The NEC PC-FX...

tiesto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,495
Long Island, NY
Recently, I picked up a NEC PC-FX and a few games. I don't have the ones I want, yet (Zenki FX, Chip Chan Kick, Langrisser), but hey tax season is coming up so who knows?

The system was a total failure, selling only 400,000 systems in Japan, and only about ~60 games were released for it. NEC misread the market and made a system that specialized in FMV above all, with no 3D ability. The system design was apparently finalized back in 1992 but released in Dec 1994, alongside the PS1 and Saturn.

While its predecessor, the PC-Engine, was known for its shmups and action games, there were very few released for the platform. Only one shmup (Zeroigar), and a few side scrollers. It was more-so known for its dating sims and simulation titles (there are like 3 different Angelique titles for the thing!), though a few RPGs/SRPGs made their way into the library. The sprite-handling of the system is very nice (as you can see with Zenki FX), and the video in some of those dating sims is pretty good... "FMV fighting games" which play a bit like Paper-Rock-Scissors were also a bit popular on the thing.

The industrial design for the system is spectacular - I love the vertical orientation of it, the console has a nice 'weight' to it, there's a compartment on the back of the system to put slack from the video cables, the controllers feel solid, and the early games came in plastic cases that resemble those from the Neo Geo or Japanese PC (X68000/PC-98/FM Towns) games, but smaller.






I have the following games so far:

Battle Heat - one of those FMV fighting games... it has some really cool anime clips that play depending on what button you press, but it's very unintuitive. One of the most common games for the system.

Tengai Makyou Karakuri Kakutoden - another FMV fighting game, with characters from the Tengai Makyou RPG series. At one point, Tengai Makyou 3 was in development for the system, but low sales meant the game was put on the backburner... until it resurfaced on the PS2 of all things.



Team Innocent - a game interesting in concept, though a bit clunky. It's one of the launch games for the system, and it plays like a very early take on Resident Evil - tank controls, vertigo-inducing camera angle changes, and obtuse puzzles. Early CG 3D rendered backgrounds and scaling sprites overlaid on top of them (which creates a bit of disconnect, since the sprites look like they are floating), and lots of voice work. It would be more enjoyable with a translation!



Last Imperial Prince
- a side scrolling RPG, with maze-like areas and some pretty 2D graphics. The combat system is one on one (though you have a party and enemies have multiple monsters that they go through, when one of the respective sides fall). Reminds me of something Vanillaware would make, combat is a bit clunky and unresponsive (you block by pressing 'down', but it doesn't always work right). Would like to play more but I couldn't figure out how to get out of the first town.



Doukyuusei 2 - one of the most popular genres on the platform, a dating sim. Don't nearly know enough Japanese to get any enjoyment out of the game, but there were so many of these types of games on the platform.

Some games I really want:

Chip-Chan Kick - one of the most famous titles for the system, a Bubble Bobble type single-screen arcade game with a fantastic, energetic, ravey soundtrack from Hitoshi Sakimoto (FFT, FF12, Radiant Silvergun).



Langrisser FX - a remake of Langrisser 2, with improved graphics and animation. One of my favorite SRPG series.

Miraculum - an extremely traditional mid 90's RPG.



Zenki FX - apart from the FMV games, probably the biggest technical showpiece for the platform. Large, highly animated sprites in an arcadey beat-em-up game. Many people's top game for the system, unfortunately it's also rare af.




So, does anyone else own one? Talk about your memories and make recs!
 

Collin Skeen

Member
Nov 1, 2017
133
Ewing, VA
Crazy that you posted this because last night I was just browsing through YouTube and ended up seeing this intro from the Tenchi Muyo PC-FX game. I hadn't heard of it before so I looked it up and now I'm sitting here getting to learn even more about the platform. Congrats on the purchase -- this is the kind of system I'd love to dig into someday down the road.

