At the time, SNK’s Neo Geo was considered to be the luxury brand of consoles as it was able to convert most of SNK’s arcade machine titles into a format that can be played at home. However, what separated the Neo Geo from its competitors was that the console was actually the arcade machine but in a condensed form which meant that games played exactly the same as they would on a full-sized arcade machine. Other similar consoles would have offered a smaller version of the game with lower graphics which made the Neo Geo very unique.
The company Shin Nihon Kikaku, or known as SNK, was founded in 1978 by Eikichi Kawasaki with the purpose of creating and publishing video games. After several successful publications, SNK decided to branch out and in order to take a share of the home console systems market. At the time, Capcom had launched its own hardware called the CPS and this further prompted SNK to create a brand new system. As a result, the company developed an arcade system along with a ‘home’ version called the Neo Geo, which was released in 1990.
SNK released the Neo Geo MVS arcade machine in January 1990 and it wasn’t until spring that the Neo Geo AES home console was released. Those that were in the US and Europe had to wait until the end of the year before the arcade machines and home consoles made its way across.
The Neo Geo was a very unique console as it offered arcade machine capabilities but within a small form factor that can be enjoyed at home. Due to this, SNK priced the console at a very high premium which is why it’s considered to be the Rolls-Royce of consoles at the time. The system cost around $600 and the individual games were around $200. Back then, if you wanted to buy the Neo Geo with one game, it would have cost a month’s pay check. This meant that they could not compete with the other affordable consoles on the market such as the Super NES and the Sega Genesis.
However, although they could not compete with other consoles in terms of pricing, they did compete by offering very impressive performance and visual fidelity. It was considered to be one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful gaming console that you can get at home. It wasn’t until 1993, three years later, until the Neo Geo was technically outperformed by another console.
Neo Geo’s game library was certainly very impressive in terms of quality and even the very first few games that were released were nothing less than exceptional. The game cartridges themselves offered incredible capabilities as even the first games had storage capacities of over 100MB which was very impressive at the time.
Due to the capabilities of the system, games were able to pack colourful graphics, high-quality audio, and realistic sound effects which was something that was very unique at the time. SNK was very popular for their fighting games and the console birthed a variety of classic titles that are still played today, such as Metal Slug and Sengoku.
The MVS arcade machine also offered multiple games on the same cabinet which meant that players can experience different titles on the same machine which made it a huge success. SNK allowed third-party developers to make games for their system but they were all co-published with SNK. In total, they had 158 officially released games on the Neo Geo.
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