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33 Consoles of Christmas
NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1989)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 25, 2006   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  

It's time once again for Defunct Games' 33 Consoles of Christmas, your 33 part guide to the best and worst system designs of all time. Join Cyril Lachel and Chad Reinhardt as they judge 33 different game consoles based on what they think of the look. Forget about actual hardware and software, the only thing these guys care about is talking about their exterior design. Join us every day between November 23 and December 25 for a new console review!

Synopsis: Released in the U.S. in 1989, NEC's TurboGrafx-16 was one of the first 16-bit consoles to hit the market. Not only that, but it was the first U.S. console to offer a CD-ROM add-on. Despite the fact that the Genesis and Super NES ultimately outsold the TurboGrafx-16, NEC's card-based console featured a number of popular games that are still fun today. The TurboGrafx-16 is best known for the Bonk character, Hudson's caveman superhero that has since appeared on everything from the Super NES to the Game Boy to the arcades.

Best Games: Ninja Spirit, Y's Book 1 & 2, The Legendary Axe, Splatterhouse, and Bonk's Revenge!

Here's my problem with the TurboGrafx-16: I hate that it only has one control port. Even in the days of 8-bit gaming, two control ports was the standard. So what's this 16-bit system doing coming out with only one port? That's just ridiculous. It just seemed like NEC was just forcing people to buy the optional multi-tap, which may be smart business but is a terrible precedence to set. Thankfully nobody else decided to go that route and the Turbo has the distinction of being one of the only systems with only one controller slot. The rest of the system looks fine, but there's something about the way it looks with its hat off that I just don't like. Like the Master System, the Turbo is very long ... but at least it doesn't have the instructions right on the box. This is a better design than the Master System, but it's not the kind of design many would consider to be "cool". I love my TurboGrafx-16, but by itself the system just isn't that attractive.

When I see a Turbo Grafx I think of steak. It may be because the system looks like a black, plastic T-bone sitting by itself, sans controllers and power pack. It is very small, and the games were noticeably more advanced than the eight bit games it was competing with. I see a natural progression in terms of power and faster computing when I look at this system, although those switches on the controllers will always drive me crazy. If I need to jump higher I'll hit the button harder, I don't think to adjust a switch to achieve this.

Controller aside, I've always liked the way the Turbo Grafx looked. And, if I were stranded on a desert island with it and two other random systems, I would eat the Turbo Grafx first. I'll sprinkle salt on it, because every Tex Avery cartoon character had a salt shaker with them on the desert island.


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