Turbografx 16

The Turbografx 16 was the first 16 bit video game system on the market.

Just The Facts

  1. The Turbografx-16 was the one of the first 16-bit systems to hit the market.
  2. Some people argue that despite having 16-bit graphics, it only had an 8-bit processor, so it wasn't technically "16-bit gaming". Nobody else cares.
  3. The Japanese game system it was based on, the PC-Engine, holds the World Record as the smallest game console ever made.
  4. Both the main gaming magazines that focused on the system (Turbo Play and Duo Play) were Larry Flynt publications.

Turbo Power!

The Turbografx 16 was the American release of the Japanese PC Engine video game console, which still holds the world record of the smallest system ever. The games would probably hold the same title if the Sega Master System didn't host a similar card-cartridge system. The system also holds the status of being the first to use the CD format for games, but we'll get to that later.

A Turbografx HuCard, with an Atari 2600 and NES cartridge for scale.

The system was mostly known for quirky platformers, but also boasted some of the toughest shooter games in existence. Here's a guy with a British accent failing miserably at one of them:

Rather than engage directly with Nintendo and Sega and their massive domestic advertisement budget, NEC relied on guerilla marketing techniques to promote the Turbografx and related systems, including the absurd to the point of legendary promotional minicomic Johnny Turbo (who we've already talked about on Cracked).

One of the storylines is entited "Let 'Em Dangle." No, really.

Altogether, the Turbografx 16 sold about 10 million units, coming in a distant third to the Sega Genesis's 30 million and the Super Nintendo's 50 million.

CD Power!

As we mentioned before, the Turbografx was the first system to use the CD format for games. This was an exciting development, allowing recorded audio for music and sound effects and actual voice acting to aid in immersion. Sadly, or hilariously depending on how you look at it, some of the initial releases (very important considering the system was going for an astronomically expensive $399 in 1989 dollars) are still regarded as some of the worst examples of voice acting in the history of gaming.

That wasn't some corny Youtube dub making fun of the game. That was the actual audio track for a video game on a four hundred dollar system. Seriously. The game's called Last Alert. Look it up.

Here's more, from the game Final Zone II:

After miserable false starts like those two, the CD-system finally caught on with the release of Y's I-II, and followed up with an upgrade to the system that brought vastly improved titles, including what is still the most sought after game in the entire Castlevania series: Dracula X: Rondo Of Blood (which unfortunately never had an American release, further adding to it's mystique).