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ADK World Neo Geo CD Overview/Review 2021-04-07

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There’s no doubt that ADK was an integral part of the Neo Geo story. Not only were they responsible for the hardware itself, but they developed and released an impressive 18 games on the Neo Geo and Neo Geo CD between 1990 and 1996. To give something back to the fans of the company, ADK developed a Neo Geo CD exclusive entitled “ADK World, which featured a variety of mini games and information surrounding the company’s IP’s and characters.

When you first start ADK World you’re greeted by a small map of ADK Town, apparently where everyone and everything related to ADK resides. On the map you have seven different buildings to choose from, starting from the top, going left to right, here are your options:

  • Brown Institute: Here you can learn a bit more about each character from the World Heroes series from Doctor Brown Sugar himself. This covers all of the characters in the series including the ones introduced in World Heroes Perfect.
  • Neo-Quiz: In the circus tent is the Neo-Quiz, a quiz game based around ADK’s games and characters. This plays like any of the other quiz games on the platform. You’re given a question and four different answers to choose from, one for each button on the controller/stick. You’ve got five lives, and if you get five questions wrong, it’s game over. The characters giving you the questions are from the World Heroes series, Crossed Swords, And Aggressors of Dark Kombat.
  • ADK Dome: The ADK Dome is home to the best mini game of ADK World, the Chōzetsu Saikō Senshuken, roughly translated, the Superior Strength Tournament. This plays like a beefed-up version of Janken, which is known as “Rock, Paper, Scissors” in the western world. Once you’ve selected a character from the eight available, you’re given cards chosen at random. These cards are your attacks, blocks, and special moves. There are light, medium, and heavy punch cards, light medium, and heavy kick cards, block cards, and three different special move cards. You only have access to four of your cards at a time, one for each button on the controller/stick. Like Janken, the object of the game is to always select an option that bests what your opponent picks. Out of all of the mini games on ADK World, I’ve had the most fun with this one.
  • ADK Development Building: Here you’ll watch an interactive dialogue between Jeanne and Ryoko from World Heroes as they talk about ADK related news. Depending on the options you pick when prompted, you’ll get different information. A fun fact here is that the music ADK made for this section was repurposed on the CD release of Twinkle Star Sprites for the art gallery music.
  • Café de ADK: In the café you’ll find an art gallery with three different categories. The first showcases the ninja characters that have appeared in ADK’s games, the second showcases characters who have died in past ADK titles, and the third showcases the games that ADK has made for the Neo Geo in order of release date.
  • Game Theater – 19YY: This is the final mini game in ADK Town, and it’s a shoot em’ up featuring Brocken from World Heroes. The name is an obvious play on “19XX” and is a war themed shooter, although it plays horizontally, not vertically like 19XX. Brocken has a few different attacks in addition to a standard shot, such as the ability to use a rocket launcher or drop cruise missiles on your enemies. While this sounds like it would be entertaining, it falls a bit short due to Brocken’s sprite being too large and the fact that he moves too slow for the enemies coming at you. This can create some moments where you can’t help but take damage depending on what enemies come on screen, whittling down your life bar until you’re long gone. The game keeps track of your progress and you’ll gain other attacks as you work your way through it. It’s worth a look, but I don’t think it’s something worth sinking serious time into.
  • Riddle Hut: Mudman’s riddle hut is an odd one here. According to the ADK World manual, the content of this selection is supposed to change as you play through the various other options in the game. From what I’ve played of the game so far, Mudman simply gives you a riddle, and that’s it. Because it’s in Japanese, the riddle doesn’t really translate out to English well. Perhaps when you’ve cleared all the other locations something will happen here, but I can’t confirm that at this time. The manual doesn’t give us any other info regarding this.
Graphically and musically speaking, there’s nothing here that will surprise you. ADK World likely wasn’t at the top of the priority list, and given that it’s a variety game, I think that it’s par for the course. There’s some cute “chibi” versions of ADK characters which they animated for the game, and the “ADK Town” theme music has a good chance of getting stuck in your head, but nothing really stands out to me in this regard.

Since we’re talking about a Neo Geo CD game, this review wouldn’t be complete without a breakdown of the loading times:

  • System menu to gameplay, initial load: 24 seconds
  • Brown Institute: 21 seconds
  • Neo-Quiz: 21 seconds
  • ADK Dome: 29 seconds
  • ADK Development Building: 17 seconds
  • Café de ADK: 29 seconds
  • Game Theater – 19YY: 34 seconds
  • Riddle Hut: 25 seconds
Depending on how long you’re playing/browsing each one of these options, the loading will either be reasonable, or take as much time as you are playing. One nice thing to note is that none of the options/mini games have to load after their initial load and there’s no loading time to get back to the main “ADK Town” map once you’re done.

In this day and age, who is ADK World for? I think its main appeal will be to the collector crowd looking for a Neo Geo CD exclusive to have in their collection. Back in its home market of Japan, when it was first released, I think the people who could get the most out of the game purchased it; diehard ADK fans who loved the works that they made. If you’re looking to pick up a copy for your Neo Geo CD it won’t set you back all that much, generally hovering around the $50 mark. There are multiple Neo Geo CD games which offer better bang for your buck at this price point, but $50 for an uncommon and obscure piece of Neo history isn’t a bad deal.
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