As the first wave of TurboGrafx-16 classics arrive on the Virtual Console, now is as good a time as any to look back on what has to be one of the weakest video game mascots ever created. That's right, we're talking about TTI's Johnny Turbo, a hero so lame he was put out to pasture almost as soon as he arrived on the scene.
In case you need a little history lesson, the TurboGrafx-16 is the North American version of the popular PC Engine system, a joint venture between electronics giant NEC and game developer Hudson (the latter of which is now sadly defunct). The PC Engine was a massive success in its native Japan and even put Sega's Mega Drive in the shade, and it was inevitable that the machine would see release in the US. Rebranded as the TurboGrafx-16 (even though it was not a true 16-bit console) and marketed by Turbo Technologies, Inc (a joint venture between NEC and Hudson), it struggled to make an impact despite some excellent conversions and some notable technological party tricks - one of which was being the first major "all-in-one" CD-ROM games console.
The TurboDuo fused the core console tech with the CD-ROM2 add-on which had launched in Japan in 1988. This sleek, all-in-one design offered the machine a big advantage over Sega's own CD unit, which required a Genesis / Mega Drive to function. Seizing on this, TTI created Johnny Turbo, a mascot whose sole aim was to fight the evil "Feka" corporation and tell anyone who would listen that the TurboDuo was the only true all-in-one CD system. The big issue is that no one really cared as by this point Sega had stormed ahead in the console race and CD gaming hadn't really taken off. The other big issue is that the campaign was painfully lame and felt quite petty when compared to Sega's more stylish efforts.
Our friends over at Slope's Game Room have put together an excellent video which looks at Johnny Turbo more closely, so be sure to give it a look if you're interested in what has to be video gaming's worst mascot.