Neo Geo X
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Retail availability||December 18, 2012 - October 2, 2013|
|Introductory price||$199.99 USD|
|System-on-chip used||Ingenic Semiconductor Jz4770|
|Storage||SanDisk 2GB Micro SD internal flash memory|
4.3" LCD 480 × 27216:9 or 4:3 mode
The Neo Geo X is a handheld video game console manufactured by Tommo Inc., licensed by SNK Playmore and the latest console released as part of the company's Neo Geo brand. Information about the Neo Geo X was first reported in January 2012 and the console was later confirmed in March. It was the first Neo Geo system to be released since the discontinuation of the brand in 2004 and the third Neo Geo handheld device, following the 1999 release of the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which was supported until 2001.
The system was released on December 18, 2012 as part of a bundle called the "Neo Geo X Gold Limited Edition", which includes a docking station, an arcade stick, and a bonus game card. The docking station is modeled after the original Neo Geo AES console and is used for charging the handheld as well as connecting it to a television. The arcade stick is a replica of the original Neo Geo AES arcade stick that can be used as a controller when the handheld is connected to a TV through the docking station.
On October 2, 2013, SNK Playmore terminated its licensing agreement with the console's manufacturer Tommo Inc., effectively ending production of the Neo Geo X less than a year after its release. Tommo Inc. disputes this termination and has stated their contract is extended into 2016 and that they have performed all obligations under the licensing agreement.
Initially, the device was rumored to retail for about $700+, but the price of the Neo Geo X Gold package was revealed to be $199, far less than the original Neo Geo AES console. The package was released in December 2012. A Ninja Master's game card was offered as a bonus with the package.
The handheld by itself, without the docking station and arcade stick, was later priced at $129.99 to come out in February 2013. However, links on the official website to the stand-alone handheld were subsequently removed and the FAQ stated that the docking station is required in order to charge the device.
In January 2013, SNK Playmore announced that manufacturing of the Gold Limited Edition package was ending with the last units arriving to retailers in April. However, they stated that the handheld would continue to be manufactured and that additional games and accessories would continue to be released.
There is currently a total of 36 games for the Neo Geo X.
Ninja Master's is included as a bonus game card in the Gold Limited Edition package.
Additional game cards were announced in February 2013. A five-volume set called "Neo Geo X Classics" features five game cards with three games on each making a total of 15 games. The volumes were released in June 2013 and feature the following games:
Each volume comes bundled with a charging/data transfer cable for the handheld. The game cards include a firmware update for the Neo Geo X that updates the handheld to firmware v500. See "Firmware Update" section of this article for update details.
The Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 was also released in June 2013. It comes with one game card that contains all 15 games featured in Neo Geo X Classics Volumes 1-5. The Mega Pack is packaged in a similar case used for the original Neo Geo AES game cartridges, which can also be used as a carrying case for the Neo Geo X handheld. The charging/data transfer cable is included as well.
The device includes a 4.3-inch LCD screen, SD card slot, A/V output, internal stereo speakers with a 3.5mm headphone jack. A micro USB port on the system is used for charging the battery. The screen's 480×272 pixels resolution is the same as the original PlayStation Portable and is close to the 16:9 aspect ratio.
The system was released as part of the Gold package, which includes the "Neo Geo X Station", a replica of the original Neo Geo AES console that functions as a charging/docking station with its own composite video out and HDMI output along with a functioning replica of the original Neo Geo AES arcade stick controller.
The Neo Geo X arcade stick controllers connect to the docking station via two USB ports. Original Neo Geo AES controllers, game cartridges and memory cards are not compatible with the Neo Geo X.
The handheld has an 8-way thumbstick for directional control, menu and start buttons, four face buttons and four shoulder buttons: L1, L2, R1, R2. The shoulder buttons are used for changing screen aspect ratio and pausing games. Buttons to adjust volume and brightness are located under the handheld.
The unit's BIOS and pre-installed games were initially stored on an internal microSD card; later hardware revisions use a chip installed directly on the motherboard.
The console uses the FB Alpha emulator running on a Linux-based operating system to play ROM images of Neo Geo games. The internal memory has no copy protection, allowing third party BIOS and additional games to be directly installed on the unit. The SD card slot can also be used to load other ROMs, but this requires rewiring.
Neo Geo X Mega Pack Volume 1 and Neo Geo X Classics Volumes 1-5 come with a "rocket cable" which, together with any of the game cards (except Ninja Master's), update the handheld to firmware v500. The following are the updates and changes according to the official website's gamecards and updating FAQ:
- Game saving is now available to all games that support a game save function. (Note: Ninja Master’s does not support game saving)
- The game selection menu has been adjusted to scroll through the games with a “one-click- one-move” interface.
- The load bar has been improved to provide an exact indication of the actual data loaded from the internal memory of the game card.
- Aspect ratio preference will be saved in the internal storage of the Neo Geo X handheld when changing the aspect ratio with the “L1” button.
- The video output signal has been adjusted to automatically fill the screen of most TV’s.
- The sound quality of all games has been greatly improved.
- The responsiveness of the Neo Geo X arcade stick has been greatly improved.
Consumer Reports recommended the system for enthusiasts of older games, but criticized the device's video quality on modern televisions. T3 commented that the replica AES docking station and included joystick added to the "overall retro charm" of the Gold package, but the handheld by itself might not be worth the money as Neo Geo games are now easily playable through other means.
Damien McFerran, writing for Eurogamer reacted positively to the quality of the handheld's gamepad and face buttons. He also complimented details such as the unit's packaging, which remained faithful to the original AES. However, he criticized the quality of the display, calling it "washed out" and writing that the scaling made games look "fuzzy and ill-defined." He also criticized the image quality of the outputs on the docking station, calling the HDMI output "muddy" and commenting that the composite output suffered from color bleeding and a hazing effect. McFerran also lamented that games were being distributed exclusively on physical media instead of being downloadable via Wi-Fi or through a connection to a PC. In addition, he mentioned that the emulated games were prone to screen tearing and audio issues. Concluding that it was not worth the premium price, he wrote "This is a console which has been created with the right intentions but the execution is sadly lacking."
Internet celebrity and handheld enthusiast Stuart Ashen praised the handheld's gamepad and the provided joystick, but criticized the display for being of the wrong aspect ratio, having a weaker color saturation and screen tearing. He also criticized the game sound for being off and having a delay due to glitches from emulation. Additionally, he criticized the fact that the console enforced censorship of blood without giving the player method of turning off said censorship, the docking station being a gimmick, and the grainy and blurry HDMI output.
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