TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem, known in
Japan and France
as the PC Engine (PCエンジン, Pī Shī Enjin), is a home video
game console jointly developed by
Hudson Soft and
Electronics, released in
Japan on October 30, 1987 and in the United
States on August 29, 1989. It also had a limited release in the United
Spain in 1990, known as simply TurboGrafx and based on the
American model, whilst the Japanese model was imported and distributed
France in 1989. It was the first console released in the 16-bit
era, although it used an 8-bit CPU. Originally intended to compete
Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it ended up competing
Sega Genesis, and later on the Super
TurboGrafx-16 has an 8-bit CPU, a 16-bit video color encoder, and
a 16-bit video display controller. The GPUs are capable of displaying
482 colors simultaneously, out of 512. With dimensions of just
14 cm×14 cm×3.8 cm (5.5 in×5.5 in×1.5 in), the
Japanese PC Engine is the smallest major home game console ever
made. Games were stored on a
HuCard cartridge, or in CD-ROM
optical format with the TurboGrafx-CD add-on.
TurboGrafx-16 failed to break into the North American market and
sold poorly, which has been blamed on inferior marketing. Despite
the "16" in its name and the marketing of the console as a 16-bit
platform, it used an 8-bit CPU, a marketing tactic that was criticized
by some as deceptive. Developer Doug Snook of
ICOM Simulations said
CPU was a performance problem.
However, in Japan, the PC Engine, introduced into the market at a much
earlier date, was very successful, where it gained strong third-party
support and outsold the
Famicom at its 1987 debut, eventually becoming
the Super Famicom's main rival. Lots of revisions - at least 17
distinct models - were made, such as portable versions and a CD-ROM
add-on. An enhanced model, the PC Engine SuperGrafx, was intended
to supersede the standard PC Engine, but failed to break through and
was quickly discontinued. The entire series was succeeded by the PC-FX
in 1994, only released in Japan.
2.1 Core consoles
2.2 HuCard-only consoles
2.4 Duo consoles
2.5 Arcade Card
2.6 HE-System machines
2.7 Other foreign markets
2.8 Peripheral compatibility
2.9 Video formats
3 Technical specifications
3.2 Audio capacity
3.3 Region protection
4 CD hardware technical specifications and information
4.2 Drive unit
8 See also
10 External links
TurboGrafx-16 or PC Engine was a collaborative effort between
Hudson Soft, who created video game software, and NEC, a major company
which was dominant in the Japanese personal computer market with their
PC-98 platforms. NEC's interest in entering the lucrative
video game market coincided with Hudson's failed attempt to sell
designs for then-advanced graphics chips to Nintendo.
the vital experience in the video gaming industry so approached
numerous video game studios for support. They eventually found that,
Hudson Soft was also interested in creating their own
system but needed a partner for additional cash. The two companies
successfully joined together to then develop the new system.
The PC Engine finally made its debut in the Japanese market on October
30, 1987, and it was a tremendous success. By 1988 it outsold the
Famicom year-on-year, putting
Hudson Soft ahead of
the market, and far ahead of Sega. The console had an elegant,
"eye-catching" design, and it was very small compared to its
rivals. This, coupled with a strong software lineup and strong
third-party support from high-profile developers such as
NEC the lead in the Japanese market.
NEC wanted to sell the system to the American market, and
directed its U.S. operations to do so.
NEC Technologies boss Keith
Schaefer formed a team to test the system out. One criticism they
found was the lack of enthusiasm in its name 'PC Engine'. The team
also felt its small size was not very suitable to American consumers
who would generally prefer a larger and "futuristic" design. As a
result they came up with the name 'TurboGrafx-16', a name representing
its graphical speed and strength, and its 16-bit GPU. They also
completely redesigned the hardware into a large, black casing. However
the redesign process was lengthy, and
Japan was still cautious
about the system's viability in the U.S., both of which delayed the
system's debut in the American market.
TurboGrafx-16 was eventually released in the
New York City
New York City and Los
Angeles test market in late August 1989. This came just two weeks
after Sega's Genesis test-market launch on August 14, which was
distastrous timing for
Sega of America didn't waste time
redesigning the original Japanese Mega Drive system. The Genesis
launch was accompanied by an ad campaign mocking NEC's claim that the
TurboGrafx-16 was the first 16-bit console. Initially, the
TurboGrafx-16 was marketed as a direct competitor to the NES and early
television ads touted the TG-16's superior graphics and sound. These
ads featured a brief montage of the TG-16's launch titles: Blazing
Lazers, China Warrior, Vigilante, Alien Crush, etc.
Sega quickly eclipsed the
TurboGrafx-16 after its American debut.
