Your Move: The New TurboGrafx 16 Mini

May 20, 2020

When I was in elementary school, you were either a Nintendo kid, or a Sega kid. Even though I was a bit of a weird hybrid because I had the Sega Genesis and a Nintendo Game Boy, in this particular culture war, I fell on the Sega side of the divide. And as far as I knew at the time, those were the only options. But there was a third pillar, one that was unknown to me until years later - the TurboGrafx 16.

It was called the PC Engine in Japan, and it was made by NEC. At the time, NEC was the largest computer seller in Japan, as many computers from America wouldn’t work with Japanese characters. In 1987, they decided they needed to get into the video game business as well, and partnered with software company Hudson (which is best known for its Bomberman series of games) to create the console. It was a neat little compact square of a system. When they got ready to release it for the American market, they made it bigger and renamed it the TurboGrafx 16, I guess to emphasize the enhanced graphics over the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Although the system performed fairly well in Japan, it did not do nearly as well here in the U.S. Out of the 686 games released for the PC Engine in Japan, fewer than 150 made it over to the TurboGrafx. A lot of my favorite games for the system, including a Castlevania game, were Japan exclusives.

And, in keeping with its history of always coming in third place, the TurboGrafx 16 is now getting its own mini-console release. Coming out on Friday, the TurboGrafx 16-mini will have an impressive library of over 50 games, including games that never officially made it to America.