NEC PC Engine Pachinko Controller

Gambling is the fastest way to hell! Gamble with the lives of your children, the money you earn, or even the marbles you cherished back in your childhood – yes, I believe many of you may be that old – and you will be going to hell faster than the rest of us clean living folk.

So what do you do if you want gambling without all that eternal damnation stuff? NEC has the answer for you – the NEC PC Engine Pachinko controller set. 🙂


Crap, I just realised that some of you may not actually know what Pachinko is. Pachinko is the Japanese version of slot machines, but instead of watching a graphical representation of wheels rotating around, you get to watch real metal balls fall over real metal pins. Hmmm, that may not still give you an accurate picture of what Pachinko is… Google is your friend if you want more info. 😉

Anyway, as I was saying, you are going to hell! Just kidding (probably)…. This particular set comes with everything you need to get your fix. You have the controller to give you an authentic Pachinko feel, and also a CD-ROM2 game disk. By the way, I am not sure if the game disk I have pictured with mine is the original that came with the set, as I bought that separately.


The controller itself is everything you’d expect from NEC. It’s robust and feels well made.


Another option for those who need a Pachinko fix, but don’t have a CD-ROM2 (or similar CD PCE system) can buy the HuCard version of the game. Being a hater of Pachinko (yes, I’m going to heaven) I have not given these two an A/B comparison, but often with HuCards they are either completely separate games, or simply cut down versions of the same thing. I am not sure if this particular HuCard is simply a cut down version of the CD-ROM2 game, or something completely different.


As I mentioned above, I’m not a fan of Pachinko, but I am a fan of NEC/PCE and that’s why this particular set is in my hoard. 🙂

NEC PC Engine CD-ROM2 Interface Unit – The Suitcase Bomb

A very capable gaming machine that comes in a handsome go anywhere carry case? No, surely it can’t be true I hear you say. Well it is, but just make sure you don’t want to fit controllers, cables, or games in the same case. 🙂

The NEC PC Engine Interface Unit CD-ROM2.


The PC Engine’s Interface unit is NEC’s answer to the revolutionary new media making it’s way into the market – CDs. Although being released before Sega’s MegaCD, there are parallels in the way that the unit needs the original base console to function. One thing that this unit has that the MegaCD doesn’t is the fact that it can be used with a single adapter – Sega probably should have looked at that… The unit can work as a stand alone audio CD player, however if you’d like to play games then you need the console, and the corresponding system card – more on this later.


  • Release – 1988
  • Format – CD, although it needs system HuCards to run
  • Output – AV
  • Drive speed – Single
  • Price then – 57,800yen (thanks Frank)
  • Price now – $40 to $250


As mentioned above the CD-ROM2 unit needs system card mounted in the PC Engine console to run CD based games. There were many games released for the system that actually required different system cards to run them. Buy a Super-CDROM2 game and you’d need the corresponding system card to actually play it. It was only later that all in one systems were released.



One great advantage in buying the CD-ROM2 interface unit (other than being the envy of all of your friends who don’t have the cool carry case) was the fact that your previously limited PC Engine console could now output on regular AV instead of having to rely on RF. Of course being able to play CD based games was an extra bonus too. 😀



There is one important thing to look out for when buying. Due to the poor quality plastic used for one of the cogs inside the CD unit itself, you don’t see many around that are indeed still fully functional. This particular part becomes very brittle, and pretty much falls to bits over time. Not easy to repair them either as you need to have the exact same sized cog.

All up, if you are planning to play CD based games on a regular basis I would not recommend getting one of these CDROM2 Interface units to do it. You’d be better off going for one of the Duo systems, or one of the other CD-based add-ons for the PC Engine. Still, the cool carry case still turns heads when I walk down the street with it – of course the faces on those turned heads seem to be laughing, but I know they’re laughing as a reaction to jealousy. 😀

PC Engine CoreGrafx CoreGrafx 2 – The Threesome

I didn’t know anything about these machines when I was living back home, and honestly even after moving to Japan I still had no idea what they were. It was only when talking with some of the crazy hoarders over at AussieArcade (I’m looking at you here Frank) did I find out that these almost pocket sized little gaming machines kick serious arse! Ever since then they have been a serious obsession of mine.

So what are they? Basically the PCE, CG, and CGII are 16bit consoles with an 8bit processors. Yep, you read that right. This little beast was a collaboration between HudsonSoft and NEC and it featured a MOS Technology 65SC02 8bit processor, a 16bit GPU (hence the advertised 16bit) and also a colour encoder chip.

The three models I am talking about here play HuCards only (HuCards being the small credit card sized game cartridges).


The PC Engine:
The first console released by NEC in 1987 had a very successful run in Japan. This unit supported RF output only, but an add-on came later to allow AV output.

  • Release – 1987
  • Price then – 19,000yen approx
  • Price now – from $10 to $120
  • Output – RF
  • Format – Hucards


The CoreGrafx:
The next NEC console to fit this form factor was the CoreGrafx being released in 1989. The main difference between the CoreGrafx and the original PC Engine (other than the new colour and blue logo) was the inclusion of AV output as standard.

  • Release – 1989
  • Price then – 19,000yen approx
  • Price now – from $50 to $120
  • Output – AV
  • Format – Hucards


The CoreGrafxII:
The third and final NEC console that fits with the design of the original PC Engine was the CoreGrafxII. Just how it differs internally I have no idea…. If you guys have any details on that please feel free to post. This particular iteration was released in 1991.

  • Release – 1991
  • Price then – 19,000yen approx
  • Price now – from $50 to $120
  • Output – AV
  • Format – Hucards


The controllers are quite comfortable to use, and having the optional turbo switches for the later models is a nice touch. I have had many of these pass through my hands, and I have never had any that don’t work.


I for one absolutely love these little machines for the gaming fun they provide. There are so many games that fall into the quirky ‘only in Japan’ category (some of which I will give reviews on in the future) and owning one, or two, or three is a no-brainer for any gamer. 🙂

1 2