View Full Version : Computer Chronicles! Battle of 1990s Game Consoles!

April 17th, 2013, 11:25 AM

Some amazing footage of games and watch as adults talk about the gaming craze.

April 17th, 2013, 02:39 PM
NEC had an early lead over the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), but once Sega came out with Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo released the SNES, they got left in the dust.

April 17th, 2013, 03:10 PM
The NEC guy neglected to say the CD-ROM was a peripheral and what the TOTAL cost was for the machines.

April 17th, 2013, 03:20 PM
Didn't help that NEC didn't localize hardly any of the best games for the system.

April 17th, 2013, 03:58 PM
The NEC guy neglected to say the CD-ROM was a peripheral and what the TOTAL cost was for the machines.

Virtually everything you needed was an add-on for the NEC, including the "Turbo Booster" to give you stereo A/V outputs and the "Turbo Tap" to give you a second controller port. That was their approach to be able to advertise a low price for the console itself.

April 18th, 2013, 05:24 AM
Being a TurboGrafx/PCEngine fanboy (and understanding that I've not had time to watch the video yet), I do have to comment on this one.

It was definitely a cost-cutting measure to forego a Player 2 port and stereo inputs. Looking back, however, no one EXCEPT for Nintendo with the NES put stereo A/V outputs directly on the console. Sega didn't do it with any of the Master System models, nor with their Genesis models. Nintendo also didn't do it with the SNES - though to be fair, if you purchased the A/V cords for it rather than using the default coaxial video, you could get it right out of the console. And A/V cords were much more cheaply available than either a CD-ROM attachment (which provided A/V), or a Turbo Booster, which was cheaper than the CD-ROM attachment (obviously) and if you purchased the Plus option, even provided save game capabilities.

I tend to think of it this way: NEC was cutting edge with their ideas, though some of the business decisions were crap (releasing some of their better games as Japanese-only exclusives, lack of a P2 port, lack of easily-accessible stereo a/v) and their near total lack of marketing was completely crap (especially when you consider that the marketing that they did do was actually rather good)... but here's the thing.

The TG16/PCE came out before the SNES. NEC's plan was to market a LINE of consoles to appeal to all levels of gamers, including handheld gamers. Kiddies and less-hardcore gamers could opt for the low-end Turbo Grafx 16 model, and they could grow that console through attachments (something that Nintendo, et. al didn't do). More demanding gamers could go for more professional hardware: the Turbo Duo, which included a CD-ROM attachment and stereo A/V cords (of course the Duo came out in 1990, rather than 1989, but eh).

Note: I'm not going to discuss the Japanese market, as that's something that I largely don't understand, and I don't think that American gamers of the time were even aware of the total plethora of strange PCEngine consoles that NEC made, though we of the Internet Age certainly are.

NEC beat both Nintendo and Sega to the market with a 16-bit console. Despite claims by competitors, the NEC systems were 16-bit, but they did feature an 8-bit CPU as well (since they had a dual CPU architecture to split graphic/cpu and sound duties).

NEC was the first home console to allow for CD-ROM support - and yes, of course this was at an expense, and a premium above the total cost of competing consoles.

NEC was the first home console to feature first-party hardware save game features (rather than relying on battery-backed NV-RAM in cartridges).

NEC was the first company to buy into the "smaller is better" mentality, and manufacture cartridges for a home system with low-profile, easily-to-store games.

NEC was the first company to feature a color handheld, and - wait for it! - for the first time, you could purchase the handheld and NOT have to repurchase all of your games in inferior handheld versions!

They had their problems, particularly with marketing and the aforementioned lack of a P2 port, but they were far ahead of their time in the overall vision for their console line, and unlike the NES/SNES/Genny, people are still discovering vintage games on this system for the first time, and people are still being blown away by them. Though to be fair, this can be attributed as much to the relative obscurity of the system (damn marketing!) than the depth and breadth of the games.

And yes, I've all the various hardware now... and I was one of the lucky ones that got to play with this system growing up - my cousin had one (he had everything, literally) - and Legendary Axe quickly became one of my favorite games of all time, with what I consider to be one of the best soundtracks of all time.

