[I ♥ The PC Engine] Turbo StickPosted on July 11th, 2009 9 comments
Maker: NEC Home Electronics
Release Date: 10/1/88
Price: 6800 yen
The same as the TurboGrafx-16’s TurboStick, except with different colors and horizontal instead of vertical sliders.
This joystick, the first one made for the PC Engine, has the distinction of being the only stick ever released by either NEC-HE or NEC Avenue for the system’s entire history. Considering all the minor changes NEC made to the basic pad over the years, the fact they never released another stick for the PCE indicates to me that this must have not been a big seller. (And it wasn’t — except for some dead warehouse stock put out around 2003, these things are surprisingly uncommon in Japanese used-game shops.)
By the time the PC Engine celebrated its first birthday, things were looking decidedly up for the system. Sales were accelerating, the platform had a killer app in R-Type, and three dedicated PCE magazines launched in Japan near-simulataneously in late ’88. The console had built a reputation for arcade ports that the Famicom couldn’t handle, and arcade brats were starting to take notice. This apparently made companies think that an arcade-style controller was just what the PCE needed, and the end of 1988 saw no less than three contenders — the Turbo Stick, Dempa Shinbunsha’s XE-1 PRO HE, and the ASCII Stick Engine. None of them were in the marketplace at full price for very long, and by the end of 1989, you’d be considered lucky to find any of them for sale in the high-street shops.
As you can tell from the pic, the Turbo Stick is a simple two-button affair. Turbo functionality is included, but instead of the three speed levels on the standard Turbo Pad, you’ve got a couple of sliders that you can push up and down to fine-tune your turbo experience. The XE-1 PRO HE and ASCII Stick Engine both have slow-motion functionality, but that’s missing on this stick.
The Turbo Stick’s structure — it feels like a cheap piece of plastic and yet it cost 6800 yen — was probably the main reason it wasn’t successful. Try using it these days, after years of using a pad of one variety or another, and one could hardly call this very comfortable…but then, I wasn’t a Japanese arcade brat at the time.
There was a miniature tsunami of new, 6-button PCE controllers released in 1993 for Street Fighter II Champion Edition, but NEC-HE oddly decided not to participate in the rush. If you insist on playing the SFII port with a joystick, your only choice is Hori’s unlicensed Fighting Stick PC.
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[…] less than three arcade-style sticks came out at nearly the same time — this one, NEC’s Turbo Stick, and the ASCII Stick Engine. I don’t know how well any of them sold, but the PCE joystick fad […]
[…] NEC-HE’s own Turbo Stick, the ASCII Stick offers turbo on both buttons, as well as a slow-motion function that takes the […]
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