1989 was a weird time to be gaming. For the most part, gamers in the US were in either the Nintendo camp, enjoying Mario 3 on their NES, or they were team Sega, Golden Axing it up on their new 16 bit system, the Sega Genesis. Meanwhile, there was that one guy who knew a guy who had a friend with a Turbografx 16. Bonk had appeared a few months before Sonic, and for a time, Bonk was the up and coming gaming mascot to dethrone Mario “Man look, arcade games, Bonk looks like a huge cartoon character, wow! These graphics are so rad!” This commercial, and others like it, made every 10 year old kid jealous. Want times infinity!
About a week later, it seemed, in the Mexican standoff of the three consoles, poor Turbografx lost. Both the NES and Sega owners poked fun.
“It’s not even 16 bit! hahaahaahhaah!” (I would have typed ‘lol’, but no one said that back then. The system actually has an 8 bit CPU, but 16 bit graphics.)
“What a waste of money!”
“No one has one.. I don’t want one, I’ll wait for the SNES”
“I can’t even find one!”
All these naysayers did was miss out on an entire library of excellent games. One game, Blazing Lazers, is one of the best known games. That’s still not saying much though. A quick Google search shows “R-Type” has about 6 million hits. Blazing Lazers has about 60k. I think Blazing Lazers is better, and perhaps one of the best shooters on ANY system. It was one of the initial releases with the TG16 back in ’89, while NES kids were still playing Gradius or pumping quarters into an arcade machine. You play as the pilot of a Gunhed Star Fighter, attempting to defeat the ‘Dark Squadron’, over nine stages increasing difficulty. Luckily there’s a bunch of power-ups along the way to aid you. Shoot everything that moves, typical of a shooter.
Once I got into the game, past the start screen, I forgot I was playing a console when I was deep in the middle of Blazing Lazers. I was stunned at how good these graphics were. There’s no way this game was never an arcade game… is there? (It wasn’t. I checked.) The graphics look and feel like they’d be at home in any mall or hiding in the corner of a Chuck E Cheese in the late 1980s. The smooth scrolling, high speed backgrounds REALLY create the feeling of speed. True to the title, there are lasers, and with enough power gel balls, they do indeed blaze. There’s no flicker here in this game. Mind = boggled.
Blazing Lazers plays like an arcade shooter, complete with power-ups and power boosters like in R-Type or Gradius. You can acquire one of four different kinds of weapons, different strengths of the weapon power-ups, with photon blasters (bullets pew pew pew!), field thunder (rapid fire wide beam laser), power waves (lights up the screen with laser.. blazing in fact), and ring blaster (spinning balls all around you act as a shield and a weapon.) These weapons appear as you shoot enemies down, and you can switch any time by grabbing one. There’s so many damn weapons and strengths of them in this game that you’ll feel invulnerable with an insane amount of attack force. Until you die, of course. Unlike R-Type/Gradius, you can change the speed of your ship with the press of the select button, which is a welcome change over using a bunch of power up modules like in most games.
The sounds in this game are pretty good, but not as stellar as the graphics. There’s a guy calling out your weapons which I like, even though he sounds like he’s talking into a drive-thru window speaker. The music soundtrack is worth putting on a CD and listening to on its own. Kenny McCormick may have been made fun of for his Coleco, but the TG16 kids arguably got it just as bad. Time passed, people moved on, and the TG16 fell into memory, eclipsed by the SNES and later systems, except for a few people who still play to this day. There was a successor, the PC-FX, to carry the torch, similar to Nintendo and the SNES, N64, and so on, but it was a Japanese only release. I’m here to apologize to the people I made fun of back then. I’m now in possession of a TG16, so you’ll see more of the system from here on out, as I explore it’s game offerings. The TG16 is an amazing system, and if I were to show only one game to a TG16 noob, or someone looking for the ultimate shooter, I’d hand them Blazing Lazers, and ask them to give it, The Fair Shake.