Non-fanboy glasses: some of the games released in the Western market were for shit. They were too Japanese... too far out there to be a success in the Americas. And the console suffered from the bias and arrogance of the Japanese developers, as several of their best games were simply not released in the US/EU because they were considered to be too difficult, etc (some of their shooters come to mind).

The system has a surprising amount of good platform/puzzle games, but where it really shines is in its shooters. If you like those, get this system and start hunting them down. And don't forget to pick up Neutopia while you're at it - it's a pretty decent RPG in the Zelda vein, easy enough for kids, but not so kiddified that adults can't enjoy it.

Food for thought: of the first 94 games released for the SNES, how many could be considered good games that stand the test of time? The US SNES collection spans over 700 games, IIRC. The TG16 had only 94 hucard games released, total (I'm not counting CD games since hardly anyone would've been able to afford one back then). Of those, there's a number that stand the test of time (several of which are original games that are console exclusives). I wonder if, percentage-wise, the TG16 holds its own against the eventual king of the 90's console wars, the SNES? - I've never actually researched this avenue before, but it's an interesting question.

April 18th, 2013, 08:22 AM
Which system did NEC create? I don't recall ever hearing their name associated with a console but I didn't follow consoles back in the day due to lack of money.

April 18th, 2013, 09:33 AM
NEC made the Turbografx-16 (US name) and PCEngine (Japanese name) in conjunction with Hudson. NEC provided the primary hardware/power/money/marketing, Hudson was their initial partner on the software side, and contributed a great many games to the system.

The PCEngine had several incarnations including the Core Grafx, Core Grafx II, PCEngine Shuttle, PCEngine, PCEngine LT (extremely rare semi-portable with large screen), PCEngine GT (same as Turbo Express handheld), PCEngine Duo, PCEngine Duo-R, PCEngine Duo-RX, and even a PCEngine plug-in for one of the Pioneer LaserActive laserdisc player, which you guys may remember because it also could support an optional plug-in sega genesis. NEC also released the SuperGrafx console, an upgraded PCEngine that was backwards compatible with the previous games and peripherals, but had better hardware for more in-depth games. It was too little, too late, and it failed, having had only 5 games released for it, and a single shooter for the PCEngine that, when it detected the extra RAM available in the SuperGrafx, would use certain enhancement routines to look even better. (I can't remember the name now...)

FWIW, NEC had experience in the Japanese game console arena prior to and after the PCEngine with several consoles including the PC-FX, a CD-based system released in 1994 (after the PCECngine Duo) which they supported until 1998.

Interestingly enough, Sharp produced the X1-Twin, a combination X1 computer and PCEngine, which later saw an "upgrade" to support the PC-FX... yeah, this one I had to wiki the name, though the rest here is from memory - I've only seen this unit for sale once... it pulled over a grand. There was also an RGB monitor that was produced with a built-in PCEngine. Rather cool - buy a computer monitor, get a game systemthat takes up virtually no extra space. Fits in with the Japanese thinking, doesn't it? I've only seen that once too, from the same seller who had the X1 Twin.

Anyway. Back on topic for me. Truly, I didn't mean to hijaak the thread - sorry, OP.

So. Computer Chronicles. I need to watch the trailer. And I plan to :)

April 18th, 2013, 11:47 AM
Anyway. Back on topic for me. Truly, I didn't mean to hijaak the thread - sorry, OP.

So. Computer Chronicles. I need to watch the trailer. And I plan to :)

Wutever. As long as I wasn't completely ignored when it was my intention to make a discussion about the topic of 90s game systems as seen by the professionals and the media.

April 18th, 2013, 01:41 PM
I did see quite a lot of TV commercials for the TurboGrafx 16 back in the day, although I was watching New York City stations, which was likely NEC's #1 market for advertising. But it didn't last long -- the NEC seemed to disappear even while the regular 8-bit Nintendo was still going strong, with the NES 2 toploader console introduced in 1993 and new games being released through the end of 1994.

April 18th, 2013, 09:04 PM
I remember wanting a Turboduo when I was a kid. They weren't in stores when I went out to buy one. Years later I got a broken one off ebay. It came with a bunch of games.

