Hands-on: TurboGrafx-16 Mini is made for the retro gaming enthusiast
By 1989, Nintendo was dominating the home console video game market. Games like Super Mario Bros, Tecmo Bowl, and Legend of Zelda had a stranglehold on the market and kids were loving it.
While the NES was the go-to system for video games, in 1989, a couple of other companies were attempting to get some of that video game cash too. Sega introduced Sega Genesis to the masses, which saw some success with Sonic the Hedgehog leading the way.
At the same time, TurboGrafx-16 was introduced in North America after seeing some moderate success in Japan as the PC Engine. And while its North American launch was considered a failure, TurboGrafx-16 was able to acquire a cult following with games like Bomberman ‘93, R-Type, and the Ys series being some of the must-have games for the system.
Now, 31 years later, TurboGrafx-16 is back, but in a smaller package. The TurboGrafx-16 Mini was announced during E3 2019 amid the hot trend of retro consoles being released in a “mini” form. The console features 57 games from both the original TurboGrafx-16 and Japan’s PC Engine console.
TurboGrafx-16 Mini was scheduled to launch in March 2020 but was delayed until May 22, 2020, and we were finally able to get our hands on the mini console.
The console is an exact “mini” replica of the original TurboGrafx-16 console, but there’s a removable section in the back of the device where you plug in your HDMI cable and your power cable, which is a simple micro-USB to USB cable. The controller, which is also a replica of the original TurboGrafx-16 controller is a USB plug-n-play controller that plugs into the front of the console. Additional controllers or an AC adapter for power are sold separately.
Connecting everything to a television and powering everything up was simple, and we were good to go. The console outputs only 720p/480p, but it’s fine, none of the games on the console were made for 1080p or 4K resolution, it’s the ‘80s, man!
When powering up the console, the first thing you see is a menu for games that are featured on TurboGrafx-16, there are 25, and in the lower right-hand corner is the PC Engine logo which you can select to view its games, which total 32.
Truthfully, I hadn’t heard of most of the 57 games included. I’ve played Bomberman ‘93 before and on TurboGrafx-16 Mini, it’s just as fun. Same with R-Type, that classic side-scrolling shoot 'em up gameplay never seems to go out of style. Then there are the Japanese versions of classic games like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo), Ghouls n’ Ghosts (Daimakaimura) and Ninja Gaiden (Ninja Ryukenden) but for the most part, a lot of it was new to me.
Alien Crush, a virtual pinball game I never played before was fun to play and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get as many points as possible.
Not every game is a joy, however. Ninja Spirit was obviously a Ninja Gaiden copycat, JJ & Jeff was just weird and a bit pointless, and Chew-Man-Fu was a puzzle game that didn’t really lay out the goals for the player.
If I’m being honest, however, if I had a TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine in 1989 with these 57 games, I would’ve never left the house. Yes, some of the games didn’t age very well, but others are still fun and a reminder of where some of your favorite indies today get their inspiration.
If you’re a retro gamer that lives for the 8-bit and16-bit era of gaming, this is an absolute must-have. There are endless hours of fun here, in one small package. If you’re so-so on that era, and you don’t recognize the games on the roster, the $99.99 price tag might not be worth it for you. For more on the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, check out the official site here. Check out the list of games below:
Chew Man Fu
J.J. & Jeff
Lords of Thunder
New Adventure Island
Splatterhouse (TurboGrafx-16 Version)
Ys Book I & II
PC Engine games
Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
Bomberman: Panic Bomber
Daimakaimura (Ghouls ‘n Ghosts)
The Genji and the Heike Clans
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
Gradius II: Gofer no Yab?
The Kung Fu (China Warrior)
Nectaris (Military Madness)
Ninja Ryukenden (Ninja Gaiden)
PC Genjin (Bonk’s Adventure)
Seirei Senshi Spriggan
Splatterhouse (PC Engine Version)
Spriggan Mark 2: Re-Terraform Project
Super Momotar? Dentetsu II
Super Star Soldier
Tengai Maky? II: Manji Maru (Japanese exclusive)
Tokimeki Memorial (Japanese exclusive)
Valkyrie no Densetsu
Ys I & II