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Neo Geo Bios: Discovering the Best Games for Neo Geo

Japanese ad for the Neo Geo arcade MVS system


Discovering the Neo Geo was a hard, if not impossible task growing up in the UK during the nineties. If you asked me to describe the best games for Neo Geo you may as well have been speaking a distant, forgotten language. In a world before the internet, news on consoles and gaming was drip fed to you in a confusing and very convoluted manner.

Magazines aside, one of the most accessible ways to glean your gaming information was via television. We had some great gaming shows, such as Gamesmaster, Bits and Games World. Sometimes on these shows something would catch the eye and then vanish never to be seen again. It was in one of these moments that I first heard tell of the Neo Geo.

Neo Geo ad in English featuring a hungry attack dog
Neo Geo ad in English

The sell was thus: The Neo Geo is an arcade machine for your home. You plug it in and play all the top games you have spent money on in your local arcade. Cue a video montage featuring the best games for Neo Geo; Metal Slug, Bubble Bobble, Fatal Fury and more. The segment ended and for me, apart from the odd advert or Neo Geo bios in the back of a gaming magazine, that was the end of the Neo Geo.

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That was until the last few years when a resurgence in retro and vintage gaming began. Slowly, I kept seeing logo’s for SNK and MVS in articles alongside talk of the Neo Geo. What was this mysterious console that I had long ago assumed a failure? And so I set about discovering the Neo Geo and what it had to offer.

What was the Neo Geo?

Shin Nihon Kikaku (SNK) roughly translates from Japanese as “New Japan Project” and in the nineties, the SNK corporation was a major supplier of arcade hardware. Their Multi Video System (MVS) allowed arcade owners to run multiple game cartridges in one arcade cabinet. The main business model for the MVS was that it would be rented to owners. As such, the MVS quickly became one of the main operating systems for arcades in Japan.

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Selection of Neo Geo arcade cabinets

The success of the rental method soon garnered interest from hardcore gamers and in 1991 the system was released in Japan and North America to consumers. Anyone with a full wallet and a thirst for bringing the arcade to their living room could now do so. For a heavy price.

Front covers of a list of Neo Geo games
Neo Geo games list

Given its full title, the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System was a hefty $600 plus with some games costing in excess of $300. This priced it out of the market for the casual buyer but the Neo Geo gained a cult following due to its library of exceptional games and its arcade feel. Software was manufactured all the way up until 2004 with console production ceasing in 1997. The brand was discontinued in 2004.

Neo Geo home console with joypad
Neo Geo home console

Why is the Neo Geo so popular?

So why are people just discovering the Neo Geo Bios and catalogue? Why are people not reminiscing over the Turbographx or the Phillips CD-I? Simply because the games produced by SNK were phenomenal. In writing this article, I have been working through the back catalogue and despite the odd throwaway you would expect with any console, the Neo Geo cache of games is spectacular. The console provides so many addictive, highly playable games with interesting characters and plot lines you can not but help but be hooked. Even with Metal Slug, Final Fight and the heavy hitters out of the equation you can still discover the Neo Geo unplayed gems like Temco World Soccer and SNK vs Capcom. Technology is allowing games that were once priced out of the market to be played by a new generation.

Metal slug gameplay screen
Metal Slug

But that is far from the end. SNK returned with the Neo Geo X handheld console in 2012 and have not sat idle. They have of course done what any respectable gaming company would do and begun releasing mini versions of their consoles. However, with SNK it seems like they are giving consumers more than just a rehashed version of the old classics. Samurai Shodown has been rebuilt for the Playstation 4 with a complex sword fighting system that has won heartfelt praise from old and new fans alike.

The Neo Geo has returned and SNK is here to stay.

Neo Geo Bios References and further reading.

The Nostalgia Nerds Retro Tech – Ilex Press – By Peter Leigh





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