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The Retro Gaming Wave Continues: The Turbo Grafx 16

A niche console in its day, this one should be a blast to return to, even if the games library might be weak.

Project Scarlett releases holiday 2020

The Turbo Grafx 16 Mini could be here by Christmas

Time passes. There's no way to stop it. Each day is a reminder the previous is gone, never to return. Games can take us back to those days past, but often, when we get a chance to return, we find the place isn't what we remember. I have a dozen classic consoles and playing the games on them feels, well, dated. It's fun for a while to look back, but there's not that much to see. The original Zelda is an awesome game, but try playing it for any real length of time. Plus, it's the expectations of past greatness that weigh those games down today. They cannot compare with current software and hardware.

At this year’s E3, Konami made a minor announcement. They will bring back the early 1990's with their classic Turbo Grafx-16 mini. Why? That's a good question. The original didn't sell well here in the States. I had one, and loved it, but no one else bought the hype. Its variants in Europe and Japan fared much better, and maybe those minis will sell well, but this one here might struggle. I'll argue it might do okay. Here's why.

First, brand recognition. No one really knows the console. Those that do have fond memories of it, enough to foster some desire to play again. But let's think about the masses, the ones that will buy enough to make or break this release. Because, seriously, Bonk's Adventure may have been a significant move forward in 1990 but no one really wants to play it today. It's tough to get through. We've come so far. The masses will purchase this for something else, and I think it may be the shooters, which were excellent and still twitchy today. That's a compelling reason to buy. The driving games were good; hopefully they make it to the roster. Konami hasn't said yet.

Another reason is expectations. The PS Mini failed because people remember the PS as a groundbreaking console. It destroyed Sega. It changed the game so much EA didn't release a Madden that year because they didn't expect such advances in 3D graphics. It sold millions of consoles and became a household name. Everyone knew the Playstation. What they forgot was how it played games on CRT screens smaller than our computer monitors. Sure, HDMI adds some help, but not enough. The big problem? Most of the Playstation's most memorable games came from third parties. Sony got so much third party attention for the PS that they invariably sent Sega packing and made Nintendo focus of first party software. That's game changing stuff. The PS Mini could, in no way, replicate that. They couldn't get the third party games, and the essence of the classic console's success could not be packed into something you can hold in your hand.

The Turbo Grafx-16 had no real drama. It flew under the radar. It had quality games and a sleek package. It slightly over-promised, but no one really noticed. If priced right, the mini can bring some classic games back and let people retro-game and feel like they are really uncovering the past. You see, the other issue with the PS Mini is that all of the games were ubiquitous back in the day. And, those games have been available in the PS Store for nearly a decade. Playing them today brings back memories of memories; it doesn't transport us to 1996. The Turbo Grafx mini can bring us back nearly three decades. It is nostalgic. Most people have not played these games since their release or shortly after.

The retro craze is coming to an end, I think, for some of the reasons I have mentioned. Old games, for all their past greatness, do not play well today. It's nice to remember the past, but poor controls and blocky graphics mixed with choppy sound and limited gameplay just don't hold our attention well. I loved my Big Wheel as a kid. I remember the fun I had. Getting on one now, although great for memories, would not be fun for long. The Turbo Grafx might suffer from these problems, but I think it has a chance because, like my Big Wheel, no one has ventured down that path in decades. It may be fun to do so for a while.

What do you think? Visit our forum and let us know, or email me at Classic Games Guy




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