 
Oct 25, 2017
2,259
It's CPU tech was basically made for handling FMV to an extent that outclassed Saturn/PS1 - it was REALLY good video for the time, probably better than any PC for awhile.
 

Vinnk

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,667
Japan
I'm a big fan of this system. I have one and I just tracked one down for a friend recently. Chip Chan Kick is really great and while Zeroigar doesn't hold a candle to the PC Engine greats like Sapphire, it is a competent shooter. I even owned Zenki for a while but sold it for like $250. I should have held on to it, it's over $500 these days...

I have a hard time recommending the system since there are few games you can play without Japanese ability and the weight of the thing makes it very expensive to import. But I love mine.
 

Chakoo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
588
Toronto, Canada
I've though about buying one of these in the past but never found a game to make it worth it. It's kind of sad that I feel a SuperGrafx is more worth owning atm (I did have one but sold it due to it being NOS and I could not bring myself to open it). =S

I'd love to find at least one game to give me a good enough excuse just so I can add one to the collection. =/
 

Vinnk

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,667
Japan
I've though about buying one of these in the past but never found a game to make it worth it. It's kind of sad that I feel a SuperGrafx is more worth owning atm (I did have one but sold it due to it being NOS and I could not bring myself to open it). =S

I'd love to find at least one game to give me a good enough excuse just so I can add one to the collection. =/
There are about 4 worthwhile games if you don't speak Japanese. (Zenki, Zeroigar, Chip Chan Kick and Last Imperial Prince[though you will lose a lot if you can't read the story]) But 3 of those are in the "Over $100" category. I guess 5 game if you like baseball. Power League FX is pretty interesting.

If you know a little Japanese or can use a walkthrough, Team Innocent is Fantastic. Kokū Hyouryo Nirgends was not for me but many people say it one of the better games in the system.

It has the best versions (due to it's video capabilities) of Tenchi Muyo Ryooki, Deep Blue Fleet, Yuna, Welcome to Pia Carrot and Power Dolls and Super Real Mahjong PV (But all these games are available on other platforms).

I don't care for the FMV fighters (Battle Heat, Tengai Makyo Karakuri Kakutoden and All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling: Queen of Queens) but they are unique and it was due to how the PC-FX handles video that these games would not have even been possible on other consoles at the time (maybe the Laseractive.. but there would be slight pauses).

But yeah. It's a curiosity system more than something many people are going to dig into for a long time.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,259
Fun tidbit - you could buy one of these up til 1998 in Japan, same year the Dreamcast came out. It's funny how the niche systems always end up with the games which are the least profitable/desirable (see: most of the Japanese Saturn/Marty/360 library) and all those Japanese 80s/90s computers.
 

Cucurbitacée

Member
Oct 28, 2017
230
Frankfurt am Main
I have one, a friend of mine was kind enough to buy and ship it for me when he was travelling in Japan, almost 20 years ago. Fun fact is that it's actually connected to TV, even if I almost never play it. Back then I wanted it as I was collecting as much hardware as possible. I now have sold most of my collection, but I can't get rid of the PC-FX as I feel it would be a lack of respect for my friend.
 

Vinnk

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,667
Japan
I have one, a friend of mine was kind enough to buy and ship it for me when he was travelling in Japan, almost 20 years ago. Fun fact is that it's actually connected to TV, even if I almost never play it. Back then I wanted it as I was collecting as much hardware as possible. I now have sold most of my collection, but I can't get rid of the PC-FX as I feel it would be a lack of respect for my friend.
Yeah, that thing probably took up half of their luggage allotment.
 

SJPN

Member
Oct 27, 2017
332
I remember reading about the PC-FX in the early issues of Edge, then always wondering what happened to it.

It seems laughable now, but the screenshots for FX Fighter looked mind blowing at the time.


