Being a supporter of the TurboGrafx-16 on American soil was a unique experience. Sure, there are some that can probably claim to have had a similar existance in the world of gaming. Fans of the Atari Jaguar, 3DO, or Sega Master System might make claims that they know what it's like. To some degree they're right, but in other ways they're not. However you look at it, though, supporting an under-rated, under-supported console is someting that every gamer should experience.
Let's take a trip back in time to the early nineties. Almost every kid in the neighborhood owned a Sega Genesis or a Super Nintendo. Sure there were those that hadn't made that next step yet and were still enjoying that 8-bit juggernaut, the Nintendo Entertainment System, but by and large Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit entries reigned supreme. Oddly enough, there would be that one kid that was just a little bit different. You never knew quite what to expect when you went over to his house for game time. Cartridges that were the size of credit cards, unique Japanese flavored titles the likes of which had not yet been seen on any other American consoles, and CD-ROM gaming capability all made the experience rather interesting. What set this kid apart? He was the proud owner of a TurboGrafx-16!
I don't want to fool you here, being the owner of an obscure and sparsely supported console was not always easy. While the Genesis and Super Nintendo saw boatloads of third party developed games on American shores, these titles were not often released for the TurboGrafx. This left us at the whim of NEC as to what titles they decided to bring stateside. Many of their choices were good ones, with launch-time releases of such classics as Legendary Axe, Galaga '90, and Dungeon Explorer. Other choices left us scratching our heads and wondering why some obviously superior Japanese titles didn't make it across the ocean.
There was definitely a bright side, though. Since every other kid in the neighborhood owned one of those other consoles, there was a sort of community that built up amongst the few kids that supported the TurboGrafx. With only a handful of kids at most in your school owning one, you quickly built up a comradery that went beyond the standard trading of strategies and games. These tight-knight friendships often lended themselves to other activities, such as attending professional wrestling events, camping out overnight in front of the local newstand to be the first to get your hands on the latest issue of X-Men, and sitting back with a bag of pork rinds to watch the latest episode of Walker Texas Ranger.
Besides, loyalty to a console like the TurboGrafx-16 often led to taking your gaming experience to the next level by delving into the reams of import gaming. Having perhaps the largest library of Japanese-exclusive releases in the history of console gaming, the TurboGrafx offered a whole new world of discovery when it came to PC Engine titles. Granted, it wasn't always the easiest thing. Often all you had to go on was a screenshot in a gaming magazine to determine what game you would plop down an outlandish $60+ for. When your gamble panned out, though, there was nothing quite like it. It was at that moment that you realized you had made the right choice in choosing the TurboGrafx!
While it may not have always been easy, being a loyal supporter of the TurboGrafx-16 was an experience like no other. Even now, almost twenty years from the release of the PC Engine, many of the games on this console stand the test of time. Such heroes as Bonk and Keith Courage will not soon be forgotten. In fact, they've even received a new lease on life, as some of these classic titles are being released for Nintendo's latest console endeavor. This makes it even easier to look back with fondness upon what has certainly been one of the most under-rated consoles ever to hit American shores.