NEC's decision to pack-in Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, a Hudson Soft
game unknown to western gamers, proved costly as
Sega packed-in a port
of the hit arcade title
Altered Beast with the Genesis. NEC's American
Chicago were also overhyped about its potential and
quickly produced 750,000 units, far above actual demand. Hudson Soft
earned a lot from this as
Hudson Soft royalties for every
hardware produced, whether sold or not. By 1990 it was clear that the
system was performing very poorly and was severely edged out by
Nintendo and Sega's marketing.
After seeing the
TurboGrafx-16 suffer in America,
NEC decided to
cancel their European releases. Units for the European markets were
already produced, which were essentially US models modified to run on
PAL television sets, and branded as simply TurboGrafx.
NEC sold this
stock to distributors - in the
Telegames released the
TurboGrafx in 1990 in extremely limited quantities. This model was
also released in
Spain and Portugal through selected retailers. No
PAL HuCards were made, and instead the European system can play all
American games without modifications, albeit with the necessary
slowdown to 50Hz.
PC Engine consoles (as well as some of its add-ons) were imported from
Japan by French unlicensed importer Sodipeng (Société de
Distribution de la PC Engine, a subsidiary of Guillemot
International), from November 1989 to 1993. This came after
considerable enthusiasm in the French press. This PC Engine was
largely available in
Benelux through major retailers. It
French language instructions and also an AV cable to enable
its input to a
SECAM television set. Its launch price was 1,790 French
francs (about 416
€ as of 2013).
The TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine was the first video game console capable
CD-ROM games with an optional add-on.
NEC claimed that it had sold 750,000 TG-16 consoles in the United
States, and 500,000
CD-ROM units worldwide, by March 1991. That
NEC released the
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo in Japan, a model which could play
HuCards and CD-ROM² discs, making it the first game console with an
CD-ROM drive. The console was licensed to Turbo
Technologies Incorporated, who released it in
North America in 1992 as
the TurboDuo. In addition to standard CD-ROM² format discs, the Duo
could also play games in the newly introduced Super CD-ROM² format
due to its greater RAM size (the
TurboGrafx-16 and its CD player could
support this new format only through the use of a separately available
upgrade, the Super System Card, which TTI sold via mail order). The
unit came into competition with the
Sega CD, which was released almost
immediately after. Turbo Technologies ran comic book ads featuring
Johnny Turbo. The ads mocked Sega, and emphasized that though the
Sega CD had the same retail price, the
TurboDuo was a
standalone platform and included five pack-in games, whereas
buyers needed to purchase separately sold games and a Genesis console
before they could use the system.
However, the North American console gaming market continued to be
dominated by the Super NES and Genesis rather than the new CD-based
consoles. In May 1994 Turbo Technologies announced that it was
dropping support for the Duo, though it would continue to offer
repairs for existing units and provide ongoing software releases
through independent companies in the U.S. and Canada.
The TurboGrafx-series was the first video game console ever to have a
contemporaneous fully self-contained portable counterpart, the PC
Engine GT, known as
TurboExpress in North America. It contained
identical hardware and played identical game software (utilizing
HuCard format game software).
The final commercialized release for the PC Engine was Dead of the
Brain Part 1 & 2 on June 3, 1999, on the Super CD-ROM²
format. The last game on
HuCard format was 21 Emon: Mezase! Hotel
Ō on December 16, 1994.
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo RX
PC Engine LT
PC Engine CoreGrafx II with Super CD-ROM²
PC Engine Shuttle
PC Engine CoreGrafx I & II
Many variations and related products of the PC Engine were released.
The PC Engine CoreGrafx is an updated model of the PC Engine, released
Japan on December 8, 1989. It has the same form factor as the
original PC Engine, but has a black color scheme, and replaces the
original's RF connectors with an A/V port. A recolored version of the
model, known as the PC Engine CoreGrafx II, was released on June 21,
1991. Aside from the different coloring, it is functionally
identical to the original CoreGrafx.
The PC Engine SuperGrafx, released on the same day as the CoreGrafx in
Japan, is an enhanced variation of the PC Engine hardware with
updated specs. This model has a second HuC6270A (VDC), a HuC6202 (VDP)
that combines the output of the two VDCs, four times as much RAM,
twice as much video RAM, and a second layer/plane of scrolling. The
CPU, sound, and color palette were not upgraded, making the expensive
price tag a big disadvantage to the system. As a result, only five
SuperGrafx games and two hybrid games (Darius Plus and
Darius Alpha were released as standard HuCards which took advantage of
the extra video hardware if played on a SuperGrafx) were released, and
the system was quickly discontinued. Despite the fact that the
SuperGrafx was intended to supersede the original PC Engine, its extra
hardware features were not carried over to the later Duo consoles. The
SuperGrafx has a BUS expansion port, but requires an adapter in order
to utilize the CD-ROM² System add-on.
