A year ago, my personal favorite of the Mini consoles launched, after a crazy delay during the beginning of COVID. While it’s a super enjoyable system that arguably has the best lineups of all of them, the system has a fatal flaw that isn’t really commonly reported, outside of small reddit threads and one star amazon reviews. And as someone who’s being super careful to avoid said flaw, I still worry about causing this to happen.
Thus, today I’m gonna explain the flaw in more detail, why it may be happening, and how to hopefully get the community to try to find a fix. It’s a secret killer that nobody seems willing to look into, but one I know has affected several of my friends and cost them a console. Ladies and gentlemen, the Turbografx 16 Mini has defective USB ports. All of them, and all variations.
You may immediately be wondering, “Wait, that’s not true, I plugged in the system and it works just fine!” But that’s the thing, it doesn’t always kick in, especially if you use a proper voltage setup for your console. Now what do I mean by that? Well, the TG Mini does not include an AC Adapter, a sadly common trend in a lot of the mini consoles lately. There is one sold separately, but generally the manual recommends plugging the USB cord into a power adapter with a certain voltage.
By technicality, all of these minis recommend a certain power voltage and power brick, but generally you don’t really hear of many issues if you end up using the wrong one. I actually have an instance of the SNES mini suffering from this, since when I got mine I tried to power it via my TV’s USB port like I did the Famicom mini, yet whenever it would boot up a game, the system would just abruptly power off. Plugging it into the official AC adapter fixed it and I was able to enjoy my console just fine.
Yet if you do that with a Turbo, Core, or PC Engine mini? Even if you switch to the correct voltage again, your USB ports will be fried and dead. That’s right, if you power up the system with a wrong voltage, it’ll just outright kill the USB ports and make the system totally unresponsive. For some bizarre reason, the TG minis do not like a bad voltage and it causes the USB ports to die out, meaning that you can’t control your games or the menu, meaning the system is effectively a brick. All because you plugged the USB cable into a TV that it didn’t like, or an AC adapter like the ones powering Raspberry Pi systems. Just one mistake, and your mini’s USB ports are toast and all your progress is effectively worthless.
That’s why I label these controller ports defective. Because every single mini will die, without exception, if plugged in wrong. The sheer amount of people complaining on amazon reviews or subreddits that their system had bad USB ports and it was a “bad batch” are evidence enough that this problem is pretty damn terrible, and one Konami should have fixed ASAP in a second batch, or prevented by including an AC Adapter in the box, even with extra cost. If the average consumer can easily brick their console by plugging it in, that’s terrible design, especially if it isn’t due to some obscure flaw, but one that should have been seen during testing.
So, how do you fix it? Unfortunately, I don’t know nor could find any sort of method, despite asking those in the modding community and going on some of these forums myself to find out what the cause of the dead USB ports was, and generally it was agreed to be due to overloading the system with voltage that ends up frying the USB controller ports, even if the system itself can still turn on. No controller will work once it’s fried. Not the 8Bitdo ones, not the ones coming with the system, not the PCE White turbo controllers, not even the non-turbo PCE controller only available in the PCE Mini. It’s just totally dead, even though the controllers will still work just as fine on a PC.
For such a great system to have a fatal flaw, yet alone one that nobody outside of small circles are managing to talk about, it’s rather sad to be honest. Thus, that’s why I’m hoping for my article to spark some sort of investigation into a possible solution to fix these fried minis: considering the TG Mini is already getting rarer and rarer due to the original batch selling out, it’s more and more risky to buy one second hand, especially not knowing if they’ve already been fried, or if you could easily fry a perfectly good one depending on your power outlet.
While it’s obvious there’s no way to really fix this without opening up the system, it does lead to a concerning matter that’ll affect the long-time sustainability of this particular mini console years down the road, and when the best advice to avoid this is to just buy the (Sold out on amazon, by the way), official Konami AC Adapter that should have been bundled with the console to begin with, or carefully inspect the voltage of each and every AC adapter you think about using it with, then that’s a very troubling problem.
Hopefully like the ORAS copies that are suddenly dying, it’ll lead to a creative engineer finding a solution to revive or reserve this issue, and make these systems able to last for years to come. Or maybe it’ll just be a fatal flaw going up alongside the RROD or dead internal batteries of some older consoles, whichever the case, I hope for some sort of change…