Tag Archives: NEC

Gain Ground SX

It has been FAR too long – I hope you’ll find that this video retrospective on Gain Ground SX for the PC Engine CD was worth the wait!

Gain Ground SX is an obscure port of an obscure game for an obscure system. Nevertheless, I would HIGHLY recommend it to any TurboGrafx, PC Engine or Sega enthusiast. If you’d rather go the Genesis route, you can grab that port on Steam for about $2.99.

As noted in the video, the music is absolutely spectacular – but don’t take my word for it. Have a listen!

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t give a quick shoutout to to the the team over at Hardcore Gaming 101. I wouldn’t have even known about the existence of this port if it weren’t for their wonderful book, Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1. It’s a superb book, and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in Sega.

World Court Tennis – The Pearly Gates

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

Off the coast of Tokyo I had discovered a tennis court surrounded by a vast moat. I assumed it had to be the remains of Osaka Castle.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-35-15

This assumption defied all conventions of basic geography, so it had to be correct. Before I ran into this hidden fortress to take my seat on its throne of tennis blood, however, I did what any good tennis ronin would have done: I retreated back through the lower depths of Japan and secured the perimeter. Also, Yojimbo. Allow me to translate that from cinephile jackass:

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-14 20-13-45

 

Way back in Chapter 4, I had noticed that there was another tennis court right outside of Tokyo that I had yet to conquer. As this one was freely accessible by land, video game logic dictated that it would be home to a much weaker tennis pro. I’d weaken the perimeter and then crash the gates.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-14 20-15-04

This court was home to Keefe. Judging by his flowing mane and the feline quality of his facial features, I presumed him to be the lord of the tennis cat people – king of the Tokyo jungle. Or maybe he was just a spray-tanned crackhead with a tennis racket. Probably both. Either way, he probably had a pearl.

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While Keefe put up a surprisingly good fight, he was no match for my particular brand of prophesied revenge-fueled tennis rage™. I was now 3 pearls short of the whole necklace. That was the best possible metaphor to use.

I started back towards Tokyo… but I stopped. What if there was another court over the horizon? Only a fool would try to storm a castle without fully weakening its defenses. The last thing I wanted to do was commence my siege, only to fall victim to a naval bombardment of Sam Groth velocity serves from the imperial navy. In an abundance of caution I sailed north from Tokyo. It was there I learned the horrifying truth about the geography of Tennis Kingdom.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-14 20-36-37

While you wouldn’t know it from this picture, the tennis globe isn’t a globe at all. IT’S COMPLETELY FLAT. I could sail my tube this far and no further. The post-apocalyptic tennis wasteland theory was now right out. No weapon of mass destruction was powerful enough to unfurl an entire globe. Now that I thought about it, the Tennis Pangaea theory didn’t wash either; there were islands in this world. This had to be an alternate Earth. The only explanation could be that tennis world was a magical tennis court propped on the back of an enormous tennis turtle.

Turtlecourt
Tennis Kingdom, from space, as theorized by our research department.

Before I lost my sanity to the sheer void of spatial logic before me, I refocused myself on the task at hand, and searched the seas to the east. There, I found another solitary hut. Barging in uninvited, as was my wont (perhaps this is why the lobotomites had been so generally unhelpful), I was immediately propositioned by another gentleman with a spit curl.

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Despite my requests that he buy me dinner first, the man continued his approach. Tennis Kingdom really has an issue with consent. Suddenly, the screen flashed.

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And with that, I was unceremoniously expelled from the stranger’s hut.

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Let this be a lesson to all those that would travel the seas of Tennis Kingdom: do not walk into a stranger’s house unless you’re willing to have your racket forcibly enlarged. Consult your doctor if racket enlargement lasts longer than 6 hours.

IS THAT ANYWAY TO TREAT YOUR PROPHESIED HERO? Despite feeling used and trashy, I couldn’t help but view this as some kind of blessing in disguise. As all tennis in this existential hell was played on a 2D plane, theoretically, a larger racket would equate to less dropped volleys. I would abide this atrocity in stride in the name of forging my legend.

After that ugly affair, I didn’t feel like exploring any more. Tennis islanders were a superstitious, cowardly, and touchy-grabby lot. I sailed back to Osaka Castle and stormed the battlements. Inside, I found a man with the very Japanese name of “Wirt.”

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As you can tell from the only file photo of Wirt I am able to produce due to technical difficulties, he just couldn’t handle the size of my racket. He was more or less Wirthless.