The PC Engine LT is a model of the console in a laptop form, released
on December 13, 1991 in Japan, retailing at ¥99,800. The LT does
not require a television display as it has a built-in flip-up screen
and speakers, just as a laptop would have, but unlike the GT the LT
runs on a power supply. Its expensive price meant that few units were
produced compared to other models. It requires an adapter to use the
Super CD-ROM² unit.
The PC Engine Shuttle was released in
Japan on November 22, 1989 as
a less expensive model of the console, retailing at ¥18,800. It was
targeted primarily towards younger players with its spaceship-like
design and came bundled with a TurboPad II controller, which is shaped
differently from the other standard TurboPad controllers. The reduced
price was possible by the removal of the expansion port of the back,
making it the first model of the console that was not compatible with
the CD-ROM² add-on. However, it does have a slot for a memory backup
unit, which is required for certain games.
The PC Engine GT is a portable version of the PC Engine, released in
Japan on December 1, 1990 and then in the United States as the
TurboExpress. It can only play
HuCard games. It has a 2.6-inch
(66 mm) backlit, active-matrix color LCD screen, the most
advanced on the market for a portable video game unit at the time. The
screen contributed to its high price and short battery life, however,
which dented its performance in the market. It shares the capabilities
of the TurboGrafx-16, giving it 512 available colors (9-bit RGB),
stereo sound, and the same custom
CPU at 7.15909 MHz. It also has a TV
tuner adapter as well as a two-player link cable.
PC Engine CoreGrafx with CD-ROM² and interface unit
The CD-ROM² System (シーディーロムロムシステム, Shī Dī
Romu Romu Shisutemu, pronounced "CD-ROM-ROM") is an add-on attachment
for the PC Engine that was released in
Japan on December 4,
1988. The add-on allows the core versions of the console to
play PC Engine games in
CD-ROM format in addition to standard HuCards.
This made the PC Engine the first video game console to have a CD-ROM
peripheral, and first device ever to use
CD-ROM as a storage medium
for video games. The add-on consisted of two devices - the CD player
itself and the interface unit, which connects the CD player to the
console and provides as a common power supply and output for
both. It was later released as the TurboGrafx-CD in
the United States on August 1, 1990. The TurboGrafx-CD had a launch
price of $399.99, and did not include any bundled games. Fighting
Street and Monster Lair were the TurboGrafx-CD launch titles; Ys Book
I & II soon followed.
The Super System Card (スーパーシステムカード, Sūpā
Shisutemu Kādo), an upgrade for the CD-ROM² System, was released on
October 26, 1991. It updates the
BIOS to Version 3.0 and increases the
buffer RAM from 64kB to 2MB required to play Super CD-ROM² discs. An
American version of the Super System Card for the TurboGrafx-16/CD
combo was also sold exclusively as a mail-order. PC Engine owners who
did not already own the original CD-ROM² add-on could instead opt for
the Super CD-ROM² (スーパーシーディーロムロム, Sūpā
Shī Dī Romu Romu), an updated version of the add-on released on
December 13, which combines the
CD-ROM drive, interface unit and
Super System Card into one device.
Further information: TurboDuo
NEC/Turbo Technologies later released the TurboDuo, which combined the
TurboGrafx-CD (with the new Super-System-Card on-board) and
TurboGrafx-16 into one unit.
NEC Home Electronics released the
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo in
Japan on September
21, 1991, which combined the PC Engine and Super CD-ROM² unit into
a single console. The system can play HuCards, audio CDs, CD+Gs,
standard CD-ROM² games and Super CD-ROM² games. The North American
version, the TurboDuo, was launched in October 1992. The American
version of Duo was originally bundled with one control pad, an AC
adapter, RCA cables, Ys Book I & II (a CD-ROM² title), and a
Super CD-ROM² including Bonk's Adventure, Bonk's Revenge, Gate of
Thunder and a secret version of
Bomberman accessible via a cheat code.
The system was also packaged with one random
HuCard game which varied
from system to system (Dungeon Explorer was the original HuCard
pack-in for TurboDuo, although many titles were eventually used, such
as Irem's Ninja Spirit and Namco's Final Lap Twin, and then eventually
a random pick).
Two updated variants were released in Japan: the PC Engine Duo-R (on
March 25, 1993) and the PC Engine Duo-RX (on June 25, 1994).
