The PC Engine Shuttle was released in 1989 for around 18,000yen, thus making it a cheaper alternative to the original PC Engine which was closer to 24,000yen at the time.
Coming before the Core Grafx, the Shuttle was the only stand alone PC Engine to have an AV output, but due to the Shuttle having a different expansion slot to the original PC Engine, it could not use the CD add-on. Needless to say, it didn’t really take off (bad joke intended).
Who cares if NEC was 30 years too late to cash in on that whole ‘man on the moon’ thing, the PC Engine Shuttle still kicks arse in my opinion!
As the Shuttle did not have a standard expansion slot at the rear of the unit, there was no way to store save game data using the available add-ons for the regular PC Engine. NEC did release a memory backup unit only for the Shuttle (pictured bellow), but these are quite rare to come across unfortunately. If you want to store game saves they are a necessity, so keep that in mind when thinking of your PC Engine budget.
Although the Shuttle was a complete failure in the market place, it is quite sort after today by most PCE collectors. If you have the PC Engine Shuttle with the memory backup, original controller (not pictured with mine), and box, they can command quite a hefty sum of money – no where near what an LT would bring in of course, but too expensive for most casual buyers.
HuCards (the credit card sized game cartridges) would slot into the front of the unit just the same as the other PC Engines, but of course this one has a little window. Does this window help protect anything, or make the machine perform any better? Nope is the long answer for that.
Definitely the PC Engine Shuttle is worth having, but I would say if your plan is to have only one PC Engine unit, you might want to look at something else – specially if you can’t find the memory backup unit, or you feel that you might want to play PC Engine CDs at some point.
I finally found myself a Shuttle controller! I had to buy a heap of other gear with it, but it was well worth it.