THE RANT: I didn't own one of these when they came out, but my friend Doug did, so I just played it over at his house all the time (I myself now have a Turboexpress and the console system thanks to Ebay.) I was 14 when these hit store store shelves and was thoroughly impressed. The graphics and sounds totally blew away my NES (which I had only gotten a year earlier) and the whole CD thing was beyond my comprehension. In 1989 not even many computers had an affordable CD rom drive. There was this big deal with "multimedia," like CDs were made by God himself and anyone who didn't use them was locked into the stone age or something. Doug had the habit of buying new video game junk at Toys-R-US where it was cheaper then returning it at Kay-Bee toys because they didn't require a receipt (a scam that no longer works.) So as soon as the Genesis came out he got one of those and the Turbografx went bye-bye.
This system is a great example of an excellent system that kicked ass that was totally mishandled and thus ate log in the US. In Japan the PC engine outsold Nintendo's Famicom and had tons of awesome games. Lots of dope shooters and tons of cool looking RPGs. But some fool in NEC's American side of the company seemed too afraid that American gamers wouldn't identify with a game that was too "Japanese," and so most of those games never made it stateside. What did get through was supposed to be the "Best of the Best," but a hell of a lot of crappy games made it too.
Games seemed to be chosen only on their visual appeal; So you have a ton of games with awesome graphics and crappy gameplay. Apparently censorship was also a problem as many Japanese games dealt with sexuality, nudity, etc and were thus censored for the American market. I like how it's bad to show boobs in a video game but they think nothing of extreme acts of violence or gore, like in Splatterhouse. So that limited American games to tame kiddy fare like Bonk's Adventure (which is still a dope game nonetheless.) Also the CD attachment was too damn expensive. By the time they got around to phasing it out and released the TurboDuo the Genesis already had it's own CD drive. Also all the cool RPGs took too long to translate and most of them never made it either (the exception being Y's II and III, which sold really well.) You'd think this would be a lesson to all those game companies that think American gamers only want fighting, shooting, or driving games. Anyway crappy marketing totally undercut this system and by the time the SNES came out it was all over.
THE GOOD: The system looks cool. I always thought black was a dope color for a game system. Games come on little cards (called Hucards) and are stored in CD cases for easy storage. Most of the games are alright and have decent graphics and sound. Today most of the games are also rather inexpensive, between $2 -$15 depending on rarity. Some might think games from this era are starting to look a little dated but for me the games continue to impress. I guess I'm just easy to please. Controllers are basically NES controllers with built in turbo switches. They seem kind of cheap though. NES controllers were indestructible. You could throw them, stomp on them in rage, etc and they still kept coming back. These things seem like they'll break if you look at them the wrong way. This system also has the only home console port of Street fighter 1 (Fighting Street on CD.)
THE BAD: A lot of the games have dope graphics but lame game play. I suppose NEC felt that it had to compete graphically with the Genesis and so stuck all it's manpower in that area. Too bad they didn't notice that comparatively the NES had lackluster graphics but still managed to outsell them both for a few years.
THE UGLY: Those advertisements that had "Johnny Turbo" saving little kids from the evil "Feka" Empire. Guess who Feka was supposed to be. Even when I was 14 I thought that ad was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen.