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TurboGrafx-16 Mini: How English-Friendly Are Its PC Engine Games?

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With the TurboGrafx-16 Mini now available in the West, you might be wondering: exactly how many of the system’s dozens of Japanese releases are easily played if you don’t know the language? It’s a big part of the microconsole’s appeal, and over half of its library. So what PC Engine games can you play? We’re here to help.

Indistinguishable!

These games are, for all intents and purposes, English games. There may be occasional incidental text, but you should have no problem here. Given the era and the TG-16’s favored genres, this is… unsurprisingly most of them! So here’s the full list. (English names in parentheses, when different from the TurboGrafx-16 Mini’s menu label.)

  • The Kung Fu (China Warrior)
  • Galaga ‘88
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Dragon Spirit
  • PC Genjin (Bonk’s Adventure)
  • The Genji and the Heike Clans
  • Super Darius
  • Super Star Soldier
  • Daimakaimura (Ghouls ‘n Ghosts)
  • Aldynes
  • Seirei Senshi Spriggan
  • Gradius
  • Salamander
  • Ninja Ryukenden (Ninja Gaiden)
  • Star Parodier
  • Spriggan Mark 2
  • Gradius II
  • Cho Aniki
  • Bomberman ‘94
  • Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire

pc engine mini

Accessible!

These games do have some Japanese in them, and maybe you’ll have to look up a thing or two to help you along the way when you can’t read the hints. Still, you should be fine without looking anything up… usually.

The Legend of Valkyrie
The Zelda-inspired game from Namco is certainly worth your time, and this version of the game sports particularly appealing visuals. You just occasionally will need to guess what NPCs are asking you to do.

Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
With the game’s voice work, there actually ends up being as much German in the game as there is Japanese! If you know your way around, you should be okay, but the helpful signs are now not so helpful and that could trip up new players from time to time.

Learnable!

With these games, you should be fine once you learn how to play, but you’ll need to figure out how they work online or go through trial and error for a bit since you can’t read tutorials.

Appare! Gateball
This is a croquet game? And most of the trouble lies in figuring out how exactly it works, since it’s not like a golf game or a racing game with long-standing tropes and control schemes you know by heart. It’s weird and different, though, and could be worth the effort.

Bomberman: Panic Bomber
A falling-block puzzler like Panic Bomber is perfectly easy to play once you get going, but you’ll need to understand how its bomb-based block-clearing works first. It’s a little bit Puyo Puyo! And a little bit Columns! And a little bit… blowing things up with bombs!

turbografx-16 mini

Nah.

You can’t play these, sorry. I mean, maybe if you have a word-for-word translation guide next to you, but that’s a lot to take on for most players. Still, it’s nice that they’re still included in the Western release of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini for those who can read them!

Jaseiken Necromancer
This JRPG gives off strong Dragon Quest vibes with its systems and gameplay, but vibes are all you’re going to get from it if you don’t know Japanese.

Super Momotaro Dentetsu II
Super Momotaro Dentetsu II is a sugoroku game. In a long-running popular series! But you can’t play it in English, and honestly, Western sales of traditional sugoroku games show that not many of you would want to anyway.

Snatcher
This Hideo Kojima adventure game is cool and interesting, but it’s also entirely text-driven.

More TurboGrafx-16 Mini coverage, including a full assessment of the system and a chat with the people behind it, is on the way! Check back soon.

Graham Russell
Graham Russell has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera as a Contributing Editor in February 2020. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.