Rensuke Oshikiri PC Engine mini Interview

Rensuke Oshikiri PC Engine mini Interview
Magazine: Famitsu
Date: 03/19/2020

Manga Creator and Hi Score Girl Author Rensuke Oshikiri Clears Splatterhouse and Talks About His Love For the PC Engine!

Rensuke Oshikiri is well known for being a passionate PC Engine fan, having professed his love for it in the third chapter of his autobiographical manga Pico Pico Shounen. Today we had him try out the PC Engine mini and talk with us about his impressions of it, as well as past memories.

…But what we didn’t plan on was the amount of nostalgia and expert play he’d show us as soon as he started playing Splatterhouse! It may be the first time this has happened during an interview in Famitsu history (?), so bear witness to his great love for the PC Engine!

Rensuke Oshikiri – A manga author who has published a lot of manga based around games, such as Hi Score Girl (a story of a boy and girl who grow closer together through arcade games) and Pico Pico Shounen. He’s currently working on Hi Score Girl Dash and Semai Sekai no Identity.

Fated Meeting

When I think of you, I think about how you’re such a big PC Engine fan that you drew the chapter in Pico Pico Shounen where you wandered around in search of a PC Engine to buy.

(Oshikiri) Right. I was living in Kawasaki in Kanagawa prefecture at the time, and there was an area called Kawahara that I remembered being several minutes away by bike. I raced over there as fast as I could, thinking it was the only chance I had. But now that I look at it on a map, the shortest route there would have been almost 20 kilometers long! That’s how much I wanted a PC Engine!

There’s a saying that goes “Over the mountains is Seiseki Sakuragaoka. Having come this far exhibits my desire for a PC Engine!”.

(Oshikiri) There was a version of PC Engine called the Shuttle. I called it the “UFO”, but I wanted one so badly that I looked around for a place where I could buy it used for around 10,000 yen.

But then it started raining and you got hit by a car with the driving running off…is that actually true?!

(Oshikiri) It’s a true story, it was a hit and run.

(Oshikiri) Enough with the memories though, hurry up and let me play the PC Engine mini already!

…Settle down…

(Oshikiri) Wow…seeing The Genji and the Heike Clans and Splatterhouse right next to each other is just the best.

It’s very much like you to notice those two first, given that there are a total of 58 titles on here counting the international versions.

(Oshikiri) But those two titles specifically right next to each other is awesome. The developers really get it!

…Take a look at the other games too! (Laughs)

(Oshikiri) I still have both of these HuCards at home.

So then at home you can play the original console in non-mini form! (Laughs)

(Oshikiri) I can, but it’s nice to have it all together in one package like this. Having all of these software titles together should be irresistible to any PC Engine fan. And every time I think of playing the actual hardware, hooking it up is a pain. I’m grateful that this one just connects through HDMI.

Are there any titles in particular that stand out to you?

(Oshikiri) Why, The Genji and the Heike Clans and Splatterhouse, of course!

Please calm down.

(Oshikiri) But when I look at the boxes all together like this, I can’t help but think about the price tags on them from back in the day.

And by that you mean…?

(Oshikiri) I’ve always loved the PC Engine, and I had a ton of enthusiasm for collecting HuCards. But I was in elementary or middle school at the time, and I didn’t have all that much money. So I’d go around to all of the game shops all the time, seeing which ones had the lowest prices.

You’d go around price shopping, and buy a cheap game if you found one then?

(Oshikiri) I’d buy pretty much any game if it was cheap enough. So when I see a game box my mind immediately goes to the price tag.

To think that it all left such an impression on you to where you’d flashback to something like that.

(Oshikiri) Well, I’ll start by playing China Warrior. Wow, this really brings back memories.

You’re starting with that one huh? (Laughs) Did you have China Warrior?

(Oshikiri) I sure did. I actually really love that they just re-used the same sprite for the second stage boss. It’s just a palette swap from the first stage boss!

(Oshikiri) Getting the correct timing for attacks is pretty severe, so it’s a tough game. This was one of the key games in Hi Score Girl, and I have very strong feelings toward it.

What made you want to buy a PC Engine in the first place?

(Oshikiri) My gaming resume began in arcades, and the PC Engine had a ton of arcade ports. There were some on the Super Famicom as well, but there were a lot of titles on this system that captivated me.

The arcade ports were one of the PC Engine’s selling points.

(Oshikiri) I didn’t buy a PC Engine until awhile after launch, but I remained loyal to it even when others were going over to the Super Famicom. My friends at school and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on this! (Laughs)

(Laughs) The PC Engine gave off a slightly more adult vibe, so it may not have had a lot of elementary school-aged fans.

(Oshikiri) With the futuristic vibe the hardware design had to it, friends would often ask “What is this console?!” when they’d come over to my house. They all had the Famicom and Super Famicom, after all. I’m going to play Ghouls ‘n Ghosts next.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is known as being the hardest in the series, but you’re unsurprisingly good at this one.

