As an avid fan of arcade games it's inevitable I'll have played some Neo Geo games at some point. I did, however, miss out on many of the system's earliest releases owing to my allegiance to Sega's magnificent MegaDrive which was of course ousted as the most powerful home console by SNK's powerhouse (as well as arguably the SNES but that's a topic for another time). Still, time heals all wounds as they say, and here is where I've been taking a look at some of the very earliest games that were released on the Neo Geo hardware to see if they really were better than those available on my beloved MD. Four of the first five I looked at in 'Part 1' were decent enough and now I'll take a look at another five, including:
Fatal Fury (1991)
The Super Spy (1990)
Super Baseball 2020 (1991)
Blue's Journey a.k.a. Raguy (1990)
Ghost Pilots (1991)
The Neo Geo, huh? The very utterance of the name makes gamers of a certain disposition snap to attention, such is the respect it still commands. It certainly is a legendary system for sure and it's a status the machine earned quickly. It was a remarkably long-lived console too, still receiving full retail releases over ten years after its launch. This is partly down to the fact that it was a rather powerful machine, and that is evident even with these very earliest of releases.
Whilst most of them are of a similar style to the games I had on my MegaDrive, the quality here is noticeably higher, at least from a technical standpoint. Whilst Sega's machine could (and in some cases, did) have a good stab at some Neo Geo conversions, they were never as impressive as they are here. Arcade games, more often than not, always had a certain air about them, an aura or sheen that just couldn't be replicated on home consoles, but the Neo Geo saw the end of this, simply because its games were arcade games, the PCB's quite literally transferred from arcade cabinets to the large cartridges the Neo Geo used.
This complete dominance of the arcade world over this console did of course have some disadvantages too. Almost all of the games were short, sharp, adrenaline rush experiences, battering your senses for the ten minutes or so that you would last, and there's certainly nothing like RPG's or strategy games to be found in the system's software library. What is here, however - fighting games, platformers, shmups, run 'n' gunners, etc - is of such a consistently high standard that using the console really is a unique experience.
However, considering the immense cost of both the hardware and software in its earlier years combined with the console's complete lack of 3D abilities in its latter years, it was only ever going to be a niche system appealing to so-called 'hardcore gamers'. Indeed, it would've been completely impractical for a teenager such as myself to have a Neo Geo as a sole console, but if I'd had super-rich/irresponsible parents, good lord it would've been.... awesome!
Exploring the Neo Geo Part 1