The "glory days" of the Neo Geo: What were they to you?

Digmac

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I've been thinking about this for a little while now, having looked through Japanese Neo Geo magazines from 1995 to 2000. When you look at the magazines published on the Neo, the decline of SNK becomes immediately apparent around mid 1998 to early 1999. Neo Geo Freak started covering Neo Geo ports to the Playstation and Saturn due to the lack of releases on the Neo Geo and Hyper Neo 64. The magazine became dominated by the Neo Geo Pocket, ports, and SNK games for the Playstation like Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life and Koudelka.

That made me think: What were the "glory days" of the platform? To me personally, I think it was between 1993-1997. I feel that everything the Neo Geo has to offer genre wise was fully shown in this time period, as well as the hardware being utilized to a high degree. You have a wide variety of fighting games, great shmups, excellent puzzlers, Metal Slug and Shock Troopers, Sengoku 2, OverTop and Neo Drift Out, Neo Turf Masters, Quest of Jongmaster and the list goes on. I think that the decline of the Neo Geo was already happening by 1997, and it's not like there wasn't excellent games released before 93 and after 97, but that's just my two cents.

What do you guys think? What were the "glory days" of the Neo to you?
 

Neo Alec

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You've got it about right, I think. There was a certain aesthetic to 2-D games in the 90's that I remember enjoying immensely in its time. The Neo Geo's graphics were the epitome of 2-D arcade greatness back then. Any visit to an arcade or game store was exciting because the style of gaming had a certain look and feel that I loved.

Watching the new Xbox games unveiled today made me wonder if kids in this generation feel the same way about the 3-D offerings coming out now. It's a very different aesthetic, but 25 years removed, after all. It's hard to imagine kids now feeling the same magic.
 

Burning Fight!!

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Maybe that's the glory days for SNK and arcade operators, but I feel like a good portion of members here will have their own "glory days" period, aka when they managed to get a job that provided enough disposable income for the madness that is the Neo-Geo. :lolz:

But yes Digmac I think you certainly hit the mark, and I certainly don't envy your ability to read Neo-Geo mags in Japanese, at all. In '94 you already had a very diverse set of high-quality software you could rent/buy for your 4-slot, and that couldn't be better for arcade operators. Home users that were still on the REAL HOT DOG train also were probably very happy with the diversity and influx of releases, and with older games getting discounted.
 

BlackaneseNiNjA

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Sup Digmac! From a company perspective, I’d say 1994-1995 was a special time for SNK. They had a lot of money to throw around at this point and there was a ton of side projects, promotions, and merchandise during that time as well. SNK was also hard at work supporting their “3 pillars strategy under the Neo Geo brand:

  • Arcade hardware (via the Neo Geo Coin Operated Machines Department)
  • Indoor amusement (via Administration of Amusement Facilities Department)
  • Home entertainment (via the Neo Geo Home System Department)

SNK was also actively sponsoring events and ambitiously pushing the brand as being synonymous with entertainment beyond just the arcade:


Here’s a write-up I did about SNK during this particular time in their history if you’re interested:

Neo Geo indoor amusement & brand expansion
http://www.neo-geo.com/forums/showt...nsion&p=4188098&highlight=bowling#post4188098

The years after this would unfortunately see SNK meet with rapidly changing market conditions via new competitors, shifts in technology, and changes in entertainment trends. By the late 90’s, the continuing decline in indoor amusement attendance and SNK’s failure to grow their market share started them on the road that lead to the Playmore era. On the other hand, SNK’s 2D games were amazing in the later 90’s due to the creative teams doubling down on the aging hardware and their strengths in 2D design (while simultaneously absorbing talent from Nazca, Psikyo, etc).
 
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thermaltreasure

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In terms of sheer gameplay, popularity and forward thinking hardware, 1990-1994 really does it for me. The likes of Fatal Fury Special, Sam Sho 2 and Art of Fighting offered up awesome gameplay and iconic characters.