Certain games in
Japan were released in a third disc format, the
Arcade CD-ROM² (アーケードシーディーロムロム, Ākēdo
Shī Dī Romu Romu) (released in
Japan on March 12, 1994),
requiring the use of an Arcade Card (アーケードカード, Ākēdo
Kādo). The Arcade Card was available in two variants: the Arcade Card
Pro designed solely for the original CD-ROM² System, and the Arcade
Card Duo that works with the Super CD-ROM² System and all PC Engine
Duo models (both adding a total of 2MB of RAM). These are not
compatible with the TurboGrafx-CD, nor with the TurboDuo, without an
The PC-KD863G is a CRT monitor with built-in PC Engine console,
released on September 27, 1988 in
Japan for ¥138,000. Following NEC's
PCs' naming scheme, the PC-KD863G was designed to eliminate the need
to buy a separate television set and a console. It output its signals
in RGB, so it was clearer at the time than the console which was still
limited to RF and composite. However, it has no BUS expansion port,
which made it incompatible with the CD-ROM² System and memory backup
The X1-Twin was the first licensed PC Engine-compatible hardware
manufactured by a third-party company, released by Sharp on April 1989
for ¥99,800. It's an X1 computer and PC Engine console combined
into one, although the two hardware run mutually separately.
LaserActive supports an add-on module which
allows the use of PC Engine games (HuCard, CD-ROM² and Super
CD-ROM²) as well as new "LD-ROM²" titles that work only on this
NEC also released their own
LaserActive unit and PC Engine
add-on module, under an
OEM license. A total of eleven LD-ROM2
titles were produced, with only three of them released in North
Other foreign markets
North America and Japan, the
TurboGrafx-16 was released in
South Korea by a third party under the name Vistar 16. It was based on
the American version but with a new curved design. The PC Engine
was never officially released in continental Europe, but some
companies imported them and made SCART conversions on a moderate
scale. In France, Sodipeng imported Japanese systems and added an RGB
Cable called "AudioVideo Plus Cable". This mod
improved the original video signal quality extensively and made the
consoles work with
SECAM televisions. In Germany, several importers
sold converted PC Engines with
PAL RF as well as
needed] The connectors and pinouts used for the latter were frequently
compatible with the
Amiga video port, with two unconnected pins used
for the audio channels.
TurboGrafx-16 had only one controller port, so any simultaneous
multiplayer games required the TurboTap accessory.
All PC Engine systems support the same controller peripherals,
including pads, joysticks and multitaps. Except for the Vistar,
Shuttle, GT, and systems with built-in
CD-ROM drives, all PC Engine
units shared the same expansion connector, which allowed for the use
of devices such as the
CD-ROM unit, battery backup and AV output.
The TurboGrafx and Vistar units use a different controller port than
the PC Engines, but adaptors are available and the protocol is the
same. The TurboGrafx offers the same expansion connector pinout as the
PC Engine, but has a slightly different shape so peripherals must be
modified to fit.
The Arcade Card Pro is designed for the original CD-ROM² System
add-on, adding the 2304 kB of RAM required by Arcade CD-ROM² games.
The Arcade Card Duo is for the Super CD-ROM² System and the PC-Engine
Duo/R/RX consoles and adds 2048 kB RAM, since those systems already
have 256K of RAM built-in.
CD-ROM game types are:
CD-ROM² : Standard
CD-ROM game. Runs on all CD-ROM² Systems
without any additional requirements
Super CD-ROM² : Requires a Super System Card to work on the
original CD-ROM² System. No card is required for Super CD-ROM² and
Arcade CD-ROM² : Requires an Arcade Card Pro on the original
CD-ROM² System, or an Arcade Card Duo on the Super CD-ROM² and Duo
All PC Engine hardware outputs video in NTSC format, including the
European TurboGrafx; it generates a PAL-compatible video signal by
using a chroma encoder chip not found in any other system in the
TurboGrafx-16 ran off an 8-bit CPU, but had a 16-bit graphics
The PC Engine is a relatively compact video game console, owing to an
efficient three-chip architecture and its use of small ROM cartridges
called HuCards (Turbo Chips in North America).
Hudson Soft developed
HuCard (Hudson Card) from the
Bee Card technology it piloted on
the MSX. HuCards are about the size of a credit card, but slightly
thicker. They are very similar to the My Card format utilized for
certain games released on the SG-1000/
SC-3000 and the Mark III/Master
System. The largest Japanese
HuCard games were up to 20 Mbit in size.
All PC Engine consoles can play standard HuCards, including the PC
SuperGrafx (which has its small library of exclusive HuCards).
With the exception of the budget-priced PC Engine Shuttle, the
portable PC Engine GT and the PC-KD863G monitor, every PC Engine
console is also capable of playing CD-ROM² discs, provided the
console is equipped with the required
CD-ROM drive and System Card.