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Are you done laughing yet? There’s an unwritten rule about video game quests of any type: if an enemy is isolated in a remote or hard to reach location, they will be uncommonly strong. In complete defiance of all gaming logic, isolating himself on a remote island had not improved Wirt’s tennis acumen one bit. Even the rules of game design don’t apply in Tennis Kingdom.

Having thoroughly exhausted all the prospective pearl locations in the North, I turned my search to the South… you know, towards Toronto and London.

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In the Rocky Mountain foothills east of Spain, I found another secluded court. Under standard rules of video game engagement, mountain strongholds are right up there with secluded island fortresses. Surely, a legendary challenge awaited me within.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-14 21-32-39

Her name was Brien, truly a tennis yuppie name if there ever were one. I had encountered this face before. It was the face of the woman I had met in the middle of Lake Superior. The one who couldn’t help me. I had cursed myself. Assuredly, the clone in Toronto’s waters had told her master that I was coming. Undoubtedly, Brien would be prepared.

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She wasn’t. Brien has the distinction of being the only one of the Evil Tennis King’s minions to double fault. In fact, she double faulted twice. Astonishingly, she didn’t even get the benefit of the time-honored “ladies are faster than men” video game trope. While I applauded the Evil Tennis King’s desire to maintain an equal-opportunity work environment, CLEARLY he had not done his due diligence on this hire.

Having just vanquished three of the Evil Tennis King’s lieutenants, I was flush with Warren Buffett levels of Tennis Złoty. I now had the means to buy my way to true power; to upgrade to “A”gassi level gear. I marched back to Toronto, slapped down a cool half million, and suited up in the gear of a true champion. No sooner did I grasp the racket of the great one, was I struck with a powerful vision.

No Andre, there were no questions. There were only two hurdles left to clear, and I knew exactly what I had to do.

NEXT TIME: THE FINAL CHAPTER!

World Court Tennis – The Endgame Begins

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

Had I known I was up against Tennis Satan himself, perhaps I might not have rushed headlong into humiliating defeat. It was going to take more than my legendary forehand and prophesied tennis instincts to take down the Evil Tennis King and free Tennis Kingdom from… uh… well…

World Court Tennis - First Tennis King Battle Screenshot 2015-09-09 19-31-17

You know, I still wasn’t sure just what this world needed to be “saved” from. Sure, it was geographically a mess, but that was about it. All anybody did here was play tennis. I mean, I can’t blame “a” Tennis King for being a little bit antsy about having a green tennis demon/doppelganger living at the North Pole, but it seemed like he mostly kept to himself. On top of that, nobody in Tennis Kingdom seemed like they were particularly unhappy or evil (except maybe the tennis rapists and this guy). There were tennis courts EVERYWHERE. How bad could this place really be?

None of that truly mattered anymore, though. I’d gone too deep, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave tennis kingdom without avenging my loss. I had to know that I truly was THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER IN THE LAND. My battles thus far had taught me exactly how to accomplish this goal: OBTAIN BETTER SPORTING GOODS THAN MY OPPONENTS.

I knew a few things:

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-28-59

1.  A man in Toronto was selling “A”gassi ranked gear. At this point in time, I lacked the funds to acquire that gear.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-24-52

2. There were six “fixed” tennis courts in Tennis Kingdom (as in “not the ones that materialize out of thin air every five seconds”). I had conquered two of those courts when I defeated Witt and Sevens. Each of those victories had earned me a pearl. Presumably if I could find the other four pearls, something good would happen.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-11-17

3. There was a big lake in Paris. Something should be there.

As I wasn’t in the mood to run headlong back into a tennis match just yet, I figured the first logical step was to warp back to Paris and check out that lake. Now that i had an inner tube, aquatic exploration would not be an issue.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-36-49

Sure enough, something WAS in the great Parisian sea. An isolated doghouse. I wondered how many tennis francs this primo piece of real estate had cost. Inside?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-38-07

Finally! The mystery of the pearls revealed! I’m no economist, but something told me that this guy would have better luck moving his merchandise if he set more reasonable prices. Currency that you can only obtain by beating the world’s greatest tennis pros is necessarily in short supply. I guess you have to dream big if you live on an isolated island with no means of escape.

At this point in time, I concluded that the next logical step would be to fight my way across the wilderness looking for the remaining tennis courts, while at the same time gradually earning the tennis food stamps necessary to purchase that “A”gassi gear. I was curious though… there had been lakes in Toronto and Tokyo. Why didn’t I check them out first?

