Around 1994, the commercial fall of PC-ENGINE definitely started. Arcade Card release was the last big commercial play from NEC / Hudson to keep PC-ENGINE alive a little longer. The final days of PC-ENGINE were probably the time when softhouses created the most impressive games, on technical and visual aspects. Perfect arcade conversions (Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special) put some extra stamina on PC-ENGINE market.


At the end of 1995, when PC-ENGINE was virtually dead, Hudson Soft excel its limits again, and released one of its most incredible shooters, certainly insuperable on technical aspects: Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire, or simply Sapphire.

Rookies on PCE scene might be asking what's the reason of such hype over this shooter, one of the world's most expensive games (around US$400,00) due to its low print. No-one can become impassive in front of a Hudson typical high-quality shooter, showing effects simply unthinkable on an 8-bit machine...raytracing, rotation, real-time scalling, morphing, real-time 3D: in short, an avalanche of effects without a single slowdown. Giant sprites on screen, a heavy-metal soundtrack "`a la Lords of Thunder" and an outstanding playability make of Sapphire an almost perfect game.

Almost? Yes, Sapphire also has some little low points. First, the game allows you to use up to 9 continues. Take this along with the fact that the bosses can be easily destroyed only with bombs, and that after you get killed, you gain 2 new bombs...Bingo! Quite an easy game to be beaten! Of course, if you give up the continues, the game become a hell of a challenge...but it's hard to resist the temptation! Taking into account the high price of the game, only an inconditional PC-ENGINE fan could afford to pay lots of money on such an easy game.


Despite all that, Sapphire is a milestone on PC-ENGINE history. Its quality is comparable to some great Playstation shooters, like Raystorm. If not for the high price usually asked by sellers, Sapphire would be an obligatory acquisition for any PC-ENGINE collector. A hell of a game!


Marcelo Reis







Musics and Sound Effects