SuperGrafx and PC Engine LT both required additional adapters to
work on the original CD-ROM² System and Super CD-ROM² respectively,
whereas the Duo consoles had the
CD-ROM drive and Super System Card
integrated into them (as did the Super CD-ROM² player). Some
unlicensed CD games by Games Express can only run on Duo consoles, due
to their games requiring both a special System Card packaged with the
games and the 256 kB of RAM built into the Duo.
CPU is a
Hudson Soft HuC6280 8-bit microprocessor
operating at 1.79 MHz and 7.16 MHz. It features integrated
bank-switching hardware (driving a 21-bit external address bus from a
6502-compatible 16-bit address bus), an integrated general-purpose I/O
port, a timer, block transfer instructions, and dedicated move
instructions for communicating with the HuC6270A VDC. Its 16-bit
graphics processor and video color encoder chip were also developed by
Hudson Soft. It holds 8 kB of work RAM and 64 kB of video RAM.
X (Horizontal) Resolution: variable, maximum of 565 (programmable to
282, 377 or 565 pixels, or as 5.3693175 MHz, 7.15909 MHz,
and 10.738635 MHz pixel dot clock) Taking into consideration
overscan limitations of CRT televisions at the time, the horizontal
resolutions were realistically limited to something a bit less than
what the system was actually capable of. Consequently, most game
developers limited their games to either 256, 352, or 512 pixels in
display width for each of the three modes.
Y (Vertical) Resolution: variable, maximum of 242 (programmable in
increments of 1 scanline). It is possible to achieve an interlaced
"mode" with a maximum vertical resolution of 484 scanlines by
alternating between the two different vertical resolution modes used
by the system. However, it is unknown, at this time, if this
interlaced resolution is compliant with (and hence displayed correctly
on) NTSC televisions.
The majority of
TurboGrafx-16 games use 256×239, though some
games, such as Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective did use 512×224.
Colors available: 512 (9-bit)
Colors onscreen: Maximum of 482 (241 background, 241 sprite)
Palettes: Maximum of 32 (16 for background tiles, 16 for sprites)
Colors per palette: 16 per background palette (color entry #0 of each
background palette must be the same), and 15 per sprite palette (plus
transparent, which is displayed as an actual color in the overscan
area of the screen)
Simultaneously displayable: 64 on-screen, 16 (256 sprite pixels) per
Sizes: 16×16, 16×32, 16×64, 32×16, 32×32, 32×64
Palette: Each sprite can use up to 15 unique colors (one color must be
reserved as transparent) via one of the 16 available sprite palettes.
Layers: The HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one sprite layer.
Sprites could be placed either in front of or behind background tiles
by manipulating a bit which caused indirect pixel color entry #0 of
the background tile(s) to act as transparent.
Palette: Each background tile can use up to 15 unique colors via one
of the 16 available background palettes and 1 shared color (BG color
#0) for a total of 16 colors per tile. The first color entry of each
background subpalette is ignored. Instead, color #0's
RGB value is
shown in its place (the common/shared color). When a specific sprite
is set to show behind the BG layer via the priority bit, all tiles
that use relative color #0 (of 16) will not show BG color #0. But
instead will show the sprite pixel (if not opaque).
Layers: The HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one background
Six wavetable synthesis audio channels, programmable through the
Each channel had a frequency of 111.87 kHz for single cycle of 32
samples (while not in D/A mode) with a bit depth of 5 bits. Each
channel also was allotted 20 bytes (32×5 bits) of RAM for sample
The waveforms were programmable so the composers were not limited to
the standard selection of waveforms (square, sine, sawtooth, triangle,
etc.). But standard and semi-standard waveforms, such as a 25% pulse
wave, were used fairly often.
The first two audio channels (1 and 2) were capable of LFO when
channel #2 was used to modulate channel #1 with vibrato.
The final two audio channels (5 and 6) were capable of noise
Optional software enabled Direct D/A which allows for sampled sound to
be streamed into any of the six PSG audio channels. When a channel is
in D/A mode the frequency is as fast as the
CPU can stream bytes to
the port, though in practicality it is limited to 6.99 kHz when
using the TIMER interrupt with its smallest loop setting (1023 cpu
cycles) or 15.7 kHz using the scanline interrupt.
There is a method that combines two channels in DDA mode to play back
8-bit, 9-bit, or 10-bit samples.
The addition of the
CD-ROM peripheral adds CD-DA sound, and a single
ADPCM channel to the existing sound capabilities of the PC Engine.
With HuCards, a limited form of region protection was introduced
between markets which for the most part was nothing more than running
some of the HuCard's pinout connections in a different arrangement.
