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Thread: Johnny Turbo and poor marketing's role in the failure of the Turbografx-16.

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    Default Johnny Turbo and poor marketing's role in the failure of the Turbografx-16.

    First off, there are usually multiple reasons for most outcomes. I do not think that marketing alone killed the Turbografx-16: there was Nintendo's monopolistic tactics that were later ruled illegal, the resulting lack of 3rd party support, the idiotic one controller only port on the system necessitating a multitap to play 2 players, and many good Japanese games never made their way across the ocean. However, I do think that a strong case can be made that the image projected by the marketing of the Turbografx-16 was severely uncool enough to dissuade prospective buyers.

    Exhibit A:



    Why? Who ever thought kids would find this "hero" appealing, much less move units? A sideways hat and sunglasses can only do so much... I cringed when I first saw this. I knew Sega and Nintendo had the TG16 on the ropes, but I hoped it would put up a fight until the end. Johnny Turbo was the white towel.

    Exhibit B:



    Perhaps if the entire video game playing demographic of the '90s were 2nd to 3rd graders, this would have been a slam dunk. The image by itself is fine. Better than fine, actually. Zonk is cool. The text is a disaster, however. Sticking the tongue out while performing surfing moves out of context is never cool, regardless of how many inches someone happens to be. This, sir, is reverse lemonade making.

    Exhibit C:

    Uhhh... I guess there was... a... hmm... Just look at it!



    What the hell, man!! Seriously! Only Johnny Turbo could make a Star Wars allusion lame. Perhaps 95% of the TG-16's lameness in the advertising is Johnny Turbos fault, and maybe Johnny T came along so late on in the 16-bit war that he was merely the wedgie-ready final nail in the already rotting corpse's coffin, but gadzooks! Any cache of cool the Turbografx might have been holding onto withered and/or died once it caught wind of Johnny boy.

    End rant.

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    IMO the Turbografx-16 just wasn't marketed enough here in the sates. And most of the games that were the best for the system stayed in Japan, and we got crud like Darkwing Duck and Talespin and TV Sports Basketball.

    The biggest reason the system flopped? The library just wasn't there IMO. Even the pack-in game, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, is junk.
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    Blasphemy, Johnny Turbo is 100 times cooler than all of us combined, haha. I love Johnny sooooo freakin' much. My Gate of Thunder review in Video Game Collector exists for practically no other purpose than to be an ode to our dear Johnny.

    As for his appearance, it was basically just an elaborate example of trolling, back before people even knew the term "troll" in that sense. Check out this link, which should be required by law to be in any topic that mentions Johnny Turbo:

    http://sardoose.rustedlogic.net/reviews/jturbo/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    Blasphemy, Johnny Turbo is 100 times cooler than all of us combined, haha. I love Johnny sooooo freakin' much. My Gate of Thunder review in Video Game Collector exists for practically no other purpose than to be an ode to our dear Johnny.

    As for his appearance, it was basically just an elaborate example of trolling, back before people even knew the term "troll" in that sense. Check out this link, which should be required by law to be in any topic that mentions Johnny Turbo:

    http://sardoose.rustedlogic.net/reviews/jturbo/
    I was unaware that Johnny Turbo had any fans. I don't like to crap on anyone's sacred cows if it can be avoided, so accept my apologies. Now that I think of it, if there had to be any fans of JT, they probably would find their way to Digital Press.

    So, just what is the appeal of Johnny Turbo to you, anyway? Is it a transference of your love of the underdog system unto a person who also was the very essence of underdog? I think that besides the aesthetic reasons I gave, his rhetoric always seemed desperate to me which compounded my dislike for his as a mascot for a sinking ship. Who knows? Perhaps I was transferring my anger over the demise of the Turbografx onto Johnny like he was an Old Testament sacrificial goat. As an act of contrition, I shall read the article you posed a link to.
    Last edited by treismac; 09-22-2011 at 09:05 PM.

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    Heh, I'm just being facetious. It was an absolutely awful marketing campaign, but that's what make it so hilariously great. Even putting the absurd imagery aside, practically every line is so brilliantly quotable.

    If you haven't already seen it, check out the link with the write-ups on each page (and the history behind the comic), and I think you'll start to understand the Johnny Turbo love.

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    ...combine the attitude of Sonic with the fatness of Mario...

    Classic.

    .


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    The public wasn't ready for anything not Nintendo when Turbo was released, and it took a little blue hedgehog stirring things up two years later to turn the tides.

    I always wanted a Turbo back in the day, but it was too expensive and my mom didn't want another game console in the house. She felt the NES and the Gameboy (also released in '89, of course), was enough.
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    I still have my Turbo from back in the day, and ever the TurboDuo i got in High School..Both still in great shape and work great..I love the Turbo and wished it did better...For the time, it shit on Nintendo in graphics and game play for a lot of titles..

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    "Why, We released Sherlock Holmes on CD almost two years ago"

    AWESOME! When I think of CD powerhouse games I think of Sherlock Holmes. Yea, it was the first CD game (I believe) on the system but they really should of just said "we made CD games two years ago" or picked the second CD game released as a reference. Sherlock Holmes just doesn't sell the system.........
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    There's more revealing information here about Johnny Turbo, and TTI's state of affairs back in the day: http://video-game-ephemera.com/041.htm

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    I think that the Turbo was fully capable of competing fairly well with the Genesis in terms of power, but a lot of the games released didn't show what it could do. There was the issue of the cover art on the games, which notoriously sucked and didn't make people want to get the system. I'm guessing that they only brought over games that had virtually no Japanese in them for convenience, if they had only licensed some better games from other publishers and some translators to rewrite the text rather than waiting for someone like Working Designs to do it, they could have really competed in the marketplace. I just got a PC Engine and I've been ordering a few random games for it from Japanese websites based solely on the cover art. Some are pretty cool looking, like Out Live (high-tech dungeon crawler in a space station) but would need translation to make any sense of it. Is translating Kanji to English so difficult that they couldn't hire a small staff to enable them to bring the best games over rather than the easiest?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccovell View Post
    There's more revealing information here about Johnny Turbo, and TTI's state of affairs back in the day: http://video-game-ephemera.com/041.htm
    Summabitch...

