NEC's first entry into the console market was an 8-bit system released in Japan as the PC-Engine and overseas as the TurboGrafx-16. The PC-Engine succeeded phenomenally in Japan, undergoing a series of upgrades including several RAM expansions and three CD formats. The overseas TurboGrafx-16, however, was much less of a success. After getting the CD upgrades, the TurboGrafx-16 quietly slipped into console limbo. After drawing a set of lessons from the PC-Engine, NEC designed the PC-FX and released it in Japan on December 23, 1994.
The PC-FX is a 32-bit CD based system with a unique look. After the PC-Engine's numerous upgrades and expansions, one of the main factors in the development of the PC-FX was to come up with an easily expandable system. The NEC engineers settled on a mini-tower casing with the top popping up to accept CD-ROMs. The system resembles half of a cube that's been laid on its thin side, and stands almost twice as tall as it is wide. Two controller ports are located at the front of the system near its base, and three expansion ports are distributed around the system. The controllers have eight buttons: run, select, and six action buttons. There are also two mode switches, which games can be programmed to support.
Several accessories were released for the PC-FX. The FX-BMP is a memory card that plugs into the front expansion port of the system. With it players can save games to the memory card instead of the system's limited internal memory. The FX-MOU is a two-button mouse controller that certain games support as an alternate interface to the standard control pad. Finally, the PC-FXGA is a computer add-on card that can be plugged into a NEC PC-9800 computer. The PC-FX can then hook up to the computer and card through its back expansion port. Along with the included software, the PC-FXGA acts as a development kit for the PC-FX.
Software developed for the PC-FX, as a result of NEC policy, is composed mostly of games with very strong anime themes. Anime digital comic games dominate the library, with puzzle games a distant second. A few RPGs, action and fighting games, and finally one shooter round out the library. All PC-FX games have 2D graphics. One 3D fighting was being developed for the system, but was cancelled before completion. Because no 3D games were ever released on the PC-FX, its 3D capabilities are undetermined.
With the ability to support nine layers of parallax scrolling in hardware and full screen true color JPEG decompression at 30 frames per second, the PC-FX was designed to be the ultimate 2D system. Unfortunately it was released into a market that was just beginning to get enamored with 3D graphics. Both the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, the PC-FX's two 32-bit competitors, promised 3D graphics and conversions of 3D arcade games. Both systems became popular in Japan and were eventually brought into US and European markets. The PC-FX, on the other hand, stuck to its 2D very Japanese anime-themed games, and as a result was never released outside Japan.
Anime-themed games are quite popular in Japan, and as a result the system managed to carve out a niche existence for itself. But it was never able to seriously challenge the other 32-bit systems or Nintendo's 64-bit Nintendo 64. Few third party developers were interested in releasing games on the PC-FX, and as a result NEC had to shoulder most of the development effort itself. After releasing over 60 games, NEC quietly ended support for their 32-bit system. The last PC-FX game, First Kiss, was released on August 24, 1998. No new games have been released or announced since.
Best games for the PC-FX include: Battle Heat, Kishin Doji Zenki: Vajura Fight, Der Langrisser FX, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna FX, and Super God Trooper Zeroigar. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide