BLOG – The TurboGrafx-16 Mini is good but here’s how it can be better – questions and concerns

During E3 2019, Konami shockingly revealed that they will be releasing a TurboGrafx-16 Mini console in lieu of Nintendo’s success with the NES and SNES Classic. Now that the full game line up has been revealed, I have a few questions and suggestions on how to make this new-retro console something truly special.

Back in the 90s, you always had friends who owned a SNES or a Genesis but there was always that one kid who had a TurboGrafx.  That weirdo was me. To be fair, I also had a NES and SNES but spent a lot of time with NEC’s 3rd place console.  Not only do I still find many TG16 games enjoyable today, it stood out from the competition in a few ways, for better or worse, like needing the multi-tap to play anything multiplayer, the lack of a save feature, and had Bonk as the mascot and decent-for-the-time sports titles.  Later, with the addition of the TurboCD and Turbo Express, this console was rather forward thinking.

When Konami announced they were releasing this retro console, I actually couldn’t believe it. Now I have the chance to relive games from my childhood in an easily accessible way on a modern TV. But before moving forward, let’s state the facts that have revealed so far.

In total, there will be 50 games available on this system.  However, many are double dips, shuffling between the American TG16 version and the Japanese PC Engine version (PC Engine is the Japanese version of the TG16 if you didn’t already know). Here is the complete list:

TurboGrafx-16 games:
Alien Crush
Air Zonk
Blazing Lazers
Bomberman ’93
Bonk’s Revenge
Dungeon Explorer
J.J. & Jeff
Lords of Thunder
Military Madness
Moto Roader
Neutopia II
New Adventure Island
Ninja Spirit
Parasol Stars
Power Golf
Soldier Blade
Space Harrier
Victory Run
Ys book I&II

Here are the PC Engine Japanese titles also included:
Akumajō Dracula X Chi no Rondo (aka Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
Appare! Gateball
Bomberman ’94
Bomberman Panic Bomber
Chō Aniki
Dungeon Explorer
Fantasy Zone
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
Gradius II – Gofer no Yabō –
Jaseiken Necromancer
Neutopia II
Ninja Ryūkenden (aka NINJA GAIDEN)
PC Genjin
Star Parodier
Super Darius
Super Momotaro Dentetsu II
Super Star Soldier
The Kung Fu

The good news, many of the Japanese games are shooters or arcade-style games so it isn’t necessary to understand Japanese.  However, there are a couple big titles on here that stand out: Rondo of Blood and Snatcher.  While Rondo of Blood is easily found on modern consoles today, Snatcher has never received a modern port.  One of Hideo Kojima’s early works, this is one game that Metal Gear fans have been begging for.  At best, including Snatcher is a tease.  Although this makes it easily accessible, not translating the game into English is missing the point. However, given the craftiness of the homebrew community, hackers will probably (hopefully) find a way to patch the game into English.  Which leads to the next point…

Within a short amount of time after release, hackers have busted open mini consoles allowing for new games to be added and function as emulation machines.  There are USB ports powering the system and acting as controller ports so the homebrewers will probably find exploits given some time.

Even with a decent game line-up, there are a few holes that could be filled.  For example, the lack of Splatterhouse seems like a huge missed opportunity. Bonk’s Revenge is definitely better than Bonk’s Adventure, his first outing, but feels like an empty hole not having it included. It is sort of like including Mario 3 on the NES Classic without including Mario 1; most people prefer Mario 3 but doesn’t seem right not having the original.

Two of my favorite TG16 games are Final Lap Twin and World Court Tennis.  Why does this racing game and tennis sim stand out?  Because they have a Story Mode!  You might think Camelot started the sport RPG hybrid with the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf games, but the TG16 did it years before.  Instead of fighting monsters to level up, players will compete in random races and tennis matches to level up and earn parts to grow stronger.  Sure, it is a little rough around the edges today, but this was such a stand-out feature back in the day and deserves time in the spotlight. Think Dragon Warrior 1 but instead of fighting slimes in random battles, you play tennis and compete for fastest times in racecars while leveling up along the way.

There are also a bunch of other games I would have really liked included like the TG16 version of Golden Ax or Dungeon Explorer 2, a TurboCD title produced in limited quantity. At least Ninja Spirit is included – this game total rocks! And Dungeon Explorer 1, which is an included game, is some of the best local multiplayer fun you can have. Period.

The original TG16 hardware forced players to purchase a TurboTap in order to play 2-5 player multiplayer games.  This Mini console includes two USB ports on the front so two players can play without the need of a multi-tap. Amazon mentions that a USB 5-player hub will be available for purchase but no price point has been announced yet. The next obvious question is, can any USB hub work?  Chances are, any computer or gaming geek has one laying around so being able to use any USB hub would be preferred.  However, I am guessing this hub will need its own power supply as powering five controllers and the system might not be able to pull enough juice.

Also, since the console takes USB ports, will it be possible to use, say, your extra Playstation One Classic controller and use it here with the TG16 Mini, or any other USB controller you might have handy?  Sure, you might not be able to activate the turbo function like the native controllers support, but those have always been barely used options anyway.  Finally, the controller cable length for the original TG16 console was very short.  In fact, they might be the shortest controller length of the 8-32 bit console generation.  The cable length for the controllers have not been revealed but let’s hope they are longer than the NES and SNES Classic cables.  It also doesn’t seem like an AC adapter is going to be included but this detail should be announced well in advance of the unit releasing.

It appears that the TurboGrafx-16 Mini will cost right around $100.  The price for extra controllers and the multi-tap also have not yet been revealed but it can probably be assumed they will be around $20 a pop.  What is most unique, however, is that apparently Amazon is going to be the only seller of the TG-16 Mini.  This means fans shouldn’t have to wait in line over night at Target or Best Buy to get one, but rather, be an Amazon Prime member.

No details have been announced regarding emulation for this mini retro console.  The good news is, M2 is working on it and they are known for making quality products. They have produced many classic compilations over the years including the recently released Konami Collections as well as the upcoming Sega Genesis Mini.  It has been stated that save states will be available but the number of save state slots is unknown at this time.  Will there be screen boarders? Aspect ratio options? Screen filters?  A rewind feature? Frame rate counter? Demo mode? There are way more questions than answers about the quality of the emulation and its features so we will just have to wait and see.

Personally, I am very excited about the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, more so than the Sega Genesis Mini just because I never owned a Genesis when I was a kid. While the roster of games could be tightened up a little bit, it is still mostly solid. Hopefully some of those Japanese titles will receive an English translation but don’t hold your breath. While we will have to wait regarding the quality of the emulation, let’s hope the hardware will justify the higher $100 price point with lengthy controller cables and be open to 3rd party controller hubs and support other USB controllers.

What do you think about the TG16 Mini?  Do you have plans to buy one? Did you own a TG16 from back in the day?  What is your opinion about the included games? The comment section below is open.

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz

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