As well as being a great Atari Jag & Lynx fan I also have a soft spot for other consoles and one of them is the PC Engine.
I first read about the PCE in a games magazine called C & VG ( Computer & Video Games ) some of you may remember it. They covered not only UK games but also developments overseas. I remember them talking about the Atari Panther at one point and the Konix Multisystem among other. This was the magazine which first showed pictures of a little White box not much bigger than a CD Walkman and the games looked amazing. So it was a crushing dissapointment when it turned out they would not be available here in the UK and were NTSC/J only. Fast forward several months and I went in to my local indie video game shop and there in the cabinet was a PC Engine, so I went over to ask about it and was told it had been modded to run on UK PAL TV's and I thought get in! Then I found out the price they were asking and I thought better of it. The price was too much and I had also heard about the Sega Megadrive by then and was starting to waver so I never took the plunge although it was very tempting.
Roll on a couple of years and the White PCE is replaced by the PC Engine CoreGrafx with an AV Out so needed no internal Mod for composite output, this was the model I bought and was a great little machine. Given these have a 8-Bit CPU married with a 16-Bit VDP they punch way above their weight against the Sega Megadrive/Genesis or SNES and they really excelled at vertical or horizontal shooters. Which brings me to this little video of Final Soldier Special Edition. This shows off how good a machine this really was for its time, so I would like to hear your thoughts on it.
Apologies for the Bass heavy audio - you may need to turn it down a bit...
My local import shop sold the PC Engine. Like you I lusted after it mainly due to C&VG coverage. All these years later I've finally got one and am really enjoying the experience. It's an amazing little machine for its age and size. Favourites so far are Alien and Devils Crush pinball games. So addictive with that just one more go feel. Also like Galaga 88 but just wish it had a version of the original Galaga as well.
I think the Pce has the best version of Outrun and really good conversions of Chase HQ and Power Drift as well. Not looked much at the shoot em ups yet so that's going to take a while... added Final Soldier to the list though after seeing the video you posted.
Hi nysavant , Sadly I don’t have my old CoreGrafx anymore so I use Mednafen to get my PCE fix, I used it to capture this video and it’s very good. I will be putting more videos up in the future so stay tuned 😊
Wow! A really nice machine! Do you have some specs to share with us (colours, resolution...)
Is it that console which was designed with arcade cabinet capabilities in mind?
I don't know the spec but it's certainly a powerful little console. Some of the conversions are amazing looking.
For the arcade capable console you are maybe thinking about the SNK Neo Geo? It was designed to run the same boards as the arcade cabs but in a cartridge format. The downside to that was the astronomical price of the carts!
Hey klyde here is the specs for the PCE lifted off wiki I have highlighted the CPU specs
The TurboGrafx-16 ran off an 8-bit CPU, but had a 16-bit graphics processor.
The PC Engine is a relatively compact video game console, owing to an efficient three-chip architecture and its use of small ROM cartridges called HuCards (Turbo Chips in North America). Hudson Soft developed the HuCard (Hudson Card) from the Bee Card technology it piloted on the MSX. HuCards are about the size of a credit card, but slightly thicker. They are very similar to the My Card format utilized for certain games released on the SG-1000/SC-3000 and the Mark III/Master System. The largest Japanese HuCard games were up to 20 Mbit in size. All PC Engine consoles can play standard HuCards, including the PC Engine SuperGrafx (which has its small library of exclusive HuCards).
With the exception of the budget-priced PC Engine Shuttle, the portable PC Engine GT and the PC-KD863G monitor, every PC Engine console is also capable of playing CD-ROM² discs, provided the console is equipped with the required CD-ROM drive and System Card. The SuperGrafx and PC Engine LT both required additional adapters to work on the original CD-ROM² System and Super CD-ROM² respectively, whereas the Duo consoles had the CD-ROM drive and Super System Card integrated into them (as did the Super CD-ROM² player). Some unlicensed CD games by Games Express can only run on Duo consoles, due to their games requiring both a special System Card packaged with the games and the 256 kB of RAM built into the Duo.
The console's CPU is a Hudson Soft HuC6280 8-bit microprocessor operating at 1.79 MHz and 7.16 MHz. It features integrated bank-switching hardware (driving a 21-bit external address bus from a 6502-compatible 16-bit address bus), an integrated general-purpose I/O port, a timer, block transfer instructions, and dedicated move instructions for communicating with the HuC6270A VDC. Its 16-bit graphics processor and video color encoder chip were also developed by Hudson Soft. It holds 8 kB of work RAM and 64 kB of video RAM.
