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Gaming History You Should Know – History of the NEO-GEO September 11, 2022

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized, Week of Neo-Geo.
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Last month, the team over at SNK announced they will be reviving one of the most beloved dormant 2D fighting franchises in gaming history, Fatal Fury. For those of you who don’t know very much about the Fatal Fury franchise, be aware that you are in good company. The games were originally developed for a platform meant exclusively for the arcade market.

Please remember that during the early to mid 90s arcades were back in a big way. While home consoles were available with platforms like the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis, arcade machines were still able to produce superior graphics and sound. Many gaming companies of the day including SEGA, Midway and Atari, strived to make the best looking games they could using custom arcade hardware. Only later, if the game was an arcade success, would a port be considered for home console release. Sadly, due to the fact the gaming experience developed on custom arcade hardware could not be completely replicated on the consoles of the day, these ports could not be completely accurate to the arcade experience, and gamers knew it. Because of that, the business of an arcade was booming once again!

However, while arcades were making good profits at the time, new arcade machines were expensive, and many venues would settle for converting the existing cabinets of unpopular titles to free up space and save on cost for newer titles. While this was a great practice for arcades, it had many downsides. It was difficult to revert existing machines back to their earlier state if the newer game they replaced wasn’t as popular as the older game. Then, a company called SNK decided to do something about that.

SNK developed a top of the line arcade cabinet which was capable of playing a wide range of arcade games. How did it work? It wasn’t that dissimilar an experience to changing out the game cartridges on a Genesis or NES console. This gave arcade owners the chance to easily rotate the game offerings on their game floors, as well as saved them countless dollars in not having to repurchase new hardware every time a new title would be released by SNK. This platform would become known as the NEO-GEO.

How fondly remembered is the NEO-GEO these days? Here’s an incredible music video made a decade ago by Nathan Barnett as his character Keith Apicary.

First up, I want to re-highlight the work of YouTube Channel, Wrestling with Gaming, which has always been able to produce incredible documentaries about gaming history other people may not even remember. If you wanted to see a NEO-GEO documentary on the platform that is so good it might as well have been broadcasted on tv, start here.

Next up, I’d like to highlight the retrospectives of the legendary PatMan QC. His work has always been to create reference quality retrospectives on arcade games and game platforms. He goes really into depth on showcasing the games released for the platform, and just how many platforms are currently out there on the wild. Give it a watch!

Also, for those of you who may fondly remember the best days of G4, you probably remember the show Icons. It detailed the history of a wide range of gaming franchises and platforms. They dedicated an entire episode to the rise and fall of the NEO-GEO and it would be a shame for me to not include it here.

If you’re interested in more about the NEO-GEO, I have great news. We are planning to dedicate multiple articles this week to the venerable platform. Hope you all enjoy!

If you would like to see Nathan’s NEO-GEO cabinet for yourself, last I checked it was still operating at the Funspot in New Hampshire.