The TurboGrafx-16 is one of the most underrated consoles in gaming’s long and storied history. It didn’t sell even close to as many units as the other 16-bit consoles, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad device!
In fact, the TurboGrafx-16 has quite a few fantastic games that are more than worth going back to. Whether you’re into platformers, shooters, or beat-em-ups, there are solid games available for the TurboGrafx-16.
1. Blazing Lazers
Blazing Lazers is an absolute classic in the vertical scrolling shooter genre. Long before the days of movie-based games being trash, Blazing Lazers gave licensed games a good name (it’s based on the Japanese film Gunhead). If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to go back and blaze some Lazers.
2. Air Zonk
Air Zonk is a side-scrolling shooter that’s definitely one of the best games ever released for the TurboGrafx-16 console. It actually features some innovative companion mechanics that change up the tried and true gameplay. The game features a lighthearted art style and interesting characters that make it worth playing.
3. Bonk’s Adventure
Bonk is the mascot for the TurboGrafx-16. Like Mario and Sonic, he’s meant to serve as the face of the console, though he didn’t catch on nearly as well as the other two mascots, which are still receiving new games, movies, and TV shows today. However, the gameplay in the Bonk games is quite enjoyable. You’ll be “bonking” enemies with the titular character’s rather large cranium as you platform your way through the game’s levels. All of the Bonk games for the TurboGrafx-16 are worth playing, but you should start with Bonk’s Adventure, as it’s the first.
This horror-themed beat-em-up game is an absolute gore-fest unlike any other game released in that era. It came with a hilarious warning on the box that read, “The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children… and cowards.” If you want to see games that pushed things to the limit long before Grand Theft Auto was even a glint in Rockstar’s eye, check out Splatterhouse.
5. Devil’s Crush
Devil’s Crush is an early example of a pinball video game that defies the rules of what can be done with a physical pinball machine. Like Splatterhouse, it features plenty of dark themes and imagery, and it definitely pushes the envelope in terms of what was acceptable for the time. In fact, the North American version was censored to remove some of the darker images. If you enjoy the gameplay, you’ll like its predecessor Alien Crush, which is quite similar with a different motif.
6. Bomberman ’93
Bomberman is a tremendous series of games, and Bomberman ’93 is easily one of the best. The gameplay follows the same basic formula as previous games in the series (and many games that came later), but it does it with beautiful visuals and fantastic multiplayer that lets up to five players hop in and play at the same time (assuming you have the necessary accessory).
R-Type is another game in the side-scrolling shooter genre, and it’s a damn good one! You’ll control R-9 to defend humanity against an alien life form known as Bydo. It’s not the most innovative concept from a story perspective, but the gameplay is incredibly fun and challenging. Additionally, the visuals look absolutely gorgeous from an art standpoint.
8. Ninja Spirit
Ninja Spirit is a killer platform game featuring multiple weapons. It has a lot of variety in the gameplay, making it a very exciting game. It’s not nearly as popular as some of the others on the list, but it definitely should be, because it’s fantastic. In addition to the fun and challenging platforming gameplay, Ninja Spirit also looks incredible and really takes advantage of what the TurboGrafx-16 can do.
If you call yourself a retro gaming fan, you need to get your hands on a TurboGrafx-16 and these games.