Well I’ll be, Toronto apparently had a lake-dweller as well.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-38-28

A step up in quality from the Parisian doghouse I had just visited, no doubt. What useful information would I find here?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-38-32

You know, if I lived in the middle of a lake in post-apocalyptic Canada, I would probably be asking for help instead of refusing to dole it out, but hey, what did I know. Maybe I’d find the Japanese to be a little more hospitable? I warped back to Tokyo and took to the seas.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-35-15

A-ha. Whatever I was about to find, I was sure it wasn’t going to be hospitable. It was time to make like Commodore Perry and bust Japan wide open.

NEXT TIME: PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS

World Court Tennis – Totally Tubular

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

London had become a desolate husk. Other than some sweet “B” ranked gear, jolly old England had nothing to offer me – nothing but a a clue, that is. My next destination was “south of the maze.” Having no idea where the maze was, however, this “clue” was all but useless. Lacking any indication as to where to proceed next, I held my racket aloft and prayed to the spirit of legendary tennis warrior Björn Borg for guidance. I’m pretty sure he told me to head east. This was quite convenient, as it was the only corner of the sub-Spanish dessert continent I had yet to explore.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-02 19-13-26

East of the Spanish desert and the sylvan remnants of England, I found a mountain range, which I assume had to be the Rockies, because that made the least amount of sense. My “B” ranked gear held true, however; my fancy new shirt scared off most of the homicidal tennis cat-men I encountered along the way, and the ones that weren’t frightened away quickly wound up on the wrong side of 40-love.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-17-01

I emerged from the South Dakota foothills to encounter a small island village, separated from the rest of Tennis Pangaea by the smallest of bridges. This would be the last town I would encounter in my journey. I’m out of geography jokes… so let’s just guess. Canada?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-18-05

Oh, hi Witt. Something was happening  This perversely distorted geographic hellhole was starting to make sense to me.

Toronto was in no better shape than any of the other once-thriving metropolises I had encountered during my quest.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-17-58

Canada’s most populous city had been reduced to four residents: one shopkeeper, the obligatory greeter, and two canuck lobotomites. Let’s take the grand tour, shall we?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-02 19-35-10

I did not need any more advice on shoes. After all, I had WALKED all the way from Chicago to get here.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-28-26

An inner tube, you say? What use could that possibly have on a tennis court? Then again, what use did I have for magical pearls? Björn Borg would want me to do this.

Now as for the shop….

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-28-59

“A” ranked gear! My God, could the “A” stand for…

…Agassi? It had to. I couldn’t afford it just yet, but I knew I would need to have the image of a rebel if I was going to take down the Evil Tennis King and marry Brooke Shields. I’d need to earn some money on my tube quest.

Using my new-found prophesied GPS powers, I deduced that the maze had to be somewhere north of Toronto – you know, through the Rockies towards Paris. I steeled myself for the journey ahead and left Toronto with determination in my heart.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-16-51

Yep, this sure looked like a maze.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-16-00

It certainly had some labyrinthine qualities.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-30-14

Yep, some dead ends too.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-16-00

More than a few, actually.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-02 20-14-00

At long last, after an hour of wandering the misty Canadian mountains, stopping every five steps to tennis battle this disturbed looking individual, I had found it. This had to be where I would find the mysterious inner tube of legend, which would undoubtedly send me floating down the lazy river to glory.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-09-02 20-20-50

YOU RAT SOUP EATING SPIT CURL HAVING PIECE OF YUKON TRASH! WHO LIVES IN THE MIDDLE OF A MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAIN MAZE IF THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DISTRIBUTE TO RANDOM QUESTING HEROES? SOME OF US HAVE DAY JOBS! Seriously though, what did this guy eat? The nearest town was three screen lengths away! Tennis balls. It had to be tennis balls. Either that, or he was a cannibal. There’s no wildlife in Tennis Kingdom other than roving cat people and tennis rapists.

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…so after about another hour, I found this place.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode 8.3.2015 Screenshot 2015-08-13 20-33-27

Thank God. Hey buddy – maybe tell your cannibal clone on the other side of the maze to stop being such a dick. Did this man have any other nuggets of wisdom for me?

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FINALLY! USEFUL ADVICE! It was time to put a bullet in this quest. After two hours of wandering near-aimlessly through the Yukon, I was ready to unleash my fury on something. And now I knew exactly where that something was. It was time to take to the seas.

