|Type||Video game console|
|Units sold||1.5 million units|
|CPU||HuC6280 clocked at 7.16 MHz or 1.79MHz|
|Display||400x270 screen resolution, 512 colors, 481 colors on-screen|
The TurboExpress was a handheld video game console, released by NEC in 1990. It was essentially a portable version of the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine home console that came 2 to 3 years earlier. It was known as the PC Engine GT (Game Tank) in Japan.
It was the most advanced handheld of its time and could play all the TurboGrafx-16's HuCard games. It had a 66 mm (2.6 in.) screen, the same as the original Game Boy, and could display 64 sprites at once, 16 per scanline, in up to 481 colors from a palette of 512. It had 8 kilobytes of RAM. The Turbo ran its HuC6280 CPU at 1.79 or 7.16 MHz.
As part of the fourth generation of gaming, the TurboExpress primarily competed with Nintendo's Game Boy, Sega's Game Gear, and the Atari Lynx. However, with just a mere 1.5 million units sold, behind its main competitors, the TurboExpress failed to gain significant sales or market share.
Its launch price in the U.S. was $249.99. The price was briefly raised to $299.99, soon dropped back to $249.99, and by 1992 it was $199.99.
While the system was technologically superior to the other handhelds of its era, it still had its problems. Due to a problem with cheap capacitors (See Capacitor Plague), sound failure was a frequent problem with the TurboExpress. Sometimes even new systems had dead capacitors. This problem can be fixed by replacing the faulty capacitors.
The screen used in the TurboExpress was another source of problems; though it was state of the art when it was released, the LCD technology used was still fairly new and the rate of pixel failure was very high. Brand-new TurboExpress systems often had several bad pixels. Text was also difficult or impossible to read in certain circumstances, as many times fonts were written to be seen on a television screen, not on a small LCD screen. As a result, certain RPGs and adventure games could be difficult to play on the unit.
Some TurboGrafx-16 HuCards saved game data to the internal memory of the TurboGrafx-CD unit, TurboDuo, or TurboBooster Plus (a peripheral for the core TG-16 console). The TurboExpress lacked this internal memory, and as a result it was not capable of saving in this manner. Most games provided a password save mechanism as an alternative.
Another serious problem was that the battery life was only about three hours (for 6 AA batteries), which was also a problem for other color and backlit/sidelit handhelds of the period, namely the Game Gear (5–6 hours), the Sega Nomad (2–3 hours) and the Atari Lynx (4 hours+).
The TurboLink allowed two-player play. Falcon, a flight simulator, included a "head-to-head" dogfight mode that could only be accessed via TurboLink, same as Bomberman multiplayer. However, very few TG-16 games offered co-op play modes especially designed with the TurboExpress in mind.
TurboVision was a TV tuner adapter for the TurboExpress. It allowed a player to either watch television, or go back to playing games with the flip of a switch, in other words use the TurboExpress as a video monitor. It included an RCA audio/video input.
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Despite its technical advantages, the Turbo Express was not very popular or known with gamers. In addition to NEC's disastrous marketing, the fact that the handheld was initially released for $299.99 did not help matters (because of this price tag it was labeled as the "Rolls Royce of handheld systems"). Since there were other affordable handhelds and the TG-16 was not popular enough to be accessible for the great majority of players, the system was finally quietly discontinued around the time the Turbo Duo was also in its twilight.
The TurboExpress appeared in the movies 3 Ninjas and Enemy of the State, with the latter appearance taking place well after the system's demise. It also appeared in the television series Doogie Howser, M.D.
- CPU: HuC6280
- CPU Speed: 7.16 MHz or 1.79 MHz (switchable in software)
- Resolution: 400x270
- Max Colors: 512
- Max Simul. Colors: 481
- Max Sprites: 64
- Snow, Blake (2007-07-30). "The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
- (October 14, 2006). Most Expensive Handheld Video Game System, The Most Expensive Journal.
- The Electronic Gaming Monthly 1991 Video Game Buyers Guide.