In terms of art direction, dark aesthetic and 2D insanity, 95-98 is possibly the most iconic
 

JayCutlerHOF

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Speaking purely from an arcade perspective (we grew up on welfare and food stamps, no home systems were happening), it was 90-94 for me. That big red just had a special mystique to it and the games were so far ahead of everything else.
 

Neo Alec

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Speaking purely from an arcade perspective (we grew up on welfare and food stamps, no home systems were happening), it was 90-94 for me. That big red just had a special mystique to it and the games were so far ahead of everything else.
The Neo games weren't ahead of other arcade games. Just ahead of other consoles.
 

Naika

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I have to agree, the 1993-1997 period was the height of the Neo Geo's powers to me. Those years were filled with me yearning to own the console while only playing its meager SNES or Genesis ports. That's probably why I always went nuts whenever there was a Big red cabinet at my old Chicago arcade, Dennis, the Place for Games (that was where I first saw Samurai Showdown and KOF '94 back in the day). My high school arcade had KOF 96 which is by all accounts one of my favorites. Even when I went to visit family in Thailand, there was always an MVS around, filled with games from the 1993 - 1997 period. That time period was filled with stellar arcade games, but the SNK Neo Geo was a one of a kind that you could spot a mile away.
 

F4U57

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School afternoon’s 1994, 12yo me, my bike, hot chips with chicken salt and vinegar, the video store and Samurai Shodown.
 

Catoblepa

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Can't remember the exact year, but when a friend of mine was glued to Virtua Striker all afternoon (it bored me to death after a while), I've discovered a cab with Neo Turf Masters and I was instantly hooked. That was the peak of Neo Geo, in my opinion: Metal Slug, Shock Troopers... a bit late in its life, in fact.
 

smokey

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For me it is definetly later. I discovered Metal Slug on a Greek island during a holliday. I spent every spare drachme I could weasel out of parents on Metal Slug and Aero Fighters. Since then I was infatuaded with every thing Neo. In early 1999 I discovered that an import shop had a NGP and KoF-R1 so I asked that for my birthday. a year later I got Color version and I bought most games that were available in stores here. During the PS2 era I played ports mostly and in 2011 I got an MVS a CD in 2016 and in 2019 the AES.
 

yagamikun

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Good topic, Dig - interesting to hear all the perspectives.

I think the period from 1992-1996 were the "Glory Days":
1992 is when Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury 2, and World Heroes came out which made arcade owners and consumers alike immediately take notice that there were other quality fighters out there beside SF2. While we don't often go back and play these very early fighters, their existence is paramount to SNK's success in the mid-90's as they enabled SNK to spend more money and take more risks on fighters and other genres. You also saw more third-party developers jump onto the Neo beginning in 1992.

While there are plenty of great non-fighting games on the Neo, the 2D fighter defined this era of arcade gaming. By 1996 the market was flooded with 2D fighters of varying quality and the average consumer (i.e. none of us reading this post) were getting a little tired of the genre at this point. The switch to 3D was also in full swing, which deeply impacted the reaming years of the 90's and played a big part in the decline of the arcade through the rest of the decade. Just for comparison, the Neo had 14 releases in 1996 compared to just 4 in 1997 - and 8 of those games were fighting games.

That said, I'd wager to say that the 14 titles released in 1996 made that year the key year in the Neo's life. We saw some massive innovation in key franchises that still stand to this day (key elements introduced in KOF96 still persist today, for example) along with that little wonder project called Metal Slug that redefined the run-n-gun genre and has become the template for all run-n-gun games moving forward.

That said, I think that the "glory days" perspective would also be different depending on what region of the world you live in. Hell, SNK was SO popular in South America, are the glory days even over there? lol

My personal "Glory Days"? February 1998 when I first got an AES and though probably 2003-ish when I had to sell the vast majority of my game collection to afford to live - Lord, my 20's sucked. lol.
 
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lachlan

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I didn't even notice the Neo Geo until 1999 and my gateway to it were Takara's GameBoy ports of KOF'95/'96.
 

