Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

The Rolls Royce of consoles had more variety than what its immortal fighting games catalog lets us see

Although it is just now when he turns thirty, Neo Geo has long been considered a retro system. So much so that it has been more than a decade since an article in the North American edition of IGN defined Neo-Geo as the system that brought the highest level of adoration and wild collecting from the Internet. The early 2000s saw, a website of true fans, become the bulwark of a virtual community that is still there (and possibly will be for decades), dedicated exclusively to everything related to SNK and its games 16 or 24-Bit, which we already know that the number varies according to the sources. For years, games on the system were sold daily at auctions at increasingly higher prices, at one time the system itself was still alive commercially speaking. The last game for Neo-Geo – Samurai Shodown V Special – came out in 2004, no more and no less than fourteen years after being launched by titles like Nam-1975, Baseball Stars Professional or an unpronounceable Japanese Mahjong.

Neo Geo's fascination, now three decades old, has remained practically unchanged over the years, and this statement is verifiable from almost all points of view. After its commercial life and with a SNK in constant anxiety since it left the most successful system, the resounding of the Neo Geo catalog continues to enchant those who wanted it for its perplexing prices, but that source of video games with such a high average level is also interesting to those seeking justification to explore the myths of the past. It is at this point that part of the current fame of this machine must be regretted. Despite that mythical halo that still generates in its wake, Neo Geo has gone down in history almost exclusively thanks to its fighting games, among which are some of the best in the history of the genre. It is indisputable: SNK knew how to make fighting games with their own style that adapted to sagas that complemented each other, but the passage of time seems to be leading many to forget everything else that happened in the Rolls Royce of consoles.

Neo Geo has a very wide catalog with the fight is like a star genre, and not to recognize this would be to be untrue. But so is reducing the meaning of this system to the perfection and variety of its fighting games. The effect of Neo Geo in the salons, but also in the machines of the bars (where its presence was very great after the fall of the salons) or in the few homes that it should have reached, was also based on other proposals among the that there is also quality in abundance. We do not risk much if we say that Neo Geo would be one of the most recognized arcade systems in history also in a parallel reality: one in which we would erase from existence not only all fighting games, but also the Metal Slug saga, which also It monopolizes much of SNK's emotional legacy. We will try to explain the reasons, which are obvious through these five titles that were also very successful at the time. And many more, since these five games could be replaced by five others, or used as starting points to dive into a fantastic catalog.

Pulstar: a great Neo Geo-style shoot em up.

Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

Neo Geo already had some high-level examples in the genre of small boats from the moment it was released. Andro Dunos had tried it by way of visual simplicity and concept, as did the two Aero Fighters games, games perfectly adapted to the system. Along with these minor titles that were coming out, it seems that former Irem employees were behind the first great shoot em up of the system, the sensational Last Resort of 1991. With this title, Neo Geo began to claim an inheritance that came much better. to its ecosystem of spectacular graphics: that of the R-Type saga that was looking for a new home. Clear heir to R-Type 2, this Pulstar contains one of those priceless moments that perfectly explain what Neo Geo meant: its intro, a portent of concretion, which in a few seconds manages to demonstrate graphic strength and musical quality that this game displayed. Leaving aside its difficulty and the need to memorize levels, in which it possibly went too far, this Pulstar is a video game that could hardly have been seen in another system due to its high visual quality, also equipped with a gameplay that advanced on the left to any shmup that the other consoles that existed in 1995 could have put on a screen. Its unofficial sequel, the also gigantic Blazing Star of 1998, is not exactly behind, but the surprise and the real leap forward visually for the genre came from the hand of this cartridge for Neo Geo, one of those that now it is sold at crazy prices.

Puzzle Bobble, the beginning of a saga that continues to this day.

Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

With Puzzle Bobble we tread a somewhat slippery territory when relating it to our old Neo Geo. We say this because we are talking about a Taito video game that was originally launched for one of its arcade boards and has generated a saga that reaches almost to this day, with gameplay imitated to the absurd. Taking that into account, we can consider it the best example of the extent to which Neo Geo needed to feed on the talent of other companies, companies that occupy a relevant role within what has ended up being the system's catalog. The first Puzzle Bobble (launched internationally for Neo Geo) had to sell a real saga of cartridges for arcade at the time, since it was an ubiquitous game in lounges, bars and everywhere else where someone placed a arcade at some point. His case shows that Neo Geo was an off-road system capable of playing all the clubs of its time with good taste. One of the most popular games in the system that is well worth digging into the other puzzles we saw in it, since the list of quality games does not end with this simple, addictive and much deeper proposal than it seems. Neo Geo's catalog in this genre also includes its sequel, as well as two other minor games highly celebrated by the most hardcore Neo-Geo players who are also very funny: the two installments of Money Idol Exchanger.

