snk_classicsWhen one discusses the glory days of the forth generation of console gaming (that would be the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis), one must be careful to exclude SNK’s Neo Geo from the discussion. Between the 16 and 32 bit systems in power, the Neo Geo console’s hardware was unique in that it allowed gamers to play the actual arcade games since it was powered by the actual MVS and AES boards. You weren’t playing versions that had to sacrifice graphical quality to fit within a home system’s specs, nor were you playing versions that had extra features crammed to compensate for being inferior to the arcade game, but the Neo Geo allowed you to play the same game that you played in the arcade, minus the coin slot and the fat guy at the counter who breaks your $20. With a memory card, you could even carry save data between the arcade cabinet and a home console.

Unfortunately, its high price points kept the system from acheiving anything but cult status, leaving many gamers to wait for versions of popular titles to be ported down to consoles such as SNES, Genesis, Playstation, and Saturn. Say what you will about M$ and $ony, but when the Neo Geo was released, its premium package went for $649 and a basic went for $399. That may be manageable by today’s standards, but when you factor in that the games STARTED OFF at $200, then it’s easy to see why the system didn’t do to well compared to its peers. SNK faced an early demise in 2000, only to be bought back by Playmore. Though the system has long been discontinued, it lives on through Playstation Store/Xbox Live Arcade/Virtual Console releases, sequels to popular games, and most of all, compilation packs such as this.

Throughout its existence, SNK would be known for fighting games such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Samurai showdown, making them second only to Capcom in the fighting game arena. Before they started pumping out fighters, they created several classic shooters, platformers, and sports titles. SNK Arcade Classics Vol 1 contains 16 titles pulled from the company’s history. You have several fighters such as Fatal Fury and World Heroes, Sports games such as Baseball stars 2, shooters such as Shock Troopers (which was features as a Lost Classic a while back) and even beat-em-ups such as Sengoku. Although there isn’t as many games on this disc compared to compilations from Capcom and Taito (indeed, the fighting games have been included on other compilations), there is something on here from everyone. While there are several games that I would have liked to see included on this disc, this is still a pretty good compilation, and there is always hope for a volume 2.

Little known fact: the hardware debuted in 1990, and the final console game using the hardware (Samurai Showdown V Special) was released in 2004, giving the Neo Geo the second longest lifespan of a console system (with the first being the Atari 2600, which lasted from 1977 – 1992). Even after that, SNK still offered maintenance and support to the console (along with the handhelds and games) until late 2007.