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The NEC PC-FX! The biggest failure in console gaming ever

VGEsoterica

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I mean there is failing...and then there is PC-FX failing! Imagine you were Nintendo and just had MASSIVE success with the NES...and then you released the SNES and EVERYONE hated it and you killed your entire brand in one generation.

That's what NEC and Hudson did when they released the PC-FX to replace the PC-Engine / TurboGrafx16. They absolutely destroyed all the user base and momentum they build up in one fell swoop. How'd they manage this?

First...release hardware that was two years old that you were sitting on and too worried to release because the PC Engine was still selling strong! Second...cancel the plans you had to put a 3D chip inside and make it a pure 2D system. Three...don't allow devs to make any of the genres of games that were HUGE on the PC Engine. Bomberman? Nope! Bonk? Nope! Shmups? ONE!

The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch. After that NEC/Hudson never released a piece of hardware again.

BUT...that doesn't mean the PC-FX isn't fun in its own right. Sure the internet would have you believe it's just a disaster system filled with hentai but it actually as a solid ten or so games on it that are 100% worth checking out.

Compare that to the number of games worth checking out on the PC Engine though...and yeah....damn they failed hard with this one!

Anyone else foolish enough to own a PC-FX here or is it just me? lol
 

Scotty W

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Sep 29, 2019
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I had always thought that the PC FX and the PC Engine were the same. Bad marketing.
 

ShirAhava

Plays with kids toys, in the adult gaming world
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The PC FX was exactly what I wanted at the time ecchi 2D anime games and FMV

The high price prevented me from importing still looks so awesome and right up my alley

If the market went this way rather than the ugly ass polygon super realistic route modern gaming would be better off



 

RoboFu

One of the green rats
Oct 10, 2017
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they lost that bet. Sadly the system is a 2D powerhouse yet they constantly prevented their biggest franchises from getting games on the system too
Yup that was a dumb move. NEC only wanted NEW ips. It was also supposed to launch two years before it actually did. So instead of competeing witht he SNES and Genesis for 2 years gaining some traction with a planned 3d add-on to come around the playstation launch time frame it launched right against the playstation.
 

belteshazzar

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Mar 25, 2016
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I've always been fascinated by the PC-FX, I really like how it looks. Unfortunately, the systems itself can be somewhat expensive nowadays (around the $200 mark), and even some of the cheapest import friendly games hover around the $23-$24. On that note, most of the games are not import friendly, and the few that are tend to to be in the collectible side. It makes it really hard to justify owning one, but it is a cool piece of gaming history for sure! Maybe one day I will one own one.
 

jaysius

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Oct 3, 2019
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These were hard to find pictures of in the 90's and even early 2000's I had always wondered what the machine actually looked like. It looked kind of neat, ahead of it's time for sure in trying to look like something that would fit into an office setting or something professional rather than a kid's toybox.
 
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Probably one of the biggest failures of 5th-gen alongside the Apple Pippin, but at least the Pippin brought a few ideas that would eventually be where the industry'd trend going forward. Arguably the only thing on that front the PC-FX did was its design which (IMO) feels like a type of tower aesthetic we've gotten in the Series X.

NEC really should've either released this in 1992 (like they originally planned), or revamped its design with some 3D capabilities for the 1994 launch it eventually received. The 2D, anime and ecchi market would eventually shift to the Sega Saturn anyway once the PC-FX died, and was automatically better off for it since the Saturn could actually do 3D and wasn't technologically irrelevant (although it had a lot of its own shortcomings, particularly with certain 3D effects, compared to PS1 and N64).

Even so I still have a lot of curiosity for the PC-FX and hope to set up an emulator to play the better games some day. It'd help if they got English translations but I'd settle for translation guides if that's the only option. Thinking of it more I really do think a 1992 release would've been best; hop in on the FMV craze then, and since the system had an expansion port (they were gonna release a 3D card anyway and kind of did for Japanese PCs IIRC) they could've done a rebranding in 1994 packaging a price-cut PC-FX and the 3D card for the cost of what a Saturn or PS1 ended up at anyway.

