By late 1993, the TurboDuo, rebranded by TTi as simply "DUO" earlier that year, was moribund. The fact that the DUO was allotted only half a page in this catalog (sharing a page with cheap LCD handhelds, no less!) speaks volumes: TTi is unable to offer, or EB is unwilling to support, more than a handful of items during the busiest, most crucial period of the year for retailers. In a few short months (early 1994), TTi would close its doors forever, which begs the question: when did Electronics Boutique drop the DUO from their print catalog? Was this appearance in December 1993 one of the last for our beleaguered console? Or would the DUO be humiliated in future catalogs as fodder for the bargain bin? Perhaps you have some EB catalogs from 1994 and can help us solve this riddle?
Santa's little helpers populate every page of this catalog. One industrious fellow is painting TTi's logo, in fact. Sure, these elves are goofy, but they are not nearly as irritating as the "Sack O'Super Software!" tagline eblazoned on the cover. Sack O'Super Software…is that an alliteration or simply an abomination? What was EB thinking?
• Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon & Link: The Faces of Evil (CD-i). The black sheep of Nintendo's still-thriving Legend of Zelda series, these CD-i titles have gained a considerable level of notoriety since their original release in 1993. I would venture to say that they are the most widely known titles for the relatively unknown CD-i platform. Say what you will about the games themselves, but their coverart is quite nice and aesthetically pleasing. Heresy, you say? I think not. You may also be intrigued by the optional MPEG-1 cartridge that brings the glory of Full Motion Video (FMV) to the CD-i platform for a mere $249.99.
• Bonk 3, Dungeon Explorer II, John Madden. Bonk 3: Bonk's Big Adventure (a nod to Pee-wee's Big Adventure) was one of the last HuCARD's released in North America, with CD-ROM titles comprising the bulk of TTi's final offerings. If you bother to read the blurbs accompanying each game, you'll notice that the text for Dungeon Explorer II is mistakenly referring to Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest, a completely different game. Once you've seen one Dungeon, you've seen them all, apparently.
• Turbo Duo INTELLIGENT LINK for $129.99! Zounds! Finding a gem like this is one of the reasons I enjoy perusing old catalogs and price lists: you never know what might turn up. We had heard about the Intelligent Link before: it allowed folks to use the Duo as an external CD-ROM drive for their personal computers. As the pictures reveal, the SCSI cable was mounted on a HuCARD and interfaced via the DUO's HuCARD slot.
…And that brings us to the December 1993 Electronics Boutique catalog, which would have been distributed shortly after DuoWorld #3 arrived in mailboxes across the United States.
Although the Intelligent Link was never released, at least two prototypes are known to have existed (a revised, second-generation prototype was shown at WCES '93). Falling prices on CD-ROM drives, coupled with TTi's financial troubles, certainly did not bode well; the Intelligent Link never made it to the manufacturing stage.
Now, look at the picture of the Intelligent Link featured in the EB catalog. Notice the sloppy swatch of magenta on the HuCARD interface, just below the pins? Is that TTi's or EB's doing? I suspect that a graphic designer at EB added the magenta in the spirit of the catalog's overall color palette. Otherwise, TTi's choice of colors was uncanny.
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16 YEARS AGO…MARCH 1992!
Do remember the days when Street Fighter II graced the cover of nearly every magazine, every month? And for the remaining months, you would be treated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Sonic the Hedgehog? Well, not to be outdone, this issue of EGM has all three on the cover.
This month, there was something for fans of nearly every genre. Well, there were a few morsels, at least:
• Far East of Eden 2 (Tengai Makyo II: Manjimaru) coming to America?! Oh, if only TTi had followed through on their promise and localized this game!
• Gate of Thunder in a "Special Super Turbo CD Preview." A nice 2-page spread on this venerable shoot-em-up. As the author exclaims, "this is one game that shows the Turbo still has the potential to bring home the arcade experience!" Indeed. Interestingly, this game is slated to become available in June of 1992, despite the October 1992 launch of the TurboDuo.
• Parodius is billed as the "World's first 8 meg Hucard!" The author encourages TTi to release Parodius here in the States. Unfortunately, no Konami titles would ever make it across the Pacific.
• Tatsujin, known as Truxton to Sega Genesis fans, was the second PC-Engine shoot-em-up featured in this issue.
• Valis advertisement targets teenyboppers! Yeah, this is for the Sega Genesis Valis (later, a PC-Engine SCD version appeared as well). Does anyone even bother to read ad copy these days? You are in for a treat if you do. See below for some choice quotes.
