Back in the days of old-school gaming, there were quite a few people that got behind the TurboGrafx 16. It may not have had the marketing muscle of either Nintendo or Sega, but for a few years, the system did just fine on the market, fueled by hit games like Bonk’s Adventure, Lords of Thunder, Neutopia and several others. Not to mention that it also inspired the release of the TurboExpress, a truly innovative handheld gaming system for its time. (Just look at what it’s selling for now.)
Well, Konami hasn’t forgotten how impressive the TurboGrafx is. Last year, it announced the TurboGrafx Mini, a plug-and-play all-in-one system that features over 50 titles from the game’s classic library, including some CD favorites compressed into a tiny little unit. (Yes, Lords of Thunder included.) It was supposed to arrive this past March, but the Coronavirus has put a dent in those plans, and now there’s a release coming for it down the road.
Alas, that didn’t stop a buddy of mine from importing a European version of the system — the CoreGrafx Mini — for his use, and I was recently able to go hands-on with it. And folks, here’s why you should pick up the system without hesitation when it comes out.
A spiffy menu system that will bring back nostalgia
First off, the menu system is divided into two types of games — TurboGrafx and PC Engine. The PC Engine is the Japanese version of the Turbo, but the games included here are immaculate, including a special version of Ninja Gaiden, the awesome Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, and several other quirky titles. The way these menus show off all the games is truly impressive, complete with nostalgic old-school tunes to enjoy in the background.
Now, when you do select a game, it does the old “get into the system” trick, complete with authentic noises. If it’s a HuCard, it just plugs right in. But if it’s a CD game, it sounds like it’s loading a disc into a system and actually running. (You remember discs, right?) It’s innovative and truly old-school.
Other bits and pieces of the menu system are excellent as well, from the settings to the animated characters on the screen to the awesome shutdown screen, showing a TurboGrafx system with eyes going to sleep. It’s remarkable, and even better than what the Sega Genesis Mini presents in its menu. That’s saying something.
Games, games, games
Next up, there are over 50 titles included with the TurboGrafx Mini. This includes popular favorites like Bonk’s Revenge (and Adventure, albeit in Japanese form), Ys Book I and II, R-Type, the SuperGrafx version of Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Sega’s own Space Harrier. There are several oddball favorites as well, including Air Zonk and Splatterhouse, in all its gory glory.
The PC Engine titles are something else, too, including Cho Aniki, Snatcher (in Japanese, but still…), Super Darius and several others.
Not all the classics are included here. Devil’s Crush is notably absent, which is strange considering Alien Crush made the cut; and there’s no sign of Gate of Thunder either, which could’ve easily replaced something like the forgettable Necromancer.
But for the most part, there’s an excellent amount of variety here. And with the options, you can even set up an old-school CRT sort of filter, so it looks like you’re playing the classic Turbo way. It’s awesome and will keep you busy for hours on end.
Terrific System Design
Yes, the TurboGrafx Mini is wonderfully designed. It looks like its classic system model and is conveniently sized so that you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space in your gaming space. What’s more, the controller is excellent, with the turbo switches, ideal for something like Bonk’s spinning across a level in one of his games, or rapid-fire for a shooter that doesn’t necessarily have it right off the bat.
The only real complaint here is that the system doesn’t include a power plug. It does have a USB cable, so you can plug it into another source. However, you’ll need a plug adapter of some kind if you want to plug it into the wall. Fortunately, any plug will do here, provided it’s the right kind of one for the USB set-up.
Otherwise, everything about this system is fairly easy to set up, and the HDMI support is outstanding, as the games look just like their old-school selves. Great wallpapers as well, just in case you aren’t using the full-screen option.
Just hold on a bit longer
Again, the wait for the TurboGrafx Mini is a bit excruciating, save for if you feel like importing a system from another market as my buddy did. But for $100, you’ll get more than enough retro memories out of this thing, and I highly recommend getting your hands on one as soon as they’re available. Do it for Bonk!