I’ve always had a weird sort of fascination with console add-ons. I mean, looking back, they rarely seem to do any good to the system they link to. How many people reminisce about the large, varied library of the Sega CD or 32X, or marvel at the Famicom Disk system? There’s probably like 15 people right now and most likely 10 of them are frequent visitors of the site. Despite all of this however, I kind of like Console add-ons. It’s cool to sift through the junk and the terminally weird to find those games that slipped through the cracks. And since I just bought a Japanese PC-Engine CD unit, to add to my collection I’ve decided to list my top 5 games for console add-ons.
5) Tempo (32X)
Tempo is a quirky 2D platformer with great level design, colorful, imaginative environments, and weird yet memorable characters. The presentation in this game is just excellent. The sprite animations are fluid and full of life and the music and sounds fit perfectly with the action and overall tone of the game. It shines in a lot of ways. Sega made this game a great showcase for the 32X by sticking to what they knew how to do well, and not trying to bite off more than they could chew with new technology. Sega took an idea that would have been “meh” at best on the genesis and used the upgraded abilities of their mushroom shaped adapter to do it right. Tempo is not just a fun game, it’s a game that shows the worth of the add-on it belongs on.
4) Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PC Engine Super CD)
Everyone should play this game. Not only is it fun with great levels and gameplay (as expected by the good folks at Konami,) it’s also an important piece of the series history & development as a whole. Rondo of Blood shines for sort of the same reason that Tempo does: The development team stuck to what they knew and used the PC Engine’s CD format to augment that. They could have played around with FMV or QTE’s but they didn’t. The big difference here from Tempo is that the Castlevania team was more willing to use the features of the add-on to tweak the formula to its advantage. The game plays more like the older Castlevanias, but with multiple characters, branching and secret paths, power ups, and cutscenes complete with audio, and CD quality music, it takes the series further into the future than it’s predecessors did.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood one of the PC Engine’s best
3) Lunar 2: Eternal Blue and Ys Book I & II (Sega CD/Turbo CD)
Both of these games are on this list for pretty much the same reason. They can both be used to really show off what their respective platforms can handle and show how the CD format can really be used with video games for the better. Sure there were games with voice acting and cutscenes before either of these games came out, but Lunar 2 and Ys Book I & II are good examples of how to do those things right. Ys is a great game on its own, but the story sucks you in that much more with the excellent voice acting. It still holds up well today, not many games voice from that era do. Lunar would still be a fun game with good gameplay and enjoyable characters, but it would be really hard for players to make such an emotional investment in the game and the story without the rich and smooth (for the time) cutscenes. Lunar 2 and Ys I & II are both good examples to show off the merit and value of their add-ons, but the reason they are so high up on the list is because neither game would be as enjoyable without the support that only the CD format and the respective game systems can provide.
Lunar 2 (top) and Ys Book I & II (bottom) showin’ off
2) Snatcher (Sega CD, PC Engine)
Snatcher does everything right. Really, it does. And while it’s true that the game did pretty well on more basic hardware prior to this release, I don’t think it would have been the cult smash hit it is today if it was scaled down and released on the Super Nintendo. It takes all the positive reasons for the other games to be on this list and combines them into one package. Good visuals, good use of the medium, all of it. It’s a good thing too, because at it’s core, Snatcher is a point and click game with action segments on the side. Snatcher just does everything right, and it wouldn’t be enough for me on a cartridge or a HuCard.
Snatcher has it all
1) The Legend of Zelda (Famicom Disk System)
I know it’s a bit of a stretch but this is my list and I can do what I want. When I started work on this list I knew I wanted to put a Famicom Disk system game on here, and once I decided that it quickly became apparent that the only real choice for me was Zelda. It changed everything. I love it, end of story.
The Beginning of it all…