Gremlin

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I was too young to be aware of the "golden age" and arcades were basically gone, but at roller rinks, theaters and pizza places there was a stray arcade cab or two, and almost universally there was always a Neo Geo cab with Puzzle Bobble and I'd play it a ton, mostly to be able to stretch my quarter. But like Lachlan, I didn't know the Neo Geo was a thing until the 2000s when I got a computer and dived deep into emulation. I absolutely adored Metal Slug X on PS1 and King of Fighters 98 on Dreamcast was my favorite fighting game ever as a kid, but I wasn't really aware of SNK and didn't know they had their own hardware until much later, probably around Metal Slug 3 on OG Xbox. I kinda worked backwards from there.

I really wish I could read GAMEST and NEO GEO FREAK, I love listening to yall's stories of games back in the day and I find contemporary reviews of these games really interesting. I'd love to ask people in the arcades what they thought of mid-tier games like Burning Fight/Sengoku or whatever, since my only perspective is backwards with the context of much better games that followed them.
 

bulbousbeard

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1996 was basically peak video game in general not just for the Neo. Everything 2D had basically been carved out by then. Games only got less and less heterosexual from then on.

For the AES, the beginning of the end was probably Samurai Shodown 1 just because they were stupid enough to sell a $200 game that was censored. Fucking idiots.
 

BlackaneseNiNjA

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...Samurai Shodown 1 just because they were stupid enough to sell a $200 game that was censored.

This is completely fair and actually made me laugh out loud. The issue with Sam Sho’s censorship was indeed odd considering the violence that other games were getting away with at the time. It was a quick way to handle censorship for other countries beyond japan, but it was still a misstep. Admittedly, I give the SSVsp censorship instance a pass though considering it was censored even in japan due to current events at the time.
 
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oliverclaude

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...a good portion of members here will have their own "glory days" period, aka when they managed to get a job that provided enough disposable income for the madness that is the Neo-Geo.

Pretty much my personal Glory Days. Got them during the years 1992/93, when I got to play Last Resort and Viewpoint first hand on my own NeoGeo/Trinitron combo. Later Art of Fighting. I'd pinpoint the "official" heyday at '94, though, with the release of KoF '94 & SSII. It began that year and kind of ended there, too. Then came Neo's legendary menopause with Nazca's Metal Slug and SNK's own Last Blade. A little later Blazing Star rung in the "milking of the glory past" phase... and it still got quite a highscore from that one ;).
 

Digmac

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Some excellent answers in here. I like the combo of personal "glory days" for the platform, and then others opinions of SNKs Neo Geo "glory days". BlackaneseNINjA, it's good to see you back around man. Thanks for the great writeup and that video as well. I agree with you Burning Fight, that everyone has their own period in which the Neo Geo stood out the most to them. For me personally this period has been the last couple years. I was too young to enjoy the Neo Geo during its original run. When I was 16 I had a makeshift MVS supergun setup with a dirt cheap Vogatek board and a banana 161 in 1. It wasn't until these last couple years that I started actively buying Neo Geo games and absorbing as much knowledge as I could. I haven't looked back since, and I've easily dumped more time, effort, and money into my Neo Geo addiction than anything else gaming wise. I'm thankful that I've been able to, because I didn't imagine back when I got my first jank setup that I'd have an AES and an MVS big red.
 

LoneSage

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As a child under 10 years old, yeah those were memorable times going to the bowling alley and playing games on the Big Red. But I wouldn't call that time my personal glory days, because I wasn't a fan. I loved Slug and a few of the games, and yeah I wish I had a Neo-Geo just like every other kid, but that was about it. I knew Terry Bogard but if you asked me who Geese or Rugal were I'd have no clue at the time.

During high school, I joined this forum and eventually got a CMVS from someone here and started buying lots of games (2005-2006 was a good time for buying games). There were many, many games I played for the first time that I never did in the 90s - stuff like KOF, AOF, Real Bout, etc., all those games I never got to play in the arcade. An inconvenient truth, though, is that as much as I liked the games, their presentation, music, etc. there was a very crushing kind of loneliness playing them since I didn't have friends that liked video games like me. So I'd play fighting games in single player and when I beat them I'd just get a very sobering 'what's the point playing by myself' feeling. It was like I was in a secret club but all by myself.

Part of the fun was buying the games themselves, 'the hunt', which seems kind of pathetic in retrospect but it's true, I think everyone here feels similar that it's satisfying finding a great deal.

So my 'glory days' were discovering the games around 2005 and 2006. There was a magic to those games and playing them at home.
 

theMot

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First Tuesday of May 1992 to Friday the 12th of June 1994. You could see the quality really dropping off by September 1994.
 

Late

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Mid-nineties for me, the heyday of the arcade scene here, when you could just go down to the Pelikaani in Kamppi for 2p matches against strangers in KoF or Samurai Shodown.
 

Neo Alec

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During high school, I joined this forum and eventually got a CMVS from someone here and started buying lots of games (2005-2006 was a good time for buying games). There were many, many games I played for the first time that I never did in the 90s - stuff like KOF, AOF, Real Bout, etc., all those games I never got to play in the arcade. An inconvenient truth, though, is that as much as I liked the games, their presentation, music, etc. there was a very crushing kind of loneliness playing them since I didn't have friends that liked video games like me. So I'd play fighting games in single player and when I beat them I'd just get a very sobering 'what's the point playing by myself' feeling. It was like I was in a secret club but all by myself.

Part of the fun was buying the games themselves, 'the hunt', which seems kind of pathetic in retrospect but it's true, I think everyone here feels similar that it's satisfying finding a great deal.

So my 'glory days' were discovering the games around 2005 and 2006. There was a magic to those games and playing them at home.
Sounds like a good time. For sure it's better to have someone to play fighting games with though. Yeah, the early-to-mid 2000's were the best time to collect MVS games. Trying them for the first time as you buy them is really great too.

Some excellent answers in here. I like the combo of personal "glory days" for the platform, and then others opinions of SNKs Neo Geo "glory days". BlackaneseNINjA, it's good to see you back around man. Thanks for the great writeup and that video as well. I agree with you Burning Fight, that everyone has their own period in which the Neo Geo stood out the most to them. For me personally this period has been the last couple years. I was too young to enjoy the Neo Geo during its original run. When I was 16 I had a makeshift MVS supergun setup with a dirt cheap Vogatek board and a banana 161 in 1. It wasn't until these last couple years that I started actively buying Neo Geo games and absorbing as much knowledge as I could. I haven't looked back since, and I've easily dumped more time, effort, and money into my Neo Geo addiction than anything else gaming wise. I'm thankful that I've been able to, because I didn't imagine back when I got my first jank setup that I'd have an AES and an MVS big red.
It's funny to see you talking about the multi cart bootlegs lime they're old. I consider them a fairly recent development. When did the 161 first appear?
 
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gray117

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1995- 99

Metal slug, kof coming of age, blazing star and garou as the last hurrah.... 2d neo geo out classing the 32 bit next gen home boxes.

Although the end was end was tough and prolonged for snk, following the hyper 64, it perhaps helped secure the neo geo's status as a remarkable bit of engineering and prolonged it's lifespan that little bit more to take root across 2 'next gen' platforms and the eyeballs of gamers beginning to pour onto the Internet, some of whom may not have seen/recognised the neo in arcades.
 
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Leback

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The first half of the nineties. My local toy/videogame store had an AES demoing Fatal Fury, Ghost pilots and Ninja Combat. Me and my friends owned either a Mega Drive or a SNES, but we went to the store just to watch the neo games. The Neo Geo was untouchable and the graphics was on another level.
A couple of years later I was able to borrow an AES together with Fatal fury 2, Baseball Stars 2 and one of the Super sidekicks from my older cousins boyfriend. Played a lot of 2p with my friends then. Local bowling alley had a MVS with King of the monsters and a dedicated Virtua fighter cab.

But it was not until 2017 that I purchased an AES (although I've owned numerous ports on ps2, ps3, DC etc).
 
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