There were several major after-market converters sold to bypass this
protection, and were sold predominantly for use in converting Japanese
titles for play on a TG-16. In the Japanese market,
NEC went further
by adding a hardware level detection function to all PC Engine systems
that detected if a game was a U.S. release, and would then refuse to
play it. The only known exception to this is the U.S. release of Klax
which did not contain this function. The explanation commonly given
for this by
NEC officials is that most U.S. conversions had the
difficulty level reduced, and in some cases were censored for what was
considered inappropriate content, and consequently, they did not want
the U.S. conversion to re-enter the Asian market and negatively impact
the perception of a game. With some minor soldering
skills, a change could be made to PC Engines to disable this
check. The only Japanese games that could not be played on a U.S.
system using one of these converters were the
SuperGrafx titles which
could only be played on a SuperGrafx.
There was no region protection on TurboGrafx-CD and CD-ROM² System
Due to the extremely limited
PAL release after
NEC decided to cancel a
full release, there were no
PAL HuCards made. The European TurboGrafx
therefore played the NTSC American/Japanese titles, converted to PAL
CD hardware technical specifications and information
Oki MSM5205 ADPCM chip with variable speed input clock, and 64 kB DRAM
for audio sample storage. Only one channel of 4-bit compressed audio
(decompresses to 12-bit, top 10 bits output through DAC) was
supported. It supports a sampling rate of up to
Programmable, timer controlled, electronic volume attenuator to
fade-out the CD-DA and ADPCM audio channels together or individually.
CD-ROM interface tray has 64 kB of DRAM for storage of
program code and data loaded from the CD.
The "System Card" contains the
BIOS program used to boot CD media and
provides functions for software to access CD hardware through a
standardized interface. Later System Cards had extra RAM and updates
to the BIOS.
The Duo series has the same
BIOS ROM (v3.00) and RAM (256 kB total) as
a PC-Engine system equipped with a Super System Card. The Duo
implements the memory as a single 256 kB SRAM chip rather than the
split 64 kB DRAM / 192 kB SRAM.
The list of known
BIOS revisions are:
v1.00 – First release (System Card, came with the first versions of
the PC-Engine CD-ROM² Interface Unit)
v2.00 – Upgrade (System Card, came with later versions of the
v2.10 – Upgrade (System Card, came with even later versions of the
Interface Unit or sold separately)
v3.00 – Final release (built into several products and available as
a Super System Card – see below)
The list of known System Card releases are:
System Card v1.00 – First release. Came packaged with the original
PC-Engine CD-ROM² System.
System Card v2.00 –
BIOS update. This adds support for
System Card v2.10 –
BIOS update. Auto disc change detection is
implemented. Was the first System Card that was sold separately from
System Card v3.00 (aka. Super System Card) – 1.5 Mbit RAM (192 kB)
– RAM upgrade and
BIOS update. This expands the RAM available for
CD-ROM unit to 256 kB when including the existing built in DRAM.
It also offers a final
BIOS update to v3.00. The PC-Engine Duo (Turbo
Duo in North America) had 256 kB of RAM and the same v3.00
into the system. Games developed for this System Card bore the "Super
CD-ROM² System" mark and could not be played using an older System
Arcade Card Duo – 16 Mbit RAM (2048 kB) – RAM upgrade exclusively
for the Super CD-ROM² System and
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo consoles. This greatly
expands the RAM available to 2048 kB. The
BIOS revision was unchanged
from v3.00. Games developed for the Arcade Card Duo/Pro bore the
"Arcade CD-ROM²" mark, and could not be played using prior System
Cards. The Arcade Card Pro includes the extra 192 kB needed for the
original CD-ROM² System
Arcade Card Pro – 17.5 Mbit RAM (2240 kB as 2 MB+192 kB) – RAM
upgrade for the original CD-ROM² System. This greatly expands the RAM
available to 2240 kB. The
BIOS revision was unchanged from v3.00. The
Arcade Card Pro combines the functions of the Super System Card and
the Arcade Card Duo into one unit. The 2 MB of RAM is accessed through
ports or units of single 8 kB banks and is intended for graphics data
storage rather than program code; its flexible addressing system
allows for rapid transfer of data to VRAM. While intended and marketed
for the original CD-ROM² System, it's actually compatible with Super
CD-ROM² add-on and all Duo consoles without any issues.
Games Express CD Card – Bootleg System Card. This was released by
Hacker International for play of unlicensed Games Express CD games.
The GECD Card is essentially a dongle; a
BIOS v3.00 based machine
(like a Duo or a Super CD-ROM²) is required for running those games.
Arcade Card Duo (left) and Arcade Card Pro
CD-ROM² System – Consists of two components: a compact CD player
(CDR-30) and the Interface Unit (IFU-30), which connects the CD player
into the PC Engine console itself. These were sold separately or as
part of a bundle. The Interface Unit also stores save data and
provides a common power supply for the PC Engine and the CD player. A
System Card is required for the PC Engine to access the functions of
the CD player. Later revisions of both, the CD player (CDR-30A) and
the Interface Unit (IFU-30A), featured improved disc reading
System Card – The original CD-ROM² System Card included with the
Interface Unit. The System Card underwent a few slight revisions, with
Version 1.0 being the original model, followed by Version 2.0 (which
CD+G support) and Version 2.1 (which auto-detects discs). Only
Version 2.1 was sold as a stand-alone unit.
