Review by Macintosh User

Reviewed: 06/09/04

NEC TurboDuo

The Turbo-Grafx 16 was a very innovative system, featuring a new storage format, called a Hu-Card, which was about the size of a credit card but 3x thicker. The Turbo-Grafx 16 was released in the United States in 1988, and in Japan (as the PC-Engine) in 1987. The TG-16 as a stand-alone console featured three processors, and a standard controller with a D-pad and two buttons, and a Hu-Card cartridge slot. Not long after this system launched, NEC developed a CD-ROM add-on, called the Turbo CD. This enhanced the games greatly, adding CD-quality sound and more data storage space for the games, which made for more colorful, detailed gaming environments. In 1991, NEC developed an all-in-one Turbo-Grafx 16/CD console, called the TurboDuo. In 1992 it was released in North America.

Basically the Turbo-Grafx 16 featured two 8-bit CPU chips, and a 16-bit GPU which was capable of displaying 512 colors on-screen, a feature that neither the Sega Genesis, or Super Nintendo could replicate. The TG-16 featured only one controller port, but could use a multi-tap device that allowed for up to five controllers at once. The Turbo-Grafx 16 compared favorably to the Genesis, in that it featured 512 colors, instead of simply 64, and featured six-layer stereo sound, an expansion slot, and quite a bit of internal memory. With the addition of the Turbo CD the TG-16 received a maximum of 2MB of RAM, which was a huge amount at the time. Larger sprites, bigger levels, and more fluid animation was made possible by this CD peripheral, which was eventually integrated into the Turbo-Grafx 16 console, instead of simply as an add-on. This improved speeddddd and data transfer rates, as the machine was all built together sharing the same components, and featured a built-in Super System3 Card. There were three different versions of the System Cards, one featured 64KB of RAM, another featured 256K, and the third featured 2MB of RAM. Only a few games took advantage of this whopping 2MB of RAM, and Fatal Fury Special was one of them.

All of the processors found inside the Turbo-Grafx 16 ran at 3.6 Mhz, while the Turbo CD processor ran at 16 Mhz. Together the TG-16 and Turbo CD provided a powerful platform for programmers to develop for. Unfortunately the Turbo-Grafx 16, Turbo CD, and TurboDuo never fared well in the United States, however they were received with open arms overseas in Japan. The Turbo-Grafx 16 was an under-appreciated machine with many great games, including, Dracula X, Street Fighter 2, Bonk's Adventure, Splatterhouse, Blazing Lasers, Gate of Thunder, R-Type, and Galaga '90. The machine died a premature death here in the United States, and really should have been around much longer than it was. The Turbo-Grafx 16, when combined with the Turbo CD transformed into the TurboDuo, a highly efficient, highly powerful, console with all the tools needed to compete with Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit powerhouses. Unfortunately it just never caught on in America which really is too bad considering the TurboDuo had some fantastic games like Dracula X, which really looks better than any Castlevania game on the SNES. True the TG-16 was an 8-bit machine at heart, but the 16-bit GPU and video processor allowed for it to generate 16-bit quality images, which is very advanced technology for a machine that made its debut in 1987.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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