in 1987 the pc-engine was born from a union between hardware producer nec and software producer hudson. third party developers like irem, konami, and namco provided ports of their arcade hits as well as wholly original games.
the pc-engine, nec's little console that could, boasts a software library that represents the best of 2D gaming, both in fantastic arcade ports and quirky, lovable games that the console can call its own. the console and many of its games remain readily available, and collecting for the pc-engine is rewarding and fairly inexpensive.
this site and its author are interested in the japanese pc-engine, not its american counterpart, the turbografx-16. japanese hucards will run on the american console with the use of a special converter, though many japanese games saw release for the tg-16 under different names (see below). and cds from any region will run on the turbografx-cd or turboduo.
this site is about pc engine love.
the pc engine is the most adorable console ever designed. the base model will fit in your backpack. the original iteration of the console is white and red, with rf output. in 1989 the grey and blue "coregrafx" model was released. this model outputs a/v, making it compatible with contemporary televisions.
the little machine has a plug for a power-cord, a plug for a/v output, space for the cd-rom attachment (in back), a power switch and one controller port. multiplayer (with the exception of turn-based titles) requires a multitap device which plugs into the controller port and allows for up to five controllers to be attached.
the pc engine coregraphx, with controller
there were a number of other variations on the design. the pc-engine shuttle has a sleek science-fictiony design. the larger supergrafx will play additional graphically-enhanced cards, all arcade ports. the gt and lt are portable pc-engines, which have short battery lives and are the most rare and expensive. all of these will play pc-engine hucards.
additionally, there's the duo models, which will run super cd games in addition to hucards. the japanese model, the pc-engine duo, will run japanese hucards and super cds from any region, while the american model, the turboduo, will run american hucards and super cds from any region. the cds are not region protected, though the hucards are.
i got mine from japan game stock (if you order a console from them "naked", be sure to specify that you want a power cord, a/v composite cables and a controller). you can also find them in other import stores on and offline, or (if you're brave) ebay.
the hucard is hudson's proprietary medium for most of the pce's software, and is the smallest medium for stationary hardware to exist to date. the data itself is stored on a small black pcb, which is mounted on a thin plastic card (with game art). the card slips into a slot in the console, and the power switch holds the card in place while the console is on.
some pc engine hucards
a hucard comes in a case resembling a cd jewel case. inside you'll find the hucard encased in a clear protective slip, held in place by plastic ridges in the case. the game documentation serves as the jewel case's cover, and slides out for reading.
hucards are about the size of playing card (though thicker), and hucards can be stored relatively safely in many of the places you can store playing cards (clear plastic collector's sleeves, for example). i keep mine in a plastic case for a playing card deck. you should never bend a hucard, and try to keep cards away from water and direct sunlight.
though rarer games can be harder to come by, most hucards can be found easily on online import stores and on ebay. loose (caseless) hucards can be had for cheap, though use discretion when buying used games.
the pc-engine has a rich library of games. here are some hucards which can be found fairly easily, and will compliment any pce collection. many of these were also released for the turbographx-16 (some under different names).
the follow-up to namco's classic arcade shooting game was ported to the pc-engine early in its life-time. a warning: this game is hopelessly addictive. the "galactic dancing" challenging stages which feature alien invaders dancing to swing and bossa nova complete the charm. released on the tg-16 two years later as "galaga 90".
hudson's epic game of lunar warfare, in its first incarnation. complex but elegant strategy - each mission's name is its password, and once you have that, you can play it two-player, as the enemy, or watch the computer play against itself. it has a super-cd sequel, "neo nectaris", and was released on the tg-16 as "military madness".
ported from the arcade, this may be the quintessential ninja game. contains phantom option ninjas, legend of kage jumps, irem explosions, four weapons, seven stages, and huge bosses. the default difficulty is reasonable, and the arcade difficulty is sinister. the sound design is haunting. also released on the american tg-16.
pc genjin 2
pc genjin (genjin meaning "prehistoric man", and rhyming with "pc-engine") was a mascot for hudson even before being featured in a series of games. pc-genjin and pc-genjin 2 are both fantastic platforming adventures, though the second is a bit more polished. released on the tg-16 as "bonk's adventure" and "bonk's revenge".
three of hudson's bomberman games were developed for the pc-engine - this is the last and best. its one-player mode is compelling (unlike that of many other bomberman releases) and the multiplayer - for up to five players - is ludicrously fun, even when played against computer opponents. the multitap and this game get along well.
videogame fantasy pinball at its finest, and beneath a gleaming gothic veneer. the elaborate cathedral-like table comprises three screens which lead to twelve different single-screen bonus stages. the music is incredible and a giant skull will laugh at you when your ball falls in the drain. released on the tg-16 as "devil's crush".
atomic robo-kid special
one of upl's greatest titles, and different and better than the arcade original. the game varies between straightforward side-scrolling scenes, free-scrolling underground complexes, pong-like one-on-one shoot-outs, and huge, screen-filling bosses. one of the most memorable shooters on a console at no loss for them.
in addition to hucard software, there is a large library of cd games available for the pc-engine. the coregraphx won't play super cds - you'll need a super cd-rom expansion that docks on a port in its back.
super cd-rom docked with coregraphx
another, possibly more convenient option is to accquire a pc-engine duo or turbo duo. these consoles will run super cds in addition to hucards. there's a japanese and american model, and each will only play hucards of its region. super cds, however, are region free, and a cd game from either region will play in either model of duo.
it's also worth mentioning that, since the console was designed before cd manufacturing technology was affordable for most consumers, there is no copy protection on pc-engine consoles. a cd burned from your computer will run on a duo or super cd-rom! use of burned cds can cause your consoles lens to burn out more quickly, though - for best results, burn your cds at a slow speed like 4x.
emulation is useful for trying games before purchasing them, particularly those which are rare and expensive. magic engine emulates the pc-engine near-perfectly. it's not freeware - you'll need to purchase a code to play beyond five minutes. it runs cds in addition to hu roms, making it an alternative to a duo or super cd-rom.