ROM² Adaptor (RAU-30) – A cable with two large ends that allows a
SuperGrafx (PI-TG4) console to be connected into the
CD-ROM² Interface Unit.
Super System Card (PI-SC1) – An upgraded System Card that changes
BIOS of the CD-ROM² System to Version 3.0 and adds the 192kb of
SRAM required to play Super CD-ROM² format discs.
Super CD-ROM² (PI-CD1) – An upgraded version of the CD-ROM² System
add-on that combines the functions of the Interface Unit, CD-ROM
player and Super System Card into one unit.
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo (PI-TG8) – A PC Engine console with a built-in Super
Super ROM² Adaptor (PI-AD8) – An adapter that allows the PC Engine
LT (PI-TG9) to be connected into the Super CD-ROM² unit.
PC Engine Duo-R (PI-TG10) – A redesigned version of the PC Engine
PC Engine Duo-RX (PCE-DUORX) – The third version of the PC Engine
Arcade Card Duo (PCE-AC1) – A RAM expansion card that adds the 16
Megabits of DRAM required to run Arcade CD-ROM² discs on any Super
PC Engine Duo
PC Engine Duo systems.
Arcade Card Pro (PCE-AC2) – Combines the functions of the Arcade
Card Duo and the Super System Card into one card. Designed and
marketed primarily for the original CD-ROM² System.
CD-ROM drive, managed by an
NEC microcontroller and using
the SCSI-I interface.
Transfer rate of 150 kB/s.
In Japan, the PC Engine was very successful, and at one point was the
top-selling console in the nation. In
North America and Europe the
situation was reversed, with both
Nintendo dominating the
console market at the expense of NEC. Initially, the TurboGrafx-16
sold well in the U.S., but eventually it suffered from lack of support
from third-party software developers and publishers.
In 1990, ACE magazine praised the console's racing game library,
stating that, compared to "all the popular consoles, the PC Engine is
way out in front in terms of the range and quality of its race
games." Reviewing the Turbo Duo model in 1993,
GamePro gave it a
"thumbs down". Though they praised the system's CD sound, graphics,
and five-player capability, they criticized the outdated controller
and the games library, saying the third party support was "almost
nonexistent" and that most of the first party games were localizations
of games better suited to the Japanese market. In 2009, the
TurboGrafx-16 was ranked the 13th greatest video game console of all
time by IGN, citing "a solid catalog of games worth playing," but also
a lack of third party support and the absence of a second controller
The controversy over bit width marketing strategy reappeared with the
advent of the
Atari Jaguar console, although that system had been
designed so that the
CPU that was the source of the
controversy was intended to be a supplemental, optional, chip. Mattel
did not market its 1979
Intellivision system with bit width although
it used a 16-bit CPU. If it had, it is possible that the Turbo-Graphix
would not have been marketed as a 16-bit console, or would have been
marketed specifically for its 16-bit graphics. Despite the use of a
16-bit CPU, the
Intellivision was no match, in
CPU performance or any
other metric, for later 8-bit systems like the
ColecoVision and the
NEC released a new console, the Japan-only PC-FX, a 32-bit
system with a tower-like design; it enjoyed a small but steady stream
of games until 1998, when
NEC finally abandoned the video games
NEC supplied rival
Nintendo with the
CPU for the Nintendo
64, released in 1996, and former rival
Sega with a version of its
GPU for the Dreamcast, released in 1998.
A number of
TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx-CD games were released on
Virtual Console download service for the Wii,
Nintendo 3DS, including several that were originally never
released outside Japan. In 2011, ten
TurboGrafx-16 games were
released on the
PlayStation Network for play on the
PlayStation 3 and
PlayStation Portable in the North American region.
In 2010 Hudson released an iPhone application entitled "TurboGrafx-16
GameBox" which allowed users to buy and play a number of select Turbo
Grafx games via in-app purchases.
In 2016, rapper
Kanye West announced his 8th solo album would be
titled "Turbo Grafx 16".
Emulation programs for the
TurboGrafx-16 exist for several modern and
retro operating systems and architectures and are at varying levels of
emulation ranging from beta stage, to near perfect emulation of all PC
List of PC Engine games
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "PC-Engine". Pc-engine.co.uk. Retrieved
December 25, 2017.
