There were tons of different PC Engine (aka TurboGrafx) consoles, but this is one of the handier ones, being able to play everything except SuperGrafx games (although you need to get an "Arcade Card Duo" if you want to play any of the Arcade games (they aren't really that worth it, though). Oh, well, it also can't play US HuCard games, unless you get an adapter thingy. US CD-ROM games it can do just fine, though. There's a HuCard slot on the left, and a Super CD-ROM drive on the right. Pretty slick, really, and the curved white system looks pretty sleek, even if it isn't stackable.
PC Engines had built-in memory, and this one is no exception: it can hold saves for uh a couple dozen games. Apparently, as long as you power it on at least once every few months, the saves will stay there indefinitely. You can't really transfer them or back them up, unless maybe you get one of those third-party memory doohickies, but oh well.
HuCards are kind of like thick credit-card sized things. Very neat, and cartridge-like right down to the no-load-times. The CD-ROM-based games can of course store much more data, but the Duo was processor and memory-limited enough that it couldn't really make much use of this storage space, aside from using excellent Redbook audio music tracks in the games. As a nice side effect, this means that you can listen to many of the soundtracks simply by sticking the game CD-ROM in your CD player.
The big power light in top, above the DUO-R logo, only comes on if you're running a CD-ROM game. This freaks me out every once in a while when I switch the system on with a HuCard game in there (if you have both a HuCard game and a CD-ROM game in, the HuCard game is loaded) and forget that I need to switch my A/V box over to the Duo's setting, because I tend to think that if the light isn't on, the system is broken. Silly me! Although I have to say that it is weird how, if you power up with no HuCard game and a CD-ROM in the system, you have to push Start to get the game to load. And if you want to get to the memory save management screen you push some other button, but I forget which one that is at the moment. Maybe Select.
The Duo has only one controller port, which is annoying, particularly because the official five-port multitap just dangles down limply and feels like its weight is going to pull it out.
The stock pad looks like the buttons are too low to be comfortable, but it actually works quite well--I even find it more comfortable than an NES pad. The Duo pads are white and have six action buttons. Their cords are a little too short, but you can buy third-party extension cables. Curiously, the cable connections look just like computer PS/2 jacks.
The system's video output quality, through bog-standard A/V composite cables, leaves a lot to be desired, with nasty color bleeding and just weird static noise around high-contrast edges. Some folks have come up with a way to mod it to S-video, which would be nice, if I knew anyone I trusted to do that.
In action, the hardware can pump along some pretty impressive stuff, considering its age. Arcade-style vertical or horizontal shooters did particularly well on the system. You can look up the tech specs for yourself, but the PCE could pump way more colors and sprites, especially large sprites, than its great rival, the Famicom (aka NES), and it could do it without the Famicom's trademark sprite flickering. Heck, it made a nearly-believable go at Neo-Geo level with some of its Arcade Card games, but there the memory limitations hamper its ability to do large, colorful, and highly-animated sprites.
Still, it kicks ass. If you like older 2D games, particularly shooters or platformers, it's well worth checking out.
Download added: acadaptor.jpg (13844 bytes) "The Duo-R's AC adaptor."
I'm hooking my video directly into my new projector these days rather than running it through an upscan converter like I used to have to do, and it looks pretty decent--better than I remember it looking, although I still see a weird flashy pixel here or there.
As far as I know, you can use the Duo-R's native power source/plug in a US wall jack just fine; at any rate, that's what I've always done with mine--no power converter or anything--and it hasn't had a problem yet.
^ I should note that my Duo-R has just been modified with RGB video out, so it's much more crisp now than the old composite video out.
Modded by RetroFools--they also replaced the Duo-R's capacitors (which apparently can go bad and/or cause discolored bars across the screen?), and fixed the controller port, which had come loose or something and was causing the console to act as if all the controller's buttons were being pressed at once, unless you kept firm downward pressure on the controller's plug.