here’s a very delayed write up about the PC-Engine aka TurboGrafx for its Japanese anniversary (October 30th 1987), the console that beat Nintendo and Sega out of the water in Japan but was virtually unknown in the west.
I’m certainly not alone on this, but my experiences with the PCE in the 90′s were near nonexistent. ok, I’ll just say nonexistent cause I never actually touched one back then : O however I’ll count gracing over GamePro magazines about this exotic (and super expensive) console and its games especially with the CD add on (I believe it was around $300+ and that’s not counting the money already dished out for the core system). knowing that Bonk and Bomberman still made it to Nintendo systems, I didn’t think I was missing much until I got a free Lords of Thunder VHS tape in the mail from I’m pretty sure GamePro or EGM. it was just a 7min tape interviewing peeps after they play it and of course game footage and I was blown away. no other system at the time could handle a game like that, and even the Sega CD version couldn’t do it justice (wondering why they even ported it to Sega CD tbh unless they knew there was no more hope for the Turbo in the west). around the time my brother and I picked up the Sega Saturn, I never thought about the PCE and those massive shmup and RPG titles I missed out on again, until a decade or so later…
fast forward to 2007 when I bought my friend’s Wii that he already got tired of is when the PCE experience finally takes hold. getting high and playing Wii Sports was what enticed me and not knowing what game to pick up at first I went straight to Super Mario Galaxy. but it was the Wii’s Virtual Console shop that sold me as I was in my full blown nostalgia phase at the time wanting to revisit my oldschool gaming past, but also purchasing titles I never played before. alas, when I scrolled through the TurboGrafx-16 library, I not only got Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, but finally Lords of Thunder after seeing that VHS tape long ass time ago (which I forgot what it was even called and no one knew what I was talking about when I described to them a fantasy side scrolling shooter with metal music). the music, the unique style, the adrenaline inducing gameplay drew me in and made me get into the shmup genre more than I ever was prior. and then Rondo as well was a game changer, the 2nd Castlevania game I ever beat (the 1st being Super Castlevania IV) and simply one of the best soundtracks in the series.
then, sometime around 2011 my best buddy @90scyberthriller helped me acquire a modded PC-Engine Duo at a good price and a HuCard TurboEverDrive to further expand the PCE experience. slap my wrist all you want for emulating, but when you want to play games such as Magical Chase or Sapphire which go for well over $300 for legit copy, I have no problem not supporting some rich ass nerd and instead just enjoy the games for what they are, not some collector item thing to show off on insta. now, for the big question… is it worth buying a PCE in the first place? yes.. if you mod it and get the TurboEverDrive which has probably gone up in price since I bought mine. also it doesn’t help if you HATE shmups or visual novels / RPG’s, since that’s what 90% of the PCE library consists of. I’m still discovering more about it myself, and having random playthroughs on another monitor inspires me to a degree for my backburner game project ideas for its bad ass intros and emphasis on cutscenes and other methods to really take you in the game. and that concludes the PHW’s PCE experience. if you have any memories or recent things to share about this unsung hero in gaming, please do so.