 

SJPN

Member
Oct 27, 2017
332
Pretty sure that Next Generation was effectively a US version of Edge, lifting most of the content from Edge wholesale.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,307
Devil Halton's Trap
For all its faults, the system's our best look at an alternate timeline where FMV games could really improve. The amount of effort poured into some games' animation is cool to see. I'm glad a few of the best or most unique games have ports/versions on other systems, like NIRGENDS which somehow got a PowerVR Windows conversion (there's a PowerVR wrapper in the works to make playing these releases far more tenable). Zeroigar seems like the must-have game since it's got an excellent translation patch and seems to play well, but I wouldn't mind work done on Lunatic Dawn and Power DoLLS since they seem like worthwhile ports.
 

hibikase

Member
Oct 26, 2017
6,723
Was FX Fighter meant to have pre-rendered graphics? It looks a bit too advanced compared to the actual games that did come out...
 

ShinUltramanJ

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,400
All I remember of the FX was a small article in one of the big magazines. At the time I think it only had maybe three games and wasn’t looking so hot.
 
Nov 19, 2017
1,899
If it was supposed to be like PS4 to PS4pro, an incremental upgrade, so PCE to PCE pro, the PCFX woulda been great... but like OP said, NEC totally screwed the pooch on market.
But even when I saw it on sale next to the Saturn n PS in Japan, even around launch time it was clearly failing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Dec 2, 2017
2,471
I remember seeing images of Battle Heat in Gamefan and not understanding how it would be possible to control in motion (it wasn't). Now 20+ years later we're finally there with Arc Systems games.

The PC-FX has to be hands-down the biggest fall from grace for a follow up machine. I can understand what they were thinking...anime FMV cinemas were the big attraction which had allowed the PC Engine CD to do so well for them. Creating a best in class version of that seemed like a logical step. Early 3D visuals at the time they were building this thing were incredibly limited, and had almost no successful implementations. Even Sega, who had almost all the good examples, weren't willing to bet the farm on polygon-focused hardware for their home console. It's easy to look back and figure they messed up, but I can easily see somebody taking a look at the animated visuals from these games, and the clunky, simple, blocky figures from early 3D and deciding this would have more impact on consumers. Had they ben able to get it to market sooner, it might have done alright for them. 94, alongside the other two, was too late.
 

Morfid_Plays

Self Requested Ban
Member
Oct 27, 2017
943
I have a boxed pcfx and Zenki

I tried to love other titles but Zenki is the only awesome game
 

Symphony

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,138
Having recently bought a PC-9821 I was actually considering getting hold of a PCFX-GA card for it to be able to play PC-FX games but Chip-Chan Kick is pretty expensive and I'm not too thrilled about the thought of putting more wear and tear on the super fragile PC98 CD-ROM drive.
 

Peltz

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,448
This is one of those systems I didn’t know existed until someone posted about it on retrogameboards.com.

I’d love to play it in person someday but doubt I ever will.
 

Molto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
944
I actually got one of these for free last year when I visited in Japan, and have yet to hook it up lol.

Was helping my mother in law clean when I noticed something in the garbage pile that looked like a console. It was a PC-FX. Apparently my wife's brother left it behind like 10 years ago and they were about to throw it out.
 
OP
OP
tiesto

tiesto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,495
Long Island, NY
So I finally got Chip-Chan Kick! with a bit of my tax return. It's a pretty fun one-screen action game. A bit less complex than I would have expected for the genre at this point in time (you only really have a few actions - jump, throw a blob at an enemy to stun, and kick a downed enemy).. but the amount of animation and voices are overwhelming! And the soundtrack, courtesy of Hitoshi Sakimoto, is awesome pumping rave type stuff. The opening intro is quite creepy though, with lots of loli pantsu shots :P

Also got Miraculum, which feels like another game stuck in time... it's an RPG from 1996, but feels more like a Square game from '92 or '93. The CD is used for an awesome soundtrack and a cool, slightly more mature, anime style intro. Seems like it'd be worth diving into further, but the level of kanji is pretty high for me. This would be one of the main candidates for a fan translation IMO.