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Thankfully, there’s no marine life, tennis frogmen, or any other type of aquatic danger in the seas of Tennis Kingdom. I steered my tube to the North. I didn’t have the power of Agassi yet, nor had I grabbed all of the pearls, but I felt I was ready – my rage would not be quelled.

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North of the maze and to the east of Tokyo, I happened upon a secluded castle.  Inside…?

SURPRISES indeed! I had at last learned the horrible truth about my adversary. In addition to being green, the EVIL TENNIS KING WAS ALSO THE DEVIL. THE DEVIL. I HAD BEEN TASKED WITH DEFEATING THE DEVIL IN A THREE SET MATCH OF TENNIS. His serve was unbeatable… utterly unbeatable. For all my fury, I was powerless against Beelzebub, lord of the Tennis flies. I would need something more. Something… magic.

NEXT TIME: DIVINE RETRIBUTION….?

World Court Tennis – STEV Rising: REVENGEANCE

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

I had taken out Witt. Conquered one of the six tennis courts and obtained a mystic pearl of unknown purpose. I knew I probably needed more practice, but vengeance – no – REVENGEANCE was running through my veins. I needed revenge against Sevens.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-30 20-35-12

Ah, just look at his stupid face and Hitler youth haircut! I couldn’t move on until I cleansed the stain of my loss to Sevens from my near pristine 15-36 record. Yes, I would have to beat him, and I would have to beat him in a crudely edited montage set to Finnish power metal.

I hope you enjoyed that. It may be the most work I’ve ever put into anything ever. Someone send me a certificate. I now use Windows Movie Maker at a 10th grade level.

NEXT TIME: WE GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!

World Court Tennis – The Quest Continues

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

My initial foray into Tennis Kingdom having been thwarted by roving tennis rapists, I took some time to lick my wounds before venturing out into the wilderness again. Clearly, I had a lot of practicing to do before I could even consider taking down the Evil Tennis King. In my heart, I wasn’t even sure why I was trying to take him down. For all I knew, he was just taking his rightful turn at the rotational constitutional throne of Tennis Kingdom. Why should I, STEV, do the bidding of “a” deposed Tennis King? I had no stake in this battle!

But enough. I am the prophesied one. Heroes do not doubt, and doubt of any kind can be ended in action alone. It was time to prepare a battle plan. As I sat in my home, concocting my strategy, I remembered the words of a particular Chicago yuppie who was kind enough to offer me advice when I walked into his home uninvited:

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-17 20-15-49

EUREKA. If I couldn’t beat them with my talent, I’d simply outspend them. If years of Nike commercials have taught me anything, it’s that talent is just a paycheck away. I’d just scare those tennis rapists away with flashy clothes! While my losses far exceeded my wins, I’d amassed some cash – “a” Tennis King had been kind enough to give me cab fare every time I Iost.

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-07-01 19-31-32

It would have probably been more helpful if he’d given me full access to the Tennis Kingdom treasury. He HAD asked me to save his kingdom, after all… but hey, haggling wasn’t an option. It was time to hit the shops.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 19-46-09

No, he couldn’t. As any RPG player worth his salt knows, “E” stands for equipped. I already had all this junk. While I’d amassed a princely sum of $9,200 Tennis Coronas, it looked like my plan to spend my way to the top wasn’t getting off the ground in Chicago. I’d have to venture out and find another shop.

I commenced the arduous trek east from Chicago, fending off every feral scumbag in a polo shirt that dared to stand in my way (actual record: 5-8), into what I assume was the desolate remains of the Appalachian Mountains.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-04-48

Before long, I stumbled across a humble settlement. What could this be? Baltimore? Philadelphia? What horrible fate had befallen the Eastern Seaboard in the tennispocalypse?

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Dear God, no. How could this be? I’d somehow crossed what was once the Atlantic Ocean and made my way to the city of lights, only to find it occupied by a race of tennis playing cro-mags. Or… was this a Pangaea situation? Had the whole world become unstuck in time, transplanting modern towns into a pre-divide land mass? WHAT TRICKERY WAS THIS, EVIL TENNIS KING?

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But the time for questions had passed. I was in too deep, and the only way out was through. It was time to see what was left of Paris. Paris was quite larger than Chicago, spanning several screens – perhaps it had been spared the full wrath of the Evil Tennis King. It had no less than 10 houses. I prayed that its inhabitants would be more helpful than the residents of Chicago.

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I sought to save them, but they spoke in riddles….

