Believe it or not, this was only the second (and ultimately final) time that Zonk would appear on the cover of a dedicated TG-16 magazine. A few months prior, Zonk had appeared in the June/July issue of TurboPlay. But if you recall, Zonk was nameless in that issue! He was simply referred to as a "future descendent of Bonk"—a "cyborg Bonk", if you will.
EXHIBIT A: Zonk, TTi's new mascot for TurboDUO, at Summer CES '92.
EXHIBIT B: Bonk, NEC's old mascot for TurboGrafx-16.
Now, a few months later, Zonk has a proper name and PC Denjin, the PC-Engine horizontal shooter profiled back in June, is set to be released as Air Zonk in North America (a vast improvement over Bonk's Thunder Shooting, TTi's original working title, or DIE HARD's Cyber Bonk).
EXHIBIT A: The placard clearly reads Bonk's Thunder Shooting, which means that TTi did not settle on the title Air Zonk until after Summer CES '92.
EXHIBIT B: Bonk reclines as he plays Gate of Thunder on a new TurboDUO console.
Yes, a brief preview of Air Zonk (HuCARD) is is found in this issue of TurboForce, but that is not the only reason why Zonk is on the cover…
Table of Contents for TurboForce #02▲
- 01 Cover: Air Zonk (1993, HuCARD). Artist: Juli McMeekin (Zonk © Red).
- Sure, Air Zonk was previewed in this issue, but let us not forget that he was also TTi's official mascot for the TurboDuo.
- 02 Advertisement: Exile (1993, CD).
- "One warrior. One dream. One chance. The complete saga. Only for the TurboGrafx-CD."
- 03 Table of Contents for issue #2.
- "EDITOR: Marc Camron. ART DIRECTOR: Juli McMeekin. LAYOUT: Isao Yonehara. COPY EDITOR: Terry Tang."
- 04 News: Presenting the TurboDuo (October 10th. is coming)!
- "Have you been waiting for the future? Stop waiting, the future is TurboDuo."
- 05 TurboDuo: Questions & Answers.
- "Can you play Music CD's on the TurboDuo? Can you connect it to a stereo?"
- 06 TurboDuo: Bundled Software.
- "Five pack-in games will be included with the TurboDuo: Gate of Thunder 3-in-1 (SCD), Ys Book I & II (CD) plus a HuCARD title."
- 07 TurboForce News: TG-CD upgrade; PC CD-ROM.
- "Super System Card 3.0 upgrade for TG-CD owners; Intelligent Link prototype."
- 08 Preview: Ninja Spirit (HuCARD).
- 09 Preview: Air Zonk (HuCARD).
- 10 Preview: New Adventure Island (HuCARD).
- 11 Preview: Splash Lake (CD).
- 12 Preview: Lords of the Rising Sun (CD).
- 13 Preview: Cosmic Fantasy 2 (CD).
- 14 Preview: Forgotten Worlds (SCD). 14 15
- 16 Preview: Prince of Persia (CD).
- 17 Preview: Riot Zone (SCD).
- 18 Preview: Dragon Slayer: Legend of Heroes (SCD). 18 19
- 20 Preview: Shape Shifter (SCD).
- 21 Preview: Shadow of the Beast (SCD).
- 22 Preview: Loom (SCD). 22 23 24
- 25 Advertisement: DIE HARD Import Games Store.
- "When you think Turbo, Think DIE HARD. TurboDuo takes off this October…Turbo's back and better than ever with some awesome new HuCARDs and the all new TurboDuo CD-ROM. You can count on DIE HARD to provide you the ultimate in service and information on all the new Turbo products."
- 26 Special Feature: A Look at Summer CES '92. 26 27
- "Victor Ireland looks a the hottest software that's showing up for Japan's PC-Engine, sister system to the TurboGrafx-16 and DUO consoles. Take a peek at what might be imported to these shores soon: Bonanza Brothers, Genocide, Pop 'n' Magic and Rayxanber III."
- 28 Coming Attractions.
- "Check out the hot gaming action coming to a store near you in the coming months!"
- SEPTEMBER: New Adventure Island, Order of the Griffon, Soldier Blade, Cosmic Fantasy 2.
