Johnny Turbo is a superhero character created to advertise the Turbo Duo, a hybrid of the Turbografx-16 console and its add-on, the TurboGrafx CD, in North America. The character was conceived by Turbo Technologies Inc. (a venture of NEC and Hudson Soft) as a mascot of the console.
Previously, NEC used Bonk (who debuted in the game Bonk's Adventure) as the TG-16's original mascot. Later, continuing this theme, TTi would adopt Air Zonk (a cyborg-Bonk who starred in horizontal shooters Air Zonk and Super Air Zonk) as the mascot for TurboDuo. Air Zonk was featured on the TurboDuo console packaging, appeared in countless advertisements, all brochures and catalogs, trade show appearances (i.e. the Consumer Electronics Show), etc., until he was eventually phased out in favor of Johnny Turbo.
Unlike Bonk or Zonk, Johnny Turbo never starred in any games. Instead, his only appearances were in three comic book-like advertisements published in gaming magazines of the day, such as Video Games & Computer Entertainment and Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Johnny Turbo and his partner Tony were pitted against monsters or androids from a company called "FEKA" (a thinly veiled parody of Sega), which, in the comics, mislead children into wasting their money by claiming that its CD system could work by itself. In reality, Sega never made such a claim with their real-life console, which was always marketed as an add-on to the Mega Drive/Genesis. Ironically, NEC itself had previously sold the TurboGrafx CD add-on, which, like the Mega CD/Sega CD, could not function alone. The advertising campaign failed; in 1992, when the comics appeared, the TurboDuo system, competing against the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, was already a distant third in the market.
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