The PC Engine Mini Looks Amazing, If You Can Understand Japanese
The mini console phenomenon continues to make serious coin for any company with old-school hardware ripe for revival. After the successes of Nintendo's NES and SNES Classics (multi-million sellers, both), and the more modest impact of last year's PlayStation Classic, we're getting the really-rather-wonderful-looking Mega Drive Mini in September, and this SEGA apologist cannot wait for it. So much so that I wrote about all 42 games on the MD Mini, last month.
There are other throwback systems reborn on gaming store shelves, right now - seek and you can find all manner of several-games-included Atari consoles, a shrunken Commodore 64, and the Spectrum Vega reconnects your 21st century TV with British gaming of the early 80s. So Konami's announcement of the PC Engine Mini during E3 last month was no surprise - why wouldn't the Japanese company, having merged with original PC Engine makers Hudson Soft in 2012, capitalise on having the rights to the 1980s' other 8-bit giant, aka the console that wasn't the NES or the Master System.
What has surprised me, however, is just how good the line-up of (50, with a couple of repeats) games is for the forthcoming PC Engine Mini - or, to give the mini console its full name in Europe, for this release, the PC Engine Core Grafx Mini. (It'll be sold as the PC Engine Mini in Japan, and the TurboGrafx-16 Mini in North America, mimiking its naming conventions of the 1980s.)
A total of 24 English-language games will be pre-loaded on the PC Engine Core Grafx Mini (seriously, I can't keep on writing that out, so from now on when you see "PC Engine Mini", I mean the model that's coming to Europe) - alongside 26 Japanese games that will not be localised.
On the understandable-to-me side of things we get the likes of R-Type, Space Harrier, Bonk's Revenge, New Adventure Island, Bomberman '93, Ys Book I and II, and Lords of Thunder. Looking good, no doubt. Twenty-four games is a decent haul and no mistake.
But then there's the Japanese inclusions like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Fantasy Zone, PC Genjin and... uh, my heart. Snatcher is on the PC Engine Mini. Hideo Kojima's cyberpunk graphic adventure, originally released in 1988 before getting this PC Engine (CD) remake in 1992 with added voice-over work and a new third act, has long been one of gaming's greatest AWOL releases. But Konami are finally putting out Snatcher again, one of my favourite games of all time, and that is amazing.
Well, it's amazing if you can understand Japanese, which you'll need to in order to make sense of its plot about bodysnatcher-like androids, dangerous new drugs, weird fancy dress clubs and the topsy-turvy love life of protagonist Gillian Seed (a bit of a creep, but too lovable to stay mad at). The only English-language version of Snatcher, released for the SEGA Mega CD in 1994, remains distinctly not re-released, anywhere. So this PC Engine Mini inclusion is cool, but disappointing at the same time.
What it could mean, however, is that Konami is looking at Kojima's brilliant adventure again - and if it really wanted to win back some favour from gamers still burned by Kojima's departure from the studio, a modern-consoles port of the Mega CD Snatcher would be an easy win. Snatcher on Switch, with touch-screen support for its target-shooting sections, would be a dream. (No "would be" about it - it is a dream of mine.)
The PC Engine Mini is released on March 19, 2020, with pre-orders starting on July 15. It'll cost 89.99 in euros, and I expect it'll be those same numbers in pounds, too. And between then and now, I'll be sleeping with a Japanese phrasebook. Check out the full line-up of 50-ish games on the PC Engine Mini at its official website.
Featured Image Credit: Konami