It’s the end of January which means another conclusion to my console of the month series. The TurboGrafx-16 offered a lot of great gameplay for me this month and I enjoyed really diving into some of the games in my collection that I had only spent a brief amount of time with in the past. I finished Splatterhouse for only the second time, completed Neutopia & Bonk’s Adventure and made it further than I ever had before in Keith Courage, Pac-Land, Legendary Axe, Blazing Lazers, Bonk’s Revenge and Bloody Wolf. However, unlike previous months, I did not add much to my collection during this timeframe in spite of a great desire to do so, which points out some of my frustrations with the console.
At the beginning of the month I made a decision to actively pursue some of the add-ons and peripherals available. My debate was between a Turbo Booster and the Turbo CD. My current TG-16 set-up only allows for RF input so the picture and sound quality isn’t optimal. I’m not into modding my consoles so my only options to improve the quality would be to either buy a Turbo Booster or a Turbo CD. The Turbo Booster was a peripheral that plugged into the back of the TG-16 console and provided 3 RCA composite inputs to connect to your television. That’s great and all but why wasn’t it launched with this option like the toaster NES and Genesis model 1? Pretty inexcusable for a console released in 1989. The Turbo CD add-on had the composite inputs as well and obviously also opened the TG-16 to playing a variety of CD-ROM based games so this was clearly the better of the two options. I ran into a few problems in my pursuit of these items, however. As most retro game collectors know, the TurboGrafx-16 wasn’t a big seller to begin with. You then have to consider that the number of console owners that opted to upgrade with a Booster or a CD add-on would be small so that means very few of these available (and working) for sale 25+ years later. I never see either of these in my local retro game stores so that essentially leaves Ebay as my primary buying option. Low supply and high demand for TG-16 items means high prices and the peripherals suffer from this reality just as much as the games. The Turbo Booster is clearly the more economical route to take but I’d still have to spend over $100 just for the privilege of composite video and audio. The CD option is better for multiple reasons (composite AV, stellar CD-ROM library, save feature) but its very rare to find only the CD add-on for sale. Typically when I see these available for sale it’s bundled with the TG-16 core console which increases the amount the seller is asking. Long story short, lack of availability and inability to pull the trigger when they were available mostly due to cost, prevented me from making this key purchase. I definitely am not giving up on owning either the CD add-on or a Turbo Duo at some point in the future as there are too many great CD games available to ignore!
What I did add to my collection this month was a console manual, a Keith Courage jewel case and a action platformer, Ninja Spirit. I chose to buy a console manual in an attempt to “complete” my TurboGrafx-16. When I purchased my CIB TG-16 many years ago, the previous owner either threw away or lost the manual as it did not come with it. While the console manual doesn’t offer any valuable information, including it with my collection just adds a little more completeness. That is the same reason I chose to purchase another copy of Keith Courage in Alpha Zones in order to obtain the case. My original copy was Hu-card and manual only and because this is the most common game for the system, purchasing another copy complete in case just so I could have a case for my game wasn’t a bank breaker. Final addition was a new, unique title I’ve been after for awhile. I didn’t want the month to go by without adding at least 1 new game to my collection and being a huge platforming fan, Ninja Spirit seemed like an obvious choice. Moderately priced complete in case, Ninja Spirit is a fun Ninja Gaiden-esque platformer that allows you to play in “PC-Engine mode” or “Arcade mode” depending on how difficult you like your platformers. I’m sure you can guess which version is the brutally difficult one of the two. After only owning this game for less than a week, I’ve been able to get to level 4 of 7 but really ran into a wall of difficulty at this point. I’m very pleased with my choice of game to add, however I would love to add more shooters to my collection in the near future.
The TurboGrafx-16 is a tough system to collect for due to rarity of games/peripherals and high prices. Loose games will be the cheapest option for collectors but I have a hard time buying TG-16 games that don’t at least have the manual and jewel case. Owning boxes is nice but unnecessary since they will typically increase the cost of the game by 200%. Similar to NES games, the boxes were oftentimes discarded making them even rarer to own when the system wasn’t popular to begin with. What makes the TG-16 difficult to collect for also makes it rewarding when you are able to find a game in the wild or save up enough money to make one of the big purchases. At that point, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are preserving a piece of gaming history while owning some of the most sought after hardware and software in the retro gaming community. There a lot of great games worth owning and if you can afford it or get lucky enough, the TurboGrafx-16 is definitely worth your time.
Overall grade: B+