PC-FX

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PC-FX
The PC-FX console
Manufacturer NEC[1]
Type Video game console
Generation Fifth generation era
Retail availability
  • JP December 23, 1994
Discontinued
  • JP February 1998
Units sold < 100,000[2]
Media CD-ROM
CPU NEC V810
Predecessor PC Engine

The PC-FX (ピーシー エフエックス Pī Shī Efu Ekkusu?) is a video game console released in Japan on December 23, 1994 by NEC Corporation. It is the 32-bit successor to NEC's PC Engine.

Unlike its predecessor, the PC-FX was only released in Japan, where it is seen to have been a commercial failure,[citation needed] unable to compete effectively with its fifth generation peers. The PC-FX was NEC's last home video game console, and was discontinued in February 1998.

History[edit]

NEC launched the PC-FX's predecessor, the PC Engine in 1987, which although had been warmly accepted in Japan, was unable to match the technical specifications put forward by Nintendo and Sega with their consoles, the Super Famicom and the Sega Mega Drive. Plans were therefore drawn up by NEC for a successor in order to reclaim lost ground.[citation needed]

The PC-FX was based on a 32-bit system architecture named "Iron Man", developed in-house by NEC. NEC demonstrated Iron Man at a number of trade shows and events during 1992, and by the middle of the year were discussing an imminent release of an Iron Man-based video game system with many third party developers. At the time, the earlier PC Engine was still quite popular in Japan, and opinions on the Iron Man technology were mixed. Many were uninterested in switching to more powerful hardware while the PC Engine market was still growing, and as a result NEC halted work on the Iron Man project, instead opting for more modifications to the PC Engine technology.

Rather than spending the time to develop a new, more powerful platform capable of standing up to their competitors, NEC decided to utilize the now dated 32-bit Iron Man architecture into a system now known as the PC-FX. The result was a severely underpowered system that impressed neither developers nor consumers, ultimately leading to its demise.[citation needed]

The console was announced in early 1994.[3] In a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin would score the PC-FX console an 18 out of 40.[4]

The shining quality of the PC-FX however was the ability to decompress 30 JPEG pictures per second while playing digitally recorded audio (essentially a form of Motion JPEG). This resulted in the PC-FX having superior full motion video quality over all other fifth generation consoles.

Unlike nearly any other console (except for the 3DO and CD-i), the PC-FX was also available as an internal PC card for NEC PC-98 and AT/IBM PC compatibles. This PC card came with two CDs of software to help the user program games for the PC-FX. However, compatibility issues prevented games developed with this software from actually running on the console.

The PC-FX was discontinued in early 1998. According to NEC of Japan, the PC-FX had sold just under 100,000 units.[2]

Hardware[edit]

The system uses standard S-video and composite A/V ports.

The PC-FX uses CD-ROMs as its storage medium, following on from the expansion released for its predecessor, which originally used HuCards. The game controller resembles that of the Mega Drive in shape, only with more buttons and it is virtually identical to a DUO-RX controller except for the fact that the rapid fire switches have been changed into mode A/B switches.

The PC-FX's computer-like design was unusual for consoles at the time. It stands upright like a tower computer while other contemporary consoles lay flat. Another interesting feature is its three expansion ports, as expansion ports are relatively underused in consoles (the Sega Mega-CD being the most notable exception) and therefore their inclusion increased the price without offering a great deal to the end user. However it was one of the first consoles to feature an optional mouse which made strategy games like Farland Story FX and Power DoLLS FX more accessible to play on TV.

Software[edit]

There were 62 games released for the system. The launch titles were Graduation 2: Neo Generation FX, Battle Heat and Team Innocent on December 23, 1994 and the final game released was First Kiss Story on April 24, 1998. The system and all titles were only released in Japan. A number of demo discs were also released with publications which allowed the user to play the disc in a CD equipped PC-Engine or the PC-FX.

There was no copy protection on any of the PC-FX games, because at the time the system was released, the high price of CD-R burners and blank CDs made piracy expensive.

Emulators[edit]

Below is a list of PC-FX emulators for various platforms.

Name License Operating system
MagicEngine-FX[5] Shareware Windows only
Mednafen[6] GNU GPL Windows, UNIX/Linux
Xe[7] Freeware Windows, UNIX/Linux

Technical specifications[edit]

The FX-PAD controller
CPU
32-Bit NEC V810 RISC running at 21.5 MHz, 15.5 MIPS
CD-ROM Drive
2X CD-ROM, 300KB / Sec
Memory
2 MB main RAM
1 MB shared RAM (for background generators, CD-ROM DMA, motion decoder, and ADPCM)
256 KB dedicated VRAM (for HuC6270 chips)
1 MB OS ROM
256 KB CD Buffer
32 KB back-up RAM
Video
Internal color format: Digitized Y'UV (not YCbCr)
Maximum On-screen colors: 16,777,216 (24-bit color, 8 bits per channel)
Resolutions: 256x240p, 341x240p, 256x480i, 341x480i
6 background layers
2 sprite layers
1 motion decoder layer generated from RLE-encoded or JPEG-like data
Video out: Composite and S-Video
Sound
16-Bit Stereo CD-DA
2 ADPCM channels at up to ~31.5 kHz with left/right panning
6 5-bit sample channels with left/right panning
Audio out: × 2 RCA
Expansion Ports
SCSI IO Expansion Slot x 1(Rear), Backup RAM - FX-BMP Card Slot x 1 (Front), 3D VPU Expansion Slot x 1 (Bottom)
Input Devices
FX-PAD - 6 Button, 2 Switch(software-handled) Gamepad Controller, FX-MOU - 2 Button Mouse
Accessories
FX-BMP - 128KB+ Backup RAM Card with x 2 AAA batteries, FX-SCSI - Adaptor allows a PC to use the PC-FX as a 2X SCSI CD-ROM

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PC-FX System Info". Vgmuseum.com. 1994-12-23. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  2. ^ a b "Introducing: The PC-FX". Game Zero Magazine. 2001-02-01. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  3. ^ "Yet One More 32-bit System". GamePro (56) (IDG). March 1994. p. 184. 
  4. ^ Game Machine Cross Review: PC-FX. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.335. Pg.167. 12–19 May 1995.
  5. ^ "Welcome to MagicEngine Homepage". Magicengine.com. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  6. ^ "Mednafen - Multi-system Emulator". Mednafen.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  7. ^ "Xe - Multi System Emulator". Xe-emulator.com. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 

External links[edit]