- OCTOBER: Dead Moon, Air Zonk, Ghost Manor, Exile, Shape Shifter, Prince of Persia, Shadow of the Beast.
- NOVEMBER: Hit the Ice, Chase HQ, Dragon Slayer, Loom, Forgotten Worlds.
- DECEMBER: Somer Assault, Time Cruise, Shockman, Samurai Ghost.
- A LITTLE BIT OF 1993: Magical Chase, Darkwing Duck, Legend of Hero Tonma, World Sports Competition, Bomberman '93, Buster Brothers, Camp California, Spriggan, Lords of Thunder, Dungeon Explorer II, Riot City, Dangerous Journeys.
- 29 Advertisement: Get serious. Get TurboDuo. 29 30 31
- "Are you still playing with toys? Get serious. Get TurboDuo. If you're done playing with toys, we'll send you a free 20-minute video of the new TurboDuo and our software line-up."
- 32 Advertisement: Air Zonk (HuCARD, 1992).
- "He sticks his tongue out. He gets serious hang time. And he's only 4 inches tall. Air Zonk. For TurboGrafx-16."
A NEW MASCOT FOR A NEW SYSTEM…▲
The TurboDuo launched in North America on October 10, 1992. Turbo Technologies, Inc. (TTi)—a joint venture of NEC Corporation and Hudson Soft Limited—had just recently formed on April 1, 1992, which means the newly-formed company had a mere seven months to prepare for the TurboDuo launch.
Lest we forget, Zonk was now TTi's official mascot. Bonk, bless him, had been retired along with the older TG-16 and TG-CD hardware. The TurboDuo was TTi's flagship console now, so it was only fitting that Zonk ushered in the dawn of a new era at Summer CES 1992.
Did I mention that both Bonk and Zonk made an appearance at Summer CES '92? Yes, two poor souls were dressed-up as Bonk and Zonk to greet folks.
EXHIBIT A: Zonk was featured in many of TTi's advertisements, as well as on the boxart for the TurboDUO console itself.
EXHIBIT B: Bonk, the ancient, prehistoric Neanderthal was replaced by Zonk, the futuristic, new cyborg.
TTi DEBUTS DUO AT SUMMER CES 1992…▲
Indeed, Summer CES '92 was TTi's first appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show, and TTi premiered more than fifty HuCARD, CD•ROM2 (CD) and Super CD•ROM2 (SCD) titles at their 6,000+ square-foot booth.
EXHIBIT A: Since a "TurboChip" (HuCARD) could be sold to both TG-16 and TurboDUO owners, TTi announced a healthy lineup of upcoming HuCARD titles.
EXHIBIT B: All four monitors in this photo are TurboDUO stations. The poster above the monitors explains the "Bundled Software" (pack-in games) included with TurboDUO console.
Naturally, the entire line-up of hardware was on display (TurboGrafx-16 console, TurboGrafx-CD peripheral, TurboExpress handheld, etc.), but it was the soon-to-be-released TurboDuo console that was in the limelight:
EXHIBIT A: A station of four TurboDUO consoles. EXHIBIT B: Yet another station of TurobDUO consoles. More interesting, perhaps, is what we can see in the background—a TurboExpress station and the corner of a large TurboForce Magazine poster.
70 game stations were previewing 50 new games, plus a special room was dedicated solely to Gate of Thunder, the game that would showcase the new Super CD•ROM2 format. Nice. TTi was certainly starting off with a bang. In fact, for the first time in CES history, the final two days of the show were open to the public, so even hoi polloi could enjoy the TTi booth that summer. Speaking of hoi polloi…
LOUNGE ACT: Bonk plays Gate of Thunder in the special booth with an extra-large television and surround sound speakers.
SUPER CD•ROM2 THEATER: "In addition to the more than 70 game stations, visitors were also treated to CD-ROM Theater—The Ultimate Video Game Experience. In a relaxed, comfortable setting, gamers could try their hand at Gate of Thunder, the first Super CD•ROM2 title developed specifically for the TurboDUO. The theater featured an extra-large screen and surround sound speakers."
