In the early 1990s while the PC Engine was still successful, NEC and Hudson Soft R&D were already at work on the successor of our beloved 8/16-bit machine. In May 1992 Hudson Soft shared with the world that they were indeed working on a new platform, with a new architecture based on a 32-bit CPU and 5 co-processors, the project name was Tetsujin or Iron Man.
The news took the press and developers by surprise as the PCE was doing great in Japan, the SNES and the MEGA-CD had just came out fairly recently.
A prototype was presented to the press in the form of a gigantic development board with a regular Coregrafx pad acting as the controller. Several demos were given to developers with a view to entice them to make games for the new platform. Some of the Tetsujin demos were quite impressive for the time, the most notable one was a morphing demonstration that displayed several head shots in sequence in realtime using morphing effects all in what they called at the time high resolution 😉
The prototype was also capable of displaying 3D graphics, a short demonstration showing a strangely familiar spaceship flying other buildings was shown. Funnily enough the PC-FXGA 3D chip, the HuC6273 seems to have capabilities on par with the demonstration. Check the screenshots and videos of the PC-FXGA games to judge for yourself.
The response from the developers was far from positive for several reasons:
a. The Supergrafx’s recent demise didn’t give them the confidence that Nec & Hudson were ready to support a new system;
b. Developers were still happy with the PC Engine’s growth, installed based and regular enhancements made to it.
NEC as a result shelved the project and focused back on enhancing the PC Engine.
Then came 1993 with the release of the 3DO, the announcement of the Saturn and Playstation all coming with 3D capabilities. NEC and Hudson were now behind and decided to release their new console the PC-FX based on the Tetsujin architecture which was now a little dated.
The PC-FX ended up being slightly underpowered compared to the competition and 3D less. NEC and Hudson Soft positioned the machine as a powerhouse for Full Motion Video (which it was) and focused software releases FMV games and several animes franchises but as we know it failed to attract buyers and subsequently 3rd party developers. Bizarrely while announced with the machine games like Kuma Soldier were vetoed by NEC. Kuma Soldier became Ginja Fukei Densetsu Sapphire on the PC Engine (see here) and the rest as they say is history…
There were rumours of a 3D adapter to be released but it never materialised, well sort of. The PC-FXGA was released as an enthusiast developer and it came with the intended 3D Chip for the PC-FX the HuC6273.
In 1996 NEC released GMAKER/+ which is a full blown Software Development Kit making possible for enthusiast and/or professionals to develop PC-FX/GA games, here is the official statement from NEC at the time:
“During fiscal year 1996, NEC made further progress in the development of multimedia products…
NEC introduced the GMAKER STARTER KIT software, which, when used with the PC-FXGA game accelerator board, enables the development of software for the PC-FX, NEC’s 32-bit video game unit. Providing all the technology and information necessary for anyone with a PC to develop their own software, the kit has opened up to individuals an area previously limited to specialist software houses.”