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|An 8bit gaming miracle!|
Among the best video-game consoles that offered high quality visuals and sound, PC-Engine's (Turbografx16 in America and Europe) featured a mixed 8-16bit based architecture developed from Hudson Soft and NEC. Developed in collaboration with Hudson Soft to compete with the dominant but less powerful Nintendo NES/Famicom and Sega's Master System, the PC Engine scored some early success in Japan, thanks to its improved graphics and audio capabilities, some sleek design and a deep and solid library of releases. It swiftly outsold the NES/Famicom and would hold onto it through the launch of the Megadrive/Genesis, eventually settling into second place behind the Super NES/Famicom for the rest of the generation.
I will not go through the advanced features of TurboCD (same CPU/GPU though CD-based audio, extra RAM), and I'll stick on the original, pure PC-Engine / Turbografx-16 here.
The console has an 8bit CPU and a dual 16bit GPU!
The CPU (called HuC6280A) is running at 1.79 or 7.16 MHz (switchable by software). Although it used the same 6502-based CPU as the Nintendo's NES, the PC-Engine's core can tun at up to 7.16 MHz, four times faster than its competition. Note that, the CPU also sports with an integrated custom programmable sound generator too!
The main advantage for its graphical capabilities though, was its custom dual graphics processor setup. One 16-bit HuC6260 Video Color Encoder (VCE), and one 16-bit HuC6270A Video Display Controller (VDC).
The console could handle 64 sprites Simultaneously displayable on-screen and capable of displaying 482 colors simultaneously, out of 512 (241 background, 241 sprite), a number that trounced the 16bit Sega Megadrive/Genesis's 64 simultaneous colors!
Also note that the console could display sprites of any size from 16x16 to 32x64 pixels, letting you span the entire screen with them without breaking a sweat! The only real complaint for the NEC's little fella from developers was its ramped work RAM, which clocked in at only 8K compared to the Megadrive/Genesis's 64K and the SNES's 128K.
Yet it lacked hardware support for more than a single layer of background scrolling, whereas its 16-bit competition heavily featured multiple plane parallax scrolling.
It's sound was also impressive, featuring 6 Mini-Wavetable stereo audio channels, programmable through the HuC6280A CPU, way better than Nintendo NES and Sega's Master System 8bit consoles!
Therefore due to this three chip architecture that allowed PC-Engine for larger and more numerous sprites, an expanded color palette, more onscreen colors and improved sound capabilities compared to other systems available in the 8bit console market when it launched, we 're including the console in the 16bit section of the gaming reviews (comparable to other systems in the 16bit market). You will be surprised how many games of the same title are comparable (and sometimes better) than SNES and Megadrive (i.e. check Street Fighter II)!
The real showpieces of the early PC-Engine/Turbografx-16 era lay in the rest of NEC's launch lineup. Victor's "Legendary Axe" is a side-scrolling platformer that was its first game to show off the system's eye-catching palette to the hilt. R-Type, a perfect port of one of arcade's most memorable shooters, was the PC Engine's first "killer app" and a testament to what Hudson's talented coders could do with the hardware when they wanted.
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