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The Turbografx-16, a personal console favorite of mine has seen a recent resurgence of mass popularity as well as a ridicules and dramatic increase in the value of its games. This in turn has also lead to a renewed interest in importing from its Japanese version the PC Engine. Turbografx and PC Engine games came in two basic flavors, Hucard and CD. Hucards acted as standard carts but looked more like credit cards with game data on ROMS while CD games came on…well…CD ROM’s. You also had several options for acquiring a CD attachment but it seems the most popular and one of the more expensive is the “all-in-one” units known as the Turbo Duo in North America. Japan saw three versions of this all-in-one system called the PCE Duo, Duo-R and Duo-RX. I’m not going to go over all the various versions of consoles for the PCE family but I do want to show an import unit I acquired that seems to be at once very common in Japan but in my experience not a method many importers seem to take. this option would be the IFU-30 unit or the “briefcase” setup as its known. Keep in mind the CD units for both Japanese and American consoles are region free so you can play CD games from any region on any machine with the correct RAM card (I won’t go into that in this article) but also keep in mind the Hucards ARE NOT and you will require a region mod, adaptor or Everdrive to play US card games on a Japanese Hucard based console.

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The IFU-30 unit is basically an interface that allowed buyers of a PC Engine, Core Grafx or Core Grafx II to add a CD-ROM unit. the IFU-30 interface could be bought as a stand alone or in packages that included the CD-ROM add-on. It was sometimes referred to as “the briefcase unit” because it came with a protective cover as well as a built in carrying handle for easy transport to perhaps a friends house for some gaming. Remember this was before the internet and online gaming when you both had to actually be physically in the room to play a game together.

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There are two bays in the IFU-30, one for your Hucard system (PC Engine ect..) and the other for the CD add-on. one really nice thing about the IFU-30 is it added composite and stereo A/V options for the PC Engine which alone only could output RF. I have a later Core Grafx attached to my IFU-30 which could output composite but it is a really nice touch for those that had an original PC Engine. Another nice thing is you only need one power supply that attached to the IFU to power both the Hucard system and the CD-ROM unit so you don’t have to worry about multiple power supplies. This also is the case with the all in one turbo duo but I wanted to point it out since systems like the Sega CD which also add a CD to a main cart based console require an extra power supply.

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The IFU can also be modded to allow the output of S-video, Component and RGB and in turn allow any system attached to it to also output these signals. I had mine modified to output RGB which looks absolutely stunning on a PVM monitor.

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In my opinion there are a couple benefits to the “briefcase” route over importing an all-in-one system like a duo-R or such.

  1. Initial cost – unlike a duo system you don’t have to pay the full price up front which can be about $300 for such systems give or take. With a “briefcase” setup you can take your time and buy the three individual parts over time and look for deals on each separate piece. PC Engines and Core Grafx can be found for fairly cheap if your patient and frequent classic game forums and sometimes can be had for under $50. Once you have one of these you can wet your teeth on import Hucard games and pick up an IFU-30 and CD-ROM attachment (both of which individually tend to be under $100 at the writing of this article) at your leisure and as your budget allows
  2. Repairs and break downs – with something like the duo if either the CD drive or card slot (or both) stop functioning and you cannot make repairs yourself you need to send the entire unit off to be fixed. Compare this with the IFU-30 based setup where you can simply detach the defective part and either easily and comparatively cheaply replace it or send it off for repair for cheaper. If your CD unit breaks which is more likely then the card slot you can simply detach the CD unit to ship for repair while still enjoying your Hucard based games. A catastrophic failure of a duo motherboard leads to the possible death of an entire expensive console while if the IFU-30 becomes unrepairable it can be replaced sub $100.

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I’m not entirely sure why the IFU-30 route seems to be less popular among importers despite its potential benefits. There is a “cool” factor with the “all-in-one” duo machines of which I do own two but on the flip side there’s also a something really neat and unique about an IFU-30 based setup. If you think you may be interested in importing don’t count this setup out.

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3 Comments

  1. Let me tell you this: this blog is simply WONDERFUL!!! It will be my key-figure regarding computer and consolle hardware. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoy reading it. I hope to have plenty more good stuff to come.

      • I hope too! I lack a bit on the hardware, but I can improve my knowloedge through your posts!


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