The American TurboGrafx-16.

The TurboGrafx-16 was a console released in August 29th, 1989 in North America. It was originally known as the PC Engine (PCエンジン Piishii Ennjinn) in Japan and was released in October 30th, 1987. A PAL version of the system was also released in the UK and continental Europe in 1990 as simply "Turbografx", dropping the "16" from the title and not capitalizing the "g" in "grafx".

Technical specifications

  • Central processing unit: 8-bit Hudson Soft HuC6280A, a modified 65SC02 (a separate branch from the 65C02, of the original 6502) running at 1.79 or 7.16 MHz (switchable by software). Features integrated bankswitching hardware (driving a 21-bit external address bus from a 6502-compatible 16-bit address bus), an integrated general-purpose I/O port, a timer, block transfer instructions, and dedicated move instructions for communicating with the Hudson Soft HuC6270A VDC.
  • GPU: A dual graphics processor setup. One 16-bit HuC6260 Video Color Encoder (VCE), and one 16-bit Hudson Soft HuC6270A Video Display Controller (VDC). The Hudson Soft HuC6270A featured Port-based I/O similar to the TMS99xx VDP family.


  • Resolution:
    • X (Horizontal) Resolution: variable, maximum of 512 (programmable to 256, 352 or 512 pixels)
    • Y (Vertical) Resolution: variable, maximum of 242 (programmable in increments of 1 scanline)
    • The vast majority of TurboGrafx-16 games use 256×240, though some games, such as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective did use 512×224. Chris Covell's 'High-Resolution Slideshow' uses 512×240.
  • Color:
    • Depth: 9 bit
    • Colors available: 512
    • Colors onscreen: Maximum of 482 (241 background, 241 sprite)
    • Palettes: Maximum of 32 (16 for background tiles, 16 for sprites)
    • Colors per palette: Maximum of 16
  • Sprites:
    • Simultaneously displayable: 64
    • Sizes: 16×16, 16×32, 16x64, 32×16, 32×32, 32×64
    • Palette: Each sprite can use up to 15 unique colors (one color must be reserved as transparent) via one of the 16 available sprite palettes.
    • Layers: The Hudson Soft HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one sprite layer. Sprites could be placed either in front of or behind background tiles.
  • Tiles:
    • Size: 8×8
    • Palette: Each background tile can use up to 16 unique colors via one of the 16 available background palettes. The first color entry of each background palette must be the same across all background palettes.
    • Layers: The Hudson Soft HuC6270A VDC was capable of displaying one background layer.


  • Work RAM: 8 KB
  • Video RAM: 64 KB

Audio capacity

  • 6 Programmable Sound Generator audio channels, programmable through the Hudson Soft HuC6280A CPU.
  • Each channel had a frequency of 111.87 kHz (while not in D/A mode) with a bit depth of 5 bits. Each channel also was allotted 20 bytes (32×5 bits) of RAM for sample data.
  • The waveforms were programmable so the composers were not limited to the standard selection of waveforms (square, sine, sawtooth, triangle, etc.).
  • The first two audio channels (1 and 2) were capable of LFO when channel #2 was used to modulate channel #1. This was used to achieve FM-like sound qualities.
  • The final two audio channels (5 and 6) were capable of Noise generation.
  • Optional software enabled Direct D/A which allows for sampled sound to be streamed into any of the six PSG audio channels. When a channel is in D/A mode the frequency is as fast as the CPU can stream bytes to the port, though in practicality it's limited to 6.99 kHz when using the TIMER interrupt with the smallest loop setting (1023 cpu cycles).
  • There is a method that combines two channels in Direct D/A mode to play back 8-bit, 9-bit, or 10-bit samples.
  • The addition of the CD-ROM peripheral adds CD-DA sound, and a single ADPCM channel to the existing sound capabilities of the TurboGrafx-16.

Game media

  • HuCard (Turbo Chip in North America): A thin, card-like game media. The largest Japanese HuCard games were up to 20 Mbit in size.
  • CD: The PC Engine CD was the first home video game console to offer a CD-ROM accessory.
  • With only one exception, the SuperGrafx, all PC Engine hardware could play the entire HuCard library, and every CD system could play all of the licensed CD games - with the right system card. Some unlicenced CD games by Games Express required a Duo system, due to their games requiring both a special system card packaged with the games and the 256KB of RAM built into the Duo.
  • 157 games, both HuCard and CD-ROM, were released on the TG-16.


The Turbografx controller resembles the NES Controller. It has a D-pad, A & B buttons, and start & select buttons. This is in contrast to the greater amount of buttons on the SNES controller and the Sega Genesis controller. The controller does feature two switches, however.

Legacy on Nintendo Consoles

Virtual Console

[NOTE: This section is currently outdated]

Some TurboGrafx-16 titles were released via the Wii Virtual Console on the Wii console. Two titles from the TurboGrafx were available at the launch of the Wii: Bomberman 93 and Bonk's Adventure. They could be downloaded and played on the Wii itself and cost 600 Wii Points.

TurboGrafx-16 titles available:

Planned titles for future release:

@ = TurboGrafx-CD title

External Links

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