The fourth generation of gaming systems

Article

July 5, 2022

In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation (most often referred to as the 16-bit era) of video game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of the NEC Home Electronics PC Engine (known as the TurboGrafx-16 in North America). This generation has seen strong console wars. Although NEC released the first console of the fourth generation, and was second to the Super Famicom in Japan, sales of this era were largely dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super Famicom in Japan) and the Sega Mega Drive (called Genesis in North America). Nintendo was able to capitalize on its previous success in the third generation and managed to capture the largest share of the global market in the fourth generation as well. Sega was extremely successful in this generation and started a new franchise, Sonic The Hedgehog, to compete with Nintendo's Mario series. Several other companies released consoles of this generation, but none were widely successful. However, some other companies have begun to notice the budding video game industry and have begun making plans to release consoles themselves in the future. This generation ended with the cancellation of the Neo Geo in 2004. The fourth generation also has differences from the past in that: More powerful 16-bit microprocessors More buttons in the controller (from 3 to 8 buttons) Complex parallax scrolling, multi-layered tilemap backgrounds with pseudo-3D zoom and rotation Large sprites (up to 64 × 64 or 16 × 512 pixels), 80-380 sprites on screen, scalable on the fly, with pseudo-3D zoom and rotation Complex color, from 64 to 4096 colors on the screen, from a palette of 512 (9-bit) to 65536 (16-bit) colors Flat shaded 3D polygonal graphics CD-ROM support with add-ons, allowing more storage space and full motion video playback Stereo audio, multi-channel and digital audio playback (PCM, ADPCM, streaming CD-DA audio) Advanced music synthesis (FM synthesis and sample-based "table" synthesis)

Gaming consoles

PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16

The PC Engine was a collaboration between Hudson Soft and NEC, and was released in Japan on October 30, 1987, in North America in August 1989 as the TurboGrafx-16. The TurboGrafx-16 was initially quite successful in Japan, thanks in part to the titles available on the then-new C