Spinmasters, the humble game of yo-yos

Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

The name of Data East – an extinct company that did not adapt to the end of the salons – may sound unfamiliar to some people, but in the mid-1990s it was one of the few developers that could look the biggest in the eyes in the his moments of inspiration, which were not few. Despite not inventing anything new, Data East managed with Spinmasters to mold a compact two-dimensional action game, which holds the pull as the best titles in the system despite its few wigs: it is just another one of those games in which we can jump, shoot (this time some yo-yos played), face final bosses and very little else. Still, everything is so well carried out that it doesn't matter. Its colorful graphics are another perfect example that illustrates why this system has been so mythologized, although we would not say that it is the best Neo-Geo action platforms. That honor corresponds, in our opinion, to a much earlier and certainly more humble audiovisual game: Blue's Journey, a name that could well have become Neo Geo's mascot. And it would have deserved a couple of sequels a few years later.

Shock Troopers: a culmination for the vertical Run’n Gun

Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

Neo Geo was already going through a real golden age when this game went on sale. The list of titles for the biennium 1997-1998 is not to be taken as a joke, thanks to some fighting sagas in full maturity and to second party studios that already knew all about the system hardware. Shock Troopers can be understood as an attempt to bring the Metal Slug surprise to another type of game: the Run’n Gun in a Commando-style aerial perspective. Developed by Saurus for SNK, Shock Troopers is without a doubt one of the great system games in every respect. Powerful and resounding visually but just as fun at the controls, he tried to transmit renewed energy to what SNK had proposed to us years ago with Ikari Warriors. Despite the fact that incomprehensibly it did not come out for the console and remained in the salons, it was a video game very well received in its time, at a time when its graphics were striking and its proposal was relatively fresh. A game that maintains the type as the first day thanks to its different routes, its characters half seriously half joking, the polished gestures such as rolling on the ground and all the sense of Neo Geo's spectacularity. A great game that, however, did not come out on any console until the arrival of the official compilations and emulations. By the way, it is not as bad as its sequel has been said, a Shock Troopers 2nd Squad that was quite divisive at the time, although fun … fun. Try them, even if only once.

Street Hoop and arcade sports.

Neo-Geo Big Five (non-wrestling)

We have chosen Street Hoop among the Neo Geo sports / arcade games because it perfectly sums up another of the trends in which the new thirty-year-old stands out. Street Hoop did not show much muscle on a technical level, but it was undoubtedly a title with a strong personality visually. Nor would we say that it was the best basketball game in the salons (the Nba Jam and Run and Gun were out there), but it was among the best since his bet on matches between teams of three players worked perfectly. Street Hoop is another one of those games that were seen everywhere despite not being fighting, and its simplicity of concept made it ideal for the e-sports of the nineties, which were played between two. Shooting the basket, stealing the ball with a lot of dirt and making mates made in Neo-Geo were the three pillars of this game with a rough and limited point when the mechanics are known, but that then was irresistible for short games or confrontations against a friend . It is precisely those same characteristics that we continue to love about the other sports games in Neo-Geo: Windjammers, Super Sidekicks, Power Spikes 2, Neo Turf Masters … there is much and good to choose from on this front. And we would not say that they were games that went precisely unnoticed at the time, even if the successive King of Fighters broke the cord.

A more diverse legacy than we think

The titles that today are just some of the possibilities to get many of their efforts to pigeonhole Neo Geo as a single-gen machine. Platforms, shoot em up, sports and puzzles had one of their strongest allies in the nineties thanks to its technical muscle and thousands of motherboards spread around the world, which led companies like Taito to surrender to the evidence : Puzzle Bobble would not have become what it is today without SNK. A quick walk through the titles that we highlight today serves as a starting point: the Neo Geo wardrobe is plenty. So much so that under the top 10 of the system there are almost equally good games that became very popular in their day, along with the typical forgotten pearls that shape one of the best catalogs ever.

About author

Chris Watson is a gaming expert and writer. He has loved video games since childhood and has been writing about them for over 15 years. Chris has worked for major gaming magazines where he reviewed new games and wrote strategy guides. He started his own gaming website to share insider tips and in-depth commentary about his favorite games. When he's not gaming or writing, Chris enjoys travel and hiking. His passion is helping other gamers master new games.

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