There has been a lot of focus on the AVGN and the Irate Gamer in these DVD reviews lately so let’s switch gears and talk about something different – Turbo Views. Turbo Views is an ongoing series on YouTube done by Chris Bucci. The goal of the show is to review each one of the North American released Turbo Grafx 16 games (of which there are approximately 130 I believe). It’s a lofty goal but as of this writing he is well over halfway there which is pretty fantastic. There are currently 3 DVD sets of the show, with the third having just been released in February. I haven’t yet gotten to the third volume since I felt I should go back and write about these first so here we go!
Volume 1 contains the first 25 reviews of Turbo Views. I won’t get into the full list (you can pop over to www.turboviews.com if you’re curious) but already that should tell you that you get a good amount of content in this set. The reviews themselves run usually around 6 minutes or so, with a handful of longer ones in there.
There was one word that continued to run through my head as I made my way through this first volume again – refreshing. There are a number of reasons why.
A lot of the video game review shows I tend to watch, skew towards the more mainstream systems. There’s a heavy focus on NES, SNES and Genesis, with only the occasional detour into something more obscure. Even then, often it’s a broad view of a console in general without getting into the specific details. Here we have an entire series devoted to a console I knew next to nothing about going in. I do in fact have a Turbo Grafx 16 (bought it dirt cheap at a pawn shop a couple years back) but it hardly functions so I haven’t really spent any time with it. All I know is that there are Bonk games and that China Warrior is not very fun. That’s basically it. Oh and I think I played a tennis RPG on it when I was like 8-years-old and I’m pretty sure it was amazing. This lack of knowledge is a large reason why Turbo Views made for a very interesting and entertaining watch as it’s great to partake in a show completely devoted to a console that generally goes overlooked.
Chris clearly has a wealth of knowledge on the system and its games, having been playing and collecting them since the early 90’s. As a result, the presentation doesn’t come off as feeling stiff or rehearsed. It doesn’t sound like somebody who did some research and is now relaying some of the factual information that he discovered. Instead it feels completely natural, and it makes what could have made for a dry experience feel fresh and laidback.
I didn’t even realize this until I got a few episodes deep, but it’s pretty nice to have a review show that isn’t focused on negativity. I’m aware there are a ton of reviewers out there who don’t do the whole “this game is a fucking pile of duck vomit covered in skunk shit and tuna piss” routine, but I’ve been watching a lot that do lately so this switching of gears was a nice change of scenery. There are certainly some less than glowing reviews here, Darkwing Duck immediately leaping to mind, however they are still well presented reviews where by the end, you know exactly why they are getting the score they did.
The reviews themselves are very well-written, containing large amounts of information without ever crossing the line into being too dry. It seems like everything you could ever want to know about each game is described within the review without resorting to padding or filler material to stretch out the run time. There are no skits or extended joke scenes (there are jokes but they aren’t the focus) or anything like that. It’s just pure reviews and they are quick, to the point, and very thorough. I was a bit concerned early on with the amount of shooter games that were being covered as it seemed like after one or two of these it would be hard to keep the review material for them fresh, however he manages to pull it off effectively so huge kudos for that.
I also liked that there is a good balance between some of the more mainstream titles such as Air Zonk, Magical Chase, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, etc, with titles that, at least I personally, had never heard of before such as Vigilante, Splash Lake and the aforementioned Darkwing Duck. It’s a good mix as it might have gotten old to simply highlight the more well-known titles, so it’s much better to also dig deeper into the titles that you never hear about. It’s the sign of a good review when you can walk away interested in playing a game you went in knowing nothing about, and that happened on numerous occasions while making my way through this DVD.
You already get a lot of content with just the episodes but there is a wealth of bonus material here too. There are 27 isolated music tracks which admittedly I don’t watch but many of these games do seem to have great soundtracks so it’s nice to have this option at least. There are 13 commentary tracks, here called “memory” tracks. It’s because these commentaries aren’t really about the making of the episode in question, it’s a reflection on Chris’ experience with the game itself. I’m a sucker for these sorts of things so I quite enjoyed listening to these tracks.
There’s also numerous bonus videos, starting with two extra videos covering a couple of import titles (Ninja Gaiden and Bonanza Bros), as well as two videos about both the Turbo Grafx system itself, and its CD Rom attachment. You also get a 16 minute video that takes a more in depth look at his actual collection, as well as quick video that discusses the origins of the show. Possibly my favourite extra, and the one that shows this guy is completely legit, is a video he made when he was a kid that’s just a series of cheat codes for various games. It’s not even all that engaging to watch for the full run time, I just really love that it’s actually included here.
If you’re looking for a review show that’s also littered with jokes and skits this ain’t it but in terms of just a pure, straight-forward review show, you can’t really go wrong with Turbo Views. If you’re already a fan of the Turbo Grafx or if you’re like me and know next to nothing about it, there’s a lot to dig through here and it’s a subject not being tackled nearly this thoroughly anywhere else. Definitely recommended.