VIEW SOURCE 1 2
I was still in high school at the time, living in New Jersey, but I would have loved to have attended this show. It was probably one of the grandest booths NEC or TTi ever created for a trade show. If I had been there, I would have seen a prototype of Intelligent Link, an item that eludes me to this very day. In fact, it wasn't even referred to as "Intelligent Link", but simply as "an adapter" for turning TurboDuo into a CD-ROM drive for personal computers (refer to the next two issues of TurboForce for pictures and further details on Intelligent Link).
WORKING DESIGNS: READ THE FINE PRINT…▲
Working Designs often put little messages in their print ads. The advertisement for Exile in this issue is no exception. Actually, let me clarify: Working Designs' first three releases—Parasol Stars, Cadash and Cosmic Fantasy 2—did not contain any hidden messages. However, beginning with Exile, their advertisements began to contain bonus messages. Hidden amongst the usual copyright information at the bottom of the page are brief messages that read…
EXILE: "Oh, and did you remember to take out the garbage?" TURBOPLAY #14 (1992 August/September)
EXILE: "Have you hugged your joystick today? It asks so little, yet gives so much…" TURBOFORCE #02 (1992 September)
Little details like this helped Working Designs define itself as a unique company with an endearing personality and a sense of humor, unlike their peers. Indeed, the quirky charm of Working Designs stood in stark contrast to the countless video game publishers who exuded a faceless, bland and sterile corporate identity. Now, before you discount my thesis, let me be clear: I have no desire to exaggerate or overstate the significance of these hidden messages. I am simply suggesting that these hidden messages are a reflection of Victor Ireland—the driving force behind Working Designs—and that he left an indelible fingerprint on the company's culture and public persona.
EXILE–WICKED PHENOMENON: "Tell your friends about us, won't you?" DUOWORLD #01 (1993 July/August)
VASTEEL: "We've always wondered what kind of people took the time to read this nonsense. Now we know." DUOWORLD #01 (1993 July/August)
FUTURE ARTICLE: If I recall correctly, Working Designs continued this practice (inserting secret messages) in their Sega-CD, Saturn and PlayStation print ads. I need to look through all of Working Designs' old advertisements to find more of these "public service announcements"—it would document a slender, but revealing, thread of the company's history and culture.
TTi: A NEW HOPE…▲
"This was the first Consumer Electronics Show for Turbo Technologies, Inc. (TTi). The company is a new joint venture of the NEC Corporation and Hudson Soft Company Ltd. founded April 1, 1992."
Of all the days to start a new company, why was TTi founded on April Fool's Day? Did this reveal TTi's sense of humor, or was it a foreshadowing of things to come?
UPDATE: Thankfully, my ignorance of the business world was supplemented by someone far more knowledgable. It turns out that the truth about TTi's founding is much simpler than my sensational suppositions:
"…you asked why TTi formed on April Fool's Day of all days. The reason is that the Japanese fiscal year for most game companies ends on March 31st, so April 1st was the beginning of the new fiscal year."
Thank you, comrade, for providing this clarificaiton! Now, if only you would correct the wild speculations that plague my other articles…
Ultimately, TTi made a genuine effort to release a decent number of titles and increase the breadth of the Turbo library. Of the 32 games announced in the Coming Attractions section of this issue, all but two would eventually be released in North America: Spriggan (a wonderful vertical shooter by Naxat that Working Designs was hoping to localize and publish themselves) and the enigmatic Dangerous Journeys (never released). Very little is known about Dangerous Journeys, but yes, it was a game based on the then-new role playing system created by Gary Gygax, Mr. D&D himself. I really want to find out more about this game, and the extent to which Mr. Gygax was involved with it.
WORKING DESIGNS: It is not known if Working Designs secured the rights to publish Spriggan (CD), and/or if they started the localization process.
FATE: According to Gary Gygax, TTi was not to blame for the cancellation of Dangerous Journeys (SCD).
UPDATE: Well, after a decade, I finally decided to document the sordid history of TTi's Dangerous Journeys (Super CD•ROM2). Discovering a unique, new—and barely legible—screenshot of the game in an old issue of Dengeki PC Engine inspired me to revisit some old mysteries that had been gnawing at the back of my skull.
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