Sunday, May 20, 2018

TurboGrafx-16 System (1990)

Original ad published in the June 1990 issue 

of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment (VG&CE).

Press to enlarge or download in higher resolution.

An ad only a hardcore gamer would love

NEC's ill-fated TurboGrafx-16 received a lot of publicity during the late 80's and the beginning of the 90s. It was a drastic sales flop for the Japanese electronics giant, but not for the lack of trying.

I've featured a good amount of TurboGrafx advertisements in this blog. All of them are awesome. I'm talking about the heavily promoted and heavily discounted console ad of 1992, with a bunch of free games, the beautiful and expensive Turbo Express, and of course the mind-boggling TurboDuo, probably the greatest system to never have succeeded in North America. The original console was the best selling of those, shipping about 10 millions units, almost 40% of that total coming from Japan, where it was named PC Engine and is still very popular. The failure was another one of those weird communication and cultural wars lived between Japanese companies NEC and Hudson and American corporations managing sales and marketing on this side of the Pacific. You can read all the details here. It's not a heart-warming story.

One of the main problems in the American market came from the name itself. A kid would assume TurboGrafx-16 featured 16-bit graphics, just like Sega's Genesis and Nintendo's SNES. But the reality was that innards of the system were not 16-bit at all, more like 8-bit trickery. We of course knew this decades later, but the results were immediately apparent upon switching the console on. Kids talked about how those other consoles were much better, both graphically and sonically. So word of mouth ended NEC's luck. You could of course upgrade and buy the CDROM add-on, but that would cost a pretty penny. Most families simply could not pay the $399.99 asking price. So playing 16-bit games on NEC's system actually cost more than on a comparable Sega or Nintendo console.

Now the ad you see here is not exactly earth-shattering. It's from the middle of the 90s and tries oh-so-hard to convince buyers that this is a solid console to invest in. Those 43 games sure sound exciting! Screens look solid, and the overall copy is not grating. It's more of a rational message than an emotional one, unlike many other advertisements I've published in this blog. This top letters do look great though, so much that they unconsciously inspired the header RetroGamingArt :]

TurboGrafx-16 System print advertisement copy

And more. The hottest video games. Only on the TurboGrafx-16 system

The TurboGrafx-16  game system from NEC. Video Game of the Year. First video games on CR-ROM. And the largest 16-bit library with more to come.

  • Valis II. Wield the magical sword against demonic forces! 6-level action/adventure, spectacular CD quality (CD)
  • YS Book I & II. Destroy Evil in this role-playing epic! Incredible CD sound, depth and intensity (CD)
  • CD Innovation. Supplement the system with CD intensity! superior Cd graphics, incredible CD stereo sound (TurboGrafx-CD sold separately)

The Library


Dragon Spirit
Galaga '90
Space Harrier
Final Lap Twin
Bloody Wolf


Power Golf
World Class Baseball
World Court Tennis
Takin' It to the Hoop


The Legendary Axe
Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
Bonk's Adventure


China Warrior
Alien Crush
JJ and Jeff


Blazing Lazers
Fantasy Zone
Deep Blue


Moto Roader
Victory Run


Dungeon Explorer
Double Dungeons


Military Madness

CD Games

Fighting Street
Monster Lair
Ys Book I & II
Valis II

Coming soon!

TV Sports Football
Super Volleyball
King of Casino
Legendary Axe II

CD Games:

Red Alert
Lords of the Rising Sun
Final Zone II
Magical Dinosaur Tour

Valis II is a trademark of Talent Japan. 1990 Sin Nihon Laser Soft.
Ys Book I & II is a trademark NECT, Inc. 1987, 88 Falcom, 1989 Hudson Soft.

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