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|Product type||Video game console
Handheld game console
|Registered as a trademark in||Japan (1990–2001)|
Neo Geo (ネオジオ?) is a family of video game hardware developed by SNK. The brand originated in 1990 with the release of an arcade system, the Neo Geo MVS and its home console counterpart, the Neo Geo AES. Both the arcade system and console were powerful for the time and the AES allowed for perfect ports of games released for the MVS. However, the high price point for both the console and its games prevented it from directly competing with its contemporaries, the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and Super NES (Super Famicom).
Years later, SNK would release the Neo Geo CD, a more cost effective console with games released on compact discs. The console was met with limited success, due in part to its slow CD-ROM drive. In an attempt to compete with increasingly popular 3D games, SNK released the Hyper Neo Geo 64 arcade system in 1997 as the successor to its aging MVS. The system did not fare well and only a few games were released for it. A planned home console based on the hardware was never released. SNK later extended the brand by releasing two handheld consoles, the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color, which briefly competed with Nintendo's Game Boy. Soon after their release, SNK encountered various legal and financial issues and the Neo Geo brand was officially discontinued in 2004.
Despite the failure of later Neo Geo hardware, games for the original MVS and AES were well received. The system spawned several long-running series, including The King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown. Later releases like the Metal Slug games ensured that the hardware had a long lifespan. Homebrew video games for the system have also been released and the AES system along with its games are popular among collectors, with many AES items still fetching high prices at auction. In December 2012, SNK Playmore released a handheld console based on the original AES, the Neo Geo X.
Neo Geo MVS and AES
SNK's first two products using the Neo Geo name were an arcade system called the Neo Geo Multi Video System (MVS) and a companion console called the Advanced Entertainment System (AES), both released in 1990. The MVS offered arcade operators the ability to put up to six different arcade games into a single cabinet, a key economic consideration for operators with limited floorspace. It comes in many different cabinets but basically consists of an add on board that can be linked to a standard JAMMA system.
The Advanced Entertainment System (AES), originally known just as the Neo Geo, was the first video game console in the family. The hardware featured comparatively colourful 2D graphics. The system was marketed as 24-bit, though it was technically a 16 bit system accompanied by an 8-bit Zilog Z80 as coprocessor. The coprocessor was generally used for sound processing.
Initially, the home system was only available for rent to commercial establishments, such as hotel chains, bars and restaurants, and other venues. When customer response indicated that some gamers were willing to buy a $650 console, SNK expanded sales and marketing into the home console market. The Neo Geo console was officially launched on 31 January 1990 in Osaka, Japan. Compared to the other 16-bit consoles of the time, Neo Geo's graphics and sound were vastly superior. This was because the AES was identical to its arcade counterpart, the MVS, so arcade games released for the home market were perfect ports. Although its high price tag kept it out of the mainstream gaming market, a strong game lineup contributed to the cult status of the Neo Geo, enabling it to outlast the more popular Super Nintendo and the Mega Drive.
Neo Geo CD
The Neo Geo CD, released in 1994, was initially an upgrade from the original AES. This console uses CDs instead of ROM cartridges like the AES. The unit's (approximately) 1X CD-ROM drive was slow, making loading times very long with the system loading up to 56 Mbit of data between loads. Neo Geo CD game prices were low at $50, in contrast to Neo Geo AES game cartridges which cost as much as $300. The system could also play Audio CDs. All three versions of the system have no region-lock.
The Neo Geo CD was bundled with a control pad instead of a joystick like the AES. However, the original AES joystick could be used with all 3 Neo Geo CD models, instead of the included control pads.
Hyper Neo Geo 64
The Hyper Neo Geo 64 was SNK's second and last arcade system board in the Neo Geo family, released in 1997. The Hyper Neo Geo 64 was conceived to usher SNK into the 3D era as well as to provide the hardware basis for a home system that would replace their aging Neo Geo AES, one that SNK hoped would be capable of competing with fifth generation video game consoles.
Although details regarding the planned home system are sketchy, it is believed that like the AES machine, much of the hardware from the Hyper Neo Geo 64 arcade platform would also have been present in the home system, meaning gameplay would be identical or near-identical whether a given game was played at home or in the arcade. It is unknown what media the home system would have used, as cartridges had become expensive and obsolete, but offered up to around 1 gigabyte of storage space, where CDs were cheaper to produce, but were limited to 750 megabytes of capacity and may not have been big enough to hold the game data.
In 1999, the Hyper Neo Geo 64 was discontinued, with only seven games released for it in two years.
The Neo Geo Pocket was SNK's first handheld in the Neo Geo family. Featuring a monochrome display, it was originally released in late 1998 exclusively within the Japan and Hong Kong market. Lower than expected sales resulted in its discontinuation in 1999, whereupon it was immediately succeeded by the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which had a color screen.
The Pocket Color was the last console of the Neo Geo family. This time it was also released in the North American and European markets. About two million units were sold worldwide. The system was discontinued in 2000 in Europe and North America but continued to sell in Japan until 2001.
In December 2012, Tommo released a new Neo Geo handheld in North America and Europe, licensed by SNK Playmore. It is an open-source-based handheld like the Dingoo, but closed to emulate Neo Geo games, with 20 built-in games, called the Neo Geo X.
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- Neo-Geo Museum: Official website featuring all releases.
- NeoGeoDb.com: A complete database about Neo Geo games, hardware.
- NeoGeoSoft.com: A complete software and artwork resource for the Neo Geo.