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Flash Back Friday: NEO GEO (The Unicorn Console)

by on January 20, 2017

The NEO GEO was the unicorn of 90’s gaming systems. Most 90’s kids were familiar with the system and had only played it by pumping quarters into a full cased arcade machine at the pizza parlor or Chuck E Cheese’s. Every kid knew the games on this system were fantastic and included games like  Metal Slug, Samurai Showdown, and Puzzle Bobble. I remember dumping plenty of coins on these games and when I didn’t have the coins I was watching the insert coin demos, wishing I could play the system at home.

While the gaming experience of playing NEO GEO was fairly accessible to most 90’s kids via the arcade. The unicorn was the home system that is pictured above. What’s funny is we all knew that one upper kid who bragged/lied about having the system at home. We all knew they were full of crap because then the price of the system was more expensive than our cutting edge home consoles from today. The retail price of the NEO GEO at the time of release in 1990 was $649.99 which was astronomical for the time (to add context a Honda civic MSRP was about $10,000, where a 2017 is about $18,000) all of this was occurring as the video game industry was just beginning to become a multi-billion dollar industry, while debuting along side the SNES and the SEGA Genesis which cost $199 and $190 respectively. Lucky for any of you nostalgic gamers out there this system is on ebay several times over for less than $400, what a discount!

This NEO GEO system remains a staple in arcades around the country (with what arcades are left), yet the home console remains a rare thing to be seen or owned. An interesting thing to note is the small game library that exists for the NEO GEO and that SNK (First Party) developed 75% of the titles had a hand in the publication of the entire line up of games for their system. There maybe a lot to learn from this console and why it struggled to stay vital, yet games were developed for the system from 1990 to 2004 (14 years is a long cycle). SNK developed 3 subsequent systems and 3 hand held portable consoles, none of them reached the near legendary or mythical status of the original NEO GEO.  Was it the console’s price point which caused the failure of the console? or was it the short list of 148 titles (many of them sequels) available which doomed the systems success?

My favorite memories with NEO GEO is the time I’ve spent in the arcade playing Samurai Showdown, or Metal Slug. I loved the animation for NEO GEO games and Metal Slug put it to good use. The vehicles, and different power up weapons were fantastically fun to use. The level bosses were equally fantastic and I can recall spending lots of quarter trying to beat Metal Slug.

Let us know what you think about the NEO GEO. Did you own one as a kid?…… No you didn’t you liar (hahahaha kidding). Share any other NEO GEO experiences you’ve had in the comment section below.



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