"ウィークエンド経済 第765号 あの失敗がこう生きた
[Weekend Economics Issue 765. That Mistake Lived On.]". Asahi Shinbun
(Evening Edition) (in Japanese). Osaka, Japan. December 1, 2001.
^ Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition (2008)
^ a b c Damien McFerran (November 2, 2012). "Feature: The Making Of
The PC Engine".
^ a b c d e f Christian Nutt. "Stalled engine: The
^ a b Therrien, Carl; Picard, Martin (2015). "Enter the bit wars: A
study of video game marketing and platform crafting in the wake of the
TurboGrafx-16 launch". New Media & Society. 18 (10): 2323–2339.
doi:10.1177/1461444815584333. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
^ Logan Booker (2014). "TurboGrafx-16, The Little Retro Console That
(Sadly) Couldn't". Racketboy. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
^ Paul Sartori (April 2, 2013). "TurboGrafx-16: the console that time
forgot (and why it's worth re-discovering)". The Guardian.
^ Stuart, Keith; Freeman, Will (February 27, 2016). "Why
Kanye West is
right to recommend the TurboGrafx-16". Theguardian.com. Retrieved
December 25, 2017.
^ Video Game Trader Magazine (March 16, 2009). "Video Game Trader #3,
March 2008". Videogametrader.com. Archived from the original on July
17, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ Steven L. Kent, The Ultimate History of Video Games, p. 413.
^ "Hudson Entertainment – Video Games, Mobile Games, Ringtones, and
More!". Web.archive.org. June 19, 2008. Archived from the original on
September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ "Nec PC Engine / Turbografx". September 1, 2000. Retrieved January
^ "Pubs Sodipeng Pc-engine (1990-91) - Le Adra's Blog !".
Gameblog. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
^ "SODIPENG - Retroblog.fr". Retroblog.fr. Retrieved December 25,
^ "Celebrating Software". Computer Gaming World. June 1991.
p. 64. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
^ "At the Deadline".
GamePro (60). IDG. July 1994. p. 172.
^ "Dead of the Brain 1 & 2". Consolecity.com. June 3, 1996.
Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ "Turbo CD". GameFAQs. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
^ "[I ♥ The PC Engine]
Fighting Street @ Magweasel". magweasel.com.
Retrieved December 25, 2017.
^ "No-Ri-Ko (Game) - Giant Bomb". Giant Bomb. Retrieved December 25,
^ Top 25 Videogame Consoles of All Time, IGN. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
^ Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), The video game explosion: a history from
PONG to Playstation and beyond, ABC-CLIO, p. 119,
ISBN 0-313-33868-X, retrieved April 10, 2011
^ "Toys R Us weekly ad". The Catoosa County News. December 5, 1990.
^ "スーパーPCエンジンファン" [Super PC Engine Fan] (in
Japanese). Vol. 1. Tokuma Shoten Intermedia. January 15,
^ "International News".
Electronic Gaming Monthly
Electronic Gaming Monthly (54). EGM Media,
LLC. January 1994. p. 94.
TurboGrafx-16 - The Vistar". nfggames.com. Retrieved
December 25, 2017.
^ "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z: Bit". Next Generation.
No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 30.
^ "United States patent 5059955".
^ a b "Forums.MagicEngine.com". Forums.MagicEngine.com. Retrieved
^ "forum". Pcenginefx.com. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ "PC Engine Import Mod". GameSX. Retrieved January 11, 2014. The fix:
On Japanese systems, connect pin 29 of the Hu6280 chip to [ground].
^ [dead link]
^ "MSM5205 - ArchaicPixels: HuC and PCEAS Documentation".
Ysutopia.net. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
^ "What in the Name of Sam Hill is a PC Engine?". Electronic Gaming
Ziff Davis (70): 15. May 1995.
^ ACE, issue 34 (July 1990), page 59
^ "System Shopper".
GamePro (53). IDG. December 1993.
TurboGrafx-16 is number 13". IGN. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ "Hudson Entertainment – Video Games, Mobile Games, Ringtones, and
More!". Hudsonent.com. Retrieved July 5, 2011. [permanent dead
^ "IGN: GDC 06: Satoru Iwata Keynote". Wii.ign.com. March 23, 2006.
^ "Virtual Console:
Sega and Hudson games are a go! –
Fanboy". Revolution Fanboy. March 23, 2006. Archived from the original
on December 1, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
^ Cowan, Danny. "Hudson Releases
TurboGrafx-16 GameBox Emulator For
iOS". Gamasuitra. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
^ "Kanye's Twitter". [permanent dead link]
^ Byford, Sam. "
Kanye West says his new album is called Turbo Grafx 16
and coming this summer". The Verge. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to PC Engine.
The PC Engine Software Bible software listing including reviews and
PC-Engine definitive hardware listing for all PC Engine and Turbo
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