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NEC Makes Their Console Debut with the Turbo Grafx-16 – Today in History – August 19th, 1989

NEC took a lot of chances with the launch of their Turbo Grafx-16 in North America, for one, it was their first (and only) console outside of Japan. The PC-Engine, as the Turbo Grafx-16 is known in Japan, was co-developed with Hudson (more like NEC slapped their name on Hudson’s designs). This was the first console for both companies and was the fruition of failed attempts of Hudson to sell better graphics chips to Nintendo (and we all thought Sony was the first comany Nintendo screwed over in the hardware category).

The TurboChips, HuCards in Japan, were the culmination/continuation of similar technology Hudson had going for the MSX computer (some MSX games were featured in issue #2 of RGM). For all intents and purposes this could have been called the Hudson Console or Hudson Turbo Grafx-16, NEC was there for the finished product, and probably to avoid problems with Nintendo’s quite extensive third party contracts (at least in North America).

Another chance that NEC took was the release of the CD-ROM attachment that they released on August 1st, 1990- almost a full year later. This was the first CD-ROM attachment released for a console in North America, predating the Sega CD by over two years. NEC were also forward thinking in how they handled this attachment, they left out any region locking technology (something Sega was quick to add to their attachment). This allowed gamers to pull from the more bountiful gaming culture of Japan where Nintendo didn’t have nearly the power over third parties as they did in the United States.

Eventually NEC released the first portable to play home console games on the go with the Turbo Express (1990). NEC were ahead of their time and it showed in the hardware which commonly suffered from sound problems and dead pixels.

With the Turbo Duo NEC, now TTI, was the first company to release a console with CD-ROM built in. The Turbo Duo even came with five games for free (six in early editions if you knew the code).

As history has proven time and time again, being first is not always the best position when bringing something new to market. NEC/TTI found this out repeatedly over the years and it was a hard lesson to learn. Eventually, Konami ended up owning the rights to the NEC/TTI library of games including Hudson games such as Adventure Island and Bomberman.

Indie developers have refused to let the Turbo go. Companies such as Aetherbyte have supported both the TurboChip console and the CD-ROM attachment with new games in recent years.

Launch titles included:

We here at RGM want to take this day and say thank you to the Turbo Grafx-16 and celebrate all of the great games it did see released over the years.

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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6 Responses to “NEC Makes Their Console Debut with the Turbo Grafx-16 – Today in History – August 19th, 1989”

  1. […] and only, foray into the North American gaming market for NEC (for more information on this see our historical look back here). NEC were pulling out all of the stops, at least as many as they could with their libary of launch […]

  2. […] debut of the Turbo Grafx-16 was a tough launch for NEC. This was probably due to a couple of reasons, one, this was their first console and not ever […]

  3. […] answer to Altered Beast, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones. There is no arcade tie-in here (though the Turbo Grafx-16 did launch with R-Type). NEC was at a disadvantage as far as arcade ports went but that […]

  4. […] new to North American gaming, that was evidenced no better than in the story for Dungeon Explorer- a launch title. Players that bought this game based on title alone were not too far off from what they would get […]

  5. […] NEC launched the Turbo Grafx-16 in North America they faced many challenges. For one they were slightly off as far as what gamers […]

  6. YOUDIEMOFO says:

    Loved that console…..!! Bonk was amazing when it was released. I had maybe 8-10 games for this system. I’ll never forget the time I thought that the cards for games were so cool and original then my buddy showed me his Sega master system that took similar cards, but was a little bit smaller in width than the turbo GFX 16.

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