NEC Turbo Grafx 16 – The 1st 16-bit console?

19 May 2008 | retro gaming | Tags:

First Released: August 29, 1989 (USA)
Gaming Era: 16-bit
CPU: Hudson Soft HuC6280
Cost: $189.99 (w /Keith Courage)
Sales: 2.5 Million Units (USA) 10 Million (Worldwide)
Controller: Gamepad (1 port)
Death: 1993 (TurboDuo in ’92 Japan-Only 32-bit PC-FX in ’94)
Life: 4 years
Best Games: Bonk’s Adventures, Bomberman, Ninja Spirit

The TurboGrafx 16 was a joint effort of HudsonSoft (Bomberman Fame) and NEC. It was extremely popular in Japan (games were released through 1999) but fared poorly in the United States. While Turbo Grafx-16 claimed to be the first 16-bit console, this statement was utterly false. The Turbo Grafx 16 had an 8-bit CPU, though it did have a separate 16-bit graphics card and separate sound card. It was in fact a very compact console due to this efficient 3 chip architecture. Secondly, in the US it was not the first 16-bit console to the market (the Genesis was released 2 weeks prior). The start of the 16-bit era saw an intense competition between the Genesis and TurboGrafx. Ultimately, TurboGrafx older technology, lack of a 2nd controller port, and a lack of 3rd party developers led it to a very distant 4th place in North America. The TurboGrafx 16’s cartridges were actually really cool. The cartridges were about as large as a credit card, but slightly thicker. The (really 8-bit) TurboGrafx-16 soon began to offer all sorts of expansions including the TurboCD and leading to the TurboDuo in the early 90s in an attempt to claim some share of the US market. This was all too late since the Genesis already had claimed victory, however this failed peripheral expansion was a mistake Sega would make as well.

One Response to “NEC Turbo Grafx 16 – The 1st 16-bit console?”

  • 1 Anonymous Says:

    Poor ol’ TG-16. If the CD-ROM didn’t cost hundreds of dollars on top of what you already spent on the main console thy would have had a chance (of course Nintendo’s licensing policies kept killer apps from coming state-side as well).

    You now that thing could actually display 256 colors on screen at once? The Genesis (despite having a fuller color palette overall), could only do 64. That’s why Sega CD games are so hideous. Anyway, I like posts like this, it’s good to see people remember the oldies.

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