as well as the NES and gamer faithful, which was no more clear than the inclusion of Tetris, not Super Mario Land, in the box.  Tetris fever was rampant in the United States at the time, some six or more versions were floating around on various platforms by 1989, and the Gameboy was a convenient and relatively inexpensive (Tetris was around $40 in most software versions) way to get a versatile version of the game.  Starting in 1990, after many children and adults alike received a Gameboy for Christmas, it was not uncommon to see people in public grinding away the hours on a Gameboy.  What was unique is that they almost always were playing Tetris and nothing else.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am