(Oshikiri) It’s all muscle memory!

You’re like some sort of expert.

(Oshikiri) I’ve beaten quite a few arcade action games, and no matter how much time passes I don’t forget how to play them. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was also ported to the Mega Drive, but I think the PC Engine version might be closer to the arcade? It feels really good to play.

I can’t tell the difference between them.

(Oshikiri) Oh they’re completely different!

The controller has the shame shape and size as the original, but how does it feel in your hands?

(Oshikiri) Exactly the same as the original controller. And I’m very familiar with the original…Well, I’ll play Bonk’s Adventure next.

Let’s get through these! Did you play a lot of action games back then?

(Oshikiri) There were a lot of action and shooting games in arcades, so a lot of the games I played were those. Ahh, this brings back so many memories! It really holds up even now.

It was known for Bonk hitting things with his giant head. It’s a post-Mario side-scrolling action platformer, and was considered one of the killer apps that the whole family could enjoy.

(Oshikiri) The world is so…bright. Alright, next I’ll play Gradius.

(Oshikiri) If you stay in this spot, you won’t get hit.

That’s awesome!

(Oshikiri) It’s a vertical scrolling shooter, but it looks like Dragon Spirit is on here too. It’s a really fun game, but I remember it really well because you could buy it really cheaply back in the day. I recall it being only about 280 yen.

That’s a really great price tag for a kid with no money. I assume you really liked game collecting?

(Oshikiri) I wanted to collect PC Engine software more than anything else.

How many titles did you have?

(Oshikiri) I don’t remember the exact number, but I had quite a few. HuCards went down in price quickly back then, so there were a lot of really good titles that I bought for less than 1000 yen. So in that way, it was a very kid-friendly piece of hardware. Alright, next is Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.

(Oshikiri) Wow, isn’t that the sound of the CD loading!? (Laughs) I was so surprised to hear it that I actually thought there was a PC Engine running here somewhere.

You can tell just from the loading on the title screen that this game has high production values. It’s really…quite something.

(Oshikiri) It’s amazing, isn’t it? This game alone is worth buying this for.

(Oshikiri) There weren’t that many games with voice in them at the time. The PC Engine is just so amazing.

Finally, For the Main Dish

(Oshikiri) Now then…shall we move on to the main attraction!?

Does that mean we’re done with the appetizers?

(Oshikiri) Yeah, now it’s time for the main dish! Today’s climax!! For starters, let’s play Splatterhouse.

Wow, you’re just dealing with these seemingly impossible to beat enemies that come in from off-screen like they’re nothing. You’re really good…

(Oshikiri) Back then…well not even just back then, I still play it regularly now.

How did you find out about Splatterhouse?

(Oshikiri) I found it in an arcade, when I was in elementary school. My first reaction was “What is this!? I don’t like this! It’s scary!”, but I was hooked. When everyone else was fighting against the Hammer Bros. in Super Mario Bros, I was fighting against fear in Splatterhouse!

That’s so grim…

(Oshikiri) The PC Engine port has a few differences from the arcade version, since getting arcade perfect ports was difficult back then. But being able to play Splatterhouse at home was really amazing!

You’re at the second level boss now.

(Oshikiri) It’s hand-to-hand combat with a poltergeist. As a kid it made me think that if a poltergeist showed up, I could just hit it.

The music is really impressive. It creates such a sense of unease.

(Oshikiri) This is great. Arcades had a much more underground feel to them, compared to today. I’d go to one in the evening and play Splatterhouse right at the “witching hour”. The feeling of fear was irresistible.

Arcades back then were really dark, and they’d feel a bit tense when threatening students from other schools would show up and such.

(Oshikiri) The feeling of fear from being locked out of the house by my mom if I didn’t hurry up and get home, the feeling of fear from the atmosphere of the arcade, and the feeling of fear from the game itself. I was tasting three different kinds of fear. Isn’t this game awesome though?

You have unlimited continues in the home port, but did you 1CC it in the arcade?

(Oshikiri) I did. If I had to continue, I lost. If I got a game over, I’d start from the beginning. I got to the point where instead of going for a 1CC, I was going for no-death runs.

Without losing a single life!?

(Oshikiri) Well, that’s what I was doing back then anyway.

That’s a real speed-running mindset…

How are you doing this movement right now?

(Oshikiri) Attacking the moment you land lets you slide. I don’t think too many people use this technique.

I see.

(Oshikiri) This is what I was playing when everyone else was playing Mario…I wonder if that’s why I turned out the way I did…

I don’t think so, there’s nothing wrong with any of that! You should be more positive about who you are! But it must have been hard feeling left out?

(Oshikiri) Well, yeah a little bit (Laughs) But that all changed when I started playing dating games on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM 2. I was the only one around who had the hardware to play these, and it made me happy when classmates found that out and they’d ask me if they could stay overnight.

(Laughs) Speaking of dating games, Tokimeki Memorial is on here too. Did you play that one back in the day?

(Oshikiri) I remember playing it not on the PC Engine, but on some other system. Maybe it was the PlayStation version?

Which heroine was your favorite?

(Oshikiri) Ayako Katagiri. I remember getting really into it when I played the game, and even getting a bunch of the character drama CDs and such.

Friends coming over to play dating games makes for a good story, doesn’t it?

(Oshikiri) I was very proud of it.

As we’ve been talking, you’ve come up on what looks like the last boss.

(Oshikiri) And I just beat it.

You did it so quickly…it’s supposed to be so tough to avoid the last boss’ attacks, but you did it so easily.

(Oshikiri) It’s all muscle memory.

That’s a comment only an expert would make.

(Oshikiri) I played it at Mikado recently, and was told by another Splatterhouse enthusiast “Mr. Oshikiri, you’re very good! You’re an entertainer, after all”. That made me really happy.

Do you have any new thoughts on Splatterhouse, having cleared it?

(Oshikiri) I’m just thinking about how Rick isn’t on the ending screen in this version.

He isn’t, is he.

(Oshikiri) I guess it’s very on-brand for me to clear Splatterhouse while being interviewed! (Laughs)

It definitely is! (Laughs)

And Now For The Genji and the Heike Clans (Genpei Toumaden)!

(Oshikiri) And lastly, shall we play The Genji and the Heike Clans!?

I’ve been waiting for this.

(Oshikiri) This…is a gold standard to me. The Genji and the Heike Clans was the first game I ever played in an arcade.

Your love for The Genji and the Heike Clans is discussed in Pico Pico Shounen, but why did you think to play it first out of all the other games there were to choose from at that arcade?

(Oshikiri) It was the appeal of the large character sprites, the atmosphere, and the unique charm of the world. It’s both Japanese-feeling and eerie…it’s awesome.

(Oshikiri) And here’s “out of the gourd comes a horse”, so good…

What a pun!

(Oshikiri) There’s a tiger coming out too! Because of this I actually believed for the longest time that there were tigers in Japan.

(Laughs)

(Oshikiri) Ah, I’m going to die.

(Oshikiri) It says “The End”! (Laughs) The PC Engine port of this game is very good.

Did you clear The Genji and the Heike Clans in the arcade?

(Oshikiri) It disappeared from arcades when it was released on the PC Engine, so I really got into it and cleared that version. It was also the first game I bought for the PC Engine. Actually, I bought The Genji and the Heike Clans before I even thought the hardware.

Huh? But…why?

(Oshikiri) I was pressuring my parents into thinking that they had to buy me a PC Engine.

Ahh! Come to think of it, I also bought software before hardware when I was in elementary school to do that same thing.

(Oshikiri) And thanks to that, I got one. It probably would have been really fun if I’d had a friend that would play it with me…

You could say that elementary school students noisily playing together can be a bit harsh…

(Oshikiri) When everyone else was talking about Dragon Quest or Super Mario Bros, it was The Genji and the Heike Clans for me…”That’s not a dragon, it’s a centipede!”

(Oshikiri) When everyone else was going to save Princess Peach, I was going to defeat Yoritomo.

I think Yoritomo is worth defeating.

(Oshikiri) Do you really think so?

(Oshikiri) I got to the point that I wanted to.

Awaji Island. Is this a bonus stage?

(Oshikiri) Yeah. God gives you some powered up items, so I go and collect those.

God runs away pretty quickly.

(Oshikiri) He’s stingy, just like actual God. He won’t give happiness to anyone who’s standing still.

That’s kind of profound.

(Oshikiri) …Do you really think so? Anyway, this is good enough. Wow, that was really fun!

You spent two hours on that game without even realizing it!

(Oshikiri) And I still haven’t had enough! (Laughs)

Hardware of My Youth

So what do you think of the PC Engine mini?

(Oshikiri) This one personally excited me a lot more than the other mini consoles! The PC Engine is just so great!!

Are you satisfied with the lineup of titles?

(Oshikiri) I said this earlier, but it’s worth buying just for Splatterhouse and The Genji and the Heike Clans. There are other titles I’d want on there, if I had my way. But in terms of games that represent the PC Engine, I think this is a really great lineup.

What other titles would you like to see?

(Oshikiri) I really liked Momotarou Katsugeki, so I would have liked to see that. Also the first game I ever reserved, Hyaku Monogatari: Hontou ni Kowai Hanashi. Maybe they’ll be included on the PC Engine mini 2.

You’re already expecting there to be a 2! (Laughs) Finally, what kind of console was the PC Engine to you?

(Oshikiri) It was my youth. There’s a lot of current hardware out there, but playing it today brought back a lot of memories and was a lot of fun. I get a lot of messages from people who have become interested in retro games through my manga Hi Score Girl. I’d recommend that all of those people play this and feel the allure of the PC Engine!

Original article: https://www.famitsu.com/news/amp/202003/19194572.php