NEC PC Engine

NEC PC Engine / Turbografx 16

4th Generation Competitors
Neo Geo CD Megadrive Super NES Neo Geo AES CDTV Philips CDI NEC SuperGrafx
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 30th Oct 1987 1994  3.9M
North America 29th Aug 1989 1994  500K
Europe 22nd Nov 1989 1993  1.4M

The PC Engine is an unfortunately forgotten piece of gaming history.  For a long time in Japan it was the second place console and is one of the few consoles to successfully straddle two generations, selling in the 8 bit and 16 bit eras.

NEC was a big player in Japan’s PC98 world.  Seeing the success that Nintendo had garnered in the console world they considered entering the market themselves.

Enter HudsonSoft.  HudsonSoft were a successful software company in Japan, they’d developed a hardware platform involving thin card sized cartridges nicknamed HuCards.  Realising they couldn’t develop it, they approached NEC to partner with them.

The resulting console was incredibly powerful for it’s time and managed to hold second place in the Japanese console market, holding off Sega.  They eventually released in the US and Europe, with a larger remodelled version called the TurboGrafx 16.

Unfortunately, NEC were not sure of these markets and did very little advertising.  Europe didn’t even receive a full stock of units, meaning it never had a chance to compete against Nintendo or Sega.

At the beginning of the 16 bit era, NEC realised their machine could still compete, software development was mature and the initial titles being released on the SNES and Megadrive were not especially more impressive.

But this was a losing battle.  As developers got to grips with the newer machines the PC Engine started looking less and less powerful.  Eventually NEC tried to reclaim some market by releasing a slightly improved version in the SuperGrafx, but it was too little too late.

The PC Engine also received a CD Rom addon.  This was only a single speed drive and suffered from developers cramming the discs with unskippable film sequences, but it had some very impressive titles and was certainly the most successful of the CD Rom addons.

One of the biggest flaws the PC Engine had was a reliance on a single joystick port, this meant any multiplayer required purchasing a multitap device.

The PC Engine is considered to be the best platform for shoot-em-ups and also had some of the most impressive arcade conversions of either the 8 bit or 16 bit eras.

 

 

Specs

Processor 8 Bit HuC6280 @ 1.79 or 7.16 MHz
RAM 8K Work Ram, 64K Video Ram
ROM 16K
Custom Chips 1 x HuC6270A 16 bit video chips
Video 9 bits 482 colours on screen from a palette of 512
Audio 6 x PSG Channels
Removable storage

PC Engine
Turbografx 16
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