Since our founding in 1987, Trustmarque has seen the rise and fall of many technology products and trends, whether they be labelled cutting-edge or consigned to the rubbish heap. But which of those technologies was with us from the outset? Who also tried to find their place amongst the titans of the industry? Our weekly Throwback Thursday feature aims to shine a light on some of the ancient gadgets and gizmos that time forgot.
Considering it’s as old as Trustmarque, the ‘TurboGrafx-16’ should be at the peak of its youth. Sadly, it was discontinued in the mid-nineties, but it certainly had its glory days in our timeline.
The home entertainment system, created by NEC under the name ‘PC Engine’, made its debut in Japan in order to compete with the ongoing rivalry between SEGA and Nintendo. The new competitor made for good competition, with its respectable video game catalogue and some nifty hardware and software features, notably five-player capability and a powerful processor compared to its 8 and 16-bit rivals.
Given that Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it the pseudonym ’16-Bit Sizzler’, it’s fair to say that it was starting to make an impression. The PC Engine not only impressed gaming magazines, but performed well in the market.
The personal computer market was intensive at the time in Japan, as NEC’s PC-88 and PC-98 were faced with an overseas threat from IBM, who were busy marketing their follow up to the successful IBM-5150. For NEC, the company’s gaming console would no doubt have been a great compliment to its existing products, as well as a suitable distraction.
On the back-end of its domestic success, the PC Engine made its way over to North America, to fight the battle on the western front. Accompanied with a $189.95 price tag, the renamed TurboGrafx-16 (T-16) struggled to make its mark on the American consumer market for reasons unknown. Some speculate it was the lack of third-party support, others believe it was due to its unattractive redesign. Whatever the reason, it sold three to four times less than it did in Japan.
Inevitably, and much to our dismay, that meant that a mass-market version of the console didn’t release in the UK, with the console only being released in limited quantities under the abbreviated ‘TurboGrafx’ title. Once it had soaked up success in Japan, its reign as a competitive alternative to the Nintendo Famicom and SEGA Genesis effectively ended.
So, does this gaming dinosaur still hold a place in the hearts of the gaming community? According to its Amazon reviews, yes. It certainly resonates with us – after all, it’s not often you get to share your birthyear with an antique gaming console.