    This article with the other one actually makes "sense" (sorta) of the whole Johnny Turbo fiasco.

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    Hey, this is where I got my avatar and custom title from!

    Johnny Turbo was created to advertise the Duo. By the time the Duo came out, the writing was on the wall for the Turbo. It was an attempt at a relaunch, but I don't think many people expected it to be a success. Johnny Turbo was basically a big "fuck it" on the part of the marketing team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    By the time the Duo came out, the writing was on the wall for the Turbo. It was an attempt at a relaunch, but I don't think many people expected it to be a success. Johnny Turbo was basically a big "fuck it" on the part of the marketing team.
    Why not go down with guns blazing though? Johnny Turbo wasn't even a pop gun to continue with the gun metaphor. I mean, sure, they didn't stand much of a chance of resurrecting the system, but to use an inside joke to market something that doesn't have much appeal going for it anyway??? Maybe the Turbografx-16 wasn't anything special to them and they just connected the system to their jobs they disliked. To this day, I feel the Turbografx-16 was worth fighting for rather than throwing up hands in surrender. Perhaps the fact that hardly any of the worthwhile PC Engine games found their way over to the US due to laziness in not wanting to translate the text discouraged the Turbografx team to where they were like "fuck it."
    Last edited by treismac; 09-23-2011 at 10:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W View Post
    Is translating Kanji to English so difficult that they couldn't hire a small staff to enable them to bring the best games over rather than the easiest?
    Off topic but why won't Google Goggles on my Android do translation?

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    I met Johnny Turbo at this past E3, at the Videogame History Museum booth! I have his card!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W View Post
    I think that the Turbo was fully capable of competing fairly well with the Genesis in terms of power, but a lot of the games released didn't show what it could do. There was the issue of the cover art on the games, which notoriously sucked and didn't make people want to get the system. I'm guessing that they only brought over games that had virtually no Japanese in them for convenience, if they had only licensed some better games from other publishers and some translators to rewrite the text rather than waiting for someone like Working Designs to do it, they could have really competed in the marketplace. I just got a PC Engine and I've been ordering a few random games for it from Japanese websites based solely on the cover art. Some are pretty cool looking, like Out Live (high-tech dungeon crawler in a space station) but would need translation to make any sense of it. Is translating Kanji to English so difficult that they couldn't hire a small staff to enable them to bring the best games over rather than the easiest?
    There's a lot more involved in localizing a game than just translating the text. You also have to reprogram it so it displays English text without issues, modify existing code so the text fits, QA testing... and of course, actual translators charge a lot of money.

    I know romhacking makes the process look easy, but it's not.

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    I think distribution plays a role in its failure to, never once as a kid did I see a TG-16 for sale. KB toys never had it, K-Mart [which was basically Walmart in power/sales back then] never had it. I also never saw one at Sears or Jcpenny back then. It hurt the TG even more when you factor in that most of the people buying consoles at that time [usually for their kids] bought them on a spur of the moment decision, its easy to see why most people today are like "TG what? Whats that?"...It had zero distribution outside of a select few cities and buying it over the phone. And most video game players back then were young boys, really which boy was going to call up a distribution center for a TG when a NES was all the rage ?

    Sega did a great job over coming that problem, much of the blame lied with Nintendo for threatening retailers. But Sega still got its foot in the door at places that mattered back then - KB toys and K-Mart. I know K-Mart in my area back then eventually had a Kiosk setup with Sonic, that caught attention and sure enough kids at school started saying they owned one.

    Atari Jaguar is sort of in the same boat as the above, bad distribution [but it also had mostly bad games aswell so imo it was doomed from the start no matter what, unlike the TG].


    Today distribution doesn't matter nearly as much since we have the internet and online sales which side step the brick and mortar store issue altogether. But back then it was do or die if you wernt in a K-Mart.
    Last edited by Peonpiate; 09-23-2011 at 01:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W View Post
    I think that the Turbo was fully capable of competing fairly well with the Genesis in terms of power, but a lot of the games released didn't show what it could do. There was the issue of the cover art on the games, which notoriously sucked and didn't make people want to get the system. I'm guessing that they only brought over games that had virtually no Japanese in them for convenience, if they had only licensed some better games from other publishers and some translators to rewrite the text rather than waiting for someone like Working Designs to do it, they could have really competed in the marketplace. I just got a PC Engine and I've been ordering a few random games for it from Japanese websites based solely on the cover art. Some are pretty cool looking, like Out Live (high-tech dungeon crawler in a space station) but would need translation to make any sense of it. Is translating Kanji to English so difficult that they couldn't hire a small staff to enable them to bring the best games over rather than the easiest?
    But was releasing a bunch of niche titles really a way to mass market success? While you and I and some other more dedicated gamers may have loved obscure Japanese RPGs or quirky action games, I just don't think the market was there for them in the early 90s in the US. It's only been in the last ten years or so that mainstream gamers have been supporting more niche titles and part of that is just that the number of gamers has increased and so a company like Atlus or NIS or Aksys can sell 30K - 50K copies of a game and still make money.

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    Back in the day I really hated NEC's marketing methods. One evening when I was bored a few years back I messed around with the Johnny Turbo ad. I really hated that fucking ad to no end.



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