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|Product type||Arcade system board
Video game console
Handheld game console
|Registered as a trademark in||Japan (1989–2001)|
Neo Geo (Japanese: ネオジオ Hepburn: Neo Jio?), stylised as NEO・GEO, also written as NEOGEO, is a family of video game hardware developed by SNK. On the market from 1990 to 2004, the brand originated 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 allows for perfect compatibility of games released for the MVS. However, the high price point for both the AES console and its games prevented it from directly competing with its contemporaries, the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and Super NES (Super Famicom). However the MVS arcade became very successful in stores in Japan and North America.
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 later Neo Geo Pocket Color, which briefly competed with Nintendo's Game Boy. The latter has been well praised, despite its short lifespan. Soon after their release, SNK encountered various legal and financial issues - however the original Neo Geo MVS and AES continued getting new games under new ownership until officially being discontinued in 2004, ending the brand.
Regardless of the failure of later Neo Geo hardware, games for the original MVS and AES have been well received. The system spawned several long-running and critically acclaimed series, mostly 2D fighters, including The King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown. In December 2012, SNK Playmore released a handheld console based on the original AES, the Neo Geo X. As of March 1997, the Neo Geo had sold 980,000 units worldwide.
Neo Geo MVS and AES
SNK's first two products using the Neo Geo name are 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 offers 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, is the first video game console in the family. The hardware features comparatively colorful 2D graphics. The system was marketed as 24-bit, though it is technically a 16 bit system accompanied by an 8-bit Zilog Z80 as coprocessor. The coprocessor is generally used for sound processing. The hardware was in part designed by Alpha Denshi (later ADK).
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 US$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. The AES is identical to its arcade counterpart, the MVS, so arcade games released for the home market are nearly identical conversions.
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 Mbits of data between loads. Neo Geo CD game prices were low at US$50, in contrast to Neo Geo AES game cartridges which cost as much as US$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 can be used with all 3 Neo Geo CD models, instead of the included control pads.
Hyper Neo Geo 64
The Hyper Neo Geo 64 is SNK's second and final arcade system board in the Neo Geo family, released in 1997. The Hyper Neo Geo 64 was conceived as SNK's 3D debut into the fifth generation video game consoles. It provided 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. 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 is the final console release 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.
- Video of Neo Geo AVS hardware and features from FamicomDojo.TV