The retro gaming craze has given birth to many console revivals, but some of them are walking on legally gray areas. The officially sanctioned devices bear licensed titles but in very small numbers. Third-party recreations that use emulators, on the other hand, offer more freedom and flexibility but you’ll have to be creative in where you source your games. And then there’s the rare middle ground that puts those old games in fresh new hardware, like this curious console that pays tribute to the oft-forgotten NEC TurboGrafx. Unlike other retro consoles, however, it doesn’t come bundled with its own games and you’ll have to bring your own cartridges and discs, presuming you still have some of those around.
With the explosion of home gaming systems in the late 80s to early 90s, it wasn’t much of a surprise that some brands would be pushed to the background. Although it did have a faithful following, the NEC TurboGrafx system eventually faded into history, only to be remembered with retro consoles and devices such as the Analogue Duo. It’s not a simple recreation of the original console, however. In fact, it looks nothing like the TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine consoles. What this new console brings, instead, is a way to be able to use those original game cartridges and CDs just the way they were meant to.
Retro mini consoles like the NES and SNES Classics practically use emulation software to run digital copies of games that used to exist on physical media. That’s definitely convenient but also removes the gratification of experiencing those classic titles from the cartridges or CDs they came from. Without going into technical details, the Analogue Duo claims to use no emulation at all and uses hardware engineered for thousands of hours to offer compatibility with a wide range of NEC gaming systems and media, including those for the TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, SuperGrafx, TurboGrafx CD, PC Engine CD-ROM, and Super Arcade CD-ROM.
The design of the Analogue Duo itself is also quite unique, eschewing the trend of copying the appearance of the original consoles. It does lie horizontally like most consoles, but its modern and sleek appearance clearly tells which century it comes from. An odd and rather interesting detail is the wavy rear of the console, something you won’t find on any gaming hardware today. Interestingly, you can place two of these consoles back-to-back with those waves intersecting with each other.
The Analogue Duo is pretty ambitious in its goals, which is probably why it took three years for it to finally become available. Even then, it will be in extremely limited supply, available first to those who pre-ordered back in May. Perhaps it’s for the best so that TurboGrafx fans will be able to bide their time and see whether the console will be able to deliver that faithful classic experience it promised.