The TG16 or PC Engine in Japan, is a very controversial console. Some say that it's one of the most underrated gaming devices of all-time, and some believe it was nothing more than a stop-gap. For those that have owned or at least played several games related to this machine, has the TG16 OVERALL held up for you?
I've been around both sides of the argument in real life from back when the TG16 was new, until last year at a local retro gaming convention. Some of my Japanese friends view the TG16 as a fad. They believe that the reason the TG16 took off in Japan was due to finding any developer under a rock and basically stuffing the shelves with games in its earlier years, thus buying them enough time to bring in higher quality games and produce the popular CD attachment to cement their place in the industry there.
On the other end, I've heard people say that NEC was smart, and that they would often fund projects in the background so companies could release games more quickly resulting in some of the most unique titles to ever grace a video game console. Of varying quality of course.
My personal opinion? I think the first few years of the TG16 library was the best. I greatly enjoyed games like Bravo-Man, Legendary Axe, Bonk, Cyber-cross/CrossWiber, the fluid boxing games, Aero Blasters and more. I thought Silent Debuggers had many flaws, but was an amazing attempt at a first-person anything on consoles at the time.
For me it was the 2nd half of the library that started turning me away. i played the TGCD at a friends house but had no interest in any of its games due to long load times, questionable gameplay, and an over-reliance on FMV. NEC also released several versions of the TG16, a Super version with games that wouldn't work on the original, and combo SKUs. I was burnt out by then. I did pick up some of the later games including Bomberman 93 and 94 among others. However, I was mostly done with the TG16 around 93'.
When NEC finally stopped playing games and released a follow-up I was completely shocked at how it was nothing like the TG16 from a software standpoint. A friend of mine who imported a console from japan back in the day, had gotten 7 games for it, and I was just completely shocked that NEC was so incompetent that it lost ALL of its previous support and all it they had now were FMV games and Visual novels!!!!
I figured the reason for that is the TG16 lost a lot of support to the SNES and across the TG-16, Turboduo, TGCD, and Supergrafx developers were upset with NEC's practices. At least that's the only explanation i can think of for how badly they dropped the ball. The system looked good, in fact, the system was modeled after NEC's Headquarters! But its software was abysmal. Looking at the library now, the PC-FX basically only had Zork as a real game.
I personally believe the PC-FX has some blame as to why many gamers look back at the TG16 as a waste. It never had a proper follow-up. I believe it's the ONLY time a console did really well and had no momentum from it at all. Kind of like how Spyro 4 was so bad it almost killed the franchise and making it seem like the other three great games didn't even exist. Nothing carried from the TG16 to the PC-FX, so the TG16 is basically NECs only console in many peoples eyes, even the ones that knew about or owned a the PC-FX.
As for whether I think the TG16 holds up? I do kind of agree with both sides. It has some good games, but a lot of the titles are very weird and experimental, aiming more for being impressive "at the time" then long-term. I also notice quite a few TG16 games look very similar to each other despite being by different developers are in different genres, as if there was a template multiple developers used to push out games quickly. A good chunk of TG16 developers also died after the TG16 life ended which does support the argument a lot of games were made by D tier developers. Keith courage in Alpha Zones was graphically impressive for the time compared to the NES, so I get WHY they packed it in with the US TG16, but the gameplay isn't really...good...
Overall I'd say the TurboGrafx16 does hold up in parts, but not entirely. I do think that if you are a game collector you should buy the "base" console since there's enough quality software to do so, but keep in mind buying games from its library is like playing the lottery.