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|Type||Video game console|
|Generation||Fifth generation era|
|Predecessor||PC Engine Duo|
Unlike its predecessor, the PC-FX was only released in Japan, where it is seen to have been a commercial failure, unable to compete effectively with its fifth generation peers. The PC-FX was NEC's last dedicated video game console, and was discontinued in February 1998.
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 their console, the Super Famicom. Plans were therefore drawn up by NEC for a successor in order to reclaim lost ground.
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.
By 1993 the 32-bit 3DO platform was released with much developer interest. By the end of the year, both Sega and Sony had announced their intentions to release new consoles, the Sega Saturn and PlayStation respectively, in Japan by late 1994, and Bandai was also readying the release of their Playdia system. Now in a rush to keep the large development base that made the PC Engine so successful, NEC were forced to act, drawing up plans for a system that could be released in the same period.
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. In a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin would score the PC-FX console an 18 out of 40.
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. NEC marketed this as a selling point, but by late 1994 consumers reacted more favourably to the concept of real-time 3D polygon technology; something the Saturn and PlayStation could offer, but which the PC-FX was not designed to cope with. It was rumoured that NEC would eventually offer upgrades to the PC-FX allowing for more impressive 3D games, but these never materialised.
On top of this, unusual architecture meant that 2D game development on the PC-FX was challenging as well. It is also not backwards compatible with any PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 hardware or software.
As the PC-FX struggled, NEC became far more liberal when it came to software quality control, allowing largely unregulated software in an attempt to receive as much development support as possible. As a result, the PC-FX has gained quite a reputation for its abundance of gal games and dating simulation titles. It also had a handful of standard action games, RPGs, and strategy games.
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 the PC-FX had sold just under 100,000 units.
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.
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.
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Below is a list of PC-FX emulators for various platforms.
|Mednafen||GNU GPL||Windows, UNIX/Linux|
- 32-Bit NEC V810 RISC running at 21.5 MHz, 15.5 MIPS
- CD-ROM Drive
- 2X CD-ROM, 300KB / Sec
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- "PC-FX System Info". Vgmuseum.com. 1994-12-23. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- Game Machine Cross Review: PC-FX. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.335. Pg.167. 12-19 May 1995.
- "Welcome to MagicEngine Homepage". Magicengine.com. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- "Mednafen - Multi-system Emulator". Mednafen.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- "Xe - Multi System Emulator". Xe-emulator.com. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- Pcenginefx.com - The NEC console resource for the PC Engine, TurboGrafx & PC-FX.