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      The higher energy videogame system

      The TurboGrafx 16, known as PC Engine in Japan, was a console developed by Hudson Soft and sold by NEC that was released first in Japan in 1987 and in North America in 1989. Far more successful in Japan than it ever was elsewhere. Its mascot character was Bonk, or PC Genjin in Japan where the name was a clear pun on the system's name.

      The most unique characteristic of the system was that the games did not come on bulky plastic cartridges but rather on thin Turbo Chips (Hu Cards in Japan), plastic game cards with connectors clearly visible on the end.

      Discontinued? Yes indeed, the system did not sell very well in North America, competing as it did with massively successful Nintendo and Sega contemporaries. However its game library's inclusion on the Wii Virtual Console has lit the fires of nostalgia in the hearts of the few gamers who played and loved the thing. The system was, however, extremely popular in Japan, outselling the original Famicom. It was particularly favored for its Shoot Em Ups, which could offer nearly arcade-perfect graphics.

      Like all the venerable systems, this one had a few add-ons of its own. One, the Turbo Tap, allowed up to five controllers to be connected where only one could ordinarily fit. Multi-player not exactly being a key feature of most of the games, this accessory understandably flopped. Another was the TurboGrafx-CD (PC Engine CD-ROM2) expansion, which opened more possibilities for the game library, especially with the Super System Card. The CD attachment was very successful in Japan, where it helped prolonged the lifespan of the system, but not so much elsewhere, to the point that only a handful of games were ever exported. NEC later released the Turbo Duo, which was a TurboGrafx with a little extra RAM and the CD drive and Super System Card built-in. The American release is infamous for its advertising campaign, Johnny Turbo. You can read the comics in their entirety here, as well as more info here.

      One of the extensions of the PC Engine that was only released in Japan was the SuperGrafx, which was simply a TurboGrafx with a extra video chip and more RAM. The hardware revision was a complete failure, only having five games specifically made for it. Slightly more successful was the Arcade Card, released in 1994 in a late attempt to upgrade the capacities of the system; it was mostly noted for ports of Neo Geo games.

      Finally, in the portable market, TurboGrafx had a clear advantage thanks to its slim game cards. The TurboExpress handheld console was able to use exactly the same cards as the main console, so that it was essentially a small, portable TG16 with a screen attached. Yes it was heavy, and yes it was a battery-guzzler, but it still was nice to have a lot of those games on the go.


      • CPU runs at 7.16mhz, although for some reason programs could switch it down to 3.58mhz or 1.79mhz as most Hu Card games were running at 3.58mhz to avoid over heating the system (As the Japanese PC Engine was quite small) runs at the full speed for CD games. It's also an 8-bit processor, which led some to doubt it was really a 16-bit system.
      • But like some other systems, the actual graphics are generated by a GPU, which is 16-bit. It actually has two of them, but they are practically identical, and just split color and display between them.

      • 8 KB of main RAM, 64 KB of Video RAM, additional 192 KB of RAM (Turbo Duo only)
      • The CD-Rom2 1.0 Hu-Card (and 2.0 and the bug fixed 2.1) adds another 64KB.
      • The Super CD-Rom2 3.0 Hu-Card beefs up the 64KB to 256KB.
      • The Arcade Hu-Card (still at 3.0 oddly) beefs it up more to 2 MB (for the Arcade Card Duo, 2.2MB for the Arcade Card Pro; the Arcade Card Duo is for the Duo models only, while the Arcade Card Pro was for the pre-Duo models)
      • Supergrafx has 32 KB of main, and 128 KB of Video.
      • Games on Hu-Cards could be up to 2.5 MB.

      • 64 sprites on screen (128 for the Supergrafx).
      • Sprite size is a minimum of 16x16 and a maximum of 32x64.
      • The system just has the sprite layer and one background layer (the Supergrafx has two).

      Notable games/series: