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Oh sweet NEC TurboExpress, how I cry for you.

Back in the day I loved my TurboGrafx-16. I picked it up during high school and had several really awesome games such as Bonk’s Adventure, Bomberman 93’, R-type, Military Madness, and the oh so gruesome Splatterhouse. God those are some awesome games. The first, and one of few, games to bring me to tears was the TurboGrafx-16 Super CD-ROM version of the game Exile. The game is set during the Crusades and is about an assassin named Sadler who is hired by the Knight’s Templar to search for an object called the Holimax. This object will save the world and bring all people under one god. There are Masonic rituals and the killing of Buddhist and Hindu deities which culminates a battle with Hiram Abiff, a figure that according to Freemasonry is chief architect of King Solomon's Temple. At some point in the game Rumi, who is one of Sadler’s side kicks and love interests, dies. At the very end of the game the speech that Rumi gave on her ‘death bed’ is delivered again, this time using the technological power of CD audio. My eyes welled up with tears. Even watching the closing moments of the game (below courtesy of a user from Youtube) today I get slightly choked up.

Shut up! I know the end is hokie! This was AUDIO though. The amazing power of spoken AUDIO was unheard in games at this time.

Nostalgia can really color one’s love for a console and such is the case with the TurboGrafx-16. The very best the system had to offer were a handful of RPGs for the Super CD-ROM and Bomberman which could be played head to head with 5 players using the TurboTap. This brings me to the big deficits of the TurboExpress. No TurboTap and no CD ROM drive. There is a built in controller on the TurboExpress which feels just like the TurboPad. The controller has a fairly standard + pad as well as four buttons labeled Select, Run, I and II. These last two buttons have turbo switches (probably officially known as TurboSwitches). There is however no place for a second controller or TurboTap. This means that even though the system supports TV out you can only play the potentially really fun MP games, like Dungeon Explorer or Bomberman, with only one player. Unfortunately Dungeon Explorer is the ass solo.

The Super CD-ROM was sold both as one unit and as an add-on for the basic TurboGrafx-16. The add-on, however, was not compatible with the TurboExpress. The one add-on that was available for the TurboExpress was the TurboVision. TurboVision was a Tee-Vee tuner attachment for the TurboExpress which gets both VHF 2-14 and UHF 14-69. You might remember the UHF tuning band from such movies as the Weird Al classic “UHF” which features such classic lines as “You took the box? Let's see what's in the box! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! STUPID! You're so STU-PIIIIIIIIIIID!” and “You're a lucky, lucky, lucky little boy. 'Cause you know why? You get to drink from... the FIRE HOOOOOSE!”

TurboExpress is pretty bulky, about the size of a VHS tape, and has some nice weight to it. The screen is nicely sized at 2.6 inches, is a bit pixely, and experiences slight temporary burn in if anything stays on screen for more then a second. In general games are clear and playable. I played a bit of Bomberman which is excellent but as I mentioned limited to single player. It has aged fairly well though is not as good as Bomberman 93’ for TurboGrafx and rather pales in comparison to the SNES Super Bomberman series. This brings up another issue with the system: the library of games is a bit weak. For instance, Bonk on TurboGrafx is not as good as Super Bonk on SNES. Military Madness is awful compared to any Advance War game on the GBA or Nintendo DS. Legendary Axe is a weak Golden Axe and Ninja Spirit is not quite as good as Ninja Gaiden and so on. Truth be told, most of the games for TurboGrafx are downright bad compared with games available on other consoles. I really want to be excited about the TurboExpress but it hasn’t aged that well compared with some other systems.

1 comment:

  1. You should go to the adultswim website and checkout Amateur Surgeon. It's twisted and lots of fun.

    It's been compared to Trauma Center (which I think is a handheld game). Chad