PCE The Birth Of TurboGrafx 16
In 1987, a computer manufacturer by the name of NEC entered the video game market in japan shortly after the release of the famicon, with it’s PC Engine also known as the PCE. The PCE was touted as a next generation system although it ran on a 8 bit processor, It did however boast a powerful 16 bit graphic chip that could display 256 colors at at once and had 6 channel sound.
The PCE also boasted a new cartridge/game format with Hu cards or turbo chips and was also the first gaming system capable of utilizing CD-Roms. The quality of thier CD games was by far superior to cartridge based games because of the storage capacity they allowed.
The PCE made a huge impact in Japan, outselling the famicon and created issues for Sega’s Megadrive to gain any sort of traction in japan due to thier saturation of the market. The Mega Drive was a superior product, with better sound and gaphics, however the lack of a CD ROM drive and late arrival doomed it in Japan.
In 1989, NEC announced they would launch a version of the PCE in the us called TurboGrafx 16. Priced at 189.95 and a massive libary of titles the Turbo Grafx 16 seemed like a surefire hit. NEC also announced the release of the optional CD-ROM drive for $400. This was a major mistake.
The NES was the #1 system in the US. It was a a cultural phenomenon… The Atari’s 7800 system was on it’s way out as support was discontinued, and although the Sega Master System was wildly succesful in Europe, it failed to capture the hearts of the U.S. gaming public. PC and arcade games began to set new standards in gaming excellence, making the NES seem archaic. Although MMC (memory mapper) chips allowed the NES to push the limits of its hardware, gamers demanded a new system.
Turbo Grafx 16 Hits the US
In August 1989, the first TurboGrafx 16 consoles were limited releases in New York and Los Angeles. NEC bundled Keith Courage in Alpha Zones and a joypad controller. Here is the beginning of what went wrong friends.. On launch The Turbo Grafx 16 only had one port for a controller, later they added the turbo tap that allowed up to five controller ports but this was a major issue..
Next the TurboPad controller which was remarkably similiar to the NES controller, however The TurboPad controller cord was unusually short in length, consequently players had to position themselves extremely close to the console during games. NEC did later release a cable which extended the length of the cord by a much needed seven feet. One interesting feature that NEC included on it was two Turbo Switches that allowed you to hold down a button and continuosly fire.
The TurboGrafx 16 initially sold well in North America when it came out, however once Sega released the Genesis, and Nintendo the SNES, the software limitations ended up hurting the system. A standard Genesis cart and SNES cart featured 64KB and 124KB of RAM respectively, while a TurboGrafx 16 TurboChip only featured 8KB of RAM. In addition the TurboGrafx 16 lacked third party support in large part that Nintendo and Sega had established strong relationships already with many third party developers.
CPU brand: Hudson Soft
CPU model: HuC6280
CPU speed: 7.16 MHz
GPU ram: 64 KB
RAM: 8 KB