A few of the CD-ROM games didn't run on Magic Engine. :(

April 19th, 2013, 11:05 AM
I remember wanting a Turboduo when I was a kid. They weren't in stores when I went out to buy one. Years later I got a broken one off ebay. It came with a bunch of games.

A few of the CD-ROM games didn't run on Magic Engine. :(
Hopefully you didn't toss that Duo. Most problems with them can be fixed by recapping the motherboard. In addition, lasers are still available and being sold by some of the Chinese gaming websites (I got one for like $21 shipped).

So far as the games, congrats! Whenever you get TG16/PCE stuff in lots, prices tend to skyrocket quickly even with common titles. I've seen lots of 25 hucard games, almost all commons, with a working TG16 system hit > $500. Crazy. Though it makes me feel extremely lucky that I found ~20 hucard games at a "local" used game shop with only a single game priced over $10. I walked away with all of them for less than $100 after taking advantage of my 10% discount.

Note that the Duo/TurboGrafxCD systems featured absolutely no on-disc protections. Like the Sega CD and early Dreamcasts, you can play backups to your heart's content. Which makes me happy, as I don't like handling my Dracula-X overly much :)

So far as Magic Engine, to me, it's still the best emulator out there, but some of the freely-available emulators, in particular Ootake is quite nice.

April 26th, 2013, 09:47 PM
Traded in everythign except "Dragon Slayer."

Heck, I even traded in my Japanese games like "Double Dragon" and "Dracula X"... :( I was stupid. :(

I must have traded in over a thousand dollars worth of stuff (maybe $500 minimum) for ....

PS3: Uncharted 1 & 2.
PS3: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare.
PSone: Parasite Eve.

Damn, I was mega stupid as I gave away the Uncharteds because I didn't like 'em.

Why did I trade them in? Because my sister implied I had to move but afterward said I misunderstood her... :(

April 27th, 2013, 11:08 AM
I loved the TG16. Excellent console.

When I was working at CompuCentre in Vancouver back in the day, we were selling the NES and the Sega Master System, then suddenly we had the TG16 and Genesis ushered in. Wow! Even though it was considered "8-bit", and had a crappy pack-in game, I thought the TG16 had better graphics and better sound than the Genesis. When Military Madness came out, I managed to get my manager to loan me a console for a week (with Blazing Lasers and Pac-Land). I don't remember sleeping much that week!

Later I saved enough to buy one, and it was a favorite for years (that and my Atari 7800 are my favorite 80's consoles--go figure). But my cousin gave me a sob story that she had fallen on hard times and just wanted something to do, so I gave her my TG16. Turns out she fell on hard times because she had developed a drug habit and sold the TG16 about a week after I gave it to her.

Still kicking myself. She probably only got $40 for the whole thing. GAH!

May 5th, 2013, 04:26 AM
Turns out she fell on hard times because she had developed a drug habit and sold the TG16 about a week after I gave it to her.

Still kicking myself. She probably only got $40 for the whole thing. GAH!

When I was younger, videogames were a kinda drug. I kept looking in magazines to pick out new ones. It was the best era for games that valued play control and fun over the stupid presentation. Games today are bloated and have too much holding them back to be fun. So you don't get that feeling of adrenaline or endorphins when you accomplish something.

May 5th, 2013, 12:47 PM
That's because games today are large and expansive. They're not designed to suck quarters like our old arcade games. They're not designed to supply only 8-10 hours of single-player gameplay like the longest of our old home console games. Now, they're usually designed with online multiplayer in mind - which ruins games for a guy like me with slow internet at home and no hope of getting faster. On the off-chance that new games today do include single-player aspects, they're usually poorly thought-out, tacked-on quests to catch the unwary. This is why I predominantly retro-game. There are thousands of old games that I've yet to play and can use to feed the need for recreation without requiring online capabilities. That's not to say that a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops doens't have its place, but unfortunately, it's place isn't to be played from my home (at least not well... 512kb DSL does NOT equal a good online experience)

What I will say positive about today's games are the replayability... it's a different kind of adrenaline rush when you're playing online against other players, and getting your butt handed to you, and that desire for competition, even for good old fashioned revenge, keeps you coming back for more. I quite enjoy Black Ops for this reason - I just can't play it from home.