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-08-49

brainless platitudes…

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-09-42thinly veiled threats…

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and pointless declarative statements. Clearly something was rotten in the former France. That being said, at least two Parisian zombies offered some useful information.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-10-31

This disturbingly ecstatic gentleman divulged the location of a tennis court. While I was perplexed as to why you would need a tennis court in a land where they can seemingly materialize out of thin air, I was certain I would have to explore this.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 20-09-34And this man, who appeared to be suffering from some kind of severe skeletal deformity, divulged the location of another settlement of Tennis survivors.

But I didn’t come to Paris to chat. I came to Paris to shop. What did the local pro shop have to offer?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-07-01 21-50-53

This inventory looked suspiciously familiar… oh God, could it be that “E” didn’t mean “equipped,” but…

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My conscience forbids me from reiterating the stream of expletives that sprung forth from my mouth upon discovering that I’d spent four hours of my life fighting off the tennis hordes with grade “F” gear. IS THIS ENTIRE KINGDOM CONSPIRING AGAINST ME?

Putting my rage at the world aside, I ponied up the cash for some “D” ranked gear, confident that this would only help my quest. I then put my controller down and took a rest, vowing to return again. I would not be broken by this clumsy user interface! Because, after all, as a lobotomized Parisian once told me…

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NEXT TIME: WESTWARD, HO!

 

 

Street Fighter II’ – PC Engine

Street Fighter II’
PC Engine – 1993
Developer – NEC Avenue
Publisher – Capcom

While I haven’t surrendered my tennis questing just yet, I’d like to take a moment to talk about one of my favorite console ports of all time, Street Fighter II’ Championship Edition for the PC Engine. While it’s outshone on nearly level by SNES version Street Fighter II Turbo, which was released in the same year, it’s an impressive port in its own right, and well worth the consideration of any fighting game fan with the means to play it.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-28 19-04-54

Street Fighter II and its countless iterations were hot commodities in the early ’90; the franchise was ported to everything from the Game Boy to the Commodore 64. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a TI-82 version of the game out there in the ether. At first glance, the PC Engine (what we knew in the States as the TurboGrafx-16) version of Street Fighter II’ appears to be little more than a slightly less impressive version of its SNES counterpart; there’s nothing on the surface of this port that would lead you to believe it’s worthy of any great praise. However, when one considers the specifications of the hardware that it is ran on, it’s somewhat of a technical marvel.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-28 19-52-00

While whether the PC Engine/TurboGrafx qualifies as a “16-bit” system is a subject best reserved for another day, one thing is not in dispute: it had an 8-bit CPU, the same as the NES. Though the PC Engine came strapped with a dual 16-bit GPU, in terms of raw horsepower, it was still operating on an 8-bit level. If I might hazard a broad and clumsy car analogy, compared to the NES, everything has been upgraded but the engine – new coat of paint, new tires, front and rear spoilers – but it’s still not going to go that much faster. The PC Engine’s chief competitors, the Genesis and the SNES, were working with legit 16-bit CPUs. For the mathematically disinclined, that’s TWICE of processing power.

So, considering that raw power differential, take a look at this:

While astute observers will note that there are missing frames of animation, a lack of color depth, and other shortcomings, considering the hardware, the end result is almost unimpeachable: this is a full featured, smooth playing, and aesthetically pleasing adaptation of an arcade classic. While this port never saw a US release, I have to imagine that Japanese PC Engine owners were ecstatic with the quality of SFII’.

SFII’ pushed the PC Engine to its absolute limits. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the sheer size of it compared to a standard PCE/TG16 HuCard:HuCardComparison

Clocking in at a massive (for the time) 20 megabits, SFII’ could not be contained in a standard issue HuCard. It’s literally bursting at the seems with quality. It’s somewhat notable that the game was released on a HuCard at all, as the PC Engine had a well-established CD-ROM add on by the time SFII’ was released. I can only assume that it was released on HuCard so as to reach as wide of an audience as possible.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-29 21-35-04

I’m far from an expert on the subject, but if you’d like to see some comparisons of the PC Engine version of SFII’ against its Genesis and SNES counterparts, I’d highly recommend you check out this excellent post over at Retro SanctuarySFII’ for the PC Engine is one of those select few instances where a little background information on a game makes it all the more enjoyable to an enthusiast – I’d highly recommend it to any fans of the console or the series.

World Court Tennis – The Legend Begins

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

World Court Tennis is just like any other Tennis game from 1989, save for two notable exceptions. One: it lets you play as a cat man named Grans:

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-22 20-39-16Two: it has a quest mode.