• Exile for Sega Genesis (advertisement). Yes, Exile was ported from the PC-Engine to Sega's Genesis. This advertisement, however, seems a bit lackluster without Sadler.
• "Junction is an action game masterpiece!" Or so proclaims the advertisement, anyway. Junction is a variant of Blodia (Timeball) for Sega's GameGear. Of course, the claim that Junction is a "masterpiece" loses some credibility when the very same ad describes Heavy Nova as, and I quote: "Amazingly Exciting!"
Yuko. King Rogles. Epic characters in the Valis series. Or so I thought. Apparently, during one of their marketing meetings, Renovation decided that it would be a good idea to appeal directly to teenyboppers:
What would you do if your best friend went on a date with the King of the Dark World—because she thought he was cute?! You'd think she'd been duped—and you'd be right…
[Yuko's] most fearsome battle will not be against a Dark Lord, but against her closest friend, the one she warned, "Don't go out with him, he's the Dark…"
But before she could finish, her friend ran off into The Darkness.
King Rogles ceases to be fearsome once you peer inside his social calendar. And Yuko's epic quest no longer feels quite as grand as The Odyssey, but more like an episode of Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If Valis had been more popular here in the States, there would be no question that it inspired the aforementioned television shows.
I actually don't mind the artwork used in the advertisement (it is bold, vibrant and appealing), even though the depiction of Yuko is stiff, stilted and goofy (she evokes Wonder Woman, but without any of the charm). The game itself has a lot to be desired, even in its PC-Engine CD•ROM2 incarnation. Too hot to handle? Sadly, no. Still, if you're a fan of the series, you should have some fun with the first installment (the PCE version is more enjoyable).
Finally, I was delighted when I discovered Junction for GameGear in this issue. Lest you think I am joking, my love for Blodia / Timeball is sincere: I dream that soon, on a truly glorious day, I will play Junction (GameGear), TimeBall (TurboExpress) and Blodia Land (Gameboy) whilst taking the train from NYC to Boston. What better way to savor the thrill of an "action game masterpiece", I ask you?
16 YEARS AGO…FEBRUARY 1992!
We were able to unearth a few interesting things this month. Oddly enough, ICOM Simulations seems to be the common thread holding everything together. Enjoy!
Ahhh, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles grace the cover of GamePro this month. As noted on the cover, this issue contains an article about the recent release of the Mega-CD in Japan. The Mega-CD was a really hot topic at the time and seemed to overshadow news of the PC-Engine DUO being released in North America:
• NEC considering 4-in-1 TV SPORTS compilation as pack-in CD-ROM for TurboDuo! The mere fact that NEC was considering a TV SPORTS pack-in for the TurboDuo was a testament to Sega's success in the sports genre with their Genesis console. Needless to say, this 4-in-1 disc was never released. Furthermore, one of the proposed titles for this compilation, TV SPORTS Baseball, never made it storeshelves, either. Thankfully, the good folks at TTi had other, better plans for Duo's pack-in games.
• REVIEW: Night Creatures scores 3/5 in GamePro. How? We may never know the answer to this question. The review is pretty thin, but it correctly identifies the game's weaknesses…which leads me to ask: How mediocre does a game have to be to earn a 2/5 at GamePro?
• REVIEW: Addams Family earns 4/5 in GamePro. This is a surprisingly positive review for Addams Family (developed by ICOM Simulations). If you are curious, you might be interested in The Making of the Addams Family, a behind-the-scenes look at ICOM's studio from TurboPlay #9 (October/November 1991).
• ICOM developing Beyond Shadowgate for TurboDuo! As you may know, this sequel to Shadowgate is exclusive to the TurboDuo. However, did you know that ICOM Simulations also intended to release a PC CD-ROM version of Beyond Shadowgate, but it was never released? The Duo got the game in 1993, the same year that ICOM Simulations was acquired by Viacom, which may or may not have affected plans to release the PC CD-ROM version.
As folks snatched the latest issue of GamePro from the newsstands, TurboPlay #11 (Februrary/March 1992) arrived in mailboxes across North America. A nice piece of original artwork from ICOM's Shapeshifter is featured on the cover. Apparently, ICOM was the busiest third-party developer for TG-16 during this period. Well, actually, ICOM Simulations was one of the only third-party developers in North America for the beleaguered TG-16.
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