In the history of video games there are consoles that fall under the category of “underrated”, and the TurboGrafx 16 is one of those machines. While I only had one brief experience with the system, it was nonetheless a great one.
It started when I was still living in New York. I had gone to visit my aunt/godmother and my cousin and it turned out he had a game system of his own. It wasn’t an NES, but it was what he called a TurboGrafx 16. I had no idea what that meant but when he set it up and put in a game called “Bonk’s Adventure” I was once again enthralled. As I played through I found that while the character wasn’t Mario, he did have a style of his own, though the Mario influence was obvious. Nevertheless the game was all sorts of fun.
The next title I was exposed to was another action-platformer named “Keith Courage in Alpha zones”. Being a kid who had a weakness for action-platforming I was enthralled right away. Of course I barely made it past the first level but I still had fun.
At that same time I used to walk past a store at a small shopping center where they used to sell large TV sets and off to the side was a TV set showcasing a pinball game with what looked like aliens and monsters. I didn’t know what it was but it looked cool. And then years later i found out it was the a TG16 game called Alien Crush.
Then when the Wii came out one of its features was the Virtual Console, and one of the consoles featured was the TG16, among them being Bonk’s Adventure and a few other games. Once I got my own Wii I quickly downloaded that game and enjoyed it like so many years hadn’t gone by.
Speaking of games, now there were definitely some good titles here, but perhaps the most notable of all was the Shoot-em-ups or shumps as they’re called. For those who don’t know what that genre is those are games where you fly a fighter jet and you are flying through levels shooting at other baddies and collecting power-ups as you go, with the game design being either top-down or side-scrolling. For the Turbo Grafx, these types of games were rampant. Though I only played Blazing Lazers I was more than enthralled. Plus having always played shmups at movie theaters also helped for my love of the genre.
Another honorable mention is Bomberman ’93. While my experience with those games were the knock-off versions for the old Macintosh computers I still enjoyed them. Then when I played the Bomberman game on the Nintendo Wii I was over the moon.
Though the system never had a long shelf life, it is one that holds a place as an underrated console with some memorable games, and thanks to devoted fans out there the TurboGrafx 16 continues to live on. And for those who were fortunate to have a Wii and download some games it was only more special since they got to relive those memories again.
While I don’t know if we’ll see the console emerge again like we saw during the Wii era I’m glad to have experienced the system during the late 80s and then again in the late 2000s. It was a console that had potential but couldn’t make the cut. However, thanks to both fans within the industry and without, it continues in its own way. And through that, like the best video game systems, it will never be forgotten.