PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) emulators

From Emulation General Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16)
Above: The PC Engine.
Middle: The TurboGrafx-16.
Below: The SuperGrafx.
Developer NEC, Hudson
Type Home video game console, Handheld game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date 1987 (PC Engine)
1989 (TurboGrafx-16, SuperGrafx)
1990 (PC Engine GT / TurboExpress)
Discontinued 1994
Introductory price $199.99
$399.99 (CD Add-On)
Successor PC Engine SuperGrafx, PC-FX
For emulators that run on the PC Engine, see Emulators on PC Engine.

The PC Engine (PCE) was a 16-bit system released jointly by NEC and Hudson Soft in Japan on October 30, 1987 and in the US on August 29, 1989. It had a Hudson Soft HuC6280 8-bit CPU at 7.16 MHz and 1.79 MHz with 8KB of RAM and 64KB of VRAM. The CPU was teamed up with a 16-bit graphics processor and 16-bit video color encoder chip, both built by Hudson Soft. When it came time to seek other potential markets, the two companies eventually caved to a limited American release in 1989 under a completely different model and name: the TurboGrafx-16. The European versions varied throughout the countries, being the western version in Spain and United Kingdom and Japanese models in Benelux regions.

The joint venture, formed in North America as TTI, made an add-on called the PC Engine CD (PCE-CD) / TurboGrafx-CD (TG-CD) that loaded games from discs instead, much like the Sega CD but better supported. The PC Engine Duo / Turbo-Duo combined the add-on into the unit with more RAM as yet another failed attempt to relaunch the failing console in the West.

When it first launched in North America, the TurboGrafx-16 was largely seen as a failure blamed on poor marketing by the manufacturers. The PC Engine, on the other hand, was a whole different story, beating out the Famicom when it first came out long enough to compete against its rival's own successor and gave little focus for the Mega Drive who was instead posing more of a threat to Nintendo in North America.

NEC planned to enhance the system further, announcing the "PC Engine 2" that would later become the PC Engine SuperGrafx. However, it was rushed to a 1989 market in Japan lacking much of its promised features with only seven titles exclusively made for it, ending up a commercial failure to be binned and discontinued not long after. The PC Engine GT / Turbo-Express was a very rare handheld model of the original hardware, in the same vein as the Sega Nomad (a portable Sega Genesis / Mega Drive). It did include some exclusive features like the TurboLink multiplayer feature (used in games such as the flight sim called Falcon and Bomberman 93) but wasn't widely supported.


Name Platform(s) Latest Version PCE2
Hardware features
and peripherals
Enhancements Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.32.1
libretro cores
~ Cycle[N 1]
ares Windows Linux macOS git Artifacts
~ ~ Cycle[N 2]
Mesen Windows Linux macOS Development Builds ~ ? High
BizHawk Windows 2.9.1 ~ ~ Cycle ~
higan (火眼)
byuu (謬/view)
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD v110 ~ ? Cycle [N 3]
Turbo Engine Windows 0.32 ? ? High
MagicEngine Windows macOS 1.1.3 ? ? Mid
Ootake (大竹) Windows 3.04 ? ? Mid
pcejin (Mednafen 0.8.x) Windows git ? ? Mid
DarcNES Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 9b0401/9b0313 ? ? Low
Neco Windows 0.11 ? ? Low ?
ePCEngine Windows 12/21/2020 ? ? ?
FinalBurn Neo Windows macOS libretro core
? ? ? NC
FinalBurn Alpha Windows ? ? ? NC
Hu-Go! Windows Linux 2.12 ? ? ? ?
rew. Windows Windows 9x rew12stx ? ? ?
Mobile / ARM
Android iOS Linux Pandora libretro cores ~ Cycle[N 1]
PCE.emu Android Dragonbox Pyra 1.5.77 Pyra
? ? Mid
WonderDroid Ultra Android 5.5git ? ? ?
PSP PlayStation 3
Wii Nintendo 3DS Wii U Switch
libretro ~ Cycle[N 1]
Virtual Console Wii Wii U N/A ? ? High
TemperPCE 3DS Nintendo 3DS git ? ? Mid
HuGo! GX Unofficial Wii GameCube 2.12.1 ? ? Mid
PCECast Dreamcast 06/01/07 ? ? ? Mid
HuE PSP 0.70 ~ ? ? Mid ~
NitroGrafx Nintendo DS 0.7git ? ? ? ~
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 mednafen pce core is Cycle accurate. Another core for PCE system is the "pce_fast" which is an experimental alternative to the pce core. pce_fast is a fork of 0.8.x modified for speed at the expense of unneeded accuracy.
  2. As of ares v127, ares developers now provide a new option in the emulator settings: 'Pixel Accuracy'; when this is enabled, any core that supports a pixel accurate mode will use it.
  3. Superseded by ares.


Much like its other original cores, it does very well, even having two profiles: "PCE-Accurate" and "PCE-Fast". Despite being CLI-based, a fork of an older version that has a GUI has emerged called pcejin. RetroArch uses the PCE-Accurate and PCE-Fast cores for its beetle fork.
After a discontinuation of both Mesen and Mesen S, SourMesen resumed developement of both in 2023 and combines them into a single Mesen. The re-release of Mesen also brought emulation of PC-Engine, SuperGrafx and CD-ROM²/TG-CD
Uses "Nymashock" core for PCE emulation (ported from mednafen to Bizhawk by zeromus) and an original core PCEHawk.
It's okay for general purposes.
Has a pce driver (and a child driver called tg16). In all revisions it emulates, MAME reports it as working and the graphics as okay, but the sound is imperfect.
Unfortunately trialware that costs €15 euro. There are better options available for free.
Is a DS TurboGrafx emulator for Nintendo DS. It is included with TWiLight Menu++.

Hardware features and peripherals[edit]

Name Mednafen ares Mesen BizHawk Higan
Arcade Card ? ? ? ?
6 button
Pachinko Controller
Horizontal Overscan
Ten no Koe, Ten no Koe 2
Save Kun
Tsushin Booster Keyboard
Backup Booster, Backup Booster II
AV Booster
Illust Booster
Print Booster


TurboGrafx-CD/CD-ROM² and Super CD-ROM²

SuperGrafx is also compatible with the CD-ROM² and Super CD-ROM² System add-ons, allowing it to play any CD-ROM² format game with the required System Card. No SuperGrafx-specific CD-ROM² titles were produced. The addition of the CD-ROM peripheral adds CD-DA sound (Audio CDs), and a single ADPCM channel to the existing sound capabilities of the PC Engine.[1]


Games Express CD Card, Bootleg System Card. This was released by Hacker International for play of unlicensed Games Express CD games. The GECD Card is essentially a dongle; a BIOS v3.00 based machine (like a Duo or a Super CD-ROM²) is required for running those games.

Arcade Card[edit]

On March 12, 1994, NEC introduced a third upgrade known as the Arcade Card, which increases the amount of onboard RAM of the Super CD-ROM² System to 2MB. This upgrade was released in two models: the Arcade Card Duo, designed for PC Engine consoles already equipped with the Super CD-ROM² System, and the Arcade Card Pro, a model for the original CD-ROM² System that combines the functionalities of the Super System Card and Arcade Card Duo into one.[2]

Horizontal Overscan[edit]

Other console emulators will just let you crop it, like the FC emulators, but this is necessary for PCE. To give a negative example, there is a Darius CD game that displays ZONE A as ZON A in PCE.emu. Even though someone submitted this bug very early, it has not been fixed. Mednafen allows you to modify this value and the displayed picture is complete


Name Mednafen ares Mesen BizHawk Higan
Overclock Extra Scanlines?
Graphics High-Resolution Affine Transformations
Sprite Replacement
Widescreen hacks
Resizable Internal Resolution For emulation of 2D systems, the resolution can only be upscaled, making the pixels more apparent.
Audio Alternative audio interpolation methods
Higher sample rates
Input Run-ahead
Preemptive Frames ~[N2 1]
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed
Movie recording/playback
Quality of life Built-in mod editor and manager
Built-in Cheat Manager
Built-in Patch Manager ? ? ? ? ?
Streamable compression format
Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
Exclusive to libretro cores and GroovyMAME at the moment.
Also there is a project for achieving software emulators like libretro cores and GroovyMAME send the raw RGB data over a network to a core running on MiSTer, it basically turns the MiSTer into a GPU for the emulator allowing for easy setup and use with CRT TVs/Arcade monitors.
Per-Game Profiles
Command Line Options
Big Picture Mode
Post-Processing Filters
AI-powered filter compatible
Shader Chain ~[N2 1] ~[N2 1] ~[N2 1]
Inverse tone mapping compatible
Misc Netplay
EmuVR support Exclusive to libretro cores at the moment.
AI Service
With the help of OCR and other techniques, the AI service can provide a live translation of a game, or text-to-speech capabilities for the visually impaired among other things, either on demand or automatically.
Exclusive to libretro cores at the moment.
Retro Achievements
PC Engine, PCE-CD
~[N2 1] roadmap ~[N2 1] ~[N2 1]
Debug features
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Exclusive to libretro core.

Emulation issues[edit]

Color palette[edit]

An example of the color inaccuracy with the regular RGB color palette when compared to the Composite palette. Take note of the second blue gradient in the sky in both images.

The color palettes generated by the PC Engine for Composite and RGB actually differ due to its own color tables being non-linear. This can result in colors ending up looking wrong or blended when the system is emulated or played in RGB. A composite palette was eventually made mathematically and with some extra tweaks from the PC Engine's RGB to YUV lookup table after its HuC6270 video chip had been decapped. This palette is used by default in the PC Engine core for the MiSTer[1]. It can be downloaded for use in other emulators and devices.