The early sales from '92-'94 could've helped generate an install base and the library would've been mostly anime FMV games and 2D games, perfect for that time period. Launch a new PC-FX + 3D Accelerator SKU in late 1994 for a yen equivalent of $299 or $349 (NEC produced more of their components in-house vs. SEGA so that probably could've helped with keeping costs down more) and the 3D Accelerator by itself for $99 or $149, to customers who wanted to give their PC-FXs' purchased earlier 3D capability.

They wouldn't of even needed to launch outside Japan until 1995, that'd of given them 2+ years to build the market in Japan and amass a good enough software base with dev support, then utilize those resources in the West making the console + accelerator the default, single SKU for the Western markets. Still amazes me how much NEC botched this system in retrospect.
 
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Shwing

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Oct 17, 2016
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I mean there is failing...and then there is PC-FX failing! Imagine you were Nintendo and just had MASSIVE success with the NES...and then you released the SNES and EVERYONE hated it and you killed your entire brand in one generation.

That's what NEC and Hudson did when they released the PC-FX to replace the PC-Engine / TurboGrafx16. They absolutely destroyed all the user base and momentum they build up in one fell swoop. How'd they manage this?

First...release hardware that was two years old that you were sitting on and too worried to release because the PC Engine was still selling strong! Second...cancel the plans you had to put a 3D chip inside and make it a pure 2D system. Three...don't allow devs to make any of the genres of games that were HUGE on the PC Engine. Bomberman? Nope! Bonk? Nope! Shmups? ONE!

The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch. After that NEC/Hudson never released a piece of hardware again.

BUT...that doesn't mean the PC-FX isn't fun in its own right. Sure the internet would have you believe it's just a disaster system filled with hentai but it actually as a solid ten or so games on it that are 100% worth checking out.

Compare that to the number of games worth checking out on the PC Engine though...and yeah....damn they failed hard with this one!

Anyone else foolish enough to own a PC-FX here or is it just me? lol
"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
 

Captain Toad

I advertise for PlayStation. For free.
Dec 1, 2020
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They banked on FMV being the future of gaming.
Man everyone did for a while. Those were dark times. I think that's a big part of PlayStation's dominance when they came on the scene. They honed in on 3D gameplay and did not go down the FMV rabbit hole nearly as much as the other CD platforms had been like the Sega CD, CDi, 3D0, etc.
 
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VGEsoterica

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Oct 5, 2019
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"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
but the Xbox One's problems were fixable. NEC was stuck due to the hardware choices. Microsoft just had to pivot on their policies
 
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FStubbs

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Aug 29, 2010
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"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
That wasn't even the worst in its own generation, Wii -> Wii U is a much bigger collapse
 
Oct 26, 2018
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"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
Xbox is still around. After PC-FX, NEC bailed ship from making hardware. The system's outlook was so bad, they didn't even bother releasing it outside of Japan. From WIki:


The PC-FX[a] is a 32-bit home video game console developed by NEC and Hudson Soft. It was released in 1994 and discontinued in February 1998, as NEC's final home video game console. Based on the NEC V810 CPU and CD-ROM, it was intended as the successor to the TurboGrafx-16. Unlike its predecessor, the PC-FX was only released in Japan.

Its form factor is like that of a tower PC, intended to be similarly upgradeable. The PC-FX was uncompetitive with its fifth generation peers due to lack of a 3D polygon-based graphics chip, high price, and limited developer support. It was considered a commercial failure.
 
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ManaByte

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Wii -> Wii U is a much bigger collapse
Nintendo with the Wii U:
 

Trimesh

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Man everyone did for a while. Those were dark times. I think that's a big part of PlayStation's dominance when they came on the scene. They honed in on 3D gameplay and did not go down the FMV rabbit hole nearly as much as the other CD platforms had been like the Sega CD, CDi, 3D0, etc.

The original PlayStation was just an overall nice design - it had (for the time) excellent 3D performance, reasonable 2D performance and was actually better at playing FMV than a lot of the earlier machines that had emphasized FMV much more heavily. The only machine I can think of that could outperform the PSX in FMV was a Saturn with an MPEG card - but that was a fairly expensive option while the MDEC chip was part of every PSX.
 
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"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
This is utter trolling. The One console is factually MS most profitable console. The 360 on the other hand was a system they were selling at a huge loss and then needed to take a billion dollar hit on top for the rind of death.
 

