Before most of the country happily tramples one other on Black Friday attempting to cop an Xbox One or a PS4, it's important to remember one of the less fortunate casualties of gaming generations gone by: The TurboGrafx 16.
In the mid 1980s, Japanese computer giant NEC witnessed the financial windfall being reaped by Nintendo and realized there must be room in the market for a direct competitor. NEC partnered with Japanese software developer Hudson Soft to take on Nintendo in the arena of home consoles and released the PC Engine in 1987.
We here in the states would get a slick rebranding in 1989 when NEC's TurboGrafx 16 finally hit American shores. The TurboGrafx-16 went on sale the same month that Sega dropped the Genesis, and promptly tanked.
The parallels between Microsoft's original Xbox and NEC's console are worth pointing out.
Both Microsoft and NEC were computer companies with no previous experience in the home console field, and both were attempting to manufacture a goliath-beating console. Both Microsoft and NEC's consoles offered extraordinary power and technology, but suffered from initial missteps: Microsoft's massive first-gen Xbox controller and NEC's propensity for releasing un-needed hardware peripherals.
Sadly, Nintendo ran the Japanese gaming industry like a railroad magnate at the turn of the century. With a robber baron's approach to business, Nintendo blocked third party developers from producing titles for NEC. Sometimes forcing companies to sign non-compete clauses if they ever wanted to see their work appear on Nintendo's home console. In Japan, the TurboGrafx saw gains in the market with a robust game library and eventually settled into second place behind the NES for the remainder of that generation.
Here in the states, the TurboGrafx 16 was about as well received as a case of shingles. This writer was one of the only people he knew to own a TurboGrafx16. When conversations began about Mario and Sonic, interjections about how cool Splatterhouse was, and why wasn't anyone else playing Bonk's Adventure were, at best, met with confusion. It was the playground equivalent to rocking fake Jordans or telling everyone how much you enjoyed bottom shelf breakfast cereals. You were summarily dismissed.
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Thes system was remarkable in its ambition aimed at the American market. It was the first console of the 16-bit generation, it was the first console with an external CD-ROM attachment, and it was the first console to offer support for up to five players with multiple controller ports. It was also one of the first consoles to be quickly forgotten and relegated to the scrapheap that is Ebay Electronics.
The TurboGrafx 16 had a lifecycle that lasted from 1989-1995, R.I.P. Pour one out for the games that defined that lost console.