Monday, February 6, 2017

Turbo Express (1992)

Original featured in the July 1992 edition of GamePro magazine.

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A luxurious portable system with a personality disorder 

You can't blame NEC for not trying.  During the late 80s and the beginning of the 90s the Japanese electronic giant promoted aggressively its video game products. The outcome would not be favorable, yet gamers still remember the company for its particular set of consoles and handhelds. The Turbo Express, which you see here, was the absolute king of the entire 16-bit generation.

Although NEC did some clever algorithm manipulation, all of their consoles, starting with the TurboGrafx-16, were assumed to be 16-bit machines. Their ads were quite catchy, frequently including free games with the purchase of the console. Such was also the case of the super system card and the avant-garde Turbo Duo promo

The Turbo Express followed that same marketing style. It had to. When the system was released in 1990, it reached astronomical price tags, between $250 and $300, something unheard of for the time. By 1992, however, NEC realized their pricing structure was completely out of sync with the North American market and promptly slashed the price of the hand-held to $199 with the option of four free games. That last price was the equivalent of a Super NES with Super Mario World (Sega's Genesis was cheaper by this time).

NEC's portable machine was truly awesome. Sound was identical to the TurboGrafx console and the graphical display was something no system would replicate for at least a decade, once Sony entered the video game market. Battery life was very poor, but the overall sensation of the handheld, when held with eager childish hands, was a life-changing experience. Much nicer than Nintendo's Game Boy. It was also heavy, yet very confortable. And it featured a headphone jack, so games became even more immersive than when played on the TV screen. Thankfully, AC adapters were available.

The ad we see here was standard fare for the American market. We get a huge picture of the actual product, with all its curvy nooks and crannies and buttons, but more importantly, we are informed that the system will play practically every TurboGrafx-16 game in existence (some special cartridges required a system-powered save system; most of them had a standard password system).  

If you can ignore the potty humor, this is well-crafted publicity, with solid graphical design, clear font and typography placement, as well as a coherent message. 

Turbo Express print ad copy

Some of the most enjoyable things in life are portable.

Turbo Express gives you 16-bit graphics with the same brilliant color, the same six-channel sound, the same intense game play, and best of all, you can use the same Turbo-Chip games you use on the TurboGrafx-16 home system.

Now you can have the take-it-anywhere convenience of the Turbo Express with all its coll features and your choice of four great games FREE when you buy a Turbo Express. You can choose any four of the following six games: Packland, Victory Run, Alien Crush, Fantasy Zone, Vigilante, Power Golf.

Turbo Technologies, Inc. 

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