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-22 20-03-58Seriously! A quest! There’s really no point in talking about any other mode, is there?  I’d just be wasting our time. Now let’s go rescue Stefi Graf. Or Ivan Lendl. Or whatever it is you do on a Tennis Quest in the late ’80s. ROLE PLAYING TIME!

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-34-30Ahh, a king! And he’s been waiting for me! I must be the prophesied one, or maybe the descendant of Bobby Riggs. My legend precedes me.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-36-54So wait, you are just “a” king of Tennis Kingdom? Is this some kind of rotational constitutional monarchy? Are you some kind of regional warlord? So many questions. Anyway, sure, what do you need, Tennis King?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-40-15 Sounds like Connecticut.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-43-01Wait, I thought you were the Tennis King. Are you saying you wrecked everything, or do you have some kind of doppelganger? Something isn’t adding up here, pal.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-44-38I really hope this isn’t some kind of long twisting switcharoonie, where I learn that he’s some kind of Robin Hood figure, and that I’ve been working for the wrong side all along. Don’t screw with STEV, Tennis King.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-49-18Now how did he do that? Who is he, Carmen Sandiego? Is he going to steal the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center next? I don’t care if your kingdom was peaceful, Tennis King; you just can’t let things like that happen on your watch. Negligence, plain and simple.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-52-28Complaining. Can’t have that, no sir.

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-23 19-53-25Again, are you referring to “Evil Tennis King” or yourself? Forget it, never mind. As I apparently have no choice in the matter, I will complete this task, and put an end to all this awful complaining.

And just like that, my legend began. No sooner did I accept “a” Tennis King’s challenge, than I was spit out on to the thriving streets of…

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-23 20-03-27CHICAGO? Good God, what did the Evil Tennis King do to this place? People are so busy complaining that the city has returned to the Earth and nature reigns supreme! Either that, or this game takes place in a post apocalyptic future where only the strongest tennis players survive. This plot is much more nuanced than anticipated.

Anyway, Chicago doesn’t have much, just four modest huts, a pro shop, and the Tennis King’s castle. The huts were filled with people who offered me all kind of useful information. Take, for example, this jolly citizen:

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-17 20-16-07And how could I forget all the laughs I shared with this guy?

World Court Tennis Screenshot 2015-06-17 20-15-49Anyway, as the Tennis King only saw fit to give me $500, and there’s nothing in the pro shop that isn’t less than $3000, I began my quest in earnest.

First things first: The Tennis King clearly stated – and I QUOTE – that “people can’t play tennis and are complaining.” That was clearly not an issue here. No sooner did I step out into the surprisingly verdant wastes of Tennis Kingdom, did some random yuppie challenge me to a match. I knew something foul was afoot.

Not only did he challenge me, he absolutely DECIMATED me. If you’ve only ever played modern tennis games – say, from about Virtua Tennis onward – you’ve probably never had much trouble making ball contact.  Today’s tennis sims tend to give players a little bit more leeway; you get with in stabbing distance of a volley or serve, and you’ll have no problem getting your racket on the ball. This is not the case in World Court Tennis: if the pixels of your racket do not make contact with the pixels that comprise the ball, you will miss. Horribly. Prophesied tennis hero or not, I had some practicing to do.

And by “practicing” I mean “losing.” At least the game gave me a nice assortment of randomly generated faces to lose to. BEHOLD:

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-17-54

 BALD CAP WOMAN!World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-19-57
FISH-FACED CLOWN LADY!
World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-21-23THE BEAST WITH TWO MOUTHS!World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-22-25
TENNIS JASON!World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-26-06

…and this character, who I fondly call the “Tennis Rapist.”

Each loss threw me back to Chicago, so my progress was incremental at best. After about an hour of scratching and crawling, racking up a record of roughly 5-12, I managed to venture over three bridges, two rivers, and miles of forest to encounter – at LONG LAST – a mysterious hut in the middle of the woods!

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-24-18

What could this hold? A new racket? A wise tennis sage who will teach me the backhand of Sampras? The secret of John McEnroe’s rage?

World Court Tennis - Quest Mode Screenshot 2015-06-24 20-24-52Ah, a doofus with a spit curl with one sentence of information. Great.

Overwhelmed by the futility of my endeavors, I copied down my password and decided to take a rest, silently vowing to return to the desolation of Tennis Kingdom and bring the racket of vengeance to its oppressors – for I am STEV, the PROPHESIED ONE.

NEXT TIME: PARIS!