Turbo Grafx 16, Duo, and Express

By On 9 May, 2011 At 11:45 PM | Categorized As Classic | With 5 Comments

 

If any one company seemed poised to commandeer control of the video game industry from Nintendo, it was NEC. With a huge and imposing market share in the computer and communication industries, NEC had been driving their developers since 1988 towards the production of a new video game system. Nintendo’s president Hirosi Yamauchi saw NEC as a threat due to their successful semiconductor business, which would give them
a “direct [and] inexpensive source” for chips. Backed by impressive resources, NEC had been able to saturate any and all industries it wanted, and when the PC-Engine was released in Japan in October of 1987, it appeared as though they would do the same for the video game industry.

After refinement of the PC-Engine it was released in America in 1989, with its name changed to TurboGrafx-16. As the first 16-bit system in a market ready for a new format, the TurboGrafx-16 initially sold quite well, selling more consoles in its first month than its competitors had during the same period.

Video game players are a capricious lot. Trends in popular genres change yearly, with nearly as much modishness as the fashion industry. A particular type of game or system that is popular today, can become an embarrassment to own tomorrow. Unfortunately for NEC, the TurboGrafx-16 was to become the poster-child for this phenomena.

When the Sega Genesis was released, its dramatically more impressive graphics, sound and gameplay turned the TurboGrafx-16 passé overnight. The TurboGrafx became a stigma.

Ultimately, NEC was to blame for this. Having never produced entertainment software before, NEC designers had taken a casual approach to producing games. Many games had all the flash of a 16-bit title, but with little by way of depth of gameplay. NEC also depended on third-party developers to build a library of games. However, most developers were contractually obligated to Nintendo, and could not produce software for NEC. In addition to all of this, the TurboGrafx was not true 16-bit. While its graphics processor was 16-bit, its main CPU was merely 8-bit (a 6820, to be exact).

Despite the poor sales of the TurboGrafx, NEC continued to promote the system. A CD-ROM upgrade made it the first CD console, and a refined, scaled down version would be released as a portable system. Its CD capabilities would give one very well known CD producing company, Working Designs, their start. However, NEC would never achieve much success with their TurboGrafx CD. The reason, as Sheff put it, was that “NEC has arrived too soon with too little.”  The TurboGrafx would later be reincarnated as the equally ill-fated TurboDuo, once again in direct competition with Sega. During its life, however, less than 1 million TurboGrafx-16 units were sold.

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  1. dpugh007 says:

    Being not truly a16 bitcpu killed the turbografix in the us (remember the sega ads)
    but it had 16 bit graphic card and a few killer titles 1 was splatterhouse the best
    version anywere u walk in a haunted house weaing a friday the 13 mask and
    u chop up witches and demons it had pretty good graphics and sound it took
    advantage of the fact turbo could display 512 colors at once compared to segas
    64 colors ninja sprit was another classic like shinobi but with cooler bosses it
    follows a slain warriors ninja ghost on a path to revenge its a true classic the turbo
    cd had ys and valis making it worth buying anyone remember the giant ants fmv
    game? lmao i had it turbo did much better in japan than the us and lastedseveral
    yeaRs BUT IT WAS TOO LATE FOR THE US MARKET ALSO FOR THE OBSCURE
    FAN TURBO MADE A BETER GRAPHIC VERSION OF TURBOGRAFIX 16
    CALLED THE SUPERGRAFIX ONLY IN JAPAN IT WAS IKE 200 MORE THAN
    TURBO AND HAD SUPER GHOULS AND GHOST IF I REMEMBER RIGHT IT
    MUST BE VERY RARE CAUSE I DONT SEE IT LISTED ANYWERE I MISS
    SPATTERHOUSE 1 WITCH NOISE AND SHOOTING THEM WITH HE PUMP MAYBE
    ILL GET ME TURBO AGAIN ONEDAY LOL

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  2. Adam says:

    All of these articles pointing out NEC’s major blunders in America never seem to point out that they did take the top spot away from Nintendo in Japan, with over 650 games
    released overseas as late as 1998… many the best ever made, such as Dracula X
    (Castlevania with an amazing CD soundtrack and anime cut scenes).

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  3. IceDragon.com says:

    The Turbo-Duo and Turbo Grafx 16 are amazing systems and well advanced for
    their time of release. I find myself playing it more so then my Playstation 2 or
    X-box… I do have to admit that “Adam” (the user above) has a GREAT point.
    The system’s shine takes on a whole new luster when you start playing imports
    on it. Dracula X by far is one of the only releases of Castlevania that compares
    to the recent versions of the non-3D original. Well worth every penny it costs.
    You can also mod these grand old systems with the directions from:
    http://www.massystems.com/TD-Mod.html It’s not the easiest thing to do,
    but I’ve done several and they work quite well. For one of the best 16 bit (or 8bit X 2)
    systems it’s the best of the bunch, if you don’t believe me, just buy one and see,
    you won’t regret it.

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  4. Alex Mansman says:

    If anyone owns this system then you must get Neutopia 1 and 2!! Those are pretty good games for such a low-down system.

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  5. Adam says:

    My brother in law’s brother has a turbografx 16 and he is a role-playing freak like me so if you like role-playing,sports,puzzle,or action this is the system for you.

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