Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Read This 25th Anniversary Retrospective on TGFX-16

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In another video game milestone that is sure to make some of my readers feel very old indeed, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of NEC's video game console, the TurboGrafx-16. While the name may be a little chuckle-worthy, the history of the console and the impact it had on video games are both fascinating and important. Leigh Aexander has a great retrospective entitled "TurboGrafx-16: A Quarter Century of Gaming Excellence". She blends a look back at the console with personal reflections, including one element that really hits home for me, too-- playing video games with Dad. An excerpt:
The thing was absolute magic to me: Black as a beetle, sleek as an animal, elegantly compact. Even when I knew about other consoles, I preferred this one: It was the Hu-Cards, you see. TG-16 games came on small, flat rectangular cards just a little bit thicker than a credit card. Usually they were a bright, solid color with the game’s logo on it. They dwelled in slick, lucid plastic sleeves. Their business end was black licked in gold connectors. You slipped one into your machine like you were at a chip-and-pin machine.
...It was the only phase of my life during which my Dad and I played videogames together. At the end of the very first jungle level, the boss music would begin with a dissonant, almost locomotive hooting, insistently, and two prehistoric bears would shamble ominously onto a screen from which there was suddenly no retreating. Dad called up the hint line about the bears. Although I learned to get good at Legendary Axe eventually over the years—and I persisted at it for years, even after the TG-16 had attained total obsolescence—I could not quite get as far as Dad got, to some temple-land of pit traps where monkeys would leap onto your back, chipping away at your life.
The whole essay is a great read, and there's some great reminiscing in the comments section too.

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