X (Horizontal) Resolution: variable, maximum of 565 (programmable to 282, 377 or 565 pixels, or as 5.3693175 MHz, 7.15909 MHz, and 10.738635 MHz pixel dot clock) Taking into consideration overscan limitations of CRT televisions at the time, the horizontal resolutions were realistically limited to something a bit less than what the system was actually capable of. Consequently, most game developers limited their games to either 256, 352, or 512 pixels in display width for each of the three modes. Y (Vertical) Resolution: variable, maximum of 242 (programmable in increments of 1 scanline). It is possible to achieve an interlaced "mode" with a maximum vertical resolution of 484 scanlines by alternating between the two different vertical resolution modes used by the system. However, it is unknown, at this time, if this interlaced resolution is compliant with (and hence displayed correctly on) NTSC televisions. The majority of TurboGrafx-16 games use 256×239, though some games, such as Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective did use 512×224.
Colors available: 512 (9-bit) Colors onscreen: Maximum of 482 (241 background, 241 sprite) Palettes: Maximum of 32 (16 for background tiles, 16 for sprites) Colors per palette: 16 per background palette (color entry #0 of each background palette must be the same), and 15 per sprite palette (plus transparent, which is displayed as an actual color in the overscan area of the screen)
Simultaneously displayable: 64 on-screen, 16 (256 sprite pixels) per scanline Sizes: 16×16, 16×32, 16×64, 32×16, 32×32, 32×64 Palette: Each sprite can use up to 15 unique colors (one color must be reserved as transparent) via one of the 16 available sprite palettes. Layers: The HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one sprite layer. Sprites could be placed either in front of or behind background tiles by manipulating a bit which caused indirect pixel color entry #0 of the background tile(s) to act as transparent.
Size: 8×8 Palette: Each background tile can use up to 15 unique colors via one of the 16 available background palettes and 1 shared color (BG color #0) for a total of 16 colors per tile. The first color entry of each background subpalette is ignored. Instead, color #0's RGB value is shown in its place (the common/shared color). When a specific sprite is set to show behind the BG layer via the priority bit, all tiles that use relative color #0 (of 16) will not show BG color #0. But instead will show the sprite pixel (if not opaque). Layers: The HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one background layer. Audio capacity
Six wavetable synthesis audio channels, programmable through the HuC6280A CPU. Each channel had a frequency of 111.87 kHz for single cycle of 32 samples (while not in D/A mode) with a bit depth of 5 bits. Each channel also was allotted 20 bytes (32×5 bits) of RAM for sample data. The waveforms were programmable so the composers were not limited to the standard selection of waveforms (square, sine, sawtooth, triangle, etc.). But standard and semi-standard waveforms, such as a 25% pulse wave, were used fairly often. The first two audio channels (1 and 2) were capable of LFO when channel #2 was used to modulate channel #1 with vibrato. The last two audio channels (5 and 6) were capable of noise generation. Optional software enabled Direct D/A which allows for sampled sound to be streamed into any of the six PSG audio channels. When a channel is in D/A mode the frequency is as fast as the CPU can stream bytes to the port, though in practicality it is limited to 6.99 kHz when using the TIMER interrupt with its smallest loop setting (1023 cpu cycles) or 15.7 kHz using the scanline interrupt. There is a method that combines two channels in DDA mode to play back 8-bit, 9-bit, or 10-bit samples. The addition of the CD-ROM peripheral adds CD-DA sound, and a single ADPCM channel to the existing sound capabilities of the PC Engine.
Ah yes! My bad, it's the Neo Geo of course! Anyway, this little PC E. console is pretty neat...
Yeah it's a really neat little console, if you ever get a chance to pick one up you could do a lot worse. The Dark Grey Core Grafx 1 or Core Grafx 2 are the ones to track down as they have composite video out ports where the original White PC Engine only has an RF Output and is only compatible with Japanese RF TV input unless you modify it. You can also RGB Mod the CGFX 1/2 as well but it is very fiddly, there are people who will do it for you though.
The PC Engine was released in the US as Turbo-Grafx 16 and did have a limited release in the EU as well too but you cannot play US/EU TG16 Games on Japanese PCE's or vice versa unless you buy a fairly expensive converter card. There were less TG16 games released than PCE as it was not as much of a success in the US as the Sega Genesis and Nintendo SNES were already too popular. There were, however, loads of NTSC/J games for the PCE but then you have to overcome the issue of Japanese text that is if you cannot read Japanese ( which I cannot do ) and go for some of the more complex titles or the text heavy JRPG's. I tend to stick with the NTSC/J games though as there were so many you will always find something you will like.
Nice add-on, but just looked at the price, over 230 euros! I have a TurboDrive in my jap PC Engine along with the official NEC Av Booster for composite connections. It's a lovely little setup and a cracking machine.