Retro Game Consoles – Neo Geo


Neo Geo
1990-2004

In 1990, SNK made a gamble in releasing the Neo Geo game console at a price around US$650. Moreover, most of the games cost close to US$200.00 each, and came with either NAM-1975 or Baseball Stars Professional. Other game cartridges came at a cost as high as $200 apiece. These cartridges played the exact same software as it’s MVS counterpart, but were quite expensive due to the game’ high megabit count.

Neo Geo Retail Box

Above: Neo Geo Retail Box

Keep in mind, this was 1990 and $650 could buy an entire computer system. It was not until the Playstation 3 that console cost this much again. Granted, the graphics and sound were incredible and literally brought arcade quality gaming to the home. However, as I have been corrected, the market for this game machine was not the home market but for the home rental market which was exploding at the time. Thanks to Marty Goldberg!

However, SNK based this home system off the Arcade system. While each looked different in size, the insides were the same. Both systems had a Motorola 68000 and Z80 processors. Porting games from one system to the other was simple. But SNk did not promote the Neo Geo much, feeling that they had enough of a presence in the arcade.

Neo Geo game console

Above: Neo Geo game console

In fact, the popularity of Street Fighter, Fatal Fury and the Art of Fighting did boost sales of the units. Still, the arcade was losing its influence as the place for top new games.

While in production for 14-years, it never sold more than one million units. SNK stopped producing games for the unit in 2004.

False Marketing

At first SNK marketed the Neo Geo falsely by calling it a “24-Bit System” (due to its combination of a 16-bit and 8-bit processor). After the initial advertising campaign, SNK decided not to advertise their home system anymore, since games could be seen in nearly every arcade (and kind of advertised themselves).

SNK’s gamble of entering the arcade / home game markets eventually paid off. In 1992, an game called Street Fighter 2 brought gamers back to the arcades. SNK took advantage of this by releasing similar arcade games such as Fatal Fury, and Art of Fighting. The games were quite successful, and many more were spawned. Third Party developers such as Data East began also producing titles for the Neo Geo AES / MVS.

SNK also created an innovative accessory that would become quite popular later. The Neo Geo ‘memory card’ could hold 19-27 save game positions, and worked on both the home and arcade systems. So a gamer could save their place in the arcade and take it home, and vice versa.

Phenomenal Game Machine

The Neo Geo was a phenomenal machine, but the high price tag catered to the hardcore arcade lovers only. Nonetheless it was an amazing machine that stood the test of time. The MVS alone managed to last over eight years in the demanding arcade environment, and its hardware has out-lived every other arcade hardware. Walk into any arcade, and you’re bound to see a Neo Geo MVS.

Neo Geo Game Console

Above: Neo Geo Game Console