Saturday, January 10, 2015

TurboGrafx 16 (1992)

TurboGrafx 16 advertisement
Original ad published in the May 1922 edition of GamePro

Historical Background & Graphical Analysis 

By 1992, electronics giant NEC's TurboGrafx 16 occupied third place in the 16-bit video game console wars. The console had debuted in North America in 1989, after Sega's Genesis and before Nintendo's Super NES, but while those systems had true 16-bit processing power, NEC's product used some smart engineering to squeeze every once of processing power from an advanced 8-bit architecture

Initial sales of the system gave some hope to compete in the US market. After all, the PC Engine had a been a huge hit in Japan. But by 1992, NEC faced dire straits in North America. Serious measures had to be taken to rekindle some interest is American buyers. So NEC, through Turbo Technologies, aggressively promoted Bonk to compete against Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo's Italian plumber. The Japanese figured Americans needed some kind of mascot to garner sales. Bonk's Adventure (1989) had been well received by the press, so Bonk's Revenge (1991), included with the console at a heavy discount, was promoted in the printed press as well as in TV commercials. It was a decent platformer, with all the 'tude of any mascot of the time, but it was a case of too little too late. Their ads were classy and intelligent, only rivaled by Sega's balls-out marketing strategy of the time.

Sadly, NEC discontinued TurboGrafx 16 in 1994. They sold about 2.5 million units in the US and 10 million in Japan. Not bad, but still very far from Sega's 40 million units moved worldwide and Nintendo's almost 50 million units sold internationally, according to Wikipedia.

That does not mean that this was a mediocre console. On the contrary. There's a very active retro fan-base of the system that appreciates excellent sch'mup's or a good electronic pinball game, two of TurboGrafx 16's specialties. There's also a good selection of RPG's. All in all, it's well-stocked library with at least 25 memorable classics. And I'm only talking about the original TurboGrafx 16, the Turbo CD and SuperGrafx consoles have an even more rabid following.

Original print ad copy:

For less than [dollar picture] you can get a [TurboGrafx 16 picture]. And just to get you started, we'll throw in a [Bonk's Revenge picture], which is a [five 10-dollar bill picture] value that you can have for less than [penny coin picture].

(Or tu put it simply, get TurboGrafx 16 for only $99.99 and get Bonk's Revenge for free)

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