Video Game Firsts - PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16/TurboDuo

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Geek Dave takes an early dip into the Fourth Generation...


When you think of the fourth generation of home video gaming you might well think of the Nintendo SNES/Super Famicom or the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, but beating them out of the gate was a machine which holds the Guinness world record for being the smallest games console ever made (at just 14 cm x 14 cm x 3.8 cm) - the PC Engine.

The PC Engine was the result of a collaboration between Hudson Soft and NEC and launched in Japan on October 30th 1987. It was the first console released in the 16-bit era, albeit still utilizing an 8-bit CPU!

That wasn't the only first attributed to this console. On December 4th 1988, NEC released a CD-ROM peripheral for the console, making it the first device of its kind to use CD-ROM as a storage medium for video games.


Launched in North America during August 1989, under the name TurboGrafx-16, the TurboGrafx-CD add-on arrived in the States a year later, with an integrated CD-ROM drive, the TurboDuo, arriving in 1991.

Initially the console was quite successful. In Japan the PC Engine briefly outsold the Super Famicom, and eventually settled for second place, ahead of the Sega Mega Drive, this popularity was partly due to titles available on the then-new CD-ROM format which offered more storage, cheaper costs and better sound.


However, the TurboGrafx-16 failed to break into the North American market and sold poorly. The console and its CD combination system, ceased manufacturing in North America by 1994. In Japan the entire range was succeeded by the PC-FX in 1994, a machine which was never released in the West.

10 Million TurboGrafx or variant consoles were sold worldwide, with an additional 500,000 CD-ROM peripherals snapped up, and new commercial titles were released up until 1999.

It might have been little, but the PC Engine was mighty big for its day.

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