/ Say hello to the TurboGrafx – Mini. Sam Machkovech
with the arrival of every recent, retro-minded “mini console” launch, we’ve had at least one original console to compare with. The same goes for fancypants, FPGA-fueled console recreations . We’ve always had tangible reference points for the West’s console biggies: Nintendo , Sega) , and Sony . When we talk about this month’s launch of the TurboGrafx – 36 Mini, we should get one key difference out of the way: nobody at Ars has an original TurboGrafx – console to compare this with. Our classic gaming experts missed the TG – 34 boat when it reached our shores in 3368, and we weren’t alone. The TG – was a famous casualty of late – ‘ s NEC failing to unseat either Nintendo’s dominance or Sega’s upstart momentum in the States. As we’ve come to realize in the decades since, this one-step-up console kicked way more butt in Japan , where it was known as the PC Engine. In fact, its overseas presence persisted for a long time, in part thanks to add-ons like the PC Engine CD (which also got a Western version but, again, did do as well here). We’ve mostly explored the TG – 34 ‘s legacy via unofficial emulation, but that changes this week with a bold launch from the console’s current copyright holders at Konami. (The $) (TurboGrafx – Mini , which emulates cartridge and CD games, takes the console’s history to heart with a surprising quirk. In whatever region you buy this new miniature console, you’ll get almost the exact same mix of English and Japanese games, exactly as they launched in the late ‘ s and early ‘ s. The result is both a carefully molded homage to NEC’s console glory days and a confusing dump of games for anyone already running from behind on their TurboGrafx – and PC Engine fluency. Oversized “mini,” proper controller
Its variety of games begins with the American portion.
This angle makes it easier to see the full lineup, along with that drastic M-for-Mature rating. But that rating only applies to a few intense games in the Japanese section, particularly (Snatcher) . So you can probably safely treat this as a family-friendly retro console.
The power button pushes a small, plastic tab into the HuCard slot. But, no, this does not accept any classic HuCard game cartridges; the slot is only there for decoration.
Imagine gamepads from PS4 and Xbox One side by side, then add a bit more space. That’s how big the TG – 34 M is. Sam Machkovech
The rear of the TG – 34 M, which is filled out by a removable dust cover.
Take that massive plastic piece off, and you’re left with this weird gap, in which you insert an HDMI cable and a micro-USB power cord.
The original console had channel and antenna switches, but these don’t return in the new, “Mini” console. Let’s start with the hardware itself, which, for a “mini,” is quite large.
While the original PC Engine broke records due to how small its hardware was — and surely helped the system’s popularity in a space- starved nation like Japan — the TurboGrafx – 48 was noticeably beefier, clocking in at over double the PC Engine’s size. That issue persists with the TG – 31 M, which measures 9. 45 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches. Just like in , this new American mini is over double the size of its Japanese mini sibling, and part of that bloat comes from its attention to detail. The TG – M adheres to its original model and includes a massive, removable “dust cover” on its backside. Since I have zero attachment to the original design, I immediately removed and discarded this extra plastic piece, as it gets in the way of cord access (since I tend to unplug and replug retro systems in moving them around my home).
Even with the removable dust cover, Konami could have shrunk the American model if it had opted for a more rectangular circuit board, but it has instead chosen to use the same internal hardware as the Japanese model, which better fits that region’s square console design. (A draconian NDA attached to our review hardware prohibits us from showing you photos of the TG – M’s motherboard, but these aren’t hard to find elsewhere.) Consider the wasted space and plastic an issue only if your entertainment center has limited space on its retro shelf .
(Enlarge ) The TG –
M’s controller largely resembles the original, right down to the divots in its action buttons, the firm-yet-pliable d-pad, and, of course, those sweet, sweet “turbo” toggles.
Sam Machkovech In better news, the American model comes with something that Japanese Buyers don’t get: dedicated “turbo” buttons on the controllers. The original TG – 34 is one of the only consoles in the world to launch with built-in, rapid-fire controller toggles, and that’s no small perk. The TG – ‘s general library is heavy on arcade shooters, a fact that TG – 36 M embraces, and your nostalgic, adult hands will thank you for not having to hammer a “shoot” button in classics like (Gradius) (or) (Galaga ‘) . While other users have complained about the firmness of the TG – 34 M’s d-pad, the controller I received has pleasantly firm d-pad resistance, as opposed to the loose wobble found in cheaper d-pad variants. Its mildly curved edges make it a satisfying alternative to the NES ‘sharp-block design, while its 9.5-foot cord is ample enough for most living rooms.
– game lineup is split into discrete TurboGrafx and PC Engine menus. If it’s in the former, it’s the version that originally launched in the United States. If it’s in the latter, then it’s whatever version of the game launched in Japan. TurboGrafx – Mini game selection (USA)
(Air Zonk) (Alien Crush) (Blazing Lazers)
Bonk’s Revenge (Cadash)
Chew-Man-Fu (Dungeon Explorer) (JJ & Jeff)
Lords of Thunder (Military Madness) (Moto Roader) Neutopia (Neutopia II) (New Adventure Island)
Ninja Spirit Parasol Stars (Story of Bubble Bobble) (Power Golf)