VGEsoterica

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This is utter trolling. The One console is factually MS most profitable console. The 360 on the other hand was a system they were selling at a huge loss and then needed to take a billion dollar hit on top for the rind of death.
Yes I mean neither the Wii U or the PC-FX broke at like a damn near 50% rate so....winning against MS on that front!
 

DonkeyPunchJr

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Nov 1, 2020
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That wasn't even the worst in its own generation, Wii -> Wii U is a much bigger collapse
I’d agree. Wii U isn’t the least successful console ever but it was definitely the biggest collapse. They went from their most successful console ever (with several first party games selling in the tens of millions, and even non-gamers buying one) to a disaster so bad it made GameCube look like a raging success in comparison.

I had multiple Wii-owning friends/relatives ask me what a Wii U is when I told them I got one.

it’s one thing to release a failed product. It’s another thing to be in a dominant position and then bet your whole damn company on a loser.
 

Dev1lXYZ

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I had a friend that imported a PC-FX back in the day. He had Battle Heat and that was it. It was alright, but there was absolutely nothing else that was worth buying. The controller felt pretty cheap too. He sold/traded it a month later. For the time, I remember how tiny it was compared to how big the shots from the magazines made it out to be.
 

VGEsoterica

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I’d agree. Wii U isn’t the least successful console ever but it was definitely the biggest collapse. They went from their most successful console ever (with several first party games selling in the tens of millions, and even non-gamers buying one) to a disaster so bad it made GameCube look like a raging success in comparison.

I had multiple Wii-owning friends/relatives ask me what a Wii U is when I told them I got one.

it’s one thing to release a failed product. It’s another thing to be in a dominant position and then bet your whole damn company on a loser.
Yes Nintendo choked hard but they didn’t change what they did. It’s not like they said “Wii was a hit. All the games people loved. So let’s put out new hardware and NOT put any of the kinds of games that made us successful on the platform!”

that’s what NEC / Hudson did with PC-FX. You went from the PC Engine which was home to a shit ton of awesome shmups, Platformers, etc etc and to PC-FX which had a library of random shit and a handful of great games.

it’s like if Nintendo decided NOT to release Platformers and Mario Kart games on the Wii U but instead released point and click games and anime titles
 

Bernkastel

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"The PC-FX was basically a master class in how to fuck up a hardware design and launch."

Surely this honour lies with Microsoft and the Xbox One?
No matter how many other companies have taken a hit following a terrible console launch, I feel the Xbox One debacle cost Microsoft soooo much more (not just financial, which of course they could absorb) - especially after the success they had with the 360.
Unless you are trolling, Microsoft made more profit in Xbox One than Xbox 360(billion of dollars lost due to RROD) and OG Xbox(sold at a loss).
Microsoft lost $5 billion to $7 billion on the original Xbox, launched in 2001. And it made billions of dollars on the Xbox 360. Depending on the time frame in which you look at it, it was either an insane waste of money or the finest strategic decision that Microsoft ever made.
They didn't make any significant profit until 8th gen.
 

VGEsoterica

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Unless you are trolling, Microsoft made more profit in Xbox One than Xbox 360(billion of dollars lost due to RROD) and OG Xbox(sold at a loss).

They didn't make any significant profit until 8th gen.
I mean in a lot of ways I doubt Microsoft really cared about making a profit with Xbox to start. Before Xbox they were an OS company...now Xbox is one of the biggest “brands” in the public conscious and arguably more well known than Windows IMO
 

SF Kosmo

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I can think of consoles that flopped harder but never one that was the successor to an actually successful system (in Japan). Maybe 32X if that counts.
 

Sophist

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90's was full of huge failures: sega 32x, jaguar, virtual boy, phillips cdi, panasonic 3DO, Apple Pippin, that fujitsu console, 64DD, Amiga console, ...

Even the N64; The old Yamauchi almost single handedly killed Nintendo by wanting to continue with cartridges at all cost despite everyone else in the industry going with the CDROM.
 
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Marty-McFly

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90's was full of huge failures: sega 32x, jaguar, virtual boy, phillips cdi, panasonic 3DO, Apple Pippin, that fujitsu console, 64DD, Amiga console, ...

Even the N64; The old Yamauchi almost single handedly killed Nintendo by wanting to continue with cartridges at all cost despite everyone else in the industry going with the CDROM.
It's like people forget the GBA existed and Nintendo turned profit the entire time.
 
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