Introducing Turbo Review Tuesday!

Welcome to Turbo Tuesday! We’ll be reviewing different TurboGrafx games, but first we decided to give you a breakdown of the little-known console.

Back in 1987 an up and coming software company known as Hudson Soft partnered with NEC Home Electronics to create a video game console known as the PC-Engine. Almost 2 years later the United States saw a redesigned, renamed, and all in all revamped release of the same hardware named TurboGrafx-16. In a little over a decade NEC went on to create other consoles, hardware attachment upgrades, as well as pioneered many aspects of the video game industry we all know and love today. The Turbografx-16 saw a lively but brief lifespan in the early console wars, and much like Sega, Atari, and other video game companies of yesteryear, NEC eventually discontinued all hardware and software production for the brand. In this new review series will be taking a look back on the software and hardware that led to this incredible machine’s massive cult following. As our Introduction to the series we will be breaking down the different hardware variations, and compatibility between different game formats on them. If you are developing interest in the NEC family of video game consoles, need a refresher course after finding your childhood console, or just generally curious about this key piece of video game history, we hope this article offers something for everyone!


Core Consoles and Upgrades:

-TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine
Initially released on October 30th 1987, and August 29th 1989 in the United States, the PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16 are the most well known of all hardware and have the largest library of games in the family of consoles. Both variations of hardware had a 16-bit GPU and an 8-bit CPU making it the first console of the 16-bit generation. The improved 16-bit graphic capabilities of these systems, paired with a CPU that rivaled Nintendo’s, put NEC ahead of the competition in the visual department. Both hardware variations only support RF connection but were later able to connect via AV cables using system attachments. While the PC Engine thrived in its respective market, even outselling the Super Famicom briefly, its stateside counterpart failed to catch on and ultimately contributed to the companies discontinuation of the product line.
Game Compatablilty:
-Region locked; HU Card

-TurboGrafx CD/PC Engine CD-ROM2/PC Engine Super CD-ROM2
In 1990 following the initial release of their base consoles NEC were the first to utilize CD-ROM hardware and CD-ROM discs as a medium for game storage. The attachment launched with a price tag of $399 and did not include any pack in games, making it a hard sale for western audiences. Both CD-ROM attachments require a core console as well as a CD System HU card in order to work properly. Later CD-ROM based games required more RAM than was available within the system and as such NEC released a series of Arcade and CD system cards that provide the necessary upgrade for the games to run. Games that require a Super System or Arcade Card were released as CD-ROM2, Super CD-ROM2, and Arcade CD-ROM2 format and will not play using a standard CD System HU card.
Game Compatibility:
-Region locked; HU Card, Super CD-ROM, TurboGrafx CD.

-TurboExpress/PC Engine GT/PC Engine LT
Continuing on the topic of video game “firsts” brings us to the TurboExpress and PC Engine GT/LT. These systems are portable, self contained adaptations of TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine consoles containing identical hardware as their at home counterparts. Boasting to be the most advanced handheld of its time, these consoles were compatible with all HU Card games released for their respective region, something that even Sega couldn’t say until 2 years later with their Nomad portable. The most obscure of these portables is the PC Engine LT, which featured a briefcase design, and the ability to connect to the PC Engine CD attachment, as well as the ability to hook other media devices to the on board screen.
Game Compatibility:
-Region locked; HU Card, CD-ROM (with attachment)

Only released in Japan, this variation on the PC Engine featured four times the ammount of RAM within the CPU, and a second video chip providing its own RAM. Only seven games were released to take advantage of the hardware revisions making it less known than many of its console family members. The console however will play all previously released HU Card format games for the PC Engine.
-TurboDuo/PC Engine Duo/Duo R/Duo RX


-Super System 3.0 Card/Arcade Card Pro

Game formats:
–HU Card/TurboGrafx CD/Super CD-ROM
-PC Engine
–HU Card/SuperGrafx HU Card/CD-ROM2/Super CD-ROM2/Arcade CD-ROM2
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