PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) emulators

From Emulation General Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16)
Above: The PC Engine.
Below: The SuperGrafx.ette was eventually made mathematically and with some extra tweaks from the PC Engine's RGB to YUV lookup table afte
Developer NEC Home Electronics, Hudson Soft
Type Home video game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date 1987
Discontinued 1994
Successor SuperGrafx, PC-FX

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 was retailed for $399.99. 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 PCE-CD
GE-CD libretro Retro
[N 1]
Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.31.0-UNSTABLE
libretro cores
Cycle[N 2]
ares Windows Linux macOS git Artifacts
~ Cycle[N 3]
Mesen2 Windows Linux 2.0.0-preview1 High ~
BizHawk Windows 2.9.1 Cycle ~
higan Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD v110 ~ Cycle [N 4]
Turbo Engine Windows 0.32 High
MagicEngine Windows macOS 1.1.3 Mid
Ootake 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 ? ?
Mobile / ARM
Android iOS Linux Pandora libretro cores Cycle[N 2]
PCE.emu Android Dragonbox Pyra 1.5.73 Pyra
WonderDroid Ultra Android 5.3git ?
PSP PlayStation 3
Wii Nintendo 3DS Wii U Switch
libretro Cycle[N 2]
Virtual Console Wii Wii U N/A High
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. PC Engine